It's hard to know what title Jonathan Tisch is most enthusiastic about.
Hotel scion. Co-owner of the New York Giants. Philanthropist. Author. Travel industry advocate. Talk show host.
On Tuesday in Minneapolis, Tisch appeared delighted to be known as the new owner of the Loews Minneapolis Hotel, the 251-room Warehouse District property formerly known as the Graves 601 Hotel.
New York-based Loews Hotels & Resorts, part of the $15 billion conglomerate Loews Corp., finalized the $65 million purchase last month. The firm promptly announced plans to spend up to $8 million to upgrade the 11-year-old property. Work will begin Jan. 1 and finish in the middle of next year.
"The bones of this property are very good," Tisch said. "With some well-spent additional capital, an upgrade will really reinforce its position as one of the finest hotels in Minneapolis."
The lobby, meeting rooms, ballroom, corridors and guest rooms will all be updated, he said. The popular Cosmos restaurant will remain.
Tisch, 60, is the third-generation leader of a family whose name and largesse are omnipresent in the Big Apple and beyond — including New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, the Tisch Hospital at NYU, and the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Tisch's grandparents worked in the hospitality industry, with a summer camp in New York's Catskill mountains. His father, Robert, and uncle Larry began building their hotel empire by purchasing a winter resort in Lakewood, N.J., in the 1940s.
The Tisch brothers steadily built their hotel portfolio and diversified into a number of businesses, including the Loews Theatres chain, which they sold in the mid-1980s, and Bulova watches. Larry Tisch even briefly led the CBS television network. Today, Loews is invested in insurance and energy concerns, as well as hotels.
Jonathan Tisch is now co-chairman of the parent company, and chairman of the hotel subsidiary.
Loews has 22 hotels and resorts in the United States and Canada, and is making a foray to the Midwest with the Loews Minneapolis and two high-profile hotels in Chicago. The company recently purchased the 556-room InterContinental Chicago O'Hare Hotel and is building a 400-room hotel in downtown Chicago.
Tisch appears mighty bullish on Minneapolis, particularly because his new property is part of the Block E complex, now undergoing a $50 million renovation. The new Block E, now called Mayo Clinic Square, will serve as the headquarters and practice site for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx, and as a sports medicine clinic for the Rochester-based health care giant. "Nationally known" restaurants are planned as well, in space once inhabited by Applebee's, Hooters and a Hard Rock Cafe. And across the street from the Loews hotel, Target Center is slated to undergo a $97 million overhaul.
"Minneapolis has an extremely bright future," Tisch said. "Look at the dollars being spent to upgrade the area. Target Center, Mayo Clinic Square, the Vikings stadium, and the fact that Super Bowl 2018 will be here. Hopefully the Giants will be one of the teams playing because then I'll know where I can get my hotel room."
Despite being in a "very acquisitive mode," Loews has no immediate plans to purchase or build new hotels in the Twin Cities, he said. There's already plenty of competition in the upscale and luxury hotel sectors close to the Loews address at 601 1st Av. N., including a recent upgrade of the Radisson into its tony Blu concept and the pending renovation of the historic Plymouth Building into a Conrad Hotel.
"People are traveling again," Tisch said. "CEOs are getting their men and women back on the road in terms of business travel. Group travel is the last piece to recover, and that's starting to expand."
Although he enjoyed a stint at a Boston television station as a cinematographer and producer after graduating from Tufts University in the late 1970s, Tisch formally joined the family hotel business in 1980.
"I've been in this business since I was 10 minutes old," he quipped. "I've worked every job in a hotel, the front desk, the kitchen, I've cleaned bathrooms, I've made beds, I was a sales rep."
His least-favorite job? Housekeeping, he quickly replied. "It's really hard work."