A hotel that brings the local culture into the property from the decor to the art work, to the beer and wine, and even the entertainment is what you’ll find with Hilton’s new brand, Canopy by Hilton, which was unveiled last week at Hilton Worldwide’s Global Partnership Conference. According to hotel principals, this lifestyle brand will be affordable, fun, lively, and very high tech.
“There are a considerable number of customers in the market that gravitate towards destination neighborhoods, food scenes, music scenes, architecture, whatever it is,” says Jim Holthouser, executive v.p. of global brands at Hilton Worldwide. “This attracts people of all ages. It might skew more to millennial travelers, and it’s very popular with female travelers, but as we look at Canopy’s role in the market, we think it’ll be attractive to more customers.”
At a price point similar to the brand’s family-centric Embassy Suites, guests will find “great neighborhoods, good design, energetic social spaces, and really good rooms,” points out Holthouser. Lifestyle properties have traditionally been the domain of luxury level brands, he adds, but Holthouser also notes that Hilton has taken what people love about lifestyle lodging and brought it down to a more affordable price.
Canopy’s signature Just Right guestrooms offer a great bed because, as Holthouser says, “fundamentally, that’s what we’re selling, a really good night’s sleep.” Guestrooms feature a Serta Night Series mattress and a wooden canopy over the bed, giving each guestroom a signature look. Rooms also feature a chaise lounge; filtered water; shelf space for clothes, but no closet door; and a TV “art wall,” as Holthouser referred to it, which is a TV framed with a cork board on to which hotel staff will pin announcements about local happenings such as sporting events, new restaurants, art walks, live music—any local event that guests might be interested in. Although 75 percent of the rooms will look the same, they will have an authentic feel with mismatched bedside tables and various art pieces in each room. Also, each property’s decor and artwork will pull from the local scene and reflect the surrounding neighborhood.
The hotel will also host evening events, such as a tasting of local brews, wine or spirits that will be included as part of the room rate. Also included in the rate is complimentary breakfast, high-speed Internet, and a welcome amenity that reflects the neighborhood. Hilton also plans to bring in local artists, or live bands for evening entertainment when possible.
“Taking our inspiration from the neighborhood, guests will be given a welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift, another little taste of something local they wouldn’t have time to do or wouldn’t know about,” says Holthouser. For instance, he says, in Chicago it could be Garrett’s popcorn; in Denver, Rocky Mountain chocolate. “It’ll be something that the local area does really well and will be a way of introducing guests to something really cool and local,” he adds. “The social aspect is very important to the customer staying here.” He adds that after offering a good bed, and great design, the third thing that needs to be right in a lifestyle brand is to have good social spaces.
Now, what about those high-tech features? Canopy will be the first Hilton brand to roll out with e-check-in from day one. Guests will be able to check in through their mobile devices, pick a room of their choosing from a map of the hotel, and then use their phone as a key to the room. This feature will also be available at four existing Hilton properties in the U.S. in 2015, and by 2016, e-check-in will be worldwide. If a guest doesn’t have a smartphone to access their room and check-in, they can do so at a hospitality station—the hotel will not have a front desk.
Currently, there are 11 Canopy properties under development worldwide, with plans to open by 2016. However, there are others that will be re-designed existing properties opening in 2015. Holthouser notes that there are currently interests for Canopy properties in Dubai, Qatar, Munich, and Berlin. Currently, the new builds will be in Portland’s Pearl District; London; Miami’s Brickell area; in North Bethesda in Washington, D.C.; San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter; Downtown Nashville; Savannah’s Historic District; City Centre in Indianapolis; the Uptown area of Charlotte; Oklahoma City’s Bricktown; and The Commons in Ithaca. For more information, visit canopybyhilton.com.