Hotel rooms are undergoing a “resizing:” literally. And in doing so, are rethinking the configuration and expectations that go with the hotel room as well.
Down from the 1990s when a hotel room was over 350 square feet, today’s average hotel room is about 330 square feet. But some hotel brands are shrinking that size even more.
As O’Rouke Hospitality reports, “Marriot’s Moxy Hotels are now building rooms about 183 square feet in size and the new brand Yotel’s rooms are only 170 square feet on average.” Best Western’s Vib and Glo properties are in the 200 and 250 square feet range.
There are plenty of reasons for the shift: as Bjorn Hanson of New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism has said in the past, smaller rooms are cheaper to both build, furnish and maintain. And given Millennial prevailing attitudes, some brands feel they are giving their target audience “everything they want and nothing they don’t need” complementing the small rooms with grand, open common areas where guests can mingle, work and play.
Brands employing the smaller room approach say that what the room lacks in sheer physical size, they make up for in all the things the guest really wants. Think: sound-reducing walls, free Wi-Fi, floor-to-ceiling art pieces and top of the line showers.
Hotels are able to using space more efficiently through the best use of technology (such as using wall mounted flat screen TVs versus bulky tube TVs in entertainment cabinets), as well as adapting their floor plans to reflect the flexible, mobile life and work styles people have today.
By throwing out existing assumptions of hotel room design, they can change expectations and take advantage of guest pleasing opportunities, such as expansive windows to let in natural light, thus making a room feel bigger than it really is, and extending that philosophy by using glazed glass block to separate the bath area – instead of a typical “wall.”
As Tony Capuano, Marriott’s chief development officer, said in a Washington Post interview, “The old conventional hotel model was a customer checked in, went straight to their room and never came out.” Marriott proposes changing that paradigm where the hotel still offers well designed rooms, but more vivacious, engaging public spaces that people will want to be part of. …Or as Marriott describes it, “a buzzing living space where things are always happening. Just like home….. but with a bartender! ;)”
This migration isn’t really new — it’s just now being seen in the hotel space. The notion of people wandering down the street to get away from the house or work at Starbucks — the “third place” — an in between space that’s both homey and allows for work, casual meetings or creative conversation.
But it’s exciting to see this trend being incorporated into the hospitality industry. And it will be fascinating to see ongoing guest feedback about the evolution of these new room designs.
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