Hilton Canopy to be the streetlamp in key communities

Vito Curalli envisions Hilton's new upper upscale brand as a beacon in neighbourhoods such as Vancouver's Gastown, Ottawa's Byward Market and Old Montreal.

TORONTO—Vito Curalli, executive director, Canada, Latin America & International Sales, Hilton Worldwide, describes Hilton’s 12th brand for Canada as the “streetlamp of the neighbourhood,” and envisions it as a beacon in Canadian communities such as Gastown in Vancouver, the Arts District in Toronto, Byward Market in Ottawa and Old Montreal.

“The new brand, Canopy by Hilton is designed to appeal to a broad base of guests at the upper end of upper upscale, and will be particularly attractive to guests looking to get a feel for the local neighbourhood,” said Mark Ricci, director of corporate communications, Northeast U.S. and Canada, Hilton Worldwide.

The clientele would be business and corporate, adventure travellers and artistic types.

“Each hotel’s love of local will be expressed through design, food, drink, art, and local know-how,” said Ricci.

“At check-in, each guest will receive a welcome gift from the neighbourhood, meant as a small local takeaway from the destination. Guests in Denver might receive something from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, or Garrett’s Popcorn if guests are in Chicago.

“Each morning, guests have the choice of enjoying an artisanal breakfast featuring fresh, local ingredients in the café, or grabbing a Canopy Rise & Dine breakfast bag on their way out the door,” Ricci said. “Each evening, the lobby bar will host a tasting of local craft beers, wines, or spirits.”

But Canopy’s local offerings will extend far beyond food and drink.
Curalli noted that in addition to locally-inspired design, there will be local partnerships including local art and music programs and a neighbourhood fitness option.

“Unlike the typical branding formula where everything is built inside the hotel, we are reaching out to the community. The artwork would not be a standard set by the brand, but rather local artists exhibiting their work.

“Brands are very good at working from the inside out—this completely changes. We’re looking at what’s being offered in the community—hot yoga or a spin class. Customers are looking above and beyond what the hotel has to offer.”

“It’s a lifestyle space, above Kimpton—lifestyle luxury like Andaz. When I identify markets, that’s the kind of location I am looking for,” said Jeff Cury, senior director, development, Eastern Canada, Hilton Worldwide, adding that the key count is between 150 and 200, and target locations are urban, probably not at the airport. Designs will be based on an urban development unique to the site. The lobby area will approximately 4,300 square feet—a decent size but not huge.

Rooms are important—they get as much emphasis as lobbies and are crucial to retaining corporate business, said Cury. The rooms will feature an open design and a wardrobe rather than a fixed closet.

There are currently 14 letters of intent for Canopy projects around the world including London and Dubai.

In Canada, Cury said there have been several discussions and presentations with Hilton’s existing franchisee base.

“There are not many competitors; it’s not your typical lifestyle brand,” said Ricci. “You can tailor it to the local market—and that should appeal to developers and guests. It’s fresh, which is what clients want to see.”