Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian announced last night at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit that the company will be launching “Hyatt Centric” with 15 properties in cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, Park City, Washington, and Paris. Although some are calling it a lifestyle brand, I think that term is so vague and overused as to be meaning less. That doesn’t mean I don’t find the concept intriguing.
The thought that kept going through my head as I watched the promotional video was, “This looks like Kimpton.” And that’s a compliment. I like Kimpton. But Kimpton was recently acquired by the soul-crushing monster of the hotel industry, IHG. A Kimpton-esque brand owned by Hyatt seems more promising.
Hyatt Centric: For the Modern Explorer
I view myself as part of the target audience for this new brand, so forgive me if I seem biased. I already warned you I’m a Hyatt fanboy. But “modern explorer” seems to fit my definition of travel pretty well. I like international and domestic destinations alike. I want to see new things without missing the comforts of the familiar. And more often than not my travels are to major cities, not rural ones (though I enjoy both).
Much of the material on their website speaks to hotel owners, not customers, but it still gives a great sense of what they’re aiming for:
- Designed for both business and leisure travelers
- A truly cosmopolitan vibe, infused with local charm, wit, and simple touches of luxe
- Modern comforts, intimate social spaces, and seamlessly integrated technology
- Modern, stylish, yet unpretentious atmosphere
One of my favorite features is something they call “The Corner,” which is meant to mimic a residential lounge with flexible seating, food and beverage service, complimentary computers, and so on. It’s a place where you can meet with other people to discuss your plans for the day or regroup to share what you discovered.
It’s actually very similar to the lobby at my apartment building in downtown Seattle, which has several shops and amenities along a large hall. It’s not just some sterile room you pass through to get from the elevator to the street.
How Many Brands Does Hyatt Have?
Fitting Hyatt Centric into the rest of the brand architecture is difficult. We already have:
- Hyatt Place — Quality, but budget-friendly properties. Consistency is their key benefit.
- Hyatt House — Extended stay properties offering larger rooms, suites, and kitchens.
- Hyatt — Destination-focused properties, often on the smaller side (e.g., Olive8, 48Lex)
- Hyatt Regency — Larger properties with meeting and event space.
- Grand Hyatt — Larger properties, always with event space, and often more luxurious.
- Park Hyatt — Smaller properties with a focus on extraordinary luxury.
- Andaz — Smaller, boutique, and upscale properties.
The key difference in my mind between a Park Hyatt and an Andaz is that Andaz is more original and modern, whereas Park Hyatt tends to convey an old world sophistication. But they both have very independent styles from property to property, and they both tend to be pricey. Surely there’s room for a more approachable boutique brand.
Just from the marketing, I’d place Hyatt Centric on par with the current destination-focused Hyatt properties, only more so. Sort of like Andaz on a budget but perhaps more quirky and less “cool.”
What Do I Mean by Quirky vs. Cool?
The problem with lifestyle brands is that they mean something different to everyone. My lifestyle is not yours. But they do tend to follow one of two paths.
I said earlier that Hyatt Centric appears similar to Kimpton. Both let you bring your pets, offer free WiFi, have a strong emphasis on food and drink, and include some quirky furnishings and local bath amenities. Each one is different — from other brands and from each other — even if you notice the common thread that unites them. If nothing else, Kimpton has those leopard print bathrobes.
Our open-concept lounge is where your Hyatt Centric experience begins. Always unexpected, never dull — intriguing decorative elements contrast familiarity and a modern design language with eclectic touches that capture the local vibe.
But Kimpton and (I imagine) Hyatt Centric are not like W or some other “cool” brands. The latter are like nightclubs with a place to spend the night when you’re too drunk to find a taxi, including bizarre designs that seem intended to shock and amaze more than they provide the comforts of home. They appeal to the cool kids, and, let’s face it, most of us are not cool. The bigger problem is that those who are will eventually latch onto something new.
You can still offer something different and fun without chasing trends. Go to Kimpton’s Alexis Hotel in Seattle and you’ll find each suite has a different theme based on a famous local landmark. That’s just fun. It’s comfortable without being like every other business hotel downtown. So I look forward to seeing what Hyatt has in store for us this summer.