Gay Founder of Ace Hotel Chain Dead at 47

11.18.2013

By Neal Broverman

Alex Calderwood was seen as an innovator in the hotel business, creating unforgettable properties in Portland, Palm Springs, London, and other trend-setting cities.

Alex Calderwood, the 47 year old founder of the popular Ace hotel chain, died Thursday in London.

Calderwood was in London following the opening of the chain's latest hotel when he passed away. The out Calderwood was an unconventional hotel magnate, carefully curating his properties with hip designs, daring locations, and original touches like turntables in hotel rooms and welcoming lobbies. The first Ace opened in 1999 in a former Seattle flophouse and later properties helped revive neighborhoods in Portland and New York. A Palm Springs Ace, a former Howard Johnson's, is known as a meeting place for young and old, gay and straight. In January, Ace will open up a hotel in a former theater and office building in downtown Los Angeles, originally built by Mary Pickford in the early 20th century.

Calderwood first gained attention when he launched the Rudy's barbershop chain in the 1990s, with a similar youthful aesthetic found at the Ace. Rudy's would become the place for hipster haircuts from Los Angeles to New York. Calderwood would then start the Ace chain with two other gay men, Wade Weigel and Doug Herrick, and straight partner, Jack Barron.

Calderwood, who battled a drinking problem, is survived by his parents and three siblings.

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