At the POD Hotel groundbreaking in Washington, DC, Modus Hotels chair Conrad Cafritz talks value for money and the Millennial traveler
One on One with Modus Hotels chair Conrad Cafritz. Global business travel to hit $1.25 trillion. Delta takes a stake in China Eastern.
Why are you bringing POD to DC?
CAFRITZ: This is the first micro-hotel downtown. The room sizes will be a little bit larger than micro-hotels in NewYork and will be about 140-150 square feet. We want people to discover what micro-hotels are and what their value entails.
BT: And what is that value proposition for microhotels?
CAFRITZ: We wanted what we call a kinetic atmosphere on the first floor and floor below to create a real interaction between the restaurant, its bar, the lobby of the hotel and the guests. So not only will the rooms be everything you want and at a better price but there is going to be a really fun atmosphere on the first two floors that will carry up to the roof deck. We will have a roof deck which has great views, particularly toward the White House and the Westin. In NewYork, the occupancy runs 85-90 percent and we think in Washington it’ll run 80-90 percent.
BT: What made you decide on the DC area for the POD Hotel?
CAFRITZ: We don’t have the same demand levels we have in NewYork per se, but we can build a better product in DC because construction costs are considerably less. So the interiors will be better than the typical NewYork scene or as good as a much higher priced product in NewYork.
BT: Part of your strategy is to draw visitors from NewYork to DC. What’s the thinking behind that?
CAFRITZ: It’s easy to come here. The restaurants are less expensive, the museums are free and you can bike anywhere easily, so it’s a real alternative to NewYork. New York has 10 million foreign visitors, while 1.6 million or 1.7 million of them come to DC. It is one way that foreign visitors can get a better value from coming to NewYork for 3 days and extending their stay to DC for 3 days for the price of 4 days in NewYork. So we think foreign travelers, a big segment of the NewYork market, will eventually realize that the easiest other city to go to is DC.
BT: How does the POD appeal to the new generation of travelers?
CAFRITZ: Basically the Millennials don’t want just a room. They want the hotel to feel unbranded and our guests are non-brand people more often than not. They are breaking away from brands and saying “I want an individualized experience.”They are brave and bold enough that they’re going to break away from that. They will take a smaller compact room but they want activity on the first floor and activity on the roof deck. The POD is doing it at Lexington and 39th in NewYork and we expect it to be doing the same thing here. And 7th street is as hot as a firecracker.
BT: What is the competitive landscape in Washington for you?
CAFRITZ: We are managing the only other micro-hotel that will be in Washington for 2016 – 2017 called the Hive in Foggy Bottom. So for a while there is not going to be anything that’s competitive. The Hive will open March 2016 and the POD will open in September 2016. Modus hotels will also be operating seven other hotels in Washington, DC. For example at Avenue Suites, we have the largest rooms at Georgetown. Modus is operating the biggest rooms in the city and will soon be operating the smallest rooms in the city, and they are different market niches.