Would You Stay in a West Elm Hotel?
Brooklyn-born furniture brand West Elm may be best known for its modern, moderately-priced designs, but the retailer will soon be adding hotelier to its resume. Chelsea Stuart gives us the scoop.
A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.
Looking to expand outside of its existing residential decor realm, West Elm recently revealed that the company is in the throes of designing, furnishing, and marketing its own chain of hotels. Their personal stamp on the industry? The ability for guests to buy their room’s decor online – during or after their stay – with the help of a nifty little app.
West Elm is actually just a drop in the hat of retailers turned hoteliers, however – joining a number of other brands who are in the process of launching their own hotels, including Restoration Hardware, Equinox and Shinola.
As noted by West Elm president Jim Brett in an interview he gave to WSJ: “Where many retail brands have put the nail in their coffins is by opening too many stores.” So it seems the move for non-hotel brands into the hospitality industry is in an effort to continue growth in a new and innovative way, where opening more stores may no longer deliver.
But lest you think they’re doing it all start to finish on their own, know that the Williams-Sonoma subsidiary is getting by with a little help from their (hospitality) friends – namely, DDK Hotels. While the retailer will execute everything design-wise, DDK will handle business operations.
As of now, West Elm’s plan is to open up five locations in the next couple of years, with outposts to debut in late 2018 in Detroit, Savannah, Charlotte, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis. (A potentially smart move given the secondary cities aren’t super saturated with design-focused hotels as of now.)
As for a Restoration Hardware hotel, rumors have been swirling for quite sometime. While the brand hasn’t technically confirmed it themselves, last summer, Crain’s tipped everyone off to their more-than-theoretical plans. Turns out, they’re opening a hotel at 55 Gansevoort St, just down the block from their Meatpacking flagship store. The 14-room boutique stay will, of course, feature furnishings from the luxe brand and serve as a showroom of sorts.
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Equinox is planning to open high-end, health-conscious hotels across the US, too. According to a June 2016 press release from the company, "Equinox’s hotel properties will cater exclusively to the high performance traveler and will fuse luxury and wellness to serve as the ultimate hotel destination with a 360-degree lifestyle experience."
The brand’s flagship hotel location – which will feature multiple pools and the company’s most ambitious gym yet (at 60,000 square feet) – is already underway in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, with an expected opening in 2018. Following the luxury NYC location will be LA, and from there, the company hopes to see some 75 hotels open around the globe.
Highly-curated may be one way to describe luxury watch brand Shinola’s eye for accessory design, but soon, it’ll also speak of their approach to hospitality. Partnering with real estate firm Bedrock Detroit, and featuring designs from Gachot Studios and food from the NoHo Hospitality Group, their 130-room hotel is set to hit the Motor City scene in fall 2018.
While the word is currently out on whether or not West Elm, Restoration Hardware, Equinox, and Shinola can cut it in the boutique hotel business, one thing’s certain: you can expect unparalleled design and highly Instagram-able interiors from the lot.
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