Soho House To Open In Mumbai In Spring 2013
On the heels of this weekend’s piece in The New York Times about Soho House’s international expansion plans comes the official announcement that the Mumbai property will open in the spring of 2013. The members-only club, founded by British entrepreneur Nick Jones in 1995, will be the company’s first Asia property, following in the footsteps of 10 others worldwide, including those in London, New York, Berlin, Los Angeles and Miami. The Mumbai outpost, which will open in Juhu, will be housed in a 38-room, ten-storey building that will have a rooftop pool, an “infinity bar” in addition to a restaurant, a screening room, a spa and a private dining area.
Soho House was originally founded as a clubby haven for people in the film, media and creative industries, but as The New York Times article indicated of the New York property, slowly became “inundated with bankers and other social undesirables”. Now with a recent capital infusion of $383 million by American billionaire Ron Burkle, Soho House will also open properties in Toronto, Chicago, Istanbul and Barcelona, in addition to Mumbai. “No one can deny that Mumbai is something of a force of nature. The buzz and vibrancy of the city is infectious…from the Indian publishing and media giants, through the might of the Bollywood studios, to the ever dynamic music and arts scenes, it was the obvious choice for our first House in the Asian subcontinent,” Jones is quoted in the release, indicating that Soho House Mumbai might also focus its membership on people in creative fields, shunning industrialists and old-money families that have historically dominated club membership rosters in our city.
The challenge, then, will be in keeping and maintaining the right mix of people. As The New York Times piece asks: “How will Mr. Jones maintain the social cachet of the original Soho House — a boho-chic enclave that attracted a glamorous cast of film types, literati and rockers (these days, Lady Gaga and Prince William are regulars) — as his clubs become the night-life equivalent of Starbucks?” More importantly, will the Mumbai House be able to bridge the divide between creative classes, giving equal preference to a Bollywood star as they will to say, a production designer? And will they be able to hold off influential sorts who fall outside the creative arena who might demand membership based solely on their pull (politicians, for instance)?
A look at the membership process seems to indicate that it appears, at least on paper, to be far less painful than that of clubs like Otters, Breach Candy and Willingdon. According to their website, applicants need to be nominated by two existing members who can belong to any of the Houses, after which the applications will be reviewed by the membership committee, which convenes every three months or so. The annual rates at the London outpost vary from £600 (about Rs51,000) for a local membership to £1,200 for membership to all Soho Houses around the world. The form itself (you can download the one to Soho House London here) is fairly straightforward, asking for a letter of recommendation from your proposer, career history and what you think you will add to the Soho House Community. Given the notoriously finicky membership terms for the Big Five (Breach Candy, Bombay Gymkhana, Otters, Willingdon and CCI), Soho House will likely reap enormously from keeping their policies more expansive; no doubt they would have gladly welcomed M. F. Husain, who was allegedly ejected from the Willingdon Club for not wearing shoes.Tags: Media, Nick Jones, Soho House, Soho House Mumbai