//Business travel report: Mixing business with pleasure

Business travel report: Mixing business with pleasure

A new generation of hotels is elevating work stays to the luxury realm, with wellness, community and carefully curated features all in the spotlight, reports Jenny Southan

This decade has seen the hotel landscape change dramatically, with the traditional ‘cookie cutter’ hotel being overtaken by trendy ‘lifestyle’ hotels. Instead of uniform decor, each property is unique in its approach to design, often with location-specific features such as custom artwork, upcycled furniture and cultural event programmes. Meanwhile, business travellers are encouraged to work in communal areas rather than alone in their rooms. As we approach 2020, a slew of new brands are entering the market, with wellness, sustainability and group stays all in focus…

1. Equinox
Up until now, Equinox has been known only for its line of luxury gyms, but in June it launched its first Equinox Hotel in New York’s new Hudson Yards. Rooms are “dark, quiet and cool”, and offer access to sleep coaches, while minibars contain seawater elixirs and superfood detox bites. You can even order an IV drip if you’re in serious need of hydration. There is a state-of-the-art gym and spa as well. Chris Norton, CEO of Equinox Hotels, said: “As health becomes the new wealth, Equinox is uniquely positioned to define an emerging category that is disrupting the entire industry.” equinox-hotels.com

2. Life House
Life House was co-created by Rami Zeidan, who formerly worked on Starwood Capital Group’s eco-luxury 1 Hotels. The first hotel opened in Miami’s Little Havana in December 2018 and the second, in South Beach, in the summer. There’s a Life House app for connecting with other guests, while rooms have Marshall speakers and Le Labo toiletries. Some also have bunks. By the end of next year, there will be 45 Life House properties (Brooklyn, Denver and Collins Park are up next) and more than 100 by the end of 2021. lifehousehotels.com


3. Motto
Hilton introduced its new range of “affordable micro hotels” in late 2018, making Motto the 16th brand from the company. The first property is expected to open in London’s Marylebone at the beginning of next year. Designed to be compact and efficient, rooms will feature fold-out wall beds and bunks to maximise space and provide options for groups and families. Tripp McLaughlin, global head of Motto by Hilton, said: “This will be a global brand.” hilton.com/en/motto

4. Treehouse
Following the success of 1 Hotels, Starwood Capital Group is bringing out a new nature-inspired concept called Treehouse Hotels, which will be opening in London’s Portland Place this winter. It will have 95 rooms and a rooftop bar, and has been described by chairman and CEO Barry Sternlicht, as “sunny, homey, witty and fun,” as well as “infinitely accessible”. Sustainability will be core to its values. Additional hotels will be coming to the US “and beyond”. treehousehotels.com

5. Tribe
Accor announced its new lifestyle brand, Tribe, in March. So far there is one in Perth, but another ten will arrive by 2022 in both Europe and Asia-Pacific. Gaurav Bhushan, chief development officer at Accor, said: “The pipeline of over 50 hotels currently being negotiated leads us to believe that the Tribe brand will achieve significant growth all over the world, including in gateway locations such as Paris, London, Singapore, Dubai and Bangkok.” accorhotels.com

6. Voco
InterContinental Hotels Group brought out Voco last summer. So far, properties from the new brand have opened in locations such as Cardiff, Dubai and Australia’s Gold Coast. Next year, it will open one in Mecca with 4,200 rooms, making it ideal for groups of religious tourists who come on pilgrimages. The company intends to roll-out 200 Vocos over the next decade. ihg.com

7. Page
The first Page hotel, Page148, opened in Hong Kong in January, while a second property, Page8, will open on London’s St Martin Lane in autumn 2019. Public areas combine co-working and coffee houses, with expansive communal tables for sitting with laptops. There are also regular events and libraries of books, magazines and maps. Rooms have light wood floors, custom-crafted furniture and air filters. pagehotels.com

8. Signia Hilton
Hilton unveiled its meetings and events-centre brand Signia in February. Properties will have at least 500 rooms, modern architecture, destination bars, lobbies for socialising, high-end wellness facilities and multiple function venues for hire. Sites so far confirmed include the Orlando Bonnet Creek (2020) and the Atlanta and Indianapolis (both 2021). hilton.com/en/signia-hilton

9. Inhabit
The first Inhabit hotel debuted in London’s Paddington in the summer. Focusing on health, it has a meditation pod in the lobby, and 89 rooms with organic Casper mattresses, ethical textiles from Kalinko and Airlabs smog filters. There is also a 24-hour pantry with snacks from local small businesses. No single-use plastics will be found on-site and the hotel café partners with food waste apps Karma and Too Good to Go to reduce the amount of food thrown away. inhabithotels.com

10. Aiden and Sadie
Best Western unveiled Aiden, an “upper midscale” boutique brand, and Sadie, which is in the “upscale” category, in autumn 2018. David Kong, president and chief executive officer at Best Western Hotels and Resorts, said: “Sadie Hotel and Aiden Hotel are chic, sophisticated and unique hotel brands that will reflect the style and pulse of the community they are in.” The first Aidan opened in Seoul last year. The first three Sadies will land in Florida, Texas and New York in 2020. bestwestern.com