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Concrete

Hotel Designs puts ‘Bleisure’ under the spotlight at IHS Amsterdam

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel Designs puts ‘Bleisure’ under the spotlight at IHS Amsterdam

Hotel Designs’ editor Hamish Kilburn was joined on the Hotel Vision Stage at Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam by Zoku’s founder Hans Meyer and Concrete’s director Rob Wagemans to discuss whether designers and hoteliers should be designing for ‘bleisure’ in mind… 

Day one at the Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam concluded with an engaging panel discussion, entitled Designing For Bleisure’ that aimed to disrupt the conventional hotel experience.

“A recent survey carried out by Great Hotels of The World found that 75 per cent of business travellers had extended their trips for leisure purposes,” editor Hamish Kilburn shared with the audience over on the Hotel Vision stage to kick-start the discussion. “What’s more is that in 2017, 2.2 million bleisure trips took place – that’s 10 per cent of all business trips.”

Joining Kilburn for the live debate was Rob Wagemans, the founder and director of Concrete and Hans Meyer, the founder and director of Zoku. “I actually disagree slightly with he whole ‘leisure’ terminology,” said Wagemans. “I think our industry needs to be really cautious not to package trends in this way, because it can really strip the creative process. Instead, I believe that we should be designing spaces around people and their demands.”

One man who arguably understands more than anyone what his guests require when checking in is Meyer, who spent six months ‘living like his guests’ in order to identify exactly how he should design his first property, which was Zoku Amsterdam. “I do agree with Rob,” he said. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand your demographic before designing or creating anything. When we designed Zoku, I lived like my target audience for six months to not just understand from a top level what would engage our guests, but also to experience what our guests want from a hotel. The brand was formed around what was lacking in the industry.”

Wagemans, who was a visionary behind many of the CitizenMs and a handful of W Hotels around the world, believes it is the responsibility of innovators in order to create better working spaces in hotels that are designed to last. “There are many times – too many times to count – where I have received a brief from a client, thrown it in the bin and presented something different to them,” he said. “But everything I present to a client has been thoughtfully considered to help the overall guest experience. Of course, we work towards the client’s goals, but we are also delivering a service.”

The trio went on to discuss the idea and concept of opening up the guestrooms to be more than just a bed for the night. “Will there ever come the day when the guest room in urban hotels will be used for meetings,” kilburn asked. “We actually have this already in the guestrooms at Zoku,” explained Meyer. “All areas have been created with emphasis on living and working so that the guest rooms are what you want them to be to an extent.”Wagemans, who actually designed Zoku Amsterdam with Meyer, added: “It’s about creating areas that flow into other areas. It’s down to us, designers and architects, to work with hoteliers in order to challenge what is conventional – that’s very much how we work.”

The session went on to highlight some interesting solutions, encouraging the audience to work outside the box in order to come up with new ideas. It explored how designers, hoteliers and architects alike can innovate the industry and their hotels by presenting practical working spaces. “I don’t take inspiration from other hotels necessarily, but more from other industries entirely,” added Wagemans.

As bleisure trends continue to be on the rise, it is down to the industry to figure out how best to invent new spaces that are practical, flexible and built with people in mind.

The Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam continues…

Hotel Designs is a proud media partner of Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam. Continuing this topic further, Hotel Designs will be with Great Hotels of The World at Hotel Summit to further discuss how to increase revenue by utilising on blesiure trends.

citizenM opens US flagship hotel this week

1024 768 Hamish Kilburn

citizenM launches US flagship hotel, kicking off an ambitious rollout plan across America…

citizenM – the pioneer of affordable luxury hotels – is doing what they do best once again: launching a new hotel and causing further disruption in the traditional hotel industry. The award-winning brand is returning to New York City to throw open the doors of citizenM New York Bowery, a 300-room sister hotel to the citizenM New York Times Square open since 2014.

citizenM New York Bowery continues to build on the brand’s presence in New York, where it opened citizenM Times Square in 2014. Continuing the company’s ambitious rollout, by 2020, the brand will have around 40 properties either open or in development globally – more than doubling its current portfolio.  In North America alone, citizenM plans to open a dozen hotels, in major cities that include Seattle, Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami.

“Even the art we use will be drawn from the local art scene, as well as international contributors.”

Since its founding in 2008, citizenM has upended the rules of traditional hospitality by introducing the concept of ‘affordable luxury for the people’. This starts with selecting well-connected locations in the world’s most popular cities, so business and leisure guests spend the shortest possible time commuting. Each property offers a streamlined, luxury experience – including high-tech amenities, friendly and efficient service, luxury guest rooms, and spacious and inviting living areas filled with contemporary art and iconic 21st century furniture by the likes of Verner Panton, Hella Jongerius and Jasper Morrison from Swiss manufacturer Vitra – all at an affordable price.

“The hotel is designed by Amsterdam-based firm Concrete, a long-time partner of citizenM.”

“When we were looking for our next New York location, it became clear very quickly that Bowery is an exceptional destination,” said Rattan Chadha, the founder of citizenM. “We don’t want to be just another building; we want to become part of the neighbourhood’s fabric while showing New York’s visitors a different side of the city. Even the art we use will be drawn from the local art scene, as well as international contributors.”

The new location, which is now taking reservations from 12th September, will be the tallest building in the neighbourhood, standing 246 feet high on the oldest thoroughfare in Manhattan, with an expansive cloudM rooftop bar, outdoor terrace, and spectacular 360-degree views of New York. Occupying the entire 21st floor, cloudM features oak cabinets, Vitra chairs and couches, and chandeliers so large, they’ll catch the eye of pedestrians on the street.

The hotel is designed by Amsterdam-based firm Concrete, a long-time partner of citizenM. Their design for the Bowery is – as usual – unmistakably citizenM, without duplicating anything they’ve done before.

As guests enter the hotel through the plaza, they will meet citizenM’s ambassadors, and get their key in just one minute at the self check-in/check-out kiosk. A striking spiral staircase leads towards the living room on the lower ground floor, featuring double-height ceilings, bookshelves, and a 24/7 canteenM bar at the heart of it. Glass walls stream in plenty of daylight and open to a view of the park outside, mirrored inside with benches and picnic tables for the same fresh relaxed vibe as the public plaza.

citizenM’s philosophy of ‘affordable luxury’ is best experienced in the guestrooms. They are smartly furnished with everything modern travellers need, and nothing they don’t. Everything in the room is the very best: the bed is XL king-size wall-to-wall with a superb mattress and luxury bedding. An HD TV features a library of on-demand movies, plus streaming options via free superfast Wi-Fi. A powerful shower with full-size shower gel and shampoo (as well as giant fluffy towels) will soothe all long and short-haul travellers. The room ambiance is fully controlled by an iPad – the blinds, the TV, even the lights with changeable colours (and settings like ‘romance’ and ‘movie’).

The hotel draws inspiration from the local community for the hotel’s interior, which will be filled with an eclectic mix of contemporary art, photography, and objects by local artists. citizenM has commissioned the New Museum, and its incubator NEW INC, to supply art for the guest rooms. Known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant art scene – anchored by the New Museum and emerging art galleries – the Bowery is an ideal home for the new citizenM hotel.

citizenM Bowery will be the company’s 13th property globally, and its second in the US. In addition to citizenM’s established pipeline in the US’s largest cities, the company is eyeing further afield, and will consider venturing into new markets such as Toronto, Chicago, Austin, Silicon Valley, Denver, etc.