MCLEAN, Va. — DoubleTree by Hilton global head Shawn McAteer says Canada exemplifies the Hilton brand's versatility, as recent conversions have ranged from a Travelodge in Toronto to a Hyatt in Montreal. A new in-room fitness option adds to the brand's appeal.
McAteer has noted many changes in DoubleTree's growth as a brand over his 27 years with Hilton. The brand was born in 1969 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Recently it has grown considerably. In 2008, the brand had just 160-170 properties, all in North America, with just one property in Canada. Today, there are 570 DoubleTrees in 45 countries, including 15 in Canada. There are 211 more in the global pipeline including seven in Canada.
“That kind of growth is remarkable,” commented McAteer.
Canada currently has 15 DoubleTrees, with seven more coming. Globally, Canada has the fifth most DoubleTrees of the 45 countries. “It's an important market for us, with some unique differences, and a great example of the DoubleTree story,” he added.
One of the brand's advantages is its very flexible approach to how it grows. It most markets, DoubleTrees are conversions of existing assets. The advantage is brand flexibility in terms of locations. “So long as the owner has the right vision for a full-service asset, we can bring the product up to standard,” said McAteer.
Canada's DoubleTrees provide great examples of that flexibility: DoubleTree Toronto Airport was formerly a Travelodge, while DoubleTree Downtown Montreal was previously a Hyatt, and DoubleTree Downtown Toronto was the Metropolitan Hotel.
Advantages for operators include the fact that the brand is quite large and has gained traction in various parts of the world. Hilton Honors members account for 60 per cent of the business, making DoubleTrees commercial entities with strong performance potential. Not only do they get the DoubleTree name, but they can also count on Hilton marketing and support.
The target clientele is attitudinal, rather than one demographic. It appeals to guests as an attainable, affordable full-service option. They still get the full-service experience in an informal, comfortable atmosphere. It's warm and inviting, and the signature warm chocolate chip cookies are just the beginning of the experience, according to McAteer. “DoubleTree is approachable. For our staff, the cookie is an enabler. Guests come because of our service culture and their experience with team members.”
Here in Canada, DoubleTree can help owners and developers enhance the asset value of their property and benefit from commercial performance. One of the brand's features is the grab-and-go outlets. Brand-wide, 55 are open and 120 are in the pipeline. “They really fit, making DoubleTree informal and approachable,” McAteer said.
Five feet to Fitness
DoubleTree is in the process of adding in-room workout areas, called Five Feet to Fitness, which take up 80 square feet of a normal-size room. These areas give guests the option of working out in the comfort of their rooms, which is just as good as a workout in a gym.
Part traditional hotel room, part miniature fitness centre, Five Feet to Fitness rooms are designed from the ground up with wellness in mind, versus equipment thrown into the room as an afterthought. This in-room wellness concept brings 11 different fitness equipment and accessory options into the hotel room.
Five Feet to Fitness is now a brand standard which will be offered in all 560+ DoubleTree by Hilton properties globally in the next few years. The new DoubleTree by Hilton Quebec Resort, which opened earlier this summer, will have the first Five Feet to Fitness rooms in Canada.
“From the owners' perspective, they can charge a premium of $25 to $40 for the fitness rooms,” said McAteer. They include a Watt fitness bike, special flooring, yoga mats, TRX suspension trainers, and unique weights (almost like weighted bags) that are used like a dumbbell. The TRX hangs off of a bar.
Each room has a fitness kiosk, which is a touch screen display where guests receive equipment tutorials and follow guided workout routines. Hilton has created more than 200 fitness videos in categories including Cardio, Cycling, Endurance, Strength, HIIT, Yoga, Stretch and Recovery, Meditation, Wheelchair + Partner, and Low Intensity Training.
The Canadian pipeline
DoubleTree doesn't do a lot of dual branding, but one of the Canadian hotels coming soon is one in Kitchener-Waterloo that will open this later this fall. This DoubleTree will be combined with a Home2 Suites.
Other Canadian properties in the pipeline include properties in St. John's, N.L.; Windsor, Ont.; Calgary; Surrey, B.C.; and Toronto East. Between now and October 2020, there will be seven more Canadian DoubleTrees for a total of 22.