BETHESDA, Md. — Five years after Marriott International made history by purchasing Starwood Hotels, the company has re-launched the Sheraton Hotels & Resorts brand. Last Thursday, team members from Marriott unveiled images of what that transformation will look like as part of a virtual meeting, led by Amanda Nichols, senior director and global brand leader, Sheraton Hotels, and Brittney Hepler, senior Design manager, Global Design Strategies, Sheraton Hotels.
The two women led the much-anticipated reveal of the brand, touching on what the intended goal was and detailing how, over the next three years, all of the company’s units around the world will be part of the chain-wide transformation. Citing the iconic nature of the brand — Sheraton was the first international brand to operate in China — and the company’s ubiquitous presence around the world, Sheraton was heralded as Marriott’s most prolific global brand. Its history is also storied, dating back 80 years. “Over those 80 years, the brand has continued to serve as a symbol of trust. We’ve created communities around the world — first jobs, first meetings, first weddings,” quipped Nichols.
While the re-branding has been talked about for several years, its completion comes against the backdrop of COVID-19 and amidst a turbulent time, as hotels continue to suffer through the most devastating time recorded in history.
As part of the new look, the brand’s new tagline “Where the World Comes Together,” serves as its guiding light. While travel restrictions are making getting together challenging, that vision remains at the core of what the company is creating.
“When we think about how we create a welcoming Sheraton that has that worldly feel, we put a lot of effort into our aesthetic and design components — what we call stylish essentials — that make up the space, like lighting, furniture, acoustics,” said Hepler. “Sheraton really has this refined sense of timelessness that’s really approachable and balanced, but also has something that’s fresh and modern. That’s really refreshing because, to me, it drives home that sense of heritage in a more contemporary context.”
What’s also important for the design, stressed Hepler, is consideration for the brand’s global footprint. “If we look at how our strategy really scales across the world, there’s this unmistakable visual and emotional thread that ties the brand altogether. So, when you look at the Americas, Europe, the Middle East or the design work being done by our Asia Pacific team, we’re creating a look that really harnesses the emotion behind feeling inviting, feeling comfortable. It’s about how do we bottle that shared DNA that really permeates all our properties, because, in the end, we’re building this brand together across the board.”
The new guestrooms welcome guests with a bright, well-lit space with warm, residential appeal, comprised of soft finishes and light wood tones, accentuated with black metal accents. The rooms have been re-imagined with new tools for productivity, such as a height-adjustable work table, integrated power and charging and layered lighting; while still retaining some of the Sheraton signature amenities, including the Sheraton Sleep Experience platform bed. The guest bathroom has also been completely re-designed with new and modern walk-in showers and bath amenities by Gilchrist & Soames.
The Sheraton Club Lounge, an exclusive space for Marriott Bonvoy Elite members and Sheraton Club-level guests, has also undergone an upgrade as part of the transformation. The new design ensures the space is welcoming, elevated and purposefully designed for a layered and engaging experience that transitions seamlessly from morning to evening. Guests will find updated food-and-beverage offerings, premium amenities, enhanced connectivity and 24/7 access to provide a private environment.
The public spaces are a key part of the updated look. “Guests and locals should feel a sense of belonging,” Hepler explained, pointing to the brand’s mission to gather as a community. “Just as public squares invite people to come together and watch the world go by, the hotels’ lobbies have always been a place to bring people together from all parts of the world.”
“That has stood the test of time,” agreed Nichols, stating that the public square has been the company’s North Star.
Among the elements that bring the cohesiveness of the look is the Community Table. “It really acts as the anchor that brings people together,” explained Hepler, “There’s plenty of space to spread out and make the space your own. It invites the guest to work or dine, in a group or alone. Think of this as a long kitchen table with access to chargers, lighting stations [and other tech accessories]. For those who need a little privacy, while still experiencing that lobby buzz, the design also incorporates booths that are great for social distancing or taking calls privately. [Guests] don’t necessarily want to go back to their room; they need a moment to step away while being able to experience the lobby buzz. This is about giving guests more audio privacy [and] a little more focus when they need it while still being able to social distance from the rest of the lobby.”
The gathering-place ambiance is carried through in the Coffee Bar Bar, where people can connect in a casual space “It’s a space that makes our communal energy sort of thrive,” said Hepler. “We developed this as a scalable concept — all-day feature, part bar/part coffee bar [and] it has a little bit of a market component. When you think of hosting a party at home, where does everybody gather? They gather around the kitchen, right…that’s where the heart is. This is what this is — that place where people connect over casual interaction all day. The Coffee Bar Bar can flex to take on different forms and is designed for the introvert and extrovert. It’s more of an elevated environment and it also entices guests.”
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Veil Bar offers a cocktail-bar feel in an elevated environment. “It plays coy in the day and then transforms at night. The signature is not part of every hotel, but can be chosen by operators who want to incorporate it into the hotel,” said Hepler.
To date, six properties have already completed the re-launch, including the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, U.S.; Sheraton Denver Downtown, U.S.; Sheraton Tel Aviv, Israel; Sheraton Grand Dubai, UAE; Sheraton Guangzhou, China; and Sheraton Mianyang, China. There is now momentum building for the transformation, with more than 40 hotels around the world expected to reflect the new brand vision by the end of 2022, including Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Toronto International Airport and Sheraton Laval Hotel in Quebec.
The Sheraton Centre Toronto is due to complete its renovations in June, with a new Club Lounge, motor court and lobby. Its new F&B venues (Coffee Bar Bar and Veiled Bar), along with a new pool deck and event space, will open at the end of August.
“Our vision for Sheraton is steadfast,” says Nichols. “We will continue to transform the brand, through continued innovation in our brand program.” And, despite the impact of the pandemic, Nichols is confident better days are ahead. “The world will gather again and we want to be where the world comes together.”