Last week Hilton announced it was unveiling it’s 18th brand. This makes for the sixth new brand announced by Hilton in the last three years. Dubbed Tempo by Hilton, the “approachable lifestyle brand” is targeted at the “modern achiever.” Heavy-duty marketing lingo to be sure, but in an interview with Skift, the chain’s Senior Vice President of New Brand Development, Phil Cordell, was at least honest enough to say, “Lifestyle is a word that sometimes is kind of overused. We don’t know exactly what it means.” Indeed.
It has been suggested that the hotel industry has used this trend as an excuse to eliminate or downgrade certain elements of the standard hotel room while simultaneously jacking up the price. That judgement may not be far off the mark for some brands. Taking away closets, alarm clocks, comfortable chairs and usable tables certainly saves money when you’re furnishing hundreds or thousands of rooms.
Unfortunately, the end result often looks more like a dorm room than a hotel room. And while that aesthetic might be familiar to millennial business travelers, we’re not sure that’s what they’re looking for as adults in the real world. We suspect they’re as fond of comfortable chairs as previous generations.
But there may be other aspects of hotel furnishings and operations which will strike a responsive chord with millennial travelers. Only the marketplace can say for sure and as winners and losers emerge we will learn which brands hit the mark and survived the challenge.
Here are a few lifestyle brands which corporate travelers might consider for their next business trip.
When Phil Cordell attempted to describe Tempo’s place in the hierarchy of hotels, he described it as “above a Hilton Garden Inn and below a Canopy.” That’s because Canopy is nicer than most of the brands on this list, and the cost is higher as well, sometimes landing over $400 a night in certain markets. Corporate travelers who can afford that range will enjoy canopy beds, filtered water stations and local art on the walls. They’ve kept comfortable chairs in the mix, but nixed closets in favor of a rack for your clothes. There are two Canopy hotels in Atlanta, as well as locations in Austin, Bethesda, Columbus, Dallas, Ithaca, Minneapolis, Portland and Washington, DC. International locations include Chengdu and Hangzhou in China, plus Reykjavik and Zagreb. Hilton is bullish on the brand and has 17 other Canopy properties in the pipeline worldwide.
Trendy, minimalist décor is the consistent factor with this brand, with each property located in a central location near local bars and cultural attractions. While slightly less expensive than Canopy (rooms average $250-$300 per night) this is not a bargain brand as all that trendy furniture undoubtedly cost Hyatt a fair bit to procure. They are currently running a promotion with Sofar Sounds—who curates live music experiences—to sponsor a series of intimate concerts hosted at Hyatt Centric hotels. There are 31 properties worldwide in the brand, mostly in major destinations, but some unique locations as well, like Key West and Park City in the US, and Goa, Guatemala City, Istanbul, Lima, Montevideo and Santiago overseas.
This Marriott brand has generated a lot of buzz of late, some of it deserved. The epitome of chic, the property has ditched alarm clocks and traded closets for pegs on the wall (and lockers in the lobby). Instead of the usual work desk you’ll find a foldaway table hanging on the wall. The bath is cool, but the rooms are small and designed to send guests on down to the lobby where comfortable chairs can be found, along with a happening bar scene at most locations. There is no front desk and guests check-in at the bar where they receive a complimentary cocktail. The brand has taken hold in Europe where there are 48 locations, while the US lags behind with half as many properties. There are five properties in Asia.
IHG’s entry in the wellness hotel space, EVEN Hotels can be found in hip locations like Seattle, Brooklyn and Miami (there are a total of 8 in the US, none yet outside the country). The focus is on healthy, holistic living with the mission of helping travelers maintain their exercise and eating regimens while on the road. This is accomplished with a world-class fitness center, exercise mats in guest rooms, and a Grab-and-Go snack center with fresh-squeezed juice, made-to-order smoothies and organic treats. Even the shampoos are organic.
A Westin brand, is similar to Eden Hotels, but features larger rooms, many with kitchens. They have saline swimming pools (as opposed to chlorine) and offer rental bikes as well as a state-of-the-art fitness center. Another unique concept is their Studio Commons room, the first of its kind in the industry, which provides a flexible space for groups looking to spend time together in a more private setting, while still enjoying all the comforts of a hotel room. There are 65 properties in the chain, most in North America.
Radisson’s hipster brand revolves around mind-blowing wallpaper, plastic chairs and what they call “picnic tables” in your room. Also, the color red, which is everywhere. On the bright side the nightly rate is half what you would pay at many other hotels on this list. The furnishings are quite spare, but to be honest the wallpaper will look great when you post on Instagram. Also a plus is the brand’s mobile app which lets guests do everything on their phone but make the bed. There are only two properties in the US, Portland and Minneapolis, with the rest in Brussels, Glasgow, Cape Town, Miraflores (Peru) and Campinas (Brazil). The brand’s more established, upscale sister Radisson Blu is going strong, however, with 380 locations worldwide.
Another Hilton brand, Tru is very similar to Marriott’s Moxy, but with one important difference…its cheap. Less than $100 a night cheap in most cases. Boasting “fun-sized rooms” (translation: they’re really small) paired with large TVs and bathrooms, missing items include closets, desks and bathtubs (walk-in showers are provided instead). Tru has skipped putting a bar in the lobby and offers single-serve beer, wine and gourmet snacks at a mini-convenience store instead. And without the bar scene in the lobby we’re not sure how much socializing will develop around the pool, ping-pong and foosball tables. Definitely a no-frills option among lifestyle hotels, Tru might appeal to millennial business travelers on a budget. Started in 2016, the chain has expanded to 149 locations in the US.
At the other end of the cost/comfort spectrum, Marriott’s The Edition bills itself as “the first large scale, truly global branded portfolio of lifestyle hotels that will set the standard for decades to come.” Each property has a unique feel, concocted by hotel design celebrity Ian Schranger to channel the local vibe. As an example, the Miami Edition features a bowling alley, nightclub, indoor ice-skating rink, personal cabanas and 70k SF of beachfront. All the furnishings are top-of-the-line and exude comfort and style, so don’t be shocked when you get the bill. There are Editions in London, Miami Beach, New York, Sanya (China), Bodrum (Turkey), Barcelona, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Times Square and West Hollywood.
The Graduate Hotels
It was only a matter of time before someone came up with the idea for a hotel brand located on college campuses. And unlike some of the other brands on this list, the concept is not to emulate a college dorm room. The furnishings are nicer than that, more like you’d find at a college frat house, but with a lot of sports memorabilia. Top Golf has installed Swing Suites in several of the properties, and the sports connection is emphasized with tie-ins to the teams at each location. Bar and restaurant offerings are college appropriate, but still upscale, so the whole experience offers guests a chance to get nostalgic about their college days without having to actually “rough it”. Currently you can find Graduate Hotels on 26 campuses in the US, with the first international locations planned for 2021 in Cambridge and Oxford.
It’s all about minimalist style at this Marriott brand. Architect Mies Van Der Rohe is quoted at the website, “Less is more” and while the rooms are uncluttered and refined, they still manage to be impressive with sleek hardwood floors and walk-in rainfall showers. The rates match the aesthetic and you should expect to pay from $299 up to $699 per night for the experience. Dining choices are appropriately trendy and feature items like Key Lime Salad, Catfish Tacos and Wagyu Beef & Kimchi Hot Dogs. Located near cultural attractions like art museums and upscale shopping areas, AC Hotels can be found in 173 cities around the world.
Richard Branson has applied his re-imagining skills to hotel branding and the result is, as always, unique. The two-part rooms in these properties are called “chambers” and consist of sleeping and entertaining areas separated by a sliding barn-type door. It’s all much cooler than it sounds as are the public areas of the hotel. The Commons Club is the standard eating/dining/socializing center at all the properties and there is always a rooftop feature, whether it be a gym, pool or secret terrace. Taking along Fido? Branson has thought about your pet too and they have special rooms with comfy dog beds. There are Virgin Hotels in Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco, with locations in Nashville, New York and Las Vegas coming later this year.
There’s a paper-thin difference between Aloft and Marriott’s other millennial-focused brand Moxy. Aloft has been around a lot longer (since 2005) and has live music as a draw, but other than that and a lower nightly rate there’s little to separate the two. Look for Marriott to roll the two brands together at some point in the future to save money printing bar napkins. Of course, they’ll have to decide which pricing tier to settle on, overpriced (Moxy) or on-the-money (Aloft). That decision will depend on the market when consolidation is considered. One thing is for sure, the brand is well established with 140 locations in place around the world.
This chain of unique boutique hotels has charm to spare and with each hotel reflecting the particular whimsy of its location you’d have to visit all of them to fully appreciate how truly inspired the décor of this chain is. And while some design choices work better than others, they are always unique. Business travelers bored with same-old hotel rooms will be delighted to know unique options exist and for a rate that is actually comparable to the cookie cutter properties. The first Hotel Indigo opened in Atlanta in 2004 and there are currently 129 properties worldwide.
We have purposely left soft brands off this list, i.e. hotel collections where an assortment of individual, unique properties has been assembled under a single banner. Thompson Hotels, The Unbound Collection, Tribute Portfolio, and The Curio Collection are just a few examples where hundreds of hotels that might be considered lifestyle hotels can be found.
For guidance when booking your next business trip, trust the global travel management experts at Teplis Travel. With a wide range of booking options, we can help you find the best hotel, airline, and car rental for your next trip.