Se­cu­rity and qual­ity as­sur­ance are mak­ing aparthotels a gen­uine op­tion for travel man­agers

The 2018 Guide to Serviced Apartments - - CONTENTS -

Un­rav­el­ling who of­fers what

The rise and rise of aparthotels is ex­ceeded only by the in­creas­ing di­ver­sity of the model. Although the pub­lic ar­eas have al­ways lent them­selves to ac­tiv­i­ties – tra­di­tion­ally evening get-to­geth­ers hosted by the gen­eral man­ager – fun events nowa­days range from Game of Thrones nights to jew­ellery mak­ing.

As con­sumer de­mand in­creases, cor­po­rates have fol­lowed. “Travel man­agers are be­ing asked for rel­e­vant al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion and aparthotels can of­ten be the an­swer, as they of­fer some­thing dif­fer­ent along with the stan­dard­i­s­a­tion, se­cu­rity and dis­tri­bu­tion ben­e­fits that cor­po­ra­tions need,” says sales di­rec­tor for SACO, Jo Red­man. “In short, aparthotels are re­duc­ing the bar­ri­ers that have tra­di­tion­ally slowed cor­po­rate adop­tion in the past.”

In ad­di­tion, sup­ply has in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly as in­vestors recog­nise the op­por­tu­nity to take on new as­set classes such as aparthotels and co-work­ing spa­ces.

Deputy CEO of Ada­gio, Karim Malak, says proof of the pud­ding is in the strong re­turns: “It [aparthotels] reg­u­larly gives 60% gross op­er­at­ing profit above ho­tels. From an eco­nomic stand­point, it works beau­ti­fully.”

Although much has been writ­ten about their ap­peal to mil­len­ni­als – As­cott’s Lyf is de­signed and run by them – aparthotels are in­creas­ingly lean­ing to­wards life­style prop­er­ties, tak­ing in any­one who en­joys rub­bing shoul­ders with fel­low guests and wants to join a community while on the road.

Aparthotels of­ten also re­flect their im­me­di­ate en­vi­ron­ment and lo­cal cul­ture. A re­cent re­fur­bish­ment of Stay­bridge Suites Liver­pool, for ex­am­ple, fea­tured The Bea­tles and mar­itime ref­er­ences, un­der­lin­ing a close re­la­tion­ship with the city.

The re­sult is im­mer­sive. As an As­cott cus­tomer said to area man­ager Marc Sand­fort: “When I stay in a ho­tel, I stay in the city; when I stay in an apartho­tel, I live in that city.” Per­son­al­i­sa­tion is in­creas­ingly the name of the game: “Guests can bring items that make life com­fort­able, even a pet,” he says; or in the case of Stay­bridge Suites Vaux­hall, bor­row res­i­dent labradoo­dle Wag­gers for a friendly walk.

And Ada­gio is re­fash­ion­ing prop­er­ties to in­clude an ob­ject li­brary of eclec­tica in­spired by guest re­quests or items they travel with, such as an oys­ter knife, rice cooker, vase, gui­tar, toy piano, see­saw and loud speak­ers.

Ada­gio’s rein­ven­tion is cen­tred around its BMG (Be My Guest) ini­tia­tive, which em­pha­sises guests’ de­sire for in­ter­ac­tion with staff, some­thing that came out of re­search among cus­tomers. An in­vi­ta­tion to en­joy a French apéri­tif also al­lows guests to meet each other. “The de­sign has been im­ple­mented in Ada­gio Ed­in­burgh and is get­ting very good feed­back. Oc­cu­pancy is run­ning at 30% above the ini­tial fore­cast,”

says Malak. Ada­gio Paris Bercy will be the first to emerge in the new con­cept in De­cem­ber.

A warm wel­come and a neigh­bour­hood feel is the ethic in Cy­cas’s new South Point Suites – Lon­don Bridge, which opened in Oc­to­ber 2017 with 101 units and re­flects its Ber­mond­sey lo­ca­tion through­out. “We want to en­cour­age peo­ple to live like a lo­cal. From the mo­ment they step into re­cep­tion they are treated more like a mem­ber of the fam­ily than a guest,” says John Wag­ner. In Au­gust, the com­pany opened the UK’s first Res­i­dence Inn at Lon­don Bridge with 87 units and will be launch­ing Res­i­dence Inn Kens­ing­ton in 2018, Europe’s largest Res­i­dence Inn with 315 suites.

Q Sky­line is also jump­ing on the apartho­tel band­wagon, with a first prop­erty in Copen­hagen (2018) and two more in Lon­don; BridgeStreet’s Mode opens in Ed­in­burgh and Paris next year; and Co­tels’ first apartho­tel opened in Mil­ton Keynes in Novem­ber, with Swiss balls, weights and yoga mats in each apart­ment and a re­la­tion­ship with lo­cal gym The Fit­ness Space. And Su­percity has com­pleted on a build­ing in Manch­ester, its first out­side Lon­don.

Marlin’s first apartho­tel near Water­loo is tes­ti­mony to the wide va­ri­ety of guests the prop­er­ties at­tract, rang­ing from fam­i­lies to in­di­vid­u­als of all ages on business and on hol­i­day, and the bar adds a lively dy­namic by at­tract­ing lo­cals. Oc­cu­pan­cies have been close to 90%. “We have been blown away – for a launch that is un­be­liev­able,” says man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Susan Cully.

Style and sub­stance

SACO’s Locke is a life­style brand that tar­gets the mod­ern, rather than mil­len­nial, trav­eller. “We are sac­ri­fic­ing the apart­ment size to fo­cus on the com­mu­nal ar­eas. Events will be­come more prom­i­nent within aparthotels but the apart­ment will still be com­fort­able for stays of up to 30 nights,” says CEO Stephen Han­ton. Eden Locke in Ed­in­burgh hosted a DJ in the com­mu­nal area in Oc­to­ber, and in Can­non Street, Lon­don, a guest ran a cock­tail-mak­ing ses­sion. Locke con­tin­ues to evolve and Locke Manch­ester will have two restau­rants and prob­a­bly two bars.

Fur­ther SACO brands are also on the cards, pos­si­bly em­brac­ing un­der one ban­ner The Can­non and The Wit­ten­berg in Am­s­ter­dam, which Han­ton de­scribes as, “an ur­ban re­treat; slightly more ex­clu­sive and less noisy with a much more high-touch cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause peo­ple are stay­ing longer”. Av­er­age stay for The Can­non is 25 nights; 10 for Le­man Locke. Pub­lic space is still im­por­tant and in The Wit­ten­berg, phi­los­o­phy lec­tures, talks from peo­ple at the lo­cal business

school and a lunch club for spouses are po­ten­tial op­tions.

Go Na­tive’s re­cent ac­qui­si­tion of an apartho­tel in Maida Vale, Lon­don, high­lighted de­mand for a three-star prop­erty. “We will close it next year for re­de­vel­op­ment but, mean­while, we are run­ning it as a three-star apart­ment block. We got high oc­cu­pancy by push­ing it out through OTAs but it also got cor­po­rate in­ter­est,” says mar­ket­ing and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence di­rec­tor, Amanda Met­calfe. “This sug­gests there is scope for us to have a two-tier brand.” A low-cost op­tion is at­trac­tive to or­gan­i­sa­tions that have quoted for a project and are then bound by that bud­get.

Go Na­tive launches its larger aparthotels with the open­ing of Em­pire Ware­house Bank­side in 2018, where em­pha­sis on the neigh­bour­hood is re­flected in the name, a gift in the fridge from a lo­cal brew­ery and cof­fee from Mon­mouth Cof­fee Shop in Bor­ough Mar­ket. The Manch­ester prop­erty (Q4, 2018) fol­lows this model with bar­ber, florist, des­ti­na­tion bar and pos­si­bly lo­cal F&B op­er­a­tor; and sim­i­larly, The An­chor­line, Glas­gow (Q3). “Each prop­erty will be true to the na­ture of the brand,” says Met­calfe.

The UK and the rest of Europe is start­ing to wave the apartho­tel flag and while in­ter­na­tional ho­tel groups such as IHG and Hy­att are fol­low­ing a model well es­tab­lished in the US, play­ers such as Ada­gio, Lyf and Go Na­tive are putting a cre­ative spin on ex­tended stay.

Mi­cro-apart­ments squeeze footage still fur­ther, tak­ing out kitchens in apart­ments and pro­vid­ing a com­mu­nal al­ter­na­tive. And there is more to come; aparthotels are not stand­ing still.

"We want to en­cour­age peo­ple to live like a lo­cal. From the mo­ment they step into re­cep­tion they are treated more like a mem­ber of the fam­ily than a guest"

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