As 2014 draws to a close, we took some time to reflect on the most exciting hotel openings of the year. With hotel construction picking up speed, new brands eager to debut their first locations, luxury development on the rise, and companies vying for the attention of millennials, we had the difficult task of winnowing down a long list to just 10 noteworthy properties:
Epiphany Hotel: Situated in downtown Palo Alto, Calif., the Epiphany Hotel is located a block from prime retail street University Avenue, next door to one of Facebook’s first headquarters, a few blocks from Stanford University, and surrounded by Silicon Valley’s leading venture capital firms. The 86-room luxury boutique hotel, managed by Joie de Vivre Hospitality, caters to tech-savvy travelers. Mezzanine-level meeting and co-working spaces are wired spots to network, brainstorm, or catch up on work. Each guestroom features complimentary high-speed Internet and G-Link docks for streaming movies and games from mobile devices to large-screen TVs. The hotel also has a dedicated technology concierge.
Cabana Bay Beach Resort: The opening of the new-build, 1,800-room Cabana Bay Beach Resort in March marked the fourth onsite hotel at Universal Orlando in partnership with Loews Hotels and Resorts. (The fifth hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, is slated to open in summer 2016.) With its bold colors and retro-inspired architecture, the resort transports guests back to the 1950s and ’60s. In addition to standard guestrooms, the hotel offers family suites that sleep up to six people. Other family-friendly features include a dive tower waterslide, two zero-entry pools, a lazy river, a 10-lane bowling alley, and a food court.
citizenM New York Times Square: The first citizenM hotel in the United States opened in April near Times Square in New York City. Headquartered in Amsterdam, citizenM is known for its offbeat sensibility and emphasis on affordable luxury, technology, and style. The design for the 21-story, 230-room hotel was a collaboration between Amsterdam-based design architect Concrete and New York City-based executive architect Montroy Andersen DeMarco (MADGI). The 2,300-square-foot first floor houses an oversized, living room-style lobby that provides work and meeting space, food and beverage, entertainment, a bookstore, and a bar.
Marriott Marquis Washington DC: With an estimated price tag of $520 million, the new 1,175-room Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C., raises the ante on convention center hotels. Opened in May, the property offers more than 105,000 square feet of meeting space and is connected to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center via an underground concourse. Striking design features include a 44,000-square-foot glass ceiling atop the lobby atrium and a 56-foot high sculpture centerpiece. In addition to holding the distinction of being Marriott International’s 4,000th property, it’s the capital’s largest hotel and one of the largest hotels in the country to be LEED silver certified. The hotel is owned by Quadrangle Development, along with its partner Capstone, and is operated by Marriott International.
Archer New York: Archer Hotels debuted its first property in midtown Manhattan’s Garment District in May, and locations in Napa and Austin are currently under development. The 22-story, new-build hotel, designed by Glen & Co. Architecture, features industrial touches such as exposed brick and steel and butcher-block tiled flooring. LodgeWorks, a privately held hotel development and management company, is the owner and developer behind the new upscale boutique brand. The concept was built around a fictional host named Archer who engages with guests and embodies the overall brand experience. LodgeWorks tapped Chicago-based ideation consultant Matt Phillips of Phillips + Co to refine the Archer identity and worked closely with design team 50,000feet (also based in Chicago) to bring the creative elements to life.
EVEN Hotels Norwalk: In June, InterContinental Hotels Group finally opened its first Even Hotels property in Norwalk, Conn., shortly followed by the debut of its second location in Rockville, Md. The hotel industry had been waiting patiently since IHG’s announcement in February 2012 to figure out what to make of the new wellness-oriented lifestyle brand. A result of more than 24 months of consumer insights research, the Even Hotels concept is designed to help guests eat well, rest easy, keep active, and accomplish more. The 129-room Norwalk property features flexible public workspaces, dining and social areas, natural outdoor spaces, in-room fitness elements, and a three-zone gym.
Park Hyatt New York: The opening of the Park Hyatt New York in August marked a significant milestone for the brand, giving it representation in a key market and boosting its global visibility. The flagship hotel takes up the first 25 floors of the 90-story, $1.4 billion One57 skyscraper on West 57th Street, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc and developed by Extell. Yabu Pushelberg created the vision for the interior design, which was inspired by New York’s most illustrious Upper East Side homes. In addition to the 210-room luxury hotel, the mixed-use development features 95 condo residences.
SLS Las Vegas: More than three years and $415 million later, the former Sahara Hotel reopened as the SLS Las Vegas in August. The massive project was the combined vision of SBE Founder Sam Nazarian, James Beard award-winning chef José Andrés, and design icon Philippe Starck consulting through Gensler. The 2.5 million-square-foot development features a mixed-use resort and casino with more than 1,600 guestrooms and suites, 30,000 square feet of meeting space, and a collection of SBE’s dining and nightlife brands.
Miami Beach Edition: Edition Hotels, the lifestyle brand conceived by boutique hotel pioneer Ian Schrager in partnership with Marriott International, has had a bumpy journey since its 2007 launch. In addition to its slow growth, the brand made headlines in 2011 when the owners of the Edition Waikiki hotel in Hawaii staged a takeover and ousted Marriott as manager. The opening of the Miami Beach Edition marks the brand’s return to the States, joining locations in London and Istanbul. The property is located on a 3.5-acre private enclave stretching from Collins Avenue to the ocean shoreline. Highlights include a 24-hour coffee shop by Michelin star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and an entertainment hub with a micro-club, a bowling alley, and an indoor ice skating rink.