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At Home with Jonathan and Lizzie Tisch

By Ken Rivadeneira | September 9, 2013 | People

It’s not hard to understand why Jonathan and Lizzie Tisch enjoy escaping to their Bridgehampton home in the summer. As two of New York’s most visible philanthropists, the pair is often awake at 3 am, working myriad projects. His primary concern at the moment, as chairman of Loews Hotels, is the renovation of the company’s flagship property, the Loews Regency Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side, which will reopen in January 2014. For her, it’s the September launch of a high-end fashion retail concept called Suite 1521.

Still, neither Tisch looks sleep-deprived. As they sit down for breakfast, the couple marvels at the tranquility that three months in the Hamptons offer them. “For people who have very hectic New York City–centered lives, taking a breath is probably healthy and also promotes, for us, a sense of family,” Jonathan says. The couple recently completed a renovation of their summer home with help from interior designers Timothy Haynes and Kevin Roberts, and they have been spending almost every week since out here with their children. “Jon sleeps better out here,” Lizzie says.

While Jonathan’s obligations extend to his executive roles at Loews Corporation, the New York Giants (which he co-owns), and the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, he admits it’s the overhaul of the Regency that has kept him awake at night.

“It’s a big job and every inch of the hotel is being touched as part of the renovation,” he says. Rooms, corridors, the lobby, public spaces—it’s all being revamped with new interiors, and a new Sant Ambroeus signature restaurant will open on the property. The same Sant Ambroeus of Southampton renown will also operate the hotel’s food and beverage, and a new management team has been assembled for the hotel’s operations. Such an undertaking hardly would make someone as famously cool-headed as Jonathan lose a night’s rest were it not, perhaps, for the building’s personal significance. “I grew up in that hotel,” he says. “It’s so associated with Loews Hotels, the Tisch family, and New York City.”

Lizzie has spent two years working on her new venture, Suite 1521, named after the Regency suite in which Jonathan grew up (“I call myself the male ‘Eloise,’” he says) to convey a feeling of exclusivity. She describes the business as “a members- only destination where fashion enthusiasts can come and meet the designers, order from their collections, and be able to curate their own wardrobe.”

One of New York’s perennially best-dressed women and chair of the Friends of the Costume Institute group at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lizzie, along with business partner Kim Kassel, saw an opportunity to scout emerging or underrepresented designers and offer them the exposure they need while giving women private access to unique fashions by rising talents. The showroom on Manhattan’s Upper East Side—a former art gallery space in the same building as Gagosian Gallery—will host different designers for two days each, during which members can visit and buy their specially made garments trunk-show-style, but within a lounge atmosphere. “We want it to be a place where people want to come back, sit with us, and hang out,” Lizzie says. Among the first designers to sign up with Suite 1521 are Mary Katrantzou, David Koma, Giles Deacon, Shaun Leane, Richard Nicoll—all UK-based couturiers whose collections speak to Lizzie’s avant-garde fashion sensibility. Is she nervous? “Terribly!” she says. “But I’m also excited.”

While the two projects consuming the Tisches couldn’t appear more dissimilar, hospitality binds them, allowing this power couple to actively engage and enhance their respective endeavors. Just as Lizzie has weighed in on the renovation of the Loews Regency—particularly in the redesign of the rooms and new staff uniforms—Jonathan has advised her on Suite 1521, from its location to the importance of a memorable customer experience.

“We definitely learn from each other. It’s the Power of We,” Lizzie quips, referring to Jonathan’s 2004 best-selling book about his management philosophy of cooperation. “We do everything together,” Jonathan adds. “When it comes to our homes, we make every single decision together.”

But for all the work that’s ahead of them in the coming months, the Tisches, who will celebrate six years of marriage in October, are happy to recharge in the Hamptons for just a little longer. It’s a place that has marked the course of their relationship: They met here at a dinner party, and a year after their first date he proposed to her at her parents’ Southampton house. “It all comes back to the Hamptons,” Lizzie says, “full circle.”



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photography by zev starr-tambor