As Curbed refreshed and slimmed down its list of essential hotels this week, that gave rise to the question of what makes a hotel essential. Also, how has that changed in the recent past. We spoke to Kathleen Ngiam, the Hospitality Design Director of CORE, on the subject of what millennials expect from their hotels and how those expectations have impacted the world of hotel design. She was able to offer some insight on how the desire for communal space and connectivity have affected the redesign of some essential places in the D.C. area.
Ngiam notes that hotels which had previously been insular places are now looking to connect with their communities. Hotel bars and restaurants are becoming neighborhood hangouts and the hotel guests are looking to experience their destination city in a way that's less touristy and more authentic. This is wherein hotels like the W in D.C. start hiring W Insiders, or people to help their guests experience D.C. city like a local. You hear that? No millennial traveler at the W has any excuse for standing on the left side of the escalator! The Doubletree also allows guests to share their travel experience through DTours, something Ngiam says is central to the millennial point of view.
"They're really about connecting and Instagramming and sharing good and bad experiences," she says.
She says that they're also into mixing business and pleasure. This is why she says CORE eliminated the barrier between Shutters Bar & Grill and the lobby of the Marriott in Tysons. "It's a business space and a gaming area all mixed together," she says. Additionally, the hotel lobby that CORE redesigned at the Doubletree in Crystal City has ample room for plugging in and checking emails, socializing on the many rounded couches or grabbing a drink at the hotel bar.
Technology has increasingly become a factor in everything from putting plug-ins in hotel room lounge chairs to LED screens in the lobby. However, Ngiam suspects that more is in the works. Mobile payment, texting for room service and connecting a personal Netflix account to the hotel TV may all be in the future.
Ngiam states that this hospitality programming has also seeped its way into multi-family buildings that have amenities like ample social space and game rooms. Simply put, "We want the lobby in our apartment building to look and feel like a hotel lobby!"