HOW HOTELS ARE BECOMING HOMES

Co-working space at hotel.

Everybody has a workplace, and everybody has a home. Those are the two most important places in most people’s lives. However, there is an increasing need for a third place, a neutral space where people can relax. It’s essentially a home away from home.

These homes away from home create the same feelings of warmth and belonging as a normal home, but instead at a new neutral location, where people can relax in public with friends and encounter familiar faces.

Traditionally people have gone to bars, cafés, bowling clubs, churches and even libraries. Now hotels are starting to tap into this, creating a home away from home for guests who visit for more than just a good night’s sleep. The hotels that make the most of this are lifestyle hotels.

What’s the driving force behind these new homes away from home?

“The latest generations are becoming key drivers of the lifestyle and leisure segment, with preferences for experiences, highly social spaces, constant connectivity and availability of food and beverage services,” explained Peter Hamilton, director of hotel valuations, CBRE.

The millennial generation is certainly a large reason why so many new unique lifestyle hotels are opening. Mintel statistics showed that 83 percent of millennials took a leisure trip in 2016. These young travellers demand local experiences, unique to the destination, and want to interact with the community. Lifestyle hotel brands took this into account, designing restaurants, bars, lobbies, co-working and lounging spaces that are unique and attract locals as well as visitors.

“A lifestyle hotel focuses heavily on being creative and innovative, so upon entering you are immediately hit with an array of vibrant colours and eclectic surrounds,” said CBRE in its latest Check-in market report.

Naumi Hotel Auckland Airport, for instance, is one of Auckland’s most attention-grabbing lifestyle hotels. It only opened earlier this year, but it’s already built a reputation on its colourful aesthetic, and playful attitude.

“Customer needs are always changing, and lifestyle hotels are flexible and fast enough to keep up with guest needs. The designer aesthetics particularly calls out to niche markets, which makes up a rapidly growing portion of the new age travel pie,” said Gaurang Jhunjhnuwala, CEO Australia and New Zealand, Naumi Hotels.

“Guests nowadays are also looking for more than the standard offerings – to be addressed by name, conversations on how their day went, personal recommendations for local finds etc – which lifestyle hotels seem to do particularly well in.

“A lifestyle hotel has its own unique sense of personality, style and soul. It provides guests with a fresh outlook into hotel design – in offerings or interiors.”

To make its properties like a home away from home, Naumi aims to make its guests feel like they’re visiting a friend.

“A home away from home is somewhere where guests feel at ease and completely comfortable, akin to staying with a friend. At Naumi, our pricing strategy is all-inclusive, which includes WiFi, sumptuous breakfast spread, facilities usage, mini-bar in-room, snacks and nibbles. Our staff also communicates with guests in a personal and approachable manner,” said Jhunjhnuwala.

Across New Zealand, QT is another notable brand which has tapped into this market, opening both QT Museum Wellington and QT Queenstown.

“We continually strive to achieve a home-away-from-home experience across all touch points of the guest journey. At QT, we are embraced for being in bed with the locals through our strong relationships with local partners and producers. We work closely with design collaborators who are experts in their field to create thoughtfully designed spaced which enhance the guest experience. Our unique service culture helps us to create personal touches, and surprise and delight moments for our guests,” said Garth Solly, general manager, QT Museum Wellington.

QT Museum Wellington lobby.

“More and more people have creature comforts at home so we need to create unique experiences that reflect the needs and desires of each individual guest. With so much choice in the market, hotels need to find new and interesting ways to offer products and services, and lifestyle hotels offer a way to stand out from the herd. Lifestyle hotels are the next generation of boutique hotels – adapting a personal and unique service offering melded with genuine hospitality. It is also the understanding that not every guest is created equal and the need to create an authentic connection in order to create a truly memorable stay.”

Guests at these properties feel a new sense of belonging at these colourful properties. They feel immersed and part of the community. In New Zealand, many of the big operators are now in on the trend, bringing their own lifestyle hotels to Auckland with more on the way. IHG has its EVEN hotel and Hotel Indigo, and Accor has SO Sofitel, all opening within a couple minutes’ drive from each other in the Auckland CBD over the next two years.