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New hotels open every day. But it’s less common for an entirely new hospitality brand to appear — especially one that wants to completely rebuild the industry.
On Tuesday, the Life House hotel collection began accepting reservations for its first hotel: a 33-room estate in Little Havana, Miami. The colorful, distinctly Caribbean space will welcome guests on Dec. 28, and the second property in the portfolio —a beachy landmarked cottage — is slated to open in South Beach in April 2019.
Born from the unexpected union of a hotel and real estate executive and a software entrepreneur, Life House is uniquely poised to solve some of the persistent problems of the industry — including overpriced stays.
“People do not have to choose between the experience they want and what they can afford,” co-founder and CEO Rami Zeidan told TPG.
Formerly of Sydell Group (Nomad, Freehand and The Line properties) and Starwood, where he helped launch 1 Hotels and New York City’s glittering Baccarat Hotel, Zeidan knows a thing or two about high-end hotel design. And with the help of co-founder and CTO Yury Yakubchyk, Zeidan says Life House can deliver those luxe looks for 30% to 50% less than competitive boutique properties.
Basically, Life House runs on its own proprietary technology, eliminating the need for intermediary software or vendors. That — and an unconventional approach to acquiring real estate — makes it possible for the brand to pass on meaningful savings to travelers. Every Life House property will be able to offer room categories for $149 or less.
“We are catering not only to those that can’t afford luxury hotels, but to those who want a luxury experience that [resonates], but don’t want to feel like they overpaid for it,” Zeidan explained.
Guests at Life House properties will find that the brand’s emphasis on technology seeps into other aspects of the stay, too. Though hotel managers will be present at all the properties, travelers will notice Life House has removed or stripped down a number of traditional hotel interactions. For example, travelers can check-in online and use the company’s mobile app as a hotel key — no conversation with the front desk required. Some people are likely to find this a bit impersonal, though it will no doubt come as a relief to others.
It may, however, be easier to connect with fellow travelers and locals at Life House properties. The brand has an exclusive social network — a hotel industry first — where guests can opt-in to connect with one another in a way that will hopefully be friendly, helpful and noninvasive.
It’s a tool that may be especially useful for establishing casual meet-ups (think: two solo business travelers) without resorting to Tinder. Guests will also spot verified locals on the network — individuals who can share insight and even organize events or activities for guests.
Life House properties aren’t exclusively targeting business travelers, however. Zeidan said “cool parents” and “mature millennials” are all a fit for the Life House brand. Case in point: bunk beds with full-size mattresses you’ll want to book even if you’re not traveling with kids.
Deluxe, sometimes downright trendy amenities (a juice bar at the Life House South Beach; a rooftop pool and “food forest” at the Little Havana hotel; bar cart turndown service; Le Labo toiletries) were clearly selected with a specific — and very social — audience in mind. It’s not that travelers can’t find cheap hotels — they can, and for far less than the Life House price point. But typically, those properties fail to deliver fun public spaces or, frankly, stylish interiors travelers would want to share on Instagram.
And though there’s no loyalty program at this time, Zeidan confirmed the team is hoping to innovate in this space, too. Instead of stockpiling points for status, he alluded to a system of almost instantaneous rewards that can be redeemed immediately (perhaps a free drink you receive upon check-in).
Life House will finish the year as a Miami-only brand, but that will quickly change. Properties in Brooklyn and Denver are already underway, and by the end of 2019, the brand expects to have 20 US hotels in development.
Though Miami may be a big city with a saturated hotel scene, Little Havana certainly is not. Zeidan told TPG his team looks for unsung opportunities to connect people to local communities and cultures. That’s why Life House will be very first hotel to enter the Little Havana neighborhood. And in South Beach, where upscale hotels are easy to find, Life House may fill a void for travelers seeking luxury at a painless price.
“We believe that [travel] … must not only feel good, it must be fairly priced to allow for frequent exploration,” Zeidan said. To double down on that promise, Life House is offering rooms for $109 for a limited time to celebrate the brand’s premiere.
Feature image courtesy of Life House.
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