While the marble corridors and plush linens of Langham properties cater overtly to the 1 percent, Ms. Lo, his daughter, hopes to attract a more diverse breed of business travelers, thought leaders, musicians and artists.
Chip Conley, the founder of the boutique hotel chain Joie de Vivre and an Airbnb strategic adviser Ms. Lo consulted, sees an untapped market. “In ice cream it was Ben & Jerry’s, in clothing it was Patagonia, in grocery stores it was Whole Foods,” Mr. Conley said. “When it comes to a global brand of hotels, I think there’s a huge opportunity.”
What if an alt-right group wanted to gather at Eaton?
“I’m using Airbnb canceling Nazi accounts as a precedent, as companies go toward this new world,” said Ms. Lo, referring to the short-term rental service canceling the accounts of white supremacists after the deadly protest in Charlottesville, Va., in the summer of 2017. “We want Eaton to be a thoughtful place of dialogue and diverse views coming together, but there are obviously places where we draw the line.”
Ms. Lo has long considered herself an activist. In 2000, while attending Yale, she served as a student delegate for Greenpeace at the Kyoto Protocol climate talks at The Hague. During college, she also hung an upside-down American flag from her bedroom window to protest the war in Iraq.
She helped put together protests against the World Trade Organization in her native Hong Kong, corralling Korean farmers and videotaping marches. She also got a master’s degree in film from the University of Southern California and has directed music videos. “I struggled for many years with how to reconcile my privilege, my duty to my family business and my dreams,” she said.
Her creative direction of the Langham Chicago, which opened in 2013 in a skyscraper built by Mies van der Rohe, won praise, but burnishing that brand felt insufficient as a calling. “Luxury hotels are obviously beautiful,” Ms. Lo said, “but that’s not what I care about.”