HBD ON THE SCENE: ALIS Session Examines Role of Design In Lifestyle Segment

LOS ANGELES—Several brand executives offered their thoughts on design as it relates to the increasingly popular lifestyle segment of hotels during a panel session at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) here.

The session, entitled “The Lifestyle Segment,” was moderated by David Berins, managing partner, Berins & Co., LLC. Berins posed the question: “Is a lifestyle hotel merely any hotel with edgy design?”

The panelists, however, refuted that notion. According to Allison Reid, SVP, North America development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the idea represents an oversimplification. “Design is one element of the experience. Design helps define the hotel, but it’s not the only thing,” she said. She specifically noted of the company’s Westin brand, “We are not edgy, but the brand resonates with consumers. Edgy can change so it gets expensive.”

Tina Edmundson, global officer, luxury & lifestyle brands, Marriott International, said, “it really starts with the brand ethos. Once you’ve figured out the ethos, the design is a physical manifestation of that experience. Is edgy design lifestyle [segment], I don’t think so.”

For his part, Michael Murphy, SVP, upscale brands, Choice Hotels International, acknowledged edgy can be a good thing too. “If there’s a market out there that’s edgy, let’s go edgy,” he said. However, he did note it has its limitations. “A designer gone rogue is an aspect that can get you in trouble.” 

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