Based on a wave of new hotel amenities, ranging from bowling alleys to theaters, the future of hospitality looks a lot like the past when hotels were social hubs. Competitive forces and a basic business drive to boost revenue are producing a new class of hotels with entertainment features that go beyond the celebrity chef-run restaurant in the lobby.
Set to open in 2018, the Ramble Hotel in Denver will have a screening room showcasing the work of local filmmakers. The upcoming Omni Louisville Hotel, opening in Kentucky in March, will have a speakeasy that includes a bowling alley. The new Line DC hotel in Washington hosts a radio studio off the lobby where guests can listen in to live podcast recordings.
The trend isn’t solely expressed in new openings. The venerable Pierre New York, a Taj Hotel on the Upper East Side recently launched a cabaret series featuring intimate performances from Broadway singers. Fresh from a renovation, the Hutton Hotel in Nashville opened a music club this month.
The profit motive is one factor in the entertainment push.
“Hotels have learned that entertainment is more than just Wi-Fi and high-definition TV in the room with on-demand movies,” said Henry H. Harteveldt, a travel analyst and the founder of the Atmosphere Research Group. “When you can get a customer out of their room and into a bar or bowling alley the guest is not only hopefully having fun, but spending money in the process.”
Hoteliers say their motivations also lie in extending their hospitality to neighbours, a historic practice that has made hotels, from the Ritz Paris to the Plaza hotel in New York, magnets for nonguests.
“A great hotel has always manifested the social fabric of the city,” said Ian Schrager, the hotelier who recently opened Public New York hotel, which includes a social space called Public Arts with live music, film screenings, magic shows, dance parties and more. “Now everyone is realizing having all these extra entertainments are not just good business but help drive the occupancy of the hotel.”
A buzzy lobby, too, is one thing a hotel can offer that home-sharing services, which have significantly challenged hotels, lack. “It’s a way of keeping our competitive edge and distinctiveness,” Schrager said.
For travelers, the proposition offers an express route to the creative culture of a city. (It should be noted that the trend is largely rooted in urban hotels with a big-city base of patrons to draw upon.)
“People want to feel the energy of a city in a hotel,” said Kelly Sawdon, a partner and the chief brand officer at Ace Hotel, which operates a music club in its New Orleans property and a theater at its Los Angeles hotel. -The New York Times.