Pushing Boundaries

To get beyond the get away, guests seek more meaningful experiences, and everyday solutions. Here’s how some brands are answering that demand.

Ever since the Heavenly Bed made it’s way down to Earth from Westin in 1999, hotel brands have been finding ways to break the fourth wall that previously kept guests' travel fantasies and luxuries from entering their own home.

But today, loyalists expect much more, and companies are pushing themselves out of their comfort zones in order to become a more holistic, lifestyle solution that goes well beyond bringing home sweet-smelling soaps and lotions.

When trying to become a part of guests’ everyday, “always look outside the expected,” says Aliya Khan, vice president, global design strategies, Marriott International. Moxy Hotels has come up with more of a “permanent” extension of brand DNA, shall we say? Pop-up events in Memphis and Atlanta later this year will feature famed tattoo artist Megan Massacre offering up free tattoos of designs she has personally created, all based on the artwork displayed at Moxy Hotels through its Blank Canvas program. With an endgame of creating new conversations surrounding arts and culture, the program gives creators the opportunity to develop artwork for new openings via ongoing “creative invites” hosted with Moxy’s partner, Talenthouse. 

Now that’s dedication…

Last month, Marriott Bonvoy continued their partnership with legendary music festival Coachella – a marriage that was a “no-brainer” according to Khan, as in the last year alone, the W brand has actually launched a record label (W Records) and music festival (Wake Up Call). But the Aloft brand is also known as a favorite for the next generation of travelers passionate about music and technology, not to mention unique ways of expressing themselves. The Aloft Safari Tents at Coachella integrated touchpoints that remind them of features found on-property at the latest fixed Aloft iterations, such as a selfie station with Bluetooth mirror, musical props and Instax cameras. Mini fridges come in the shape of a Marshall speaker, replacing the traditional clock radios in every room at the latest Aloft properties as well, while pop-up W XYZ bars serve tiki-inspired cocktails in mini boom boxes.
 

Aloft Tents Coachella | exterior | Marriott

The Aloft Tents at Coachella 2019; courtesy of Aloft Hotels

Aloft Tents Coachella | interior | Marriott

Reinforcing its rep as a brand dedicated to music lovers at its permanent locations, the Aloft tents included details such as this vinyl record faux floating headboard; courtesy of Aloft Hotels

The Aloft Safari Tents were one of several Marriott shelter options that included the W Yurts, resembling the recently opened W Dubai – The Palm. They “were decked out with lush carpeting commonly found in the middle eastern oases of the Arabian desert, palm tree-inspired lighting, a sand-filled hour glass, and curvaceous shapes which mimicked the dunes of the region around W Dubai – The Palm,” explains Pablo Henderson, global marketing director for W Hotels Worldwide. The entire space was also draped in gold accents and the same Arabian lyrics which adorn the walls of the rooms at the hotel were transferred to the yurts. “It’s the small touches like this which not only speak to the brand’s passion for music but also give a little nod to the music lovers at Coachella,” he says.

W Yurt Coachella | exterior | Marriott

The W Yurts at Coachella 2019; courtesy of W Hotels

W Yurts Coachella | interior | Marriott

W's Yurts were draped in gold accents as a major exemplifier of its mothership: the W Dubai – The Palm; courtesy of W Hotels

Building off a mantra that “anyone can belong anywhere,” Airbnb has also begun implementing programs that are providing some truly exceptional experiences for a lucky few applicants. Complete immersion in culture and community is the name of the game here. For example, the Airbnb Italian Sabbatical handed five winners (out of 280,000 candidates) the opportunity to move to Grottole, Italy – a village with only 300 inhabitants and more than 600 empty homes – on June 5, for three months.

There, citizens will provide them with a “grounding in Italian culture, food, language and traditions,” according to a press release. “The five volunteers will be completely immersed in community life, starting their journey with one month of training lead by locals before becoming fully fledged Home and Experience co-hosts with Wonder Grottole, a local NGO that promotes urban regeneration.” They’ll in turn act as hosts of Airbnb’s Social Impact Experiences, showing visitors traditional skills such as vegetable farming, honey harvesting, pasta making and olive oil production.

And from Italy to France, one couple’s art history dreams came true just a few days ago when they were able to spend one night in the Louvre! 

Let that one sink in for a moment: they slept in The Louvre! Talk about a transformative experience.

Louvre | bedroom | Airbnb

Photo courtesy of Alban Gendrot

The Louvre | Venus de Milo | Airbnb

Photo courtesy of Alban Gendrot

The Louvre | Napoleon III's apartment | Airbnb

Photo courtesy of Alban Gendrot

Airbnb’s partnership with the Louvre will extend to the end of the year with more one-of-a-kind experiences set to be revealed soon.

Becoming all things to all people is not realistic. But being more things to more people is certainly the new star to shoot for. Tell us how you’re working to extend traditional hospitality brands off property.