New 2015 Hotel Brands Are Designed to Fulfill the Wishes of Today’s Travelers
Take a look at the U.S. hotel industry over the past few years and you will see that by almost every measure the industry is performing well. Occupancy rates are up. ADR is higher and RevPAR continues to climb. The hotel industry has benefited from the improving economy, but there is another reason why more people are traveling and staying in hotels. Hotel groups have been developing new brands that better meet the wants and needs of today’s travelers.
In recent years, many of the major hotel groups have felt a sense of urgency to introduce new brands to appeal to different segments of the market. Looking back over the last decade or so, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. launched their Aloft lifestyle brand and eco-friendly Element hotel brand. IHG introduced its EVEN hotel brand for the active and health-conscious traveler. Global Hyatt Corporation launched Hyatt Place to meet the demands of today’s sophisticated traveler.
Since 2013, the number of new brands being introduced and developed has been on the rise. Discriminating travelers will have even more choices of places to stay. Hotel executives are anxious and excited to roll-out their new brands. If you are planning a vacation or a business trip, one of these new hotel brands may be the perfect fit.
Already doing well in European cities like Barcelona, Milan, and Paris, Marriott is bringing the AC Hotel brand to the United States. The boutique-style hotel aims to target the millennial business traveler. In the parent company’s annual report, CEO Ann Sorenson describes the new AC brand as “a design-focused brand inspired by the fashion houses of Europe that appeals to younger business travelers.”
The very first AC Hotel in the United States just opened in New Orleans. The 8-floor, 220-room property occupies the former Cotton Exchange Building, and is just steps from the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. Plans are in place to build and develop 33 hotels in the United states over the next few years. The Miami Beach AC, at 2912 Collins Avenue, is set to open toward the end of 2014. Other locations that will be up and running in early 2015 include Kansas City, Asheville, Chicago, and JFK Airport.
All AC Hotels will take advantage of technology to improve guest experiences. Guests will be able to use a mobile check-in service to save time. The hotels have been designed with an RFID-enabled locking system that will eventually allow AC to offer keyless entry to the guest rooms. Of course there is free Wi-Fi throughout each property and USB charging ports to keep those mobile devices running.
In the food and beverage area, the trend among the younger business traveler is toward more snacking, bold and innovative flavors, and healthy eating. Each AC Hotel will have 24-hour snack-stocked lounges, and depending upon location, popular native dishes (Cuban coffee in Miami Beach, Gumbo in New Orleans etc.).
The AC hotel brand aims to build customer loyalty among the millennial traveler. Currently, millennials account for about a third of all business travelers. According to the Boston Consulting Group, by 2020, millenials will represent almost 50 percent of all business travelers.
1 Hotels & Resorts
Barry Sternlicht, the CEO of Starwood Capital Group, based in Greenwich, Connecticut, is the driving force behind a highly anticipated new lifestyle brand hotel that is designed to be one with nature. Sternlicht, who served as the Chairman and CEO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts for 10 years, divested his interests in the major hotel group to pursue other interests in the hospitality industry. As the head of Starwood Capital Group, his interest has turned to developing two new hotel brands: 1 Hotels & Resorts & Baccarat Hotels & Resorts. SH Group, an affiliate of the global real estate investment group Starwood Capital, will be managing the new brand.
A total of three, nature-inspired, 1 Hotels & Resorts are scheduled to launch in 2015. Both the South Beach, FL and Central Park, NY locations are expected to open in March of 2015. The Brooklyn Bridge Park location should open a few months later. Careful deliberation went into the selection of each 1 Hotel & Resort location. The brand will focus on sustainability, environment, local communities and doing all that is possible to become one with nature.
Each 1 Hotel will be unique and will feature open spaces bathed in natural light, organic and locally-sourced food, and rely on recycled wood and other materials. 1 Hotels & Resorts will incorporate socially responsible design and architecture with outstanding comfort and unparalleled service.
Baccarat Hotels & Resorts
Midtown Manhattan is the location for the first Baccarat Hotel & Resort that is set to open in early 2015. Starwood Capital Group is paying careful attention to every detail to make this ultra-luxury hotel and residence the most sought after address in New York City. Located on 53rd Street, just off of 5th Avenue, the 50-story building is a true standout.
The architecture of the Baccarat Hotel & Resort can best be described as the meeting between modern architecture and traditional, grandiose design. The facade of the building is all glass and, just like fine Baccarat Crystal, it sparkles. Luxurious and elegant are just two of the adjectives that can be used to describe the traditional French interior features and design. Whether you are walking in common areas or are relaxing in one of the 114 guest rooms (or 61 residences), you will be impressed by the soaring archways, French moldings, marble floors, and, of course the vast array of Baccarat Crystal.
Guests have quite a few options when selecting their accommodations. You can be quite content in a Classic King Suite, or you can opt for more space by selecting one of several different types of suites. For the tops in luxury, reserve the Baccarat Suite. All rooms and suites have floor-to-ceiling windows, sitting areas, premium bedding and other outstanding features one would expect in a luxury hotel.
Outstanding is the best way to describe The Restaurant. Executive Chef Shea Gallante prepares French cuisine that matches the finest restaurant in Paris. The Grand Salon is a great spot to relax and have a cocktail.
With a highly-trained and professional staff, every guest is treated like French Royalty. The concierge service aims to be the best in the city and does everything in their power to meet your needs and make sure that you have a memorable experience when you stay at the Baccarat Hotel & Resort.
Differentiating Your Hotel from the Crowd
In the ultra-competitive hotel industry, the hardest thing to do is to differentiate your hotel from the competition. With so many hotel chains and hotel groups competing for a finite number of paying customers, having a strong brand that appeals to a targeted audience, can make your hotel stand-out from all the rest. New brands can appeal to specific groups on a number of different levels including value, luxury, and lifestyle.
Canopy by Hilton is a new hotel brand that is seeking to attract travelers by offering bold and unique design, expanded common areas that encourage social interaction, and the latest in technology. Hilton Worldwide CEO Christopher Nassetta described the thinking behind Canopy by saying “We saw an opportunity to not only enter the lifestyle space by developing a new brand, but also to redefine this category by creating a more accessible lifestyle brand.”
Hilton has already secured 10 U.S. locations (and one in London) for the new brand. Canopy by Hilton is headed to Miami, San Diego, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, Savannah, Portland, OR, Ithaca, Washington D.C., and Charlotte. The new hotels will either be built from the ground-up or through the conversion of existing buildings.
The promise of this new Hilton brand is to create unique experiences in a place that does not look like every other hotel you have visited. Lobbies will feel more welcoming and be conducive to social conversations. Healthy breakfasts will be served with such culinary delights like smoked salmon and quiche. Every hotel will be located in, and become part of, a vibrant neighborhood. You’ll be able to check-out a complimentary bike to explore the neighborhood and every guest will receive a welcome gift that reflects the best of the local region.
Hilton recognizes the importance of the millennial traveler but is not aiming the Canopy hotel solely at that demographic group. The hotel is open to anyone who does not like the feel of a chain hotel and would rather have a unique experience in a unique neighborhood.
Attaching the name Hilton to any independent hotel automatically gives that hotel more credibility and status. Hilton is joining forces with a number of established four and five star hotels to create a new brand called Curio. Many in the industry consider Hilton’s move to be in response to the recent introductions of Marriott’s Autograph Collection and Starwood’s Luxury Collection of hotels. The move allows Hilton to reach travelers who want a more individualized hotel experience but also want the assurance of quality, comfort, and consistency that is at the core of every Hilton brand. Partner hotels will continue to manage daily operations and retain an identity that is unique from other Hilton branded properties.
Letters of intent have been signed with the SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV; the Sam Houston Hotel in Houston, TX; Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City, SD; the Franklin Hotel in Chapel Hill, NC; and a soon to be named hotel in Portland, OR. The first Curio hotels in the U.S. will open in 2015.
Red Lion Hotels Corporation is planning a new upscale hotel brand called Hotel RL. Incorporating the vibrant spirit of the Pacific Northwest while stressing community, environment, and unique experiences, Hotel RL is targeted for 80 locations in 80 U.S. urban markets. The design of the lobby features elevated seating areas (Called Steps and sort of like a sunken living room) where guests can congregate and socialize. The lobby area is designed like a coffee house (think Starbucks) and rooms will be designed to provide free Wi-Fi and other services that are in demand by millennial travelers. Rather than building cookie-cutter hotels that all look alike, existing property conversions will drive the new Hotel RL brand.
Developing Customer Loyalty – Building a base of loyal customers is certainly one of the most fundamental goals of any hotel operator. It costs a great deal of money to market and attract new customers. When you create a new hotel brand, you have the opportunity, from the start, to make a great first impression when guests “try out” the new place in town. If you do things right and please your guests, you will create brand loyalty. The benefit of creating brand loyalty lies in more future bookings at your hotel and other locations with the same brand.
Montage Hotels & Resorts is launching a new lifestyle hotel in San Diego called Pendry Hotels. Currently, the hotel group has upscale properties under the Montage brand in Laguna Beach & Beverly Hills, CA; Deer Park, UT; Maui, HI; and Palmetto Bluff, SC.
Construction on the 317-room, 12-story Pendry Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego began in October of 2014 and the completed property is expected to open in 2016. It will include two restaurants, 22,000 square feet of meeting space, a spa, rooftop pool, beer hall, and a nightclub. The Pendry is aimed at young and hip guests and also hopes to attract locals to its nightclub, beer hall, and restaurants.
In February of 2014, the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group announced that they were creating two new brands – the Quorvus Collection and Radisson Red. Focusing on the Quorvus Collection, a brand of 5-star luxury hotels that will provide a distinct guest experience, the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group plans to have 20 such properties by 2020. All Quorvus Collection hotels will be comprised of six core lifestyle elements – wellness, replenishment, style, inspiration, ambiance, and design – to deliver the type of experience its guests desire. The Quorvus Collection will include historic landmark properties, contemporary residences, classic boutique hotels and urban retreats.
At the same time that Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group announced the new Quorvus Collection they also announced the launching of a second new brand called Radisson Red. Eadisson Red is self-described as a “Lifestyle Select” category hotel that is upscale, focuses on the smallest details and facilitates personal interaction, personal choice, and the advanced integration of technology into the hotel stay. Guests will be able to use a mobile application to check-in, order food from the deli, arrange for a taxi to the airport, and access many other services through the convenience of their smartphones. Radisson Red is expected to launch in major cities and urban centers of the United States in 2015.
Freedom to Innovate – A new brand gives a hotel chain the flexibility to inject some personality and do things somewhat differently than how they are done in their other branded hotels. A new brand can still maintain the parent company’s philosophy of providing outstanding service and great value, but it also has the freedom to reach those goals in its own way.
Commune Hotels is introducing a new brand called Tommie that is scheduled to open in 2015. Taking its name from the company’s Thompson Hotels, Tommie is based on a simple and functional concept that appeals to travelers who are free-spirited and want comfortable accommodations without all of the frills. The rooms are described as “space- efficient crash pads” and the property includes public lounges called Reading Rooms and casual communal dining. Tommie hopes to attract the young, savvy, connected, and discerning traveler who values new experiences more than fancy hotel rooms when they travel. The first two Tommie Hotels are being developed on 31st Street in Midtown Manhattan and down in lower Manhattan in the West SoHo neighborhood.
Best Western is entering the Boutique hotel space in North America and the United States with its new Vib (pronounced Vibe). The hotel is being designed to be a vibrant and dynamic gathering place with different zones for relaxing and working. Guest rooms will be on the smallish size at approximately 200 square feet, but they will contain high-quality furnishings and fixtures such as an LED lit showerhead with mood lighting and a desktop that doubles as a headboard. The Vib revolves around its grand lobby which will include a bar, food service, and plenty of communal seating.
Richard Branson is launching a new lodging concept with Virgin Hotels. Initial plans call for three hotels – one in Chicago (opening in December 2014), one in Nashville (opening in 2016), and one in New York (opening in 2017). By 2020, plans call for as many as 20 new Virgin Hotels.
According to the Virgin Hotel website, rooms will have free Wi-Fi with no bandwidth restrictions, reasonable prices on minibar items, a guestroom that can be divided by a sliding door, and an app that will allow guests to control the environment inside their room.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Sustainability is Key
IHG even rewards its properties, for example the Crowne Plaza Hanalei in San Diego managed by HMG Hotels was honored recently with the IHG Green Engage Environmental Sustainability Award. Tomorrow reaches us every new day, so taking the right steps today to remain in harmony with the local ecosystem and communities not only maximizes investment but is guaranteed to attract a steady stream of new visitors.