After many months of social isolation and, in many cases, significant spending constraints, travellers are eager to hit the road and take to the skies again to fulfill the need for human connection and desire for new experiences. The rise of new travellers, with respect to evolving values, behaviours and expectations, are impacting preferences in the hotel industry when it comes to why, when and where they decide to spend their dollars. With these changes in mind, more value is being placed on hotel segments that can effectively cater to specific needs. Here, Hotelier highlights a few hotel segments that are kick-starting recovery in Canada, as well as some of the new brands leading hotel companies have brought to market.
The lifestyle segment is poised for growth in Canada over the next three to five years as more travellers, especially Gen Z and millennials who fear missing out on travel opportunities, explore hotel grounds beyond the confines of their guestrooms in search of human interaction, meaningful experiences and exclusive entertainment.
Several lifestyle brands positioned in Canada include Canopy by Hilton in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood, Hyatt Centric Ville-Marie Montreal, Andaz Toronto, W Montreal by Marriott and W Toronto, which is expected to open in June. Brands/concepts in this category are design-forward and offer unique amenities, travel arrangements and superb dining experiences, from stand-up comedy nights and live-music events to mixology classes and in-room workout options.
“Our lifestyle brands are dynamic and bold, driving innovation and disruption while leveraging the expertise of the broader enterprise,” says Gary Steffen, Global Category Head for Full-Service, Hilton Hotels & Resorts. “Hilton’s lifestyle hotels will be located in popular urban cities across the world and include unique, locally inspired food-and-beverage options and communal spaces to work and play that both guests and locals will enjoy.”
Additionally, one of the newer concepts to enter this space focuses on a favourable cost-to-build model, with smaller room sizes and energetic social spaces at affordable prices, such as Caption by Hyatt, Motto by Hilton and Moxy by Marriott.
“Urban developments with smaller room sizes that service the single- or double-occupancy traveller is a fast-growing segment that actually started to see traction before the pandemic,” says Scott Richer, vice-president of Development and Owner Relations, Canada, Hyatt Hotels Corporation. “This concept is suitable for a type of traveller often described as more autonomous and doesn’t always seek the same level of service and amenities associated with traditional offerings.”
Moreover, these brands have performed well across the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific and are beginning to infiltrate the Canadian market, providing operators with more sustainable approaches to design and operations. In fact, Marriott is bringing the Moxy brand to Canada with two openings in Halifax and Banff, Alta. later this year, with an additional Moxy hotel in Quebec slated to open in 2024.
The extended-stay segment has proven to be resilient amid the pandemic due to the rise of “workcations” or “bleisure” travel. About a year ago, Hyatt Hotels opened its first Hyatt House in Winnipeg and currently has numerous properties in development across Canada, including Toronto. Element by Westin, part of Marriott International, recently launched a new room concept called Studio Commons, incorporating four private guestrooms in addition to shared kitchen and living space.
“The continued resiliency of the extended-stay segment is noteworthy,” says Richer. “Developers remain attracted to the product because they’re flexible in terms of the types of travellers and reasons for travel that they can service. This was further proven during the pandemic.”
“The pandemic has forced people to re-prioritize and, as a result, we have created new offerings in line with our individual brand values to better cater to our customers’ changing values,” says Paul Cahill, area vice-president, Canada, Marriott International. “The pent-up desire to travel, combined with new-found flexibility when it comes to remote work or learning has resulted in travellers staying longer.”
On a smaller scale, Level Hotels & Furnished Suites – Howe, located in downtown Vancouver, recently opened and is solely available for 30-plus night stays and features studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts.
“The additional space, in-suite kitchen and washer/dryer are three components that, over the years, guests consider to be increasingly important when planning a stay for more than five days,” says Javier Cepeda, vice-president of Sales, Level Hotels & Furnished Suites. “People don’t like living out of a suitcase. Instead, they want a space that feels like home while still enjoying the benefits of a hotel.”
Luxury hotels, such as Park Hyatt, Four Seasons Toronto and The Ritz-Carlton, offer highly personalized services and amenities. Of course, this includes features such as private pools, saunas, spas and premium culinary experiences.
A spending surge is underway as affluent travellers will be more inclined to splurge on luxurious stays closer to home. Similarly, people who saved a greater amount of income might choose to spend that money on an experience that they normally wouldn’t have.
“Four Seasons Hotel Toronto launched exclusive staycation, celebration and wellness packages which were welcomed by Torontonians,” says Patrick Pollack, GM. “Our guests have always expected us to provide an elevated, intuitive and personalized service, and most importantly, the confidence and assurance that their health and safety are our priority.”
By Nicole Di Tomasso