Transparency, marketing and clear messaging are vital to operating guestrooms in buildings separate from the main hotel, but when done successfully, guests might seek out the unique “add-on” rooms.
REPORT FROM EUROPE—Annex rooms in hotels can develop for various reasons, such as a purchase of a nearby building, conversions of other buildings on the main site or the presence and reuse of spare land.
Despite a perception that such rooms offer less value to some guests, sources said annex rooms can provide the opportunity to add premier room types and thus push rate.
It is vital to the success of these add-on rooms to tell guests upfront that their room is not in the main hotel building, sources said. But with the right level of marketing and transparency, returning or new guests can request these annex rooms.
Adam Rowledge, GM of the Georgian House Hotel in London, which was built in 1851, said his hotel has two annexes on St. George’s Drive in Pimlico.
The first building, Bower House, has 10 hotel-style rooms that were added to the main 1851 hotel in 1989, he said, while the second has five one-guestroom apartments that were added in 2006. Neither has public space.
“All the apartments are listed as being separate, so that’s not so much of an issue,” Rowledge said. “Sometimes we have problems due to the fact that the category of bedrooms that are in Bower House are also in the (main) hotel, so we mention on the website that it might be in either, but people don’t always read this.”
Rowledge said the distinction is central to the hotel’s marketing message so as not to confuse guests with myriad room types.
“We can’t really have different categories for all of them as we already have lots of categories, and it would just be too much,” he said, adding that one of his favorite guestrooms in the hotel is located in the basement.
“What we have done is to separate the basement rooms in Bower House into a separate category, as although the rooms themselves are nice, the feeling of being in the basement in a separate building was something we decided was best to make people aware of. If we’re selling over the phone, it’s obviously easier to manage this.”
Efi Dede, GM of the Marco Polo Mansion on the Greek island of Rhodes, also manages a historic building that added an annex when an adjacent building became available for purchase.
“The annex is the newest addition to Marco Polo and was added last year around May,” she said. “There are two separate apartments with at least two rooms each. We didn’t really plan to add it; it just happened after the owner of the property asked if we would be interested in it.
“We never had a complaint from a guest for staying at one of the two apartments, but some regulars really fell in love with them and now prefer them over rooms in the main building.”
Dede said special offers and tours of the annex rooms also help marketing efforts.
“There are a lot of people that have stayed before that really want a room in the annex, and if available they get one. For people that haven’t stayed with us before, there is a 50% discount to stay in the annex if they request for a room with the highest rate we give,” Dede said, adding that there are four rooms with that rate—two in the main building and two in the annex.
“Some people are given the choice when they arrive here if there is more than one room available, and they usually go for the annex,” she said.
The 58-room Best Western Plus Oaklands Hotel in Norwich, England, also has a five-room annex, which many corporate guests request, according to GM Shelby Asker.
“We always state where these rooms are located, and of course guests in the annex have access to all the same facilities as any other guest,” Asker said. “Corporate guests like the fact these rooms are out of the way. The experience is easier for them.
“There are always a few guests who do not like (the annex rooms), but that is natural, and if we have functions we prefer to have guests attending them to stay in the main hotel.”
Rowledge said he also has guests who specifically ask for annex rooms, especially the apartment, because they are a very different product.
Guests, though, do not usually request “normal” rooms in his annexes, and this is what sometimes leads to issues, he said.