The extended stay portion of the lodging business continues to see strong demand. But are extended stay brands doing enough to keep up with travellers’ evolving tastes and needs? Editor Hamish Kilburn speaks to Sam Ghosh, Vice President at STAY…
A few weeks ago, during Hotel Designs LIVE, former presenter of The Gadget Show Jason Bradbury boldly told me that the hotel model as we know it will change forever in the post-pandemic world.
With this in mind, I caught up with Sam Ghosh, who is the Vice President of STAY, a residential brand offering serviced apartments in iconic and well-connected locations that shelters the comforts and convenience of home, while combining the luxuries of a boutique hotel. With the recent opening of STAY Camden and with new properties on the horizon, Ghosh seemed like an apt person to speak to in order to understand the ever-evolving needs and demands of modern travellers.
Hamish Kilburn: Hi Sam! So, we have identified that there’s a growing accommodation trend of ‘hometels’, but how does STAY fit within this landscape?
Sam Ghosh: STAY is the residential brand from LABS Collective. Located in Hawley Wharf, STAY residences cater to extended stays offering access to LABS flexible workspaces, which is particularly beneficial for business travellers. The design led apartments are created to optimise sleep, productivity, and play, ideal for the mobile workforce.
STAY is a brand that was born with the hybrid ethos in mind – rooms are complete with kitchens with considered design. Guests can also enjoy a concierge service, housekeeping, and premium facilities such as access to a gym. Residents are actively encouraged to make use of the generous communal areas plus it’s on the doorstep of one of London’s most exciting new developments, Hawley Wharf, when it opens in late 2020.
As we emerge out of lockdown, we’re actually seeing a higher demand for serviced apartment living and flexible office space strengthening. Hawley Wharf offers this cautious half step between home and returning full time to offices. Cutting out the commute with STAY and offering a variety of community areas and programming in LABS, we are providing room for people to feel comfortable together again. With careful safety and hygiene adaptations to the space we are creating a comfortable environment for people to re-socialise and feel part of a community.
HK: Can you explain the design scheme inside a STAY property?
SG: The head of architecture and design for LABS Collective, Yaara Gooner, is the creative eye behind our carefully designed spaces. She leads a team of dedicated in-house designers and architects that magically transform our properties, whether LABS workspaces or STAY residences, to create hubs of enterprise, designed for wellbeing, productivity, and growth.
The design of STAY Camden holds the need for our long-term guests to relax, work and entertain. Each apartment has been designed to provide superior comfort to each guest, created by combining natural materials, including marble, stone and natural oak with soft furnishings and brass touches. The majority of our furniture has been sourced by Menu, a Scandinavian design brand providing a distinct Nordic influence across the property.
Within the communal areas, plants also complement the warm colour palette. Nature is imperative to our design process and plants are used for their aesthetic quality and ability to increase productivity, memory retention and decrease stress. They’re also fundamental to creating safe and healthy spaces for our guests and members. Owing to their air purifying qualities we have selected greenery for our public spaces, known to absorb 75 per cent of airborne pollutants.
HK: Can you tell us more about the new safety measures in place?
SG: As a business, our first priority is always the safety and wellbeing of our staff, members and guests and new standards have been incorporated into LABS Collective’s shared workspaces and serviced apartment environments. The measures in place remain so long as the threat of COVID-19 does, but also inform our strategic approach to design and operations in the long term. STAY Camden in fact remained open and operational since the pandemic began, accepting new bookings for guests seeking mid to long term accommodation, prioritising those categorised as key workers or those displaced from their primary place of residence.
We have gone above and beyond the recommended Government guidelines, elevating our standards to ensure that members and guests can enjoy our spaces with total confidence and to support the wellbeing of our whole community. As an example, at Hawley Wharf, Camden where LABS members and STAY guests share the same entrance, visitor screenings are in operation on arrival as well as one-way systems to ensure seamless movement throughout the building for all.
For our STAY residences, we have totally reworked our guest protocols to translate the best practices in safety and hygiene standards to the apartments whilst providing comfortable accommodation that feels like home. These new measures include reduction of touch points across STAY’s three apartment buildings, including the use of a digital link to pay instead of the regular chip and pin machine, and digitising the guest registration form to reduce the proximity of interaction needed at the time of guest check-in.
A barrier spray is applied to all furniture that provides long term coverage to kill pathogens on contact. Upon guest check out, the apartments receive a 48 hour deep clean, including the use of Pro Zone machines to cleanse the air and eliminate bacteria. In preparation for new arrivals a ‘seal of reassurance’ will be applied to the front door of each apartment. Guests will have to physically break the seal to enter the apartment, safe in the knowledge it hasn’t been entered into after a deep clean.
“We also know that people are desperate for interaction after such a long time working at home.” – Sam Ghosh, Vice President, STAY.
HK: You mention an increase in the demand of guests/members wanting to use the Hawley Wharf campus due to the LABS and STAY offering. Are you doing anything further to aid this flexibility of working and living?
SG: With many central London offices remaining shut into the Autumn and beyond, we know that businesses are looking for shorter obligations and for safe spaces to bring their workforce back in comfort in residential zones. We also know that people are desperate for interaction after such a long time working at home.
Recognising the important part that flexible workspaces are playing in this transition to normality, LABS and STAY have launched a new membership which offer a cautious half-way step between working from home and returning fully to the office. Residential spaces like STAY which allow access to LABS flexible workspaces cut out the commute and the vast community areas provide ample room for people to feel comfortable together again. The STAY at LABS membership starts at £2,425 a month and includes a one bedroom apartment at STAY Camden and a Roaming membership providing access to all LABS workspaces.
We are also working to put additional measures in place across all our LABS spaces in London where we have on-site provisions (such as showers and bike storage) for those walking and cycling to work. To support entrepreneurs and start-ups returning to the workplace successfully, LABS has set up a new incubator initiative which provides discounted office space for qualifying small businesses. Initiatives like this will be integral to a future generation of thriving companies and talent.
Main image credit: STAY Camden