Within 10 days of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, 4.7 million Canadians had made the shift to working from home, according to Statistics Canada. Today, we’re seeing a shift from work from home to work from anywhere. In response to a growing legion of digital nomads, hoteliers are tailoring their offerings to emphasize technology, well-designed guestrooms and communal spaces and community-led initiatives.
Premium Wi-Fi is the most important amenity for digital nomads. Toronto’s Kimpton Saint George for example, owned by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), has taken its technological infrastructure to new heights by setting up routers in each guestroom instead of having designated router locations on each floor to provide secure Wi-Fi and Ethernet access. Additionally, Kimpton’s TVs are Chromecast-enabled, which is suitable for streaming, work-related presentations and meetings.
“At Kimpton, our job has never been to change people’s travel behaviours but rather adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the travel industry and stay ahead of trends,” says Nabeel Toubayly, general manager, Kimpton Saint George. “That said, we have a strong focus on investing in the technological infrastructure of our properties.”
Workspaces by Hilton are available at roughly 25 properties in Canada, including Hilton Garden Inn Toronto Burlington, Homewood Suites by Hilton Montreal Midtown, Hampton Inn by Hilton Port Hope and Canvas Moncton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. A remote office with Workspaces by Hilton includes a private guestroom, complimentary standard Wi-Fi, sufficient desk space, a comfortable chair and a selection of tea or coffee. The company also launched a Hilton Honors offer, allowing loyalty members to earn 10,000 bonus points after their first Workspaces by Hilton stay. Other Hilton Honors perks include the ability to earn a stay credit, premium Wi-Fi and executive lounge access.
“[Since] digital nomads [enjoy] mixing business with pleasure, Canvas Moncton’s urban location is ideal,” says Perry Vashee, president of Opal Hospitality, who entered into a joint venture with FiveFive Queen Developments to co-own and manage Canvas Moncton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. “The hotel is community-focused and makes conducting business easy while providing a launching point for exploration.”
The lobby design concepts, also known as The Living Room, at both Kimpton Saint George and Canvas Moncton function as vibrant social hubs and have proven to be attractive selling points for digital nomads. Kimpton hosts morning kick-starts and evening social hours daily while Canvas Moncton offers a coffee-to-cocktail bar to establish inclusive environments.
“The idea behind our morning kick-start and evening social hour is to provide guests with an opportunity to mingle with other guests, allowing them to feel a part of the larger travel community,” says Toubayly. “While remote work keeps people travelling, this is a great way to maintain face-to-face connections.”
Other work-from-anywhere programs include Work Anywhere with Marriott Bonvoy, which has three options: the Day Pass, the Stay Pass and the Play Pass. Furthermore, Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Toronto International Airport, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel and Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel, under Marriott Bonvoy’s brands, recently unveiled extensive renovations. Specific upgrades catering to digital nomads include the introduction of community tables, sound-proof booths and Sheraton Club lounges, in addition to other shared spaces.
Additionally, the Work from Hyatt programs have been around for a while at properties across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and more. Packages include Office for the Day, Extended Stays, The Great Re-locate and, most recently, Offsite. Launched in March 2022, Work from Hyatt: Offsite is a corporate retreat concept for groups of all sizes and offers meeting spaces, personalized food and beverage menus and team-building experiences through collaborations with local attractions, restaurants, fitness studios and more.
Toubayly says “this trend is here to stay and we’ll likely see more variations of it.” Hotels looking to capitalize on this opportunity should consider updated technology, workspaces and community initiatives as essential ingredients to ultimately position themselves for success.
By Nicole Di Tomasso