Boutique Design Events and Trade Fairs

The main message coming from the 40th annual New York University (NYU) International Investment Conference held June 3-5 at the New York Marriott Marquis was, “Don’t worry; be happy.” It was clear that the leaders of hospitality investment, operations and consulting companies were bored with the whole idea of rehashing where the industry is in the business cycle or what inning this is. “We don’t think about ‘innings,’” said Daniel Hansen, president and ceo, Summit Hotel Properties. “There are always good deals to do. The focus is not so much about where we are in the cycle as it is about where we see opportunities.” Hung Luk, coo of Lam Group, agreed. “No one knows for certain what inning this is,” he told Boutique Design at an invitation-only reception held by Wyndham Hotel Group. “Overall, investors seem to fairly optimistic. The general consensus is that these good times will continue—and, if there is a bump, the investment community can adjust.”

Given the menu of new brands and reinvented flags that debuted at or shortly after the conference, both hotel owners and designers will see more options for new hotel products at every price point and some new target markets. Here are some to watch:

  • Compass, the new select service concept by Margaritaville Hotels & Resorts, channels the core brand’s relaxed, escapist vibe into properties with a lifestyle look and price point designed to appeal to business travelers. “In our focus groups, we found a lot of people who loved the brand but may not be comfortable putting Margaritaville on their expense forms,” said John Cohlan, ceo, Margaritaville Holdings. Expect to see the brand debut in urban and resort markets.
  • Sheraton’s new face. In the 4,200-sq.-ft. Sheraton Experience constructed during NYU, the team showcased a return to the legacy brand’s roots with social public spaces. In this incarnation, look for tech-led touches, as well as modern elements such as a communal work table with locking drawers for laptops and a “privacy booth” where guests can turn the volume up on conversation, music or interviews.
  • InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)’s Voco. While the upscale conversion brand’s first hotel is in Australia and the next likely properties to carry the flag are in the U.K., a worldwide rollout is planned, with a total of 200 hotels over ten years.
  • Hilton president and ceo Christopher Nassetta offered a few hints on long-promised new brands. One is a micro-hotel concept and another might be a luxury brand that’s above Conrad in the star-rating system. A third is another soft brand. “Two of the three will be confirmed by end of the year,” he promised at NYU.

Stay tuned for more of BD on the road at NYU, BLLA and InfoComm.