This isn’t your grandparents’ Sheraton: Marriott unveils first group of properties with the brand’s new vision
It's been more than two years since TPG got a sneak peek at what the future of the Sheraton brand would look like. And, it's been more than five since we first learned that the brand would undergo a transformation. Now, the chain has taken the wraps off the first group of hotels that have received full renovations that exemplify the brand's new standards.
Sheraton envisions itself as a brand that "blends life seamlessly with places to connect, be productive and be inspired. The combination of styles, balancing timeless with fresh and modern, aims to create an environment where guests feel comfortable and at ease, whether working, meeting or relaxing," said Amanda Nichols, Senior Director and Global Brand Leader of Sheraton Hotels.
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So, what does that vision look like in practice?
Lobby and public spaces
The lobby is the focal point of Sheraton's transformation. They're being redesigned to become a jack-of-all-trades space for guests (and locals), no matter the purpose of their visit.
For someone with a full day of work ahead, there's the "Community Table," a long, communal table where a guest can do various things -- work, eat or socialize with other guests while taking a break.
These tables feature innovative features, such as lockable desk drawers, that allow you to store your items if you have to use the restroom or you want to step outside for a few minutes. Here you'll also find lights, power outlets and even wireless charging stations to keep your devices powered up.
Lobbies will also feature what Sheraton's calling "Studios," private spaces where small groups can meet to collaborate on small-group projects by day and share a cocktail and dinner in the evening.
There are also soundproof booths scattered around -- perfect for taking a call with a colleague, a loved one or even a friend who wants to share the latest gossip.
Also new to the lobby is the so-called Coffee Bar Bar, which, not surprisingly thanks to its name, is a food and beverage outlet that functions as a coffee shop by day and a bar by night, featuring different food and beverage options depending on the time of day.
The Sheraton Club
Available to Marriott's elite members and anyone who chooses to book a club-level room, the Sheraton Club is getting an upgrade to bring it into the 21st century.
They'll feature all-new designs with open spaces meant to make the most of the space available. They'll also feature revamped food-and-beverage selections and high-speed internet access, so elite members or club-level guests have a more private space to work or relax in.
Sheraton didn't overlook its guest rooms in its brand refresh. Guests can expect a "well-lit room, comprised of soft finishes and warm wood tones accentuated with black and metallic accents," according to a press release from the company.
Modern conveniences for a worker on the road abound, including desks with adjustable height settings and integrated charging ports.
The Sheraton Sleep Experience bed remains, though the bathrooms got a thorough makeover with walk-in showers and updated fixtures.
The roadmap to Sheraton's future
A group of six hotels -- Sheraton Phoenix Downtown; Sheraton Denver Downtown; Sheraton Tel Aviv; Sheraton Grand Dubai; Sheraton Guangzhou, China and Sheraton Mianyang, China -- have already been brought up to the new Sheraton standard.
But, this is just the beginning of the transformation. According to Marriott, the brand will complete renovations at Sheraton hotels in Nashville, Tennessee, Toronto, Canada, Nice, France, Kiev, Ukraine and Xi'an, China, in 2021.
And, Sheraton expects more than 40 properties worldwide to receive a similarly thorough revamping by the end of 2022.
As for why it took so long for this vision to become a reality? Marriott said during a virtual event to unveil the new properties on Thursday morning that while it acknowledges that it seems like it may have taken a long time, it considers the rollout of the new Sheraton standard to be "on par" with other brand re-launches it's undertaken throughout the years.
Many considerations had to be addressed, including existing renovation schedules at its portfolio of about 450 properties worldwide and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic. While the global health crisis may have forced the opening dates of some properties to slide, others used the period of reduced capacity to accelerate renovation timelines.
We can expect to see more and more elements of the "new Sheraton" rolling out in the next few years -- with some properties getting a top-to-bottom rethinking and others incorporating elements of the new design throughout their hotels.
Can Sheraton pull it off?
One problem that has plagued this 80-year-old brand in recent years is its ubiquity. With almost 450 properties in 74 countries around the world, there's almost a guarantee you'll find a Sheraton -- or two -- in practically any destination you travel to.
With such a huge portfolio, it's been difficult to maintain a consistent brand standard. That was especially true because it has properties in places as different as Maui and Baku, Azerbaijan. In the past, Sheraton was not known for much other than being nondescript -- and being everywhere. They weren't properties that people traveled to as a destination but stayed in simply because they were there.
Marriott's been aware of Sheraton's identity crisis for a while and now it's ready to take the first step into the future of this storied brand.
If Sheraton can maintain a steady clip of complete renovations over the next few years, there's no reason it can't bring the brand in line with what a modern traveler expects from a hotel.
There's no doubt from the photos shared today that the first group of reenvisioned Sheratons look impressive.
They're modern in design and are chock-full of thoughtful amenities that travelers demand nowadays.
Time will tell whether Marriott's vision for the brand's future pays off, but I wouldn't hesitate to stay -- for business or pleasure -- if I were traveling to a city with one of these revamped Sheraton hotels.