Hotel Lifestyle Brands and Marriott’s EDITION

Lifestyle hotel brands are experiencing a resurgence as the global economy continues to repair itself. Generally known as brands which target a specific demographic with design, amenities, and services, lifestyle hotels are now wildly popular. For decades most leisure travelers in the US expected their hotel to have a bed, telephone, clean bathroom, and television. Maybe a view if it was next to the ocean. Now? Themed fitness programs, high-end toiletries, bathrooms having glass walls, 400 thread count cotton bed linens, and the list goes on.

One of the first lifestyle brand hotels was Ian Schrager’s Morgans Hotel in New York City. It debuted in 1984 with the concept of low lighting, modern design, and a lobby bar that doubled as a party lounge in the evenings. At that time hotel rooms were about as exciting as your basic blue shirt. Fast forward to 2011. Now, large and well established brands such as Marriott and Starwood have created their own line of lifestyle brands.

Ian Schrager recently teamed up with Marriott International to develop a new brand known as EDITION Hotels. With funky design and modern art, the Waikiki EDITION offers unique luxury such as thire Honolulu Surf and Bikini Boot Camp and an outdoor movie theater showing first-run films under the stars. What makes this and all lifestyle brands attractive are the features that set them apart from the competition. They form an environment and experience the guest is looking for in each location.

Functional Branding at the Ames Hotel of Boston

As a young student at Johnson & Wales University, I had a professor in hospitality management who constantly chanted “the customer is king!”. That was not anything new or profound but the fact that he exclaimed the phrase so often has stuck with me. Taking this a step backward, in the travel industry, how do we even get the customer? When there are so many options for products and services in travel, brands need to reinvent and expose themselves frequently to capture attention and steady the flow of new customers.

This weekend I stayed at the Ames Hotel in Boston, a Morgans Hotel Group property which opened in late 2009. Having already experienced a number of the group’s fantastic hotels in New York City, South Beach, and London, I was very intrigued to see how they transformed the old Ames office building into a hotel. To my delight, the hotel rooms, lobby, and Woodward restaurant/lounge all had been designed with time-period artifacts of the 1890’s blended with modern luxury.

What prompted me to write this piece, however, are the items I found in my room above the mini-bar. Not only were the obligatory snacks available, but they also had brilliantly packaged branded winter hats, shirts, and even a CD entitled “Morgans Hotel Group 4”. When I checked-out of the hotel, new “Ames” hotel hat on my head, I wondered what kind of impact branded merchandise has on a venue’s marketing strategy? I feel that if the merchandise is functional and provides brand exposure it will work. People are walking billboards for brands and embracing this marketing technique definitely makes an impact….

Plus, with a hat this comfy and warm – I may be a walking advertisement until spring!

For a refreshing drink, delicious meal, or great overnight stay in Boston, please visit: