Brands like Park Hyatt, Alila, Miraval and Thompson Hotels generate plenty of lifestyle and luxury hotel interest for Hyatt.
The Chicago-based hotel giant made significant inroads in recent years beefing up its luxury and lifestyle division: In the last five years, the company doubled its luxury room count, tripled its resort room count and quadrupled its lifestyle hotel room count. This was fueled by acquisitions of companies and brands like Mr & Mrs Smith, Two Roads Hospitality (the former owner of brands like Thompson and Alila) and all-inclusive giant Apple Leisure Group.
But Hyatt also faces stiff competition these days. IHG Hotels & Resorts is making its own luxury and lifestyle push with brands like Six Senses and Regent. Marriott is a luxury hotel behemoth with brands like St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton and Edition. Hilton plans to launch an Edition competitor in the luxury lifestyle space to sit alongside its other top tier brands like Waldorf Astoria, Conrad and LXR Hotels & Resorts.
Hyatt leaders are watching all of this, of course. But don’t expect much lost sleep at Chicago corporate headquarters, either.
“The worst thing I can do as a leader is react to what other people do and say,” Crystal Vinisse Thomas, the vice president and global brand leader of Hyatt’s luxury and lifestyle brands, said in an interview with TPG at last month’s International Luxury Travel Market conference in Cannes, France. “Being reactive can be very short-sighted because, if I’m sticking to what I believe we’ve built as a strong foundation and a strong brand with a strong personality, we can continue to build equity and authentic connections with these guests that I don’t need to look at another brand to know what’s coming and try to tweak and react.”
“That’s not to say that, competitively, I’m not paying attention,” she added.
Long story short: Don’t expect Thompson Hotels to start throwing a property-specific blanket over the corner of a guest room or suite bed just because Edition does that. The mantra behind the scenes at Hyatt’s luxury and lifestyle brands is “NBDB,” never been done before, Thomas said.
“I’d say we try to be proactive in doing things differently and making sure that everything is in service to the guests and the service to our brands,” she added. “When competitors join the party, it’s more to go around.”
What’s next for luxury and lifestyle at Hyatt?
Hyatt plans to open an additional 25 luxury and lifestyle hotels and resorts through 2025 across the Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Miraval, Alila, Andaz, Thompson Hotels and The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brands as well as luxury all-inclusive brands like Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts and Dreams Resorts & Spas.
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Some of those upcoming openings include the long-awaited Park Hyatt Marrakech in Morocco, Park Hyatt London River Thames, Park Hyatt Cancun and Park Hyatt Phu Quoc — just down the street from IHG’s luxe Regent Phu Quoc, a TPG favorite.
Hyatt is also expanding the Miraval wellness brand to Saudi Arabia, while openings for Alila include locations in Shanghai, Malaysia and China’s Dong’ao Island.
Upcoming Andaz openings include hotels in Doha, Amsterdam, Miami Beach, Turks and Caicos, Lisbon and Bangkok. The expansion trajectory for Thompson Hotels includes hotels in Houston; Palm Springs, California; South Beach, Florida; Monterrey, California; Vienna, Austria; Rome and Shanghai.
“It’s a very crowded space right now in luxury and lifestyle,” Thomas said. “We have a job as hoteliers to educate our consumers on the difference between them and what the value propositions are.”
For Thompson Hotels, that means programming meant to showcase creatives and a surrounding community within a hotel. Thompson Nashville hosts whiskey tastings and vinyl record listening sessions in the penthouse. Georgia’s Thompson Savannah offers chef-curated dinner parties to allow guests to indulge in Southern cooking that goes far beyond “just” shrimp and grits.
Andaz is meant to be the “playful” luxury brand compelling guests to do things they might not normally do. Andaz West Hollywood offers Guitar Hero in the lobby for those looking to practice some tunes before hopefully one day taking to the stage down Sunset Boulevard at the Viper Room.
Alila is meant to offer more immersive experiences with each hotel’s surrounding community, like perennial TPG points redemption favorite Alila Ventana Big Sur. While Alila has locations around the world, its U.S. presence is currently limited to three locations, all in California.
That will hopefully change one day.
“In the U.S. there are so many untapped places that we could bring that to life,” Thomas said of the future growth of Alila in the U.S. “It’s just more about finding the right one and certainly leaning into our intention of being a good neighbor and making sure wherever we are we’re giving back and not taking away.”