A space like the of­fice, ‘but cooler’

Even ho­tels are com­ing up with co-work­ing ar­eas

San Francisco Chronicle - - BUSINESS REPORT - By Shivani Vora

Ho­tels have al­ready turned their lob­bies into spa­ces where guests can so­cial­ize or work. Now, some prop­er­ties are go­ing one step fur­ther to cater to busi­ness trav­el­ers and pro­fes­sion­als in gen­eral: They’ve set up WeWork-style co-work­ing ar­eas.

Tra­di­tional ho­tel busi­ness cen­ters these aren’t. Yes, they of­fer prac­ti­cal ameni­ties like of­fice sup­plies, print­ers and, of course, cof­fee. But they also have a laid-back am­bi­ence and con­vivial feel of the shared work­ing spa­ces pop­ping up around the globe un­der the ban­ner of startup WeWork.

The new ho­tel busi­ness cen­ters seem to have struck a chord among busi­ness trav­el­ers who find that they’re prob­a­bly get­ting less work done in busy ho­tel lob­bies, said Lor­raine Sileo, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of re­search for travel re­search com­pany Pho­cuswright. “Lob­bies are dis­tract­ing be­cause there is so much go­ing on, with peo­ple com­ing in and out and also so­cial­iz­ing,” she said. “These new workspaces are meant for pro­duc­tiv­ity.”

They’re also es­pe­cially at­trac­tive to younger busi­ness trav­el­ers, said Jes­sica Col­li­son, re­search di­rec­tor for the Global Busi­ness Travel As­so­ci­a­tion. “Mil­len­ni­als tend be more no-

madic than the older gen­er­a­tion of trav­el­ers and spend more time out­side of their room,” she said. “Ho­tels have picked up on this, and more of them are of­fer­ing a co-work­ing op­tion.”

The AC Ho­tel Phoenix Bilt­more, for ex­am­ple, which opened in Oc­to­ber, of­fers the in­door and out­door AC Lounge, on the side of its lobby. The more than 5,000-square­foot light-gray space has sev­eral couches, a large com­mu­nal ta­ble with elec­tri­cal out­lets at ev­ery seat and a 20-seat high ta­ble that’s a work­ing area by day and a bar after 4 p.m. Guests and nonguests are wel­come to use the lounge with­out charge, said David Belk,

the ho­tel’s gen­eral man­ager, and can get free cof­fee and bis­cotti. The lounge’s small li­brary has com­put­ers, print­ers and of­fice sup­plies like paper clips and fold­ers.

“We want the lounge to be a go-to and con­ve­nient for any­one who’s work­ing,” Belk said.

Alex Grif­fiths, who lives in San Luis Obispo and trav­els to Phoenix for his job in re­new­able en­ergy, has stayed at the AC sev­eral times since it opened and said that he used the lounge both for team meet­ings and com­puter work. “It’s like a fully func­tion­ing of­fice but cooler, and I like the

syn­ergy with the other peo­ple who are also work­ing,” he said. “I also love the bis­cotti.”

The co-work­ing area at the Char­lotte Mar­riott City Cen­ter, called Coco and the Di­rec­tor, is more com­pact. It has two tables with eight seats each and a white­board with mark­ers that guests can use dur­ing meet­ings for notes, said Sea­mus Gal­lagher, the prop­erty’s di­rec­tor of guest ex­pe­ri­ence. It also of­fers a for-pur­chase menu of cof­fee and sand­wiches.

Ho­tels see the co-work­ing spa­ces as a way to build loy­alty with both ho­tel guests and the gen­eral

pub­lic, said Adam Weis­senberg, head of travel, hospi­tal­ity and leisure at Deloitte. “These spa­ces are of­ten sleek look­ing and help raise a ho­tel’s pro­file,” he said. “They’re not go­ing to lose money from them be­cause any­one who uses them is likely to hang out at the ho­tel when they’re done work­ing and or­der drinks or food.”

Weis­senberg noted that sev­eral re­cently opened ho­tels with the spa­ces charge non-guests for ac­cess. “The fees aren’t high, but the ameni­ties they have gen­er­ally war­rant a charge,” he said.

The Rev­o­lu­tion Ho­tel, for one, which opened Dec. 5 in Bos­ton’s South End neigh­bor­hood, charges non-guests $20 a day for ac­cess to its cowork­ing space, Con­spire. The space of­fers com­mu­nal tables, bar-style seat­ing, couches and an eight­per­son con­fer­ence room.

Ea­ton DC’s new cowork­ing space, Ea­ton House, is spread over three lev­els and has desks, com­mu­nal ar­eas, con­fer­ence rooms and pri­vate of­fices. It charges non-guests three tiers of monthly mem­ber­ship: a $400 en­try level, called the No­mad, gets mem­bers a drop-in desk; the $800 level, the Pi­o­neer, comes with a ded­i­cated desk; and the top tier, the Col­lec­tive, which starts at $1,800 a month, comes with a pri­vate of­fice. (WeWork’s charges vary by lo­ca­tion but start at $190 a month for a desk and $450 a month for an of­fice.)

Guests at the Ea­ton ho­tel get the drop-in desk and other No­mad ben­e­fits, said Ea­ton’s founder, Kather­ine Lo.

Tony Luong / New York Times 2018

Heather White (left) and Melisa Valdez of Trill­fit, a bou­tique fit­ness stu­dio, work at the Rev­o­lu­tion Ho­tels co-work­ing space in Bos­ton.

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