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With Tattoos and Sake, Andaz Hotels Bring Back the Salon

"We never envisioned these as massive," Dowell says. "With Andaz, we're not trying to provide glitz and glamorous. What we're trying to provide is a meaningful experience with locals and customers."

What they do hope for, though, is to organize their salon events worldwide effectively enough that they become a very distinct sub-brand of Andaz Hotels -- as a program that allows customers and locals to engage in, and experience, a destination through the eyes of Andaz.

"We don't want the hotels to be just hotels," Dowell says.

Back at Andaz San Diego, the lineup of salons has included The Art of Sushi & Sake, featuring a presentation from a local sushi restaurant and some on-the-spot omekase; Malts, Hops & Curds, which involved a local craft brewery and local cheese maker; and Art & Fashion Collide, a presentation of two local artists' works at the Andaz Wine Bar in conjunction with a fashion show at the Ivy Nightclub.

The Andaz San Diego salons have grown to include a music series known as Digital Music Forums. The first was The Evolution of Electronic Music, while the second, Women Turning the Tables, focused on women's place in the electronic music scene and their struggle to be accepted.

"We're delivering art, food and fashion to the luxury customer ... people who are culture mavens," says Rusty Middleton, general manager of Andaz San Diego.

Plans for future San Diego salons include an homage to tattoo parlors and barbershops -- two of the industries that were part of the Gaslamp Quarter's early roots, says Andaz' director of sales and catering, Kris Umstattd.

True to form, there will be plenty of local participation, including Andaz's own Middleton and Umstattd, who are busy designing their own tattoos for the upcoming salon.

"We want to stay hand in hand with the neighborhood. We want the community to continue to embrace us and know they are welcome," Umstattd says. And he's willing to get a tattoo, with the community watching, to help make that happen.

For a list of upcoming Andaz Salon events, check here.

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