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IHG has just unveiled the latest brand it is introducing into its portfolio at a conference in Las Vegas and, with it, the hotelier says it’s looking to target an estimated $18bn industry segment focusing on all-suite properties in the upper-midscale sector of the market.
IHG’s Atwell Suites
The new Atwell Suites will be new, purpose-built properties (to a set prototype) and construction on the first building is expected to start in 2020 with the first opening in 2021.
At the outset, the brand will be focused on the US market but, as with all things in the hotel industry, this may change as the brand develops and grows.
Here’s what IHG says the initial features of the new Atwell Suites brand will be:
- All-studio suites: Atwell Suites properties will offer all-studio suites which include distinct zones for living and sleeping; a kitchenette area with counter-height refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker and sink; a work area with a high-top desk solution; a pullout sofa; an oversized vanity in the bathroom; and a closet that can be easily accessed from both the guestroom and the bathroom.
- Spaces to connect and collaborate: Guests will be able to easily move from their rooms to public spaces in order to relax, work, collaborate and create connections in whatever way works best for them. The Atwell Suites brand’s design allows guests to create their own environment with more flexible meeting spaces – including a meeting room integrated into the lobby, outdoor space, huddle areas and public/private working spaces.
- “Golden Hours” F&B: Atwell Suites properties will offer F&B options for when the sun is coming up and going down. All hotels will include a complimentary hot breakfast that will feature two to three signature hot items, alongside cold, grab-and-go options and premium coffee. Additionally, guests may enjoy a bar in the lobby at the end of the day that will serve small plates paired with a drink menu.
- Leading technology: Atwell Suites properties will include IHG’s industry-leading in-hotel Wi-Fi, IHG® Connect. The brand will also offer IHG® Studio, a seamless direct casting of entertainment from guests’ smart phones and personal devices to 55” TVs in each room. Self check-in will be offered at tablets in close proximity to the front desk/bar area.
There seems to be a lot of PR-speak in all that information and I’m a little amused by the claim that “[g]uests will be able to easily move from their rooms to public spaces in order to relax, work, collaborate and create connections in whatever way works best for them” as it seems to suggest that regular hotels somehow hold their guests captive in their rooms….or that a normal hotel room doesn’t allow guests to exit easily.
It’s great that the guests can expect to have a hot breakfast included in their room rate (especially as most of IHG’s elite statuses don’t offer complimentary breakfast) but I can’t help but wonder what exactly the Atwell suites will be offering that other extended stay brands don’t.
IHG’s Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites already offer guests the choice of a studio, a 1-bed or a 2-bed suite complete with kitchen and work areas and, while those brands may well be aimed at guests staying longer than the 4-6 days Atwell Suites guests are expected to stay, I don’t see what the Atwell Suites bring to the market that the existing brands don’t.
IHG has also announced that it will be rolling out an updated design for its Staybridge Suites from October this year and we can expect to see a refreshed Candlewood Suites design from December….so it’s not like the Atwell Suites will be considerably more modern than what we already have on offer.
However IHG tries to dress this up this new brand seems to be more about finding a new way to get hotel owners signed up to IHG than it is about offering travelers a genuinely new option.
Where hotel owners may not wish to be the second or third Staybridge/Candlewood Suite in any given area, they may be more open to being the first (and only) Atwell Suite property in the same location and that’s what IHG appears to be hoping for here.
When you peel away the PR speak there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly new or different about the Atwell Suites so there’s not much to see here from a traveler’s perspective.
The new Atwell Suites brand may well bring in more business for IHG but unless you’re an IHG shareholder I doubt many readers will care about that.