Ace Hotel Founder Alex Calderwood Dead At Age 47

By McCarton Ackerman 11/25/13

Founder of the hipster hotel chain had a history substance abuse

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Teacher, mentor, guru, friend
Deidre Shoo/NYT

Alex Calderwood, the creator of the hipster hotel chain simply known as Ace, was found dead in a room of the London branch of his hotel enterprise on Nov. 14. He was 47 years old. The Ace hotel chain confirmed the news of his death on its website, referring to Calderwood as “our teacher, mentor, guru and most importantly our dear friend.” But the company, whose first hotel was launched in Seattle in 1999, would not disclose details about the possible cause of death. Hotel spokesman Ryan Bukstein told The Seattle Times that “it’s too early to talk about it. We’re all still in mourning.”

Although the cause of death remains unknown, Calderwood had a documented history of addiction and previously entered rehab for substance abuse. In a 2011 New York Times interview, he talked about being sober for five months after former business partner Jack Barron said Calderwood’s “drinking didn’t exactly help” and forced them to end their working relationship. "I am very proud of my sobriety,” Calderwood said at the time. “You get to a certain age, and you get to a certain point, where you realize this is just, like, dragging me down. It’s not fun anymore. I’m not enjoying it."

The company is still planning to move forward with carrying out Calderwood’s vision; the Ace hotel chain currently has five branches and is scheduled to open two more later this year or early next year in Los Angeles and Panama City, Panama.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.