InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) offered owners a ‘sneak preview’ of Atwell Suites, its newest brand, during its 2019 Americas Investors and Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, at which time IHG also shared the next phase of design prototypes for Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites.
Heather Balsley, senior vice president, global marketing, for IHG’s mainstream brands, said in a press conference that the new brand targets an $18 million segment of the market its research indicates is not being well served by existing products in the industry today.
She described its target travelers as neither traditional extended-stay guests nor traditional select-service guests, but instead “opportunity seekers,” guests with a youthful spirit who tend to blend work and life—for example, by extending a business trip to explore a new city.
Balsley said specific characteristics of this group that informed the design of Atwell, include:
- Their need to shift within modes—e.g., work and leisure/solo and group interaction;
- A desire to be among like-minded people—whether or not they are engaging with them; and
- A drive to learn and grow, to feel inspired.
In response, she said, the brand was designed with the core values of possibility, kinship, and discovery. “The brand is built to be flexible, giving these guests options at every turn, so they can choose the elements of the stay that are right for them at that moment. It is also designed to foster a spirit of kinship, with spaces that allow guests to make connections, spend time with interesting people, with the overall experience being one of discovery.”
Initial distinct features of the Atwell Suites brand include:
Atwell Suites properties will offer all-studio suites which include distinct zones for living and sleeping; a kitchenette area with counter-height refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker, and sink; a work area with a high-top desk solution; a pullout sofa; an oversized vanity in the bathroom; and a closet that can be easily accessed from both the guestroom and the bathroom.
Spaces To Connect and Collaborate
Guests will be able to easily move from their rooms to public spaces in order to relax, work, collaborate and create connections in whatever way works best for them. The Atwell Suites brand’s design allows guests to create their own environment with more flexible meeting spaces–including a meeting room integrated into the lobby, outdoor space, huddle areas and public/private working spaces.
“Golden Hours” F&B
Atwell Suites properties will offer F&B options for when the sun is coming up and going down. All hotels will include a complimentary hot breakfast that will feature two to three signature hot items, alongside cold, grab-and-go options and premium coffee. Additionally, guests may enjoy a bar in the lobby at the end of the day that will serve small plates paired with a drink menu.
Atwell Suites properties will include IHG’s in-hotel WiFi, IHG Connect. The brand will also offer IHG Studio, a direct casting of entertainment from guests’ smartphones and personal devices to TVs in each room.
Self-check-in will be offered at tablets in close proximity to the front desk/bar area.
“This all-suite, upper-midscale brand, which is optimized for a four-to-six-night stay,” said Balsley, “was designed in close contact with our fantastic owner advisory board to ensure we’re delivering for both guests and owners.” It aims to provide the kind of experience these opportunity travelers seek, as well as a differentiated, right-sized set of amenities and services falling between those offered by traditional extended stay and traditional select service hotels.
“Atwell Suites properties will be efficient to build, operate, and maintain, with an efficient staffing model more consistent with other longer-stay brands, as well as the focused food and beverage offerings described,” Balsley added. Its target build cost is $105,000-$115,000 per key (excluding land costs), with an estimated site size of two acres; and there is a 5 percent royalty fee. In addition, the first 100 signed license agreements will be eligible for a 2 percent fee discount in year one and 1 percent fee discount in year two.
IHG expects the Atwell Suites brand to be franchise-ready in the fall of 2019 with the first hotels beginning construction in 2020 and opening in 2021. Initial development will be focused in the U.S. market and the brand will be new-build led following a prototypical design.