A handful of recently launched brands that focus on community, inclusivity and flexibility are reinventing the hospitality and travel sectors.
Caption by Hyatt
With locations set to Memphis, Shanghai, Osaka, Tokyo and Saigon, Caption by Hyatt is a blend of select service and lifestyle sectors, with an emphasis on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI). The team led by Kenneth Villamel, Global Vice President of Product and Brand Development at Alila Hotels & Resorts, Andaz Hotels, Thomson Hotels, Hyatt Centric Hotels, and Caption by Hyatt; Crystal Vinisse Thomas, Vice President and Global Lead for Lifestyle and Luxury Brands; Brian Contreras, Director of Standards and Optimization, who is also the brand’s culinary lead, coined the term “conscious subscriber” to describe the perfect caption for a life guest. “There is a market for those people who are aware of the brands they support that align with their needs as they travel,” Thomas says.
To this end, Caption will provide local products, recruit local talent, and feature programming that reflects the community. The lifestyle segment was highlighted in a partnership with Union Square Hospitality Group, which led to the development of the dedicated food and beverage website Talk Shop, the hotel’s “vital social space,” Contreras says.
While all Caption by Hyatt locations will be self-activated from keyless entry to QR code menus, staff will also be available to assist guests along the way. “Our research showed that guests, particularly in this sector, were comfortable with it. In fact, some of the anecdotal responses we received said, ‘If the lobby is visible enough, I will sit down with my luggage before I check out my room,’” says Thomas.
As for the design, the owners are given two different palettes of materials to make each property feel unique and grounded in its location. Although typical, the vibrant guest rooms also stand out, featuring seating for work and play, private bathrooms, and bold artwork, graphics, and colours. “When guests walk in, we want them to smile,” Villamel says.
A foundational element of the brand’s philosophy is the focus on DEI, so hotels are not just “in” a place, but “inside it”. To demonstrate its commitment to DEI, Hyatt has also launched the Change Begins Here initiative to diversify the suppliers and business partners the company works with. “We’re all diverse in our backgrounds: I’m a black woman, Kenneth is Puerto Rican, and Brian is a Filipino American,” Thomas says. “We all have global experience. We have traveled everywhere, but we are also aware of where we hang out. We wanted to create [a brand] It reflects the world we live in today.”
Soli Hotels and Resorts
Catering to multi-generational travelers has been the impetus behind Soleil Hotels & Resorts, the luxurious, friendly alternative to the Timbers Company’s upscale Timbers resorts. “We’ve found that people prefer a great vacation with their family rather than buying another vehicle, which has only been inflated since COVID-19,” says Greg Spencer, CEO of Timbers Resorts. With the opening of the first property on Kauai, Hawaii in 2023, 72 condominium-style units will “have all the attributes that make Timbers resorts attractive to people,” says Spencer, but at an affordable price. Residing on 450 acres of Hōkūala with views of the Pacific Ocean and the Ha’upu mountain range, Soleil design by Hilton Head, a South Carolina-based J. Banks Design Group, will be resplendent with the colors and textures of Kauai (think wood and the abundance of greenery), with spaces That blurs the line between inside and outside. “We like to enjoy what we do,” Spencer points out, “because it’s what we’re passionate about.”
Spanning six generations, Julius Meinl is the family-run Austrian manufacturer of coffee and gourmet food, continuing to develop its legacy, most recently with the four-year long-established Julius brand. “Hospitality is a natural extension of our brand and our values,” says co-founder Julius Meinl VI, who acknowledges that “the learning curve [of entering a new segment] It was rather colossal.” Working with Milan-based Matteo Thun & Partners on their first property in Prague, which will open this summer, the brand builds on the family’s 160-year history. It embodies timeless European luxury across spacious common areas, co-working spaces , on-site F&B options, and 168 residential-style apartments with separate living rooms, kitchens and guest rooms Interiors feature a warm, minimalist Thun color palette Julius is designed for short and long stays in major European cities (Budapest, Krakow, Bucharest and Milan are on the Meinl list) Underpinned by the idea of accessible luxury, he says, “We provide our clients with a high-quality hospitality experience that is truly a luxurious home away from home.”
Combining co-working, lively public spaces and residence-inspired rooms, Leven’s first site in Manchester, England, brings guests to an early 20th century red-brick warehouse in the heart of the Village. The Wellbrook Hospitality brand “supports a way more people aspire to—living a more thoughtful, considerate life on our own terms,” says Hoxton alum Timothy Griffin, now director of Wellbrook Hospitality and co-founder of Leven Hotels. The 42 rooms range in size from one-bedroom suites to two-bedroom duplex penthouse suites, with kitchen areas available for extended-stay guests. Leven is also supported by the warm and comfortable interiors. Soothing paint colors, greenery, and tactile materials like natural wood and stone complement the industrial warehouse while also recalling the brand’s ethos of living life to the fullest. “The hotel world is full of rules and restrictions that old hoteliers set for old hoteliers,” says Griffin. “We wanted Leven to be a place designed to meet the needs of our guests – a place that plays a role in helping them live their best lives.”
College towns have always been a desirable location for developers, but most are still without a high-end hotel product. Enter Study Hotels, founded by Paul McGowan, who launched brands like W Hotels. The first study in 2008 was the 124-room study at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where the 1961 hotel was ready to be remodeled. “Looking at New Haven as a market compared to the quality of Yale University, there was a huge gap between what was offered and what the needs were at the time,” he says. Working with Toronto-based firms KPMB and Jill Greaves Design, guest rooms feature leather chairs and ottomans that reference academia, while cultural programming exploits the richness and culture of these college towns.
Studying at University City in Philadelphia, between the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, followed in 2017, with architecture from local firm DIGSAU. The 10-year gap allowed McGowan and his team to reflect on brand building. “We didn’t consider this an arms race,” he says. “We weren’t looking forward to going out and launching 20 hotels.” The portfolio complements studies at the University of Chicago, which opened earlier this year and features design by the interior design team and New York firm 15 Moreland Design Studio. The study at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, in collaboration with 15 Moreland, is expected to begin online later in 2022.
“When people get their acceptance letter into Yale University, the first thing they do is contact the study [to book a room] The development of their four-year relationship [with us]McGowan says. “We allow people to immerse themselves in the college experience at a level they might not have if we didn’t show up at this location.”
This article originally appeared in the April 2022 HD issue.