By Colleen Isherwood, Editor
TORONTO—Marriott has a new brand, Moxy, which, according to Michael Beckley, stands for “Marriott Owns Gen X&Y.”
Using Marriott’s matrix, Moxy is a moderate priced brand like Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott, and a lifestyle brand like AC Hotels, which was introduced last year. AC is upper moderate priced, on a par with Courtyard by Marriott, Beckley, senior vice president Lodging Development for Canada, told CLN.
Manlio Marescotti, vice president Marriott International, recently toured the first iteration of this boutique hotel for budget-savvy travellers across from Milan’s Malpensa Airport in Italy. It’s quirky and edgy, with light fixtures shaped like the motorcycle helmets worn by riders of Milan’s ubiquitous Vespa motor scooters. The designers are thinking of mounting a Vespa on the wall at this location. Key cards feature a young couple in funky clothes jumping up and down. A mural showing the same couple graces one guestroom wall, which doubles as a place to hang your clothes. The “do not disturb” sign features a muscular, good looking, scantily clad man.
In the public space, the check-in desk leads to the bar which leads to the self-service vending area. When guests return their trays after eating, there’s a sign featuring a sexy young woman licking the dishes clean.
There’s a signature high-tech wall where guests can post FaceBook or Twitter testimonials. There’s also an irregular slice out of the wood in the communal table in the lobby.
“These are all points of conversation,” Beckley said.
It may be a while before Moxy comes to Canada, Marescotti said, noting that active discussions are underway, but no decisions have been made. Moxy would fit in secondary urban markets—edgy places like Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood, Calgary’s Beltline or Vancouver’s Gastown, he added.
“First, Milan will be tweaked; Berlin is next, and we’re actively looking for an opportunity to bring it to North America,” Marescotti said.
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Marriott is also in discussions with companies interested in bringing AC, Moxy’s upper midscale sister brand, over here—Beckley says it is next on the list of brands Marriott wants to bring to Canada.
The first North American AC opened in New Orleans, and there are dozens more deals in the pipeline. The New Orleans AC was listed by MSN Travel as one of the Top 25 new hotels to visit for 2014. It’s an adaptive reuse of the old cotton exchange.
“AC is a more urban-central product than Moxy,” Beckley said. “It’s very hard-design oriented as opposed to soft furnishings.” Design features don’t become dated, and include high quality tiles in the bathrooms, for example. “There’s not a lot of furniture, fixtures and equipment.”
Ten-plus years of growth
Just over a decade ago, Marriott had only 17 hotels in Canada. They have taken nine hotels out of the system in the last 10 years, but despite that, they now have 84 properties, and are on track to open six more by year-end.
“We expect to open 36 hotels in 2014-2016, bringing the total to 120 by the end of 2016,” Beckley told CLN.
Openings for 2014 include The Algonquin Resort St. Andrews, NB (Autograph Collection); TownePlace Suites, Thunder Bay, ON; Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel; Courtyard by Marriott Winnipeg Airport; TownePlace Suites Red Deer, AB; TownePlace Suites Markham, ON; Courtyard by Marriott, Markham, ON; Courtyard by Marriott Saskatoon Airport; TownePlace Suites Belleville, ON; and Fairfield Inn and Suites Calgary Downtown.
“We have four openings of TownePlace Suites this year and three more next year,” said Beckley.
Marriott brand reinvention
The Marriott brand is being totally reinvented, using a website, www.marriotthotels.com, that invites travellers “travel brilliantly,” and to submit their ideas, Beckley said.
The guestroom experience is being redesigned, a lot of furniture is being taken out, the decor is hard and there’s a desk alternative—the same themes seen with Moxy and AC.
“They’re putting the energy back into public spaces—making them warm, friendly places,” Beckley said, adding that the new Marriott design features communal tables and banquettes; an enormous emphasis on fitness (high tech, interactive equipment versus pools); and the M Club to look after platinum-level guests.
The new design has started rolling out in the U.S., and will be included in every new build. Existing hotels will include the new design in their next renovation cycle.
The first example of the new design in Canada will be the Marriott Calgary Downtown, which will be totally renovated to the tune of $34 million by spring 2015.