Boutique Design - July/August 2018 - 14
BD ON THE ROAD: NEW YORK
BY MARY SCOVIAK
The hotel industry's brand table is already
crowded. But, in a business that's about
hospitality, there's always room for one (or a
half dozen) more, right? Both global giants and
up-and-coming niche players are banking on it.
Companies large and small used the
platform of the 40th annual New York
University (NYU) International Hospitality
Industry Investment Conference June 4-6 at
the New York Marriott Marquis to unveil new
and renewed flags to more than 2,000 hotel
investors, developers, operators, designers,
architects and analysts. Here's a highlight reel
of some new names to drop.
How would you like to tap into $500 million worth of renovation business?
That's the upside of targeting hotel owners who already have committed to
Marriott Intl.'s transformation vision for its third largest brand, Sheraton Hotels
and Resorts. Globally, 25% of the brand's hotels have either signed on or actually have started work on transitioning to the flag's new interior concept and
service menu. There will be more to follow.
This is more than a refresh; it's a total rethink of a once-strong brand that was
struggling. "I spent the first six months on the job listening to a few happy owners.
But I heard from a lot more who were angry and frustrated with Sheraton," Indy
Adenaw, vice president and global brand leader of Sheraton Hotels and Resorts
told Boutique Design (BD) during an interview in the 4,200-sq.-ft. prototype of the
flag's new lobby space and guestrooms set up in the nearby 5 Times Square
building. "The message was that they weren't making as much money from Sheraton as they did from other brands, and that corporate efforts at improvement
were disjointed and inconsistent. Clearly, we had a lot of work to do."
According to Adenaw and Lionel Sussman, vice president, global design
strategies, Marriott Intl., Sheraton's brand leadership and design teams had to
deliver a product with more revenue-generating muscle and also one that
could win back some buzz from travelers.
That started with a dramatically different lobby footprint. The old school
reception area is now a midcentury modern-meets-sleek-Asian-accented
mixed-use space where guests and locals can work, eat, relax and play-alone
or together. An oversized "productivity table" serves as the anchor for this freeflowing interior expanse. Clever touches, such as lockable drawers, signal how
closely design and operations aligned to anticipate little extras guests will
appreciate and, hopefully, share on social media.
A "coffee bar/bar" that morphs from morning coffee service to happy hour
"adult beverages" spans the back wall, making it easy to grab a coffee while
boutiquedesign.com july + august 2018
working or socialize over a drink. It's not only a gathering point but, thanks to
the shadow-box installation of the backbar, it's also a conversation-starting
showcase of local and artisanal elements. Equipped with a full-on deluxe coffee
"experience" at one end and an extensive display of taps for craft beers at the
other, this signature feature animates the lobby throughout the day and creates
a reason for guests to spend more time and money onsite rather than at the
"There's nothing more off-putting than a lobby or F&B venue that's empty
half the day," said Sussman. "We made the bar seating more comfortable,
layered the lighting and added points of interest to make this space both
authentic to its setting and inclusive. We purposely didn't want to do a sports
bar or a themed venue because that could make some people feel they don't
belong there. Our goal was to break down that barrier so that there'd be no
worries about fitting in."
Another priority was a layout that would blur activities, said Adenaw. An
elevated area at one end of the lobby easily morphs into a destination for small
meetings thanks to its flexible seating and tables. For those who need more
structure, the new template includes enclosed studio spaces that can be rented
from the Sheraton Digital Experience platform. If privacy is the goal, guests can
escape into some small, sound-proofed booths to take a call or just tune out
Upgraded guestrooms have their own secret sauce, including a desk that can
be raised or lowered at the push of a button. The 320-sq.-ft. floorplan also makes
room for a 6-ft. shower and 5-ft. vanity. "Owners told us we had to focus on the
guestroom. But, we had to make sure we could deliver the upgrades they wanted
without stripping down the public spaces and while still keeping costs in line,"
said Adenaw. The solution, added Sussman, was to follow the lead of the lobby
and focus on a few dramatic statements rather than overspending on layering.
COUR TE S Y OF MARRIOT T INTL .