For the first time in the brand’s 25-year history, Country Inns & Suites by Carlson has a new logo, new architecture and new interior design. In addition to appealing to “younger, technology-focused business travelers,” Carlson executives say the new Generation 4 prototype will allow developers some flexibility in order to bring the brand to new, urban markets across the U.S.
Nancy Johnson, EVP of development in the Americas for Carlson, characterizes the midscale brand’s new look as “an eclectic design that takes Country Inns & Suites from Cracker Barrel to Crate & Barrel.”
Indeed, the updated interiors—designed by London-based firms Imagination and Virgile and Stone, and endorsed by celebrity interior designer Genevieve Gorder—retains the comfortable feeling of the previous iteration but updates it with more modern and contemporary colors, finishes and materials.
Texture plays a big role in the new interiors, with plush rugs and soft materials softening up the surfaces, and finishes like wood and stone creating earthy touches. Public spaces, the pool area and guestroom corridors have more natural light and guestrooms have a new timber headboard.
Scott Meyer, SVP of midscale brands for the Americas for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, said the interior architecture of the Generation 4 prototype has been redesigned “to be more operations-friendly.” The new prototype has three guestroom types and many updates, but Meyer pointed out that the brand’s signature elements are still there.
“In the entry way, guests still arrive at the porte-cochere,” he said. “The staircase has been reinvented as a two-story lobby, and the breakfast area has more visual interest with varying seating types and heights.”
Now instead of the front porch exterior element on former buildings, the new prototype offers an outdoor gathering space with a fire pit called the verandah. Also new to the footprint is what the brand calls the den, an additional public space located opposite the breakfast room and designed to call to mind a comfortable home office-like environment.
Right now the brand has 480 hotels operating in North America and India, with growth focused in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and India. Executives say the new design and exterior architecture will make the brand more attractive to developers.
“This gives us a product to go to market with something that really defines economic ROI—it’s something we put into the selection of all the products,” Johnson said. “It’s an opportune time to develop a product that has translated on many different fronts, from tertiary markets to major metropolitan and even gateway markets.”
The brand’s new logo already is in place, along with all consumer-facing touchpoints, including websites.
Aurora Toth, VP of marketing for midscale brands in the Americas for Carlson, said elements like key cards, signage and in-room materials will roll out over time “because we want to be green and cost-effective,” she said.
Different elements of the new design will be visible in hotels beginning this fall and continuing as hotels move through their scheduled renovation cycles. Johnson said the overall cost of renovating to the new look would be “in the upper $75,000s depending on location.”