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Four Hotels Hitting The Right Note In The Hospitality Market

Thriving hotels are making creative use of common space and local partnerships to meet their bottom-line goals, JLL's top American hotel analyst told attendees at Bisnow's Austin Hospitality and Tourism event last month at the Austin Hilton.

JLL Americas Head of Hotels Geraldine Guichardo

JLL Americas Head of Hotel Research Geraldine Guichardo says disruption has become the key for success across the real estate spectrum: WeWork has forever changed the concept of shared office space; Amazon has upended the way consumers shop; retail is now often incorporated into multifamily projects; and short-term rentals like Airbnb, HomeAway and OneFineStay are transforming the hotel market.

The idea that hotels are going to find new uses — and new events — for their common space is no stretch.

"Activity in common spaces can drive foot traffic through the door," Guichardo said. "That means you really can have breakfast at Tiffany's, for those of you who are interested. The flagship store has opened up a café."

People are looking for that one-of-a-kind experience, which is why megaprojects such as Hudson Yards in New York City and Grand Avenue in Los Angeles are becoming ubiquitous, Guichardo said. People really do want to live, work, play and dine in a shared convenient common experience.

Below are four hotels that are incorporating some of the best disruptive ideas in today's hotel market, according to Guichardo.


Virgin Hotel Chicago bar

Virgin Hotel Chicago is not just known for its high-end guest rooms these days. It also has leveraged its business space as a coworking option in its downtown location, just off Michigan Avenue and within walking distance of most transit lines. The cost for coworking access is $55 a month.

"I think this is great for two reasons," Guichardo said. "One, it's another source of revenue. Who doesn't want more money? And, two, it exposes the consumer who maybe would not have thought of this hotel to consider it."

The hotel also has all the top-end amenities of home, including kiosk check-ins and room controls delivered directly to a phone app. All the comforts of home also include wireless printing, private meeting rooms, high-definition televisions and a top-end bar for either business mingling or after-hours socializing.


Magic Hour Rooftop Bar - Moxy Hotel Times Square

Marriott's Moxy Hotel on Times Square boasts the biggest rooftop bar in New York City. The location, dubbed the Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge, has a rotating calendar of entertainment, live weekend DJ sessions and the ability to reserve space by the day and hour.

The location also has its own urban amusement park, which includes neon lighting, a rotating carousel, a putt-putt golf course and its menu is one of five in the hotel that aims to provide affordable, but hip, food options.

"This is really elevating what you call a top bar," Guichardo said. "It's a creative amusement park above the city. They saw the need, and they created something here no one else had."

Moxy labels itself a "fun micro-hotel concept." The publicity a hotel gets in Instagram posts alone — and Marriott does post the tagged posts — is priceless, Guichardo said.


21c Museum Hotel - Durham, N.C.

Guichardo also puts 21c Museum hotels on her list of groundbreaking hospitality venues, pointing to the 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina, which has more than 10K SF of contemporary art and meeting space.

These venues, most in secondary hotel markets, provide distinctive rotating art displays at their hotels in places like Oklahoma City, Louisville, Nashville and Des Moines. More recently, the chain has picked up the management contract for the upscale James hotel in Chicago.

The rotating art collections in each city are typically local artists in the contemporary style. Venues are open 24 hours a day. Guests — those staying at the hotel or visitors from the public — can pick up a drink at the bar and peruse the art exhibits. As an added bonus, the art collection provides an ideal backdrop for corporate meetings and local weddings, Guichardo said.


Driskill Hotel Lobby Austin

The iconic Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin, the oldest continuously operating hotel in town, recently added a Sunday blues brunch with artists from the nearby Antone's nightclub.

Antone's itself has a long-storied history as the original home of the Austin blues scene. The club, founded by the late Clifford Antone, was the original anchor of Sixth Street. Guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, among others, will play at the club's 43rd anniversary show in July.

That combination of venue and talent makes sense, Guichardo said. Both venues benefit from the reputation of the other, and it takes advantage of Austin's popular brunch culture, too.

"It's great in the sense that one thing enhances the experience of the other with a super-popular concept right now," Guichardo said. "It provides a sense of the local Austin experience and also makes sense as a partnership."