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“Millennial” is one of the biggest buzzwords in travel, since this segment makes up a quarter of the US population and spends billions per year on travel-related activities. For the last few years, major players on the hotel landscape have been molding their latest brands to home in on this market, with tech-savvy offerings, design-heavy social spaces and budget-conscious rates for rooms that look like they belong in a boutique hotel. TPG Contributor Lane Nieset takes us through six points-hotel brands designed with millennial travelers in mind.
One of the few players ahead of the design curve, Starwood’s Aloft launched in 2005 and has 84 locations across North America from Cancun to Calgary, as well as in Australia, Asia, Central and South America, Europe and the Middle East. Providing a stylish yet affordable stay, as well as a social environment with the hoppin’ w xyz bar, Aloft succeeds at drawing the millennial set with the least amount of gimmicks, and as TPG Travel Editor Melanie Wynne puts it, Aloft is “the W brand’s cool little brother.” The hotel even recently rolled out a robotic butler called Botlr at a few of its properties, including Aloft South Beach, to bring guests amenities, towels and beach essentials.
TPG Editor-in-chief Zach Honig recently stayed at one of Aloft’s newest properties, the 128-room Aloft Manhattan Downtown in the Financial District. Tech-savvy guests will love the fact the hotel has SPG Keyless, so you can use a smartphone or Apple Watch as a room key, and all rooms have free Wi-Fi and Bliss amenities. Similar to many of the other millennial-focused hotels, the trendy social spaces are designed like a living room and Re:Fuel, the grab-and-go bar, is open 24 hours. Rates at Aloft Manhattan Downtown start at $139 per night or 12,000 Starpoints.
Earn a free stay: Through September 14, earn 30,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 in the first three months with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express.
Marriott launched the first Moxy Hotel in Milan back in fall 2014 with the tagline “It’s just like home, but with a bartender.” Designed to look like modern apartment buildings, the brand’s properties focus on style, as well as savings. While Marriott’s AC Hotels brand targets a slightly older market (see TPG’s reviews The AC Hotel Carlton Madrid and AC Santo Mauro, Madrid), Moxy takes a younger, more minimal approach, with pops of color in all the right places. Next year, Moxy plans to open eight hotels in the US, starting with NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans and Chicago, as well as European outposts in London, Berlin, Oslo, Munich and Frankfurt.
The 162-room Moxy Milan Malpensa Airport is a quick walk away from terminal two, with amenities like free Wi-Fi, self-service check-in and 24/7 grab-and-go food and drinks. The restaurant resembles a chic gastropub, and the lobby feels like a lounge with funky lighting, communal tables and plenty of workspaces. This Category 1 Marriott starts at 7,500 points or 89 euros ($100) per night.
Earn a free stay: Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. These points transfer instantly to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio.
Hyatt is also jumping on the bandwagon with its new Hyatt Centric, catering to a young, professional crowd with free Wi-Fi, co-working spaces that double as libraries, and open-concept lounges that encourage socializing.
In April, Hyatt Centric’s first property opened in Chicago’s Loop, in a 22-story Art Deco building dating back to 1927. Part of the brand’s key attraction is location; this property features views of the city from its downtown perch. The other part of the equation is bringing a taste of the local restaurant and bar scene in house, offering organic French fare at the all-day Cochon Volant, as well as hand-crafted cocktails at rooftop lounge AIRE. The 257 rooms — including 12 executive suites and one presidential suite — feature sleek designs and Hyatt Grand Beds, and pets are also welcome to tag along. Rates for Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago start at $207 or 15,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points.
Note that the 105-room Hyatt Centric South Beach — which we highlighted as one of summer’s hottest new hotels — recently joined the portfolio, with a rooftop pool set on top of the 10-story glass tower located near Lincoln Road. The brand plans on expanding to other cities such as New York, Atlanta, Key West, San Francisco, DC, Houston and Paris. Rates for Hyatt Centric South Beach start at $309 or 25,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points.
Earn a free stay: Earn two free nights at any Hyatt property after spending $1,000 in the first three months with the Hyatt Credit Card. Additionally, you can earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. These points transfer instantly to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.
The brand opened its first spot in Chicago at the start of the year, offering “smarter alternatives for travelers.” Like the rest of the Virgin empire, the hotels have a cheap(ish) and chic mentality. There’s free Wi-Fi, early check-in and late check-out, no cancellation fees and a free daily social hour. Mini-bars are stocked with snacks and drinks sold at “street prices,” and beds are designed with an ergonomic headboards. Also appealing to the millennial mentality is Virgin Hotels’ mobile app, called LUCY, which acts as a personal concierge.
Set inside a building dating back to 1928, the 250-room Virgin Hotel Chicago blends elements of its Art Deco architecture with Virgin’s signature modern style. Rooms are called “Chambers,” and the bedroom is separated from the closet and hall by a sliding door. Social hour is held at The Commons Club’s bar and lounge, while Miss Ricky’s offers American diner fare until 2am on the weekends. The brand is expanding to New York, Dallas and Nashville, with the 240-room Virgin Hotels Nashville slated to open next fall. Rates start at $249 per night.
Hilton plans to roll out its millennial-focused Canopy brand in 2016, with locally inspired hotels that reflect the city they’re situated in. Features meant to appeal to younger travelers include free Wi-Fi, “artisanal” breakfast in the cafe and craft beer and wine tastings. Look out for locations in spots like Downtown Nashville; Brickell in downtown Miami; the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon; and the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego. First up: the 115-room Canopy by Hilton opening early-2016 in Reykjavik, Iceland, featuring a rooftop bar and bistro serving local produce. (An HHonors redemption category hasn’t yet been announced for Canopy, but guests will be able to earn and redeem Hilton HHonors points for stays at Canopy properties.)
Earn a free stay: For a limited time, earn 75,000 Hilton HHonors points after spending $2,000 in the first three months with the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card.
6. Radisson Red
With Rezidor Hotel Group’s new brand, the company is specifically targeting millennials in the US, who “represent 21 percent of all spending” and make up a target audience of 100 million. Offering a more youthful and approachable ambiance than the Radisson Blu, Radisson Red is all about personalization; an app handles check-in, concierge services, bar tabs and daily news. Art-lined walls give the hotels a gallery feel, and multi-functional rooms can serve as a spots to do work or work out. The Ouibar will be open 18 hours a day and serve local beers, tapas-style plates, coffee and cocktails, and the menu will be available on iPads. The first hotel to open will be the 300-room Radisson Red Shenyang Hunnan in China, followed by the Radisson Red V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. The company plans to open over 60 Red hotels across the globe by 2020. (A Club Carlson redemption category hasn’t yet been announced for Radisson Red, but guests will be able to earn and redeem Club Carlson points for stays at Radisson Red properties.)
Earn a free stay: Earn 50,000 Club Carlson Gold Points after making your first purchase plus an additional 35,000 points after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days with the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card.
Have you stayed in any of these hotels? What do you think of the millennial-focused trend?