Marriott Opens Its "M Beta" Hotel Laboratory in Charlotte
The future of Marriott is here and it can be found in Charlotte, North Carolina. Marriott International officially opened its "M Beta" property at the Charlotte Marriott City Center this Tuesday, which will serve as a lab and testing ground for the brand's future design, tech and service initiatives.
The Charlotte Marriott City Center was originally built in 1984 and had "everything that was wrong with Marriott brands," according to Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson. Marriott purchased the hotel for $111 million dollars in 2013 and committed to renovating the property and turning it into something that will serve as an inspiration for more of the brand's hotels across the globe.
Marriott has since transformed the hotel into something that feels much more integrated with the city then a traditional chain hotel. The property features a clean, modern design and residential-style guest rooms. It's also a testing ground for these new features, as guests can provide feedback in real time with just the tap of a "beta button."
Mike Dearing, managing director for the Marriott brand, said each room cost $36,000 to upgrade and the entire renovation totaled about $16 million. While this hotel isn't what all properties will end up looking like, Marriott executives hope that it inspires franchise owners across the globe to renovate their hotels in a similar fashion.
"We don't want any hotel to be the same," said Sorenson, mentioning how Marriott's trying to lose its typical cookie-cutter image and instead promote more integration with the local community. Executives also said there are plans to roll out another "M Beta" hotel so they can test how new concepts are received by a different market.
In the meantime, here are five new features that are being tested out at the "M Beta" hotel lab in Charlotte, some of which you might spot during your next stay at a Marriott property.
1. "Hosted Arrival" at Check-In
Marriott wants to give customers what they want, so you can choose to have as much — or as little — interaction as you'd like. For instance, you can check in on a mobile device and use your smartphone for keyless entry to the room, that way you don't have to even interact with anyone. Or, if you like, a Marriott employee can personally greet you and perform a curbside check-in now that the check-in process can be completed from a tablet.
2. Newly Redesigned and Renovated Guest Rooms
Say goodbye to dirty, worn-out carpets and hello to sleek, hard-wood floors. Most rooms have gotten rid of the traditional hotel desk, replacing it with a large couch and "nesting" tables. Natural lighting is important to the new room design, while tech is prominently displayed — all rooms include massive 55" HD televisions with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu built right in.
3. Localized Lounging
Marriott executives repeatedly emphasized how important it was for the hotel to feel integrated with the city. They introduced two eateries — Stoke and Coco & the Director — that have partnered with several Charlotte food and beverage vendors. At Stoke, you'll have access to farm-to-table eats and plenty of North Carolina micro-brews. Stoke's open-space layout promotes interaction with the food while Coco's stadium-style seating and co-working spaces break the mold of where one might consume a traditional continental breakfast. Even better, a wine shop in the lobby is staffed with a wine specialist who can help you pick out the perfect bottle to take to your room or enjoy with your dinner.
4. New Features for the Fitness Center
Marriott executives decided to replace the hotel's pool and use the space to expand its fitness center instead. What they've created is a beautiful, light-filled exercise space that's on par with full-service gyms.
Also introduced are on-demand fitness classes, where you can choose from more than 200 in-studio classes ranging from yoga and pilates to cycling, all with virtual instructors displayed on a wall full of screens.
You can even get personalized running routes sent directly to your phone via text message in case you'd like to explore the city on your own workout.
5. New Meeting Spaces and M Club Lounges
The M Club Lounge was moved to the first floor and redesigned to feel more like a home and less like a lounge. Comfortable seating and lots of food options with a full kitchen make it a great place for elite customers to get away.
Within the hotel's third floor meeting space is the LG Studio, which is essentially a full LG kitchen that serves as great centerpiece for small gatherings or larger networking events.
Which of Marriott's new innovations are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments, below.