Luxury Hotels Introduce Curated Experiences and Old World Salons

Not so long ago, city hotels were largely considered forgettable places that offered a place to sleep and no more. It didn’t matter which hotel—it could be super luxurious or even beautifully designed—most travelers didn’t want to spend more time in them than necessary. 

But that wasn’t always the case. Hotels used to be the setting for cultural experiences and rousing debates. In the 19th century, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant popularized the term “lobbyist” when, as he would indulge with a cigar and brandy in the lobby of InterContinental The Willard Washington, D.C., people (some total strangers) would engage him with various grievances. And the Algonquin Hotel in New York City was the daily lunchtime forum for a group of writers led by Dorothy Parker ; it was also where The New Yorker magazine was founded. 

Today, hotels are glamorous hangouts once again, and the legacy that they historically enjoyed as the stomping grounds of lively discourse and idea exchange is being resuscitated. 

These days, hotels that fall within the luxury and lifestyle categories can’t survive without offering much more than a bed to sleep in. The terms “experiential travel” and “bleisure” are among the industry’s most important talking points, and as such, accommodation brands have been tasked with creating properties that are destinations themselves. 

Transporting spas, see-and-be-seen chef-driven restaurants, and exclusive experiences are now part of the DNAs of the world’s most sought-after crash pads. Part of this includes developing culturally relevant programming. And what better way to do that than by bringing the old-world salon experience back into fashion? 

In 2011, Andaz launched a salon series that ticks a lot of these buzzy boxes: Influential figures would lead interactive events that centered on a cultural topic relevant to the property’s location. 

“We know our guests travel to satiate their curiosity about the world and local culture,” says Heather Geisler, Hyatt’s vice president of Global Brands. “Andaz Salon is a powerful way to get close to our guests—to give them what we know they are looking for when they travel.” 

Whether it was a Q&A with the photographers whose works were hung all over Andaz 5th Avenue or a talk and demonstration with Tetsuya Nagata, known for his eye-catching washi paper artwork, at Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, the salon events allow the brand to naturally embed its hotels in the places they’re in. That way, guests can continue to connect to these cities even when they’re no longer out exploring.

An even bigger name invested on its own salon concept in 2016 when Marriott Hotels partnered with TED. Through the collaboration, TED Talks started appearing in Marriott properties all over the world. While the onsite activations are much smaller than the conferences TED is known for, the content isn’t any less compelling. 

In fact, the topics that the Marriott speakers tackle are often just as hard-hitting. For the hospitality chain, the TED Fellows Salon is meant to stimulate the modern traveler. 

“The Marriott Hotels guest is naturally inquisitive and looking for inspiration when they travel,” says Mara Hannula, the vice president of global brand marketing at Marriott International. “The TED partnership helps us deliver that thought-provoking content, helping our ‘inventive class’ guests escape from their everyday routines and gain refreshing new perspectives.” 

In 2018, for instance, the Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield hosted “Women in Innovation” featuring TED fellows like Zubaida Bai, who spoke about the critical importance of maternal health. Marriott also brought the project to South Africa in March 2019, when the Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers hosted conservation biologist Steve Boyes to discuss the environmental needs of the Okavango Delta. 

But it’s not just established names that are jumping on the movement. Relative newcomer Arlo Hotels, which in 2016 launched in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood and just opened its third location in Miami, started its pARLOur talks in August 2018 to specifically address a growing traveler need: local connection. 

“The biggest trend we’re seeing is people want to spend less time in their rooms and more time connecting with the destination and its locals,” says Dayna Castano, corporate director of marketing for Arlo Hotels. But that doesn’t always mean sending them out to try a new restaurant or to take a guided tour. “Hotels have to be smarter in their programming, and realize that they need to encourage curiosity and exploration just as much inside the hotel as outside in the city,” Castano adds. “Our guests need more than the standard happy hour or paint and sip classes. ” 

Arlo has spearheaded many of these events across its three locations (most of them are themed around holistic, green living), but according to Castano, pARLOur talks have so resonated with the public at-large that prospective speakers have been pursuing the hotel for the opportunity to organize their own iterations. 

Elena Baxter, co-founder of Conscious magazine, a globally distributed publication that tells the stories behind some of the planet’s most empowering and game-changing people and initiatives, and Jessica Kelly, who founded THR3EFOLD, a platform that connects brands with ethical factories around the world, originally pitched the “Shifting the Fashion Industry for People & Planet” discussion that was staged at Arlo SoHo during New York Fashion Week.


Filed Under: Hotels

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.

Read previous post:
Awareness of water risks is rising in food and beverage, but more progress is needed

Unilever does the best at recognizing and managing risk factors associated with water out of large food, beverage and ingredients...