When done right, themed hotel rooms that cater to niche interests can be a major draw for guests who share those passions. These offerings aren’t just confined to over-the-top theme park hotels for families—like the recently announced Pirate Island Hotel coming to Legoland Florida next Spring. Hotels have rolled out sophisticated themed suites that compliment the property’s overall aesthetic, target a specific group of guests, and embrace a local attraction with a loyal following.
Take Sofitel New York’s WAITRESS Suite, which is one in a series of Broadway-themed suites in the hotel that showcase memorabilia from shows like framed original costumes, signed posters, and props. These suites often include added extras—in the case of the WAITRESS the Musical Suite, guests are served a slice of pie and a welcome letter from the cast of the popular musical.
Ames Boston, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton and the Gemstone Collection by BENCHMARK, has rolled out its own themed suite that celebrates a local legend. Following a $6 million renovation that the property completed in 2017, the hotel marked ice hockey legend Bobby Orr’s 50th Anniversary of signing his first professional contract with the Boston Bruins by opening its “Bobby Orr Suite.” The 581-square-foot space showcases memorabilia of the player and the team with refurbished seats from the original Boston Garden arena, a penalty box, a scoreboard chandelier, arena boards, a stadium-seating-style millwork couch, Bruins bedspread, Boston Garden replica locker closets, puck-inspired side tables, and flooring that simulates the look of ice from a professional hockey rink.
Efren Aponte, Ames Boston’s director of sales and marketing, says that the biggest experience the suite offers is the ability to step back in time to relive the Bobby Orr days. “Guests nowadays are looking for something that is above the norm—not your traditional accommodation,” Aponte explains. “Tying into that, it’s creating a unique experience for the room itself and for the guest.”
In the case of the Bobby Orr Suite, the key to creating memories that will keep guests coming back and sharing those experiences with their friends and families is in the room’s unique offerings and surprises. “A lot of guests are basically blown away by the amount of memorabilia that is in the room, and the fact that it was actually donated by Bobby Orr himself,” Aponte says. Additionally, a percentage of the proceeds from the room rate goes to support the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame in Orr’s hometown in Ontario.
The suite fits into the hotel’s larger experiential program called “Find Your Boston,” which creates packages for five distinct personalities: the artist, the adventurer, the historian, the foodie, and the sports fan. For the Bobby Orr Suite, the hotel has created a “City of Champions” package and finds creative ways throughout the year to position the room for events around the city. One of the latest initiatives is a contest—the guest who stays the most frequently in the suite through mid-March will receive tickets to the Bruins’ regular-season finale, a night’s stay in the suite, and signed memorabilia from Bobby Orr himself.
Promoting these packages and the suite through social media and coordinated campaigns is critical for the themed suites’ success, Aponte says. “How we position this is not only through our website, but then we also take advantage of the different social media platforms to create awareness and continue putting the suite in the constant eye of the guest,” Aponte explains. “It’s not only the different campaigns on social media, but it’s also linking that with our PR team to bind everything full-circle and create a full exposure of the experience that we have to offer at the hotel to our guests.”
Aponte adds that Ames Boston also goes out of its way to cater to guests who are known sports fans, upgrading them to the Bobby Orr Suite when available to further spark that memorable experience and promote the suite by word-of-mouth.
“I think the fact that we partnered with a Boston player, we’re basically tying the hotel—not only the room, but the hotel itself—to the community and the neighborhood,” Aponte explains. In this way, one suite helps to promote, position, and raise the profile of the entire property.