Hyatt’s New Lifestyle Brand Revealed

Yesterday I wrote that Hyatt would be launching a new ‘lifestyle brand’.

All of the major chains want one, they’re all trying to build one. They’re notoriously difficult – the notion of cool changes, it needs constant updating, and major lodging corporations aren’t always well-suited to capture whatever it is that that is.

And when they build these brands, they can wind up adding to brand confusion with too many choices that aren’t clearly differentiated in consumer minds or aren’t well tied to the main brand (can you name all of Marriott’s brands — such that you’d always know when to add your Marriot Rewards account number, or if you’re a Marriott loyalist know to choose each of their brands over a competitor?).

I suggested yesterday that I wasn’t sure how an upscale lifestyle brand fits in with Hyatt’s existing portfolio, where Andaz is already a lifestyle brand and Park Hyatt is modern luxury.

Now we know the way they’re going to try.

The new >Hyatt Centric brand begins with a play on words

When you enter one of their hotels, you’ve arrived there… (just like BUckaroo Banzai, ‘no matter where you go, there you are’) but when you check into one of their hotels you’ve arrived, you are meant to feel as though you’ve achieved something.

‘Put up your feet, savor a craft cocktail, prepare to explore..’

The hotel is aimed at .. and when you stay there you can tell yourself you are… a ‘modern explorer’.

The mockup photos look quite nice.

Pets are welcome. They advertise ‘perfect lighting’ which I suppose is a contrast from several Andaz bathrooms.

These are the initial advertised cities:

Depending on the price point and execution, these could be really great hotels. Great hotels, ‘lifestyle’ branding notwithstanding. I’m still not sure that they need a brand separate from Andaz for these, or separate from ‘Hyatt’ (as distinguished from Hyatt ‘Regency’, such as the Hyatt Olive8 in Seattle).

Unquestionably though more nice Hyatts are a good thing, it means more choice and more competition in the lodging market and that brings down rates at the upscale price points simply by virtue of having more upscale rooms in a city.

Of course they’re beginning in markets where Hyatt already has a presence so this really doesn’t help expand the chain’s footprint — which is truly its limiting condition.


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. Based on the press release Hyatt put out this morning, the initial properties are going to be already open Hyatts or already announced ones in the pipeline. Frankly, it just looks like Hyatt is taking some of the newer or more recently renovated properties that are not Regencies or Grand Hyatts and rebranding them without making too many changes. Considering that these properties were fine before as just “Hyatts”, I’m not convinced this new flag is going to have too much of a distinct identity from other Hyatts.

  2. If DWT’s guess is correct, I bet I can already guess which Hyatt in Atlanta will get rebranded: Hyatt Atlanta Midtown. Has similar decor to the mock-ups and the feel/vibe they are going for.

  3. I recently stayed at the Hyatt Herald Square New York, and the styling there fits into this aesthetic. It felt very “Andaz” but perhaps didn’t meet some aspect of that brand standard, so I imagine it will fit into this new brand.

    I don’t think the new brand is necessary, but I clearly am not an expert in hospitality marketing and economics. The only thing that would motivate me to seek out the Hyatt Centric brand is if they improve on the quality of Andaz — I have yet to stay in an Andaz property that I have liked.

    The Andaz Wall Street New York is a disaster. The built quality is awful — floorboards were coming up in my suite, the walls were stained, and the whole property felt like a 15 year old building. The Diamond welcome amenity option was a tablet screen cleaning rag. On the plus side, the restaurant was amazing for breakfast, almost reaching the standards of the Asia properties I’ve stayed at.

    The Andaz Napa is similarly run-down. The interiors felt like they were built by the same firms that throw up subdivisions on-spec in the suburbs. The restaurant here was terrible, which is a sin for Napa Valley.

    Park Hyatt is by far my favorite brand, and my experience at every property has been unique and exceptional. I also have no complaints about any Grand Hyatt that I’ve stayed at. I’d love to see a “lifestyle” brand like Andaz that meets the quality standards of Grand… perhaps Andaz’s currency is spent and they’re going to renovate and rebrand.

  4. The way I read this is that they think their hotels don’t appeal to a certain type of traveller. Well perhaps that traveller is looking outside of the big chains for a reason. They very well may not be able to capture the market they are aiming for here. I like boutique hotels for a reason. Hope they have done their focus group studies properly.

  5. My initial thought was also that Hyatt is simply renovating and rebranding existing hotels.

    The Long Beach location, for example, is probably the relatively-small Hyatt at the Pike, which was one of those properties they acquired from Avia a few years ago. It’s always seemed strange to me that Hyatt would operate an “unbranded” Hyatt just a few steps away from a Hyatt regency. I’m sure the rebranding will help them tap into a new market.

  6. Andaz as a brand has lost their way. It was trying to be cool for cool’s sake. Now it’s just a another expensive brand that has a more edgy decor than the Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency. It doesn’t have enough brand equity in the marketplace to justify it as a “lifestyle” brand. It’s just another expensive hotel.

    The problem with the chain hotels are the indiscernible differences between their brands. Today’s millennial generation are wanting more from a hotel stay and these large hotel chains reminds them of their father’s business trips or vacation stays during their youth.

    The research in their presentation is right. The upcoming travelers don’t want to feel like a stranger/tourist in foreign place. Not only do they want to be connected virtually but also physically to their new surroundings.

    This brand has a chance if they position their brand in the marketplace correctly with proper pricing (but then again, this applies for all new brands). A lot of people may have a negative attitude towards these new brands but I welcome it. At least it shows they are trying to stay relevant in an extremely competitive landscape where hotel rooms are more like commodities rather than something special.

  7. I have nothing substantive to add to this thread, but I do love me a good Buckaroo Bonzai quote…

    Greg

  8. While the mock-ups and the…intent…seem great, I feel that all these stylized and individualized hotels do nothing but dilute the brand. They’ve gotten to the point that it seems like they’re over-diversifying by providing too many “experiences”. They’re up to, what, like 5 or 6 different brands now? How many market segments for hotels are there really? And I ask that honestly.

    If the current economy has taught us anything, it’s that the vast majority of travelers generally choose lodging (and air travel) based on lowest price with some minimal variables like location or amenities thrown in for good measure. But generally, price is the deciding factor.

    Those of use that are loyal to a particular brand of hotel tend to go for those that will earn the most points during paid visits, and those that are the most economical when redeeming points. At least I know *I* do. Unless I’m at a resort that’s intended to be all-inclusive, I spend minimal time in my room, so a Hyatt is a Hyatt is a Hyatt.

    I’d prefer they just focus on upgrading their run-down properties so as to provide a very good company-wide standard level of accommodation instead of trying to attract very specific crowds.

    Call it Schadenfreude, but I really hope this fails so they see they should just focus on maybe or two GREAT brands, instead of 5 or 6 brands, half of which end up falling by the wayside and becoming mediocre at best.

  9. Why would you want that brand to fail? Let the market decide. Competition is good for the consumer. Currently, there is no affordable “lifestyle” brand at the moment. It’s hard to nail high-end hardware and software at an affordable price-point.

    I do appreciate your comment about them focusing more. You are right in that they should consolidate their existing brands but to ignore a whole new generation of travelers would be foolish.

  10. I think it would be absolutely awesome to have a slightly more upscale version of Aloft. Starwood has done the W/Aloft split and it’s awesome. I *love* Aloft and I like W. (I see Andaz/Centric split being similar.) I also love that it’s so destination focused. It feels like they’re bringing the good aspects of hostels to hotels. That’s awesome. That’s something you lose with hotels vs. hostels. The focus on location, location, location with lounges with destination information is wonderful and long overdue. I very much identify with the targeted demographic: a wanderer who pores over top 100 destination lists in spare time, makes must-see lists, loves to travel, love to explore, loves to do open-ended travel, loves great stories. I also love the emphasis on well-designed in-room tech: “guests can enjoy the in-room technologies designed to connect seamlessly with their devices and media”. That’s one of the things I love about Aloft: desks that have outlets on top and a whole plethora of TV inputs, network data jacks, etc, etc. Modern style, relatively inexpensive, very comfortable, super-functional, cool; that’s all Aloft stuff that I love. Add in the lounge and location and destination-focus information and I’m very, very excited about Hyatt taking Aloft up half a star and innovating with destination-focused, hostel-style stuff.

    Excellent concept that I’m very excited about!

  11. The only thing I fear is that the Escala property in Park City gets upped from a Cat 4 to a Cat 5 and I can no longer redeem my Hyatt Card anniversary nights there.

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