Two fashion icons recently announced plans to launch hospitality brands, while Italian fashion house Missoni appears to be stepping away from its hotel ties, reflecting both the lure and challenges of hitching hospitality to a fashion brand.
Tommy Hilfiger's new hospitality unit agreed to acquire Miami Beach's Raleigh hotel from a partnership led by SLS Hotels parent SBE Entertainment Group. Hilfiger Hospitality, which plans to use the property to help establish the new entity, described its focus as creating an "experience centered on fashion, art, music and entertainment."
Hilfiger will play what his company described as "a leading role" in renovating the 105-room Raleigh starting early next year, though the company said the hotel's name won't be changed and SBE will continue to manage it.
Meanwhile, Karl Lagerfeld, best known as the head designer and creative director at Chanel, reached an agreement for the first hotel under his name to open in Macau in 2017. The 270-room hotel will be part of the $3.9 billion Lisboa Palace project, which broke ground on Macau's Cotai Strip last month. It will also include a 270-room hotel, Palazzo Versace Macau, in reference to the Italian fashion house.
In January, Rosewood Hotels, which is renovating Paris' iconic Hotel de Crillon, tapped Lagerfeld to design two of the hotel's largest suites.
Carlson Rezidor, on the other hand, announced this month that it was discontinuing its licensing agreement with Missoni, and the company's Rezidor arm will rebrand the two existing properties by the end of June. Hotel Missoni properties slated for Oman, Qatar, Turkey, Brazil and Mauritius will go by a different name.
"This decision is in line with our long-term strategy and focus on our core brands, Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson," Rezidor CEO Wolfgang Neumann said in a statement last month. "It is equally aligned with the redefinition of Carlson Rezidor's global brand portfolio."
The marriage of big-name fashion brands and hotels appears to be a natural one, as the Internet makes it easier for global customers to take in the latest trends and as the growing middle and upper class in developing countries like China become more status-obsessed.
"There's definitely some ego behind this," said Ron Swidler, principal at the Gettys Group, a Chicago-based hospitality designer whose projects include Peninsula Hong Kong, Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Florida's Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne.
He added, though, that hotels can use the opportunity and the fashion-brand collection to seasonally adjust decor components similar to how fashion lines are adjusted.
"There's an incredible opportunity to do what hospitality hasn't historically done," he said.
It also continues a trend that started in the early part of the last decade before the economic downturn began slashing higher-end hotel demand. The first Versace hotel opened on Australia's Gold Coast in 2000, and the Ritz-Carlton/Bulgari partnership debuted in Milan four years later. The first Armani Hotel opened inside Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, in 2010.
Still, the effort has not been without its challenges. While Carlson Rezidor declined to comment specifically on the performance of the Hotel Missoni properties, the Edinburgh hotel is just 5 years old. The Kuwait property opened in 2011.
That said, the rewards can easily outweigh the risks, especially in an area like China, where a typical guest may already be carrying a Fendi purse or wearing a Chanel suit, Swidler said.