The time of champagne and oysters in hotels, for many, has long past.
Now, when you travel, it’s about trying to find the best deal. Corporations expect a decent-sized room with breakfast, couples and solo travelers don’t necessarily feel ‘luxury’ is the most important aspect to consider.
When the financial health of both consumers and businesses has taken a hit from poor economic growth, belts need to be tightened — and the service industry has to find innovative ways to increase their profit margins but keep customers coming back.
That’s where real estate comes in. Land, especially in cities like New York, is valuable. How you use that space is the key factor in staying afloat.
Many hoteliers have realized this — and adapted to suit the deal-hunting traveler and keep profit margins healthy at the same time.
A new trend is emerging. Called “affordable luxury”, these new breeds of hotel rooms are a tribute to the capsule and pod designs found in Japanese cities such as Tokyo — but attempt to marry luxury settings with reasonable prices. Where space is limited, maximizing the space for people to rest their weary heads is paramount — and with prices to suit, there is a market to be exploited by the non-too-fussy guest.
Hotel ‘Pod’ developer BD Hotels, has taken this idea to New York City. The first appeared in a hotel on Midtown East with room rates from $89 a night, swiftly followed by a competitor on the Far West Side with an introductory rate of $149 a night.
The latest evolution of these ‘pod’ rooms — which generally offered no more than sleeping space — has appeared as a complete room with a private bathroom at under 100 square feet.
Another is due to open in Manhattan this month, named Pod 39, which will offer 366 rooms. As part of a longer-term strategy, new ‘Pod’ hotels will be established in other major cities — including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington before going global.
Pod 39 is being developed in a former Allerton club hotel. It is a 17-story landmarked building with arched windows, brickwork and is classically designed. It also features a large roof garden with arched openings.
This garden is one of the most luxurious features of the hotel — marrying budget rooms to a luxury setting. It will be open to guests and also includes a lounge and bar. The hotel also features a ground-floor restaurant and lounge with a library, pool table and bar.
According to one of the principal of BD Hotels, Richard Born, the rooms may be capsule-sized, but Pod 39 will have approximately 4,500 square feet of communal space — a feature that future builds will emphasize. He said:
“When we built the original Pod Hotel, we had a nice communal lobby and garden, but we realized it was just too small for the capacity. In every corner was somebody sitting cross-legged with a backpack and laptop.”
Extending the concept of affordable luxury into the financial, the hotel’s owners have also found that rooms with two single beds are more valuable than those with one large bed. Fitting bunk beds into the Pod rooms have proven to be popular with traveling friends and corporate clients.
“We found out that people prefer bunk beds over sleeping side-by-side with a friend or business partner. And the demand for rooms with two beds far exceeds the availability in this city. I believe we’re going to price higher for a room with two beds and a private bathroom than we will for those with one double bed.”
Rates at the hotel range from $100 to $200 a night.
(via the New York Times)
Image credit: Pod 39