The sight was unusual in the bustling L.A. Live plaza in downtown Los Angeles last week. Outdoors, in the shadow of towering buildings, including the JW Marriott hotel, attendees of the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) caught a glimpse of Marriott International’s newest brand: Moxy.
As attendees wandered through a mock lobby and an unashamedly-small guestroom, they witnessed what travelers are already experiencing at the world’s first (and only) Moxy hotel in Milan, Italy. It’s what awaits elsewhere as the brand expands across Europe and the United States.
The new brand targets tech-savvy, budget-minded millennials. “It’s a 183-square-foot room, so it’s a cozy room,” Toni Stoeckl, Marriott’s vice president of lifestyle brands, explained. “But it’s not a reduction of amenities and quality and style.” Clever design features include a peg wall that runs along the side of the room, Stoeckl added. “It hangs the portable furniture—like a table, a chair, the luggage rack—all on the wall so you can pull it down when you want to use it.”
There’s definitely a different design in play. Rooms feature a queen bed, but gone are traditional pieces of furniture, such as desks. “We found that increasingly…those large desks in the rooms are not so relevant anymore,” noted Tina Edmundson, global brand officer for luxury and lifestyle brands. “Most people actually work in bed. And people like to come down to the (Moxy’s) living room, ‘The Now,’ and be among other people.”
The emphasis is indeed on the public spaces, where people can socialize, play a game of pool or foosball, or simply curl up with their laptops in a quiet corner. The Wi-Fi is free and USB outlets abound. “People don’t spend that much time in the guestrooms. It’s not where we wanted to make the investment,” Edmundson said. “In Milan…you’ll see people who don’t know each other at all sitting at the communal table enjoying a drink or some snacks.”
The Milan property opened last September, and Marriott plans to place most of its Moxy hotels in Europe. Launches in cities including Berlin, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, London, and Munich are expected over the next two years. It will be at least next year, and possibly 2017, before the first U.S. properties open. Three hotels are planned for Manhattan, with others in Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Seattle. Moxy expects to attract business travelers during the week and leisure travelers on Fridays and Saturdays.
Architects at Stonehill & Taylor and interior designers from Yabu Pushelberg are collaborating on the Midtown and Chelsea projects in New York City. Like other Moxy properties, they will be themed to fit their neighborhoods.
While many of the American projects will involve renovating existing buildings, Moxy’s Chelsea property will involve tearing down a three-story building and replacing it with a 36-story tower. “That one will have a very industrial aesthetic, and a greenhouse/atrium concept as the entry,” said Vince Stroop, principal at Stonehill & Taylor.
According to Stroop, a light color and material palette will give a fresh, spacious feel to the compact guestrooms. The adaptive reuse property in Midtown will feature an entry door with a frosted fire safety glass panel to draw light in from the corridor atrium and further enhance the open feel, he added. Marriott’s Stoeckl noted that one space where guests definitely won’t feel cramped is in the bathrooms, which feature spacious showers with the words “Deep End” cleverly molded into the drain covers.
The Moxy name is the result of some brainstorming at corporate headquarters. “We thought about the target psychographic of the consumer we were going after,” Edmundson explained. “We thought we were going to do something pretty courageous and sort of ‘out there.’ And it took a little bit of moxie to do this.”