The hotel group, which launched last year with two properties, has announced large plans to expand its lifestyle portfolio in Europe and the US with a Washington hotel in the pipeline. Editor of Hotel Designs, Hamish Kilburn, sat down with the CEO, Cyril Aouizerate, to find out more..
I predict a riot, at least in the hotel scene anyway. Since launching in November of last year, MOB HOTEL has started a revolution, proving that the centre of a city’s action does not have to neccessarily be geographically pinned in the centre of the city. The lifestyle brand has turned up the volume – and thrown in a bit of colour – in the mid-market sector with two quirky hotels; one located in a Paris Flea Market, the other situated riverside in Lyon.
The brainchild of the MOB HOTEL – and its growth – is Cyril Aouizerate, alchemist, founder and CEO. He believes that a great hotel is designed around great people. “My desire to was create movement,” he says. “My objective is to use the hotels in our portfolio to create a new vision in the world that a hotel is more than just a bed for the night. That is why, for me, understanding the culture of each of our hotel’s location is so important.”
“I can see that this movement flows in the design as much as it does around the people.”
With the support of designers and hotel experts such as the former partner of Standard Hotels, Steve Case, and close friend Philippe Stark, it is no wonder why the brand’s quirky look and feel is turning heads in Europe and beyond. In a press release from the brand, it describes the creative team as a family that is united by a movement for progress. Speaking with Aouizerate, I can see that this movement flows in the design as much as it does around the people. “We don’t have a uniformed design concept for MOB HOTEL properties,” explains Aouizerate. “Each hotel is different, because as far as the design is concerned, we ensure that the property is completely relevant to its surrounding neighborhood. Creating a strong sense-of-place is everything!”
Although each property’s design starts as a blank canvas, the guestrooms and suites are imagined in such a way to be minimal, unpretentious and effortlessly stylish. The clutter that would be evident in a more traditional hotel offering has been removed – and the focus of the MOB HOTEL experience seems to be in the public areas, which are enjoyed by both the guests as well as the locals; a vital ingredient to the brand’s success. “We have taken risks with the location of the properties in order to be able to open larger spaces,” admits Aouizerate. “And, having created areas that can be enjoyed by the locals as well as the guests, we are able to harmoniously bridge the gap between the explorational traveller and the people at the heart of the location, which is always so wonderful to watch.”
The friendly, charming and relaxed attitude attached to the brand could very well be a welcome answer to opening up the mid-market sector within hotel development even more. Speaking to Aouizerate, I am reminded of the many conversations I have had recently that service in hotels should be considering as the extension of the design. Aouizerate explains: “You will never see a security man with crossed arms standing outside any of our hotels. Instead, you will find a warm and friendly character welcoming people – guests and locals – inside.
But where next for the brand that is slowly making its mark on the European hotel scene? Crossing oceans and several time zones, Aouizerate believes that his concept has no boundaries, with plans to open properties in Boston, LA, Washington, New York and of course expand in Europe with another HOTEL PARIS Gare de l’EST due to open next year.
The mid-market sector in hotel development is booming, and with the growing demand for affordable luxury, hotels are having to think further and further outside the box in order to stand out, nailing their marketing colours and USPs to the mast. As with all great ideas and launches, however, uncertainty and criticism from outsiders soon follows, and this was no different for the start of MOB HOTEL’s early years. “We had to destroy, slowly, the prejudice. When you are on the fringes of the city centre of Paris, it feels as if you are on the other side of a huge wall,” explains Aouizerate. “This was a difficult at the beginning, but once we won over the locals, the rest follows.”
As the hotel group grows into new territories, becoming infected by many local cultures along the way, I end my meeting with Aouizerate with the strong feeling that this brand is one to keep an eye on. With each opening, it will help travellers explore new places and things while comfortably encouraging bonds between fellow guests and other people in the neighbourhood – all under a quirky shell that can change its colours in a blink of an eye. For this reason, I look forward to this modern family evolving in time.