One team for KEPHART’s annual Research and Development Day 2018 was focused on hospitality. The mission of this team was to visit four hotels in and around downtown Denver to determine what makes them successful from the perspective of the guest, and how they relate and respond to the surrounding community. Over the course of the day, this team visited the Maven, Aloft Downtown, Moxy Cherry Creek, and Halcyon. Each of the four hotels were unique in mission and brand, yet they all shared the same level of commitment to experience. As we strive to deliver a memorable experience in the multifamily communities we design, we took this opportunity to assess how each of these hotels craft experiences, so that we can artfully provide the same in our designs.
Critical to each of the hotels we toured was the mission to create an experience unique to the location and neighborhood. By virtue of their boutique nature, the Maven, Moxy, and Halcyon have the flexibility to develop brand around location; Aloft is a national chain constrained by a corporate brand strategy. Appropriately though, Aloft’s mission is to serve the business traveler – the traveler by necessity – while the others court travelers by choice – stay-cationers, wedding parties, and local over-nighters. While a strong tie to the local neighborhood may be low on the business traveler’s list of requirements for travel lodging, Aloft nonetheless strives to integrate itself in the community. The bar and lobby are open to the public in the evening, and the hotel hosting live performances and holiday parties reinforces the notion that this is a locals hangout, not just reception and registration.
As a part of the vibrant Dairy Block, the Maven feels more like a result of circumstances than an anchor of place. Much like the Crawford at Union Station, the Maven is tertiary to the activity found elsewhere in this mixed-use redevelopment. The hotel lobby is a shared space surrounded by coffee, restaurant, and bar – making it as likely to be populated by local professionals as hotel guests.
Moxy and Halcyon are Cherry Creek North hotels and both are suitably designed to respond to that neighborhood. Moxy trades on eclecticism and whimsy – the trendy bar on the ground floor is also the check-in desk and feels like the spot where hipsters marooned in Cherry Creek would hang-out. Halcyon, on the other hand, embraces the upscale and exclusive nature of the neighborhood – swanky roof-top bar, Quality Italian, and B&GC – a by-reservation-only speakeasy for those in the know. A drink or meal at any of the three is a likely stop for a Denverite in Cherry Creek for a night out, which ensures the hotel guest feels a part of the community and the hotel an integral piece of the neighborhood.
Beyond integration in the community, each of the hotels we visited reinforced consistency in experience throughout the shared and private spaces. Aloft has a strong brand identity – efficient, contemporary, and urban. The lobby hosts a food-on-the-go station rather than a restaurant, the corridors are sleek and purpose-driven, the rooms compact and basic. Similarly, the Maven embraces its urban nature with rooms that provide the necessities but encourage guests to spend time out of the room, exploring the city. That exploration starts and stops at the Dairy Block, which encourages analogue social interaction at Milk Market and digital social interaction with its many made-for-Instagram opportunities. Moxy embraces playfulness and quirk – in addition to the bar, the lobby features a chairlift for faux ski selfies and an up-to-the-minute social media sharing wall. The corridors follow suit with provocative finishes and furnishings, ironing stations, and playful artwork. Rooms are thoughtfully designed to be efficient while not feeling Spartan, with funky furnishings and accessories uniquely on-brand.
Halcyon is a luxury brand, and the luxury begins when checking in with a barista who will also prepare you a latte. The rest of the main lobby is modern and understated, allowing for a quiet moment of transition between the room and the street. Corridors continue the classic and subtle color scheme of black and gray on beige and white and provide thoughtful conveniences like water stations offering hot and cold, still and sparkling. Rooms here are the largest and most luxurious of those we visited with brushed brass fixtures, upright record players, coffee bars, and private terraces.
Each of the hotels we visited had a clear and passionate commitment to brand and community. Achieving consistency in experience for each was founded with a deep understanding of mission and location and reinforced with design that was reflective of both, from lobby to room. Those qualities need not be unique to hotels, and we ended the day with renewed vigor in ensuring we work with our clients to create places to live that provide unique, thoughtful, and memorable experiences.