Hyatt Launching 20 New Hotels as Introduction to a “Lifestyle Brand”

The Wall Street Journal covers plans for Hyatt, Loews, and Langham to launch new ‘lifestyle brand’ hotels in 2015.

Hotel chains have shifted their idea of luxury to meet what modern consumers want. Younger affluent customers aren’t necessarily looking for ornate or historical French design or formal service. Even Ritz-Carlton has tried to update itself.

W Hotels, I think, did a fantastic job catching the moment in the late 1990’s but has struggled to keep pace with the potential of the market or update itself to remain relevant. In trying to be “cool” and not just offer a luxury experience catering to a younger demographic, it winds up chasing its tail.

Here’s the thing about “lifestyle” brands. Cool doesn’t last. The Ian Schrager hotels aren’t great places to actually stay, at least anymore. The original W hotels are tired. Heck, the W San Diego was tired in 2009 — when the W Hong Kong has an LCD screen on the floor of the elevator wishing you a “good morning,” “good afternoon,” and “good evening,” how cool is actually physically changing out floor mats in front of the elevator in the lobby with those messages?

You have to constantly update to stay cool, and to start with you have to know what cool is. And what cool isn’t — it isn’t staff who are trained to act as though they are the cool ones, too cool to help guests or offer anticipatory service.

All of the chains have sought to capture this in some way, though. IHG has ‘Hotel Indigo’ which I don’t think has worked. Make no mistake, it’s their aim at a lifestyle brand.

“The Hotel Indigo brand is uniquely designed to reflect the local culture, character and history of the neighborhoods where our hotels are located,” said Adam Glickman, brand experience director, Lifestyle Brands, IHG.

It’s precisely that Indigo doesn’t get them where they want to go that they needed to go out and acquire Kimpton.

According to the Journal we can expect Hyatt to go big:

Hyatt has the most ambitious plan of the new entrants. The Chicago-based company this summer plans to open 20 lifestyle hotels in places like New York, Miami, San Francisco and Paris, according to people familiar with the company’s strategy.

My first reaction to this: isn’t Andaz their lifestyle brand?

My second reaction to this: isn’t Park Hyatt their take at ‘modern luxury’?

So Hyatt will give us a new lifestyle brand that’s differentiated from Andaz and from Park Hyatt. Surely there’s a niche there, as Starwood’s W hotels is different from both of those brands of course. But the proliferation of brands leads to its own potential for brand confusion. Customers have to identify the brand as being a part of the larger overarching brand and realize, even, that they should be booking at that hotel if they’re loyal to the larger chain or even give their loyalty program number if they happen to be booked at that hotel.

These are no easy tasks, and more attempts fail than succeed, but I look forward to seeing and experiencing the different attempts!


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. One of the proverbial hats that I wear is that of a travel agent. As such, I’m accredited with all of these big brands and registered with their TA programs. I can’t tell you how often they update their “training” material to keep up with the brands changing and how focused they are on differentiating the brands. Ironically, the harder they try, the more miserably they fail. As you said, each chain has so many brands that the differences are a) minimal, and b) really not standardized across all properties. A W in the US is different than one in Asia, etc..

    I couldn’t care less what chain or brand a property is part of — and I’M AN AGENT!!! My customers care even less.

    At the end of the day, one just has to know the individual hotel where you’re staying (and or ask about it) rather than trust that because it’s a certain brand it will be a certain way.

  2. Since Hyatt already has Andaz in the upper-upscale segment, I’m assuming this new flag will be more midscale/select service to go up against the likes of Starwood’s aloft, Marriott’s AC and Moxy, and Hilton’s Canopy

  3. @ Gary — do you think Hyatt’s new brand will be positioned to be slightly below Andaz? Something like a “cooler” “Hyatt” brand, perhaps.

    Anyway, more Hyatt hotels is always good but sounds like they are going to just add hotels to cities where they have presence already.

  4. Since we’re speculating, when I ready “lifestyle” I imagine hotels dedicated to obese folks, swingers or potheads.

  5. My guess would be a target to millenials who likely can’t afford the PH or Andaz as easily. I would guess it’s similar to the SPG Aloft hotels.

  6. I really don’t see where you get the idea that Indigo and Kimpton were meant to fill the same niche. I think of Indigo as cheap and trendy, a poor man’s W, while Kimpton is more boutique and upscale.

  7. Park Hyatt would compete with St. Regis & Ritz Carlton, right?

    Andaz is kind of a confused branding to me. It’s not as fun as a W.

    I could see Hyatt adding a W or Aloft competitor to their quiver.

  8. Andaz is a great brand but being destroyed by private owners & investment groups in select hotels
    Andaz 5th Ave is a pretty good hotel and the pancakes a legend
    Andaz Wall Street started out strong but has since removed its kitchen wtf?
    They cook breakfast on a hot plate in the lobby like a homeless person
    The cooking quality selection and execution is pitiful
    The limited room service menu is disgusting with poor choices
    The gym was ripped out and is now inferior small and cramped
    The hotel is very worn and on recent visits not a single person was knowledgeable or had concierge training
    No one to get a taxi and not a single doorman exists
    I’d still stay there over most Ws
    In Tokyo I’d much rather stay at a Grand or a Park Hyatt
    but to each their own!
    Andaz West Hollywood is a joke even the Century Plaza can sell for more typically
    The Gym sucks the walls are paper thin with noise from Sunset and nearby rooms and the beds as hard as concrete
    Plus the hotel is stingy on upgrades to their best customers
    That’s before I wait 30 minutes to an hour to have my car retrieved from their inept valet
    Andaz London while a nice building is a collossal failure
    With clueless management and quirky rooms
    I’d stay in a dated corporate hotel than suffer their sea of brainless interns.And while they are at it could they please install working wifi in 2015?
    Hopefully Andaz Maui will be a much better experience!

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