Executives with IHG detailed the launch of the company’s new all-suites brand, Atwell Suites, and how it will meet the need of travelers who are looking for a combination of extended-stay and select-service amenities in the upper-midscale segment.
LAS VEGAS—InterContinental Hotels Group has announced its 16th hotel brand, an upper-midscale all-suites offering called Atwell Suites.
The new-build brand targets guests who straddle the line between typical transient and extended stays, and is “optimized for longer stays of four to six nights,” said Heather Balsley, SVP of global marketing, mainstream brands at IHG.
IHG officials had been teasing the addition of a new all-suites brand since February.
Speaking to media ahead of IHG’s Americas Investors & Leadership Conference in Las Vegas this week, Elie Maalouf, CEO of the Americas, said there is plenty of whitespace in the segment Atwell is targeting, and “we think it will do very well.”
Balsley said the brand is designed for a segment of guests “who really aren’t being served well in the industry today.”
This target traveler has a youthful spirit, likes to blend business with leisure and is booking longer stays, she said. This traveler also falls between wanting the full amenities that extended-stay brands offer and wanting the more limited amenities that a select-service hotel offers.
Though Atwell will target longer guest stays than the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands, it will not be considered an extended-stay brand. IHG’s two extended-stay brands, the upscale Staybridge Suites and the midscale Candlewood Suites, are defined as having a full kitchen and serving guests who stay a week or longer.
Balsley said IHG evaluated options and conducted consumer research to decide whether to create a different prototype for an existing brand to serve this market or launch a new one.
“(We) believe that launching this new brand will allow our existing brands to stay true to what already makes them great and what has delivered really strong guest satisfaction and owner returns,” she said.
She said three core values underpin Atwell Suites: Flexibility, kinship and discovery. These values will be exhibited through food and beverage, communal and private workspaces, and technology, she said.
Guestrooms, which IHG refers to as all-studio suites, are designed to have distinct zones for living and sleeping, Balsley said. The two options, the king studio suite and double queen suite, will be 321 square feet and 409 square feet, respectively.
“What you’ll notice that’s unique about this studio suite is that we’ve moved the bathroom to the outside wall,” she said. “What that does is it creates a much more spacious sense of arrival and allows us to create those distinct zones in the suite.”
Each suite will also feature a kitchenette, she said. IHG’s research shows that its target guests don’t like to cook when they travel, even when staying for a longer period of time. As a result, she said, the studios have been designed with a counter-height refrigerator, a microwave, coffeemaker and sink, but will not have full cooking capabilities.
The brand design also reflects and supports a preference by these guests for spending a lot of time in the hotel’s public spaces, she said.
What owners should know about Atwell
Atwell Suites will be delivered at a cost-per-key of $105,000 to $115,000, Balsley said. It’s also been deliberately designed with an “efficient staffing model,” she added.
“That includes a limited housekeeping model, more consistent with other longer-stay brands, as well as a focused food-and-beverage offering,” she said.
No deals have been signed yet for the brand, and IHG officials said they expect franchise sales to begin by September 2019. This puts the brand on track to begin construction on its first hotels in 2020 and open the first Atwell Suites in 2021. The initial focus for development will be in the U.S. and will be new-build, according to the news release. No specific markets have been named for site development. The estimated site size is expected to be two acres.
In addition to the launch of Atwell Suites, IHG announced new prototype designs for Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.
Holiday Inn launched this week its H4 prototype, which is an evolution of the H4 design that was launched in 2017. Balsley said the H4 design launched first in the guestroom, and Holiday Inn now has 40 properties with the update opened and 122 in the pipeline. The full hotel design, which includes the public space, launched as a brand standard in the beginning of 2018.
“That really is the jumping-off point for our new news with Holiday Inn this year, which is the launch of our new-build prototype,” she said.
The exterior will be revitalized as well as the interior, with a focus on public spaces, F&B, meeting spaces and continued enhancements to the guestrooms, she said.
“For our owners, this new-build prototype will be more efficient to build, more flexible for them, allowing them to adjust everything from the size of their public space, their F&B solutions and their meeting space based on their local market needs,” she said.
The new design solution for Staybridge Suites, called Generation 7.0, will roll out in October 2019, she said. It will feature a new exterior, updated suites and a reimagined public space.
Candlewood Suites’ new prototype will encompass the brand’s new modernized logo with its new design program, Beacon 4.0, which will appear in all new-build, renovated hotels and across marketing platforms, the release states. The full Beacon 4.0 roll out will begin in December 2019. The interior of Candlewood will feature a more open lobby, refreshed F&B market and enhanced guest suites, Balsley said.
IHG’s portfolio has more than 5,600 hotels open globally in 100 countries, and another 1,900 hotels in the pipeline, bringing the company to 1.1 million rooms open and under development across the globe, Maalouf said.
For the past few quarters, the company has been active in acquisitions, largely focusing on its luxury portfolio. IHG bought Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas for $300 million in February, making it the second recent luxury acquisition after Regent Hotels & Resorts in 2018. For the upscale segment, IHG launched Voco in 2018.