NEW YORK -- On the
heels of a flurry of brand launches aimed at Generation X (Aloft,
NYLO, Hyatt Place), hotel companies appear to be embarking on what
might be called Generation Extended Stay.
Starwood, Hyatt and
Marriott provided details on new extended-stay hotels and
improvements to existing hotels at the New York University
International Hospitality Investment Conference, held here earlier
hotels have long outperformed the rest of the industry as far as
return on investment, partly because there is little fluctuation in
occupancy. Hotel companies are increasingly looking to remodel them
to appeal to a younger crowd.
Marriott is calling
redesigned Residence Inn rooms Gen7 suites; the entrance to the
redesigned TownePlace Suites is being called the Launching Pad
rather than the lobby.
Brands are pitching
communal space, spa-like bathrooms and oversize fitness centers,
products and services meant to attract young guests.
Some speakers on
conference panels were skeptical about the strategy. Barry Bloom,
senior vice president of CNL Hotels & Resorts, said, Hotels
might be so focused on appealing to a certain demographic that they
turn off people who feel like they might not fit into those places.
Advertising guru Donny Deutsch said, You cant just start a brand
based on some kind of ideology or feeling. It has to be based on
Other speakers were
more confident about generational shifts.
president of Portman Holdings, a development company, said, You
have to look 10 years ahead. Ten years ago, boutique hotels were a
little thing off to the side. Now Goliath is copying
At the show,
Starwood offered glimpses of its yet-to-be-named extended-stay
product, Project ESW, which is modeled after its Westin brand.
Starwood will roll out the brand in 2007.
Hyatt unveiled the
prototype for Summerfield Suites, which will be contemporary and
stylish, with an emphasis on technology.
will provide free wireless Internet access and flat-screen TVs that
integrate with laptops. Hotels will have oversize fitness centers.
Rooms will have spa-style bathrooms. A Guest Kitchen Buffet will
offer a free hot breakfast and serve specialty coffee throughout
the day. A Guest Market will have specialty upscale food and
Westin and Hyatt executives derided existing extended-stay product.
Jim Abrahamson, Hyatts senior vice president of development, called
it mundane and tired. Starwood CEO Steven Heyer said it is frankly,
When told about
those comments, Laura Bates, Marriotts senior vice president of
extended-stay brand management, said, We are not resting on our
laurels. We are constantly innovating to keep up with the needs and
preferences of our guests.
Residence Inns Gen7
suite features separate zones for cooking, dining, working,
relaxing and sleeping. The design will be implemented in new hotels
and existing hotels when they are renovated.
With the Gen7 guest
rooms now designed, said Bates, Residence Inn is focusing on public
spaces where there will be some sort of gate house with a lot of
choices for guests, everything from a Monday Night Football party
to quiet spaces for work or chatting.
Suites by Marriott, said Bates, the Launching Pad will consist of
the Welcome Center, an informal space that offers quick and easy
check-in and an introduction to local services and destinations; In
a Pinch, a market area offering food and beverages; and the Towne
Map, a floor-to-ceiling map that will show staff- and guest-chosen
local restaurants, shopping and activities.
Guest rooms will
feature modular furniture that enables guests to rearrange pieces
for dining, working or entertainment.
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