New designs & prototypes: 4 questions for Wyndham's Chip Ohlsson

At Wyndham Hotel Group’s Global Conference earlier this month, the company revealed major upgrades to its prototypes for Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham, Wingate by Wyndham and Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, along with new exterior designs for the Days Inn and Super 8 brands. It also launched new prototypes for Wyndham Garden and a new dual-brand Wingate and Hawthorn model the company hopes will attract both the transient and extended-stay guest.

HOTEL MANAGEMENT spoke with Chip Ohlsson, chief development officer, North America for Wyndham Hotel Group, to learn more about the new designs.

1. What will the new renovations and prototypes look like?

Ohlsson: For Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham, we've redesigned the entire lobby for a social experience, adding communal tables, workstations and pods instead of a traditional front desk. It’s the epitome of efficiency and the only new-construction prototype with 82 percent of square footage designed to generate revenue.
 
The new Wingate by Wyndham design reduces the brand's existing footprint by 15 percent, offering a modern space with a focus on connectivity—including collaborative workspaces and lots of outlets.
 
Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham is designed for the extended-stay traveler with a focus on a living room-like social space and amenities for those on the road for long periods of time.
 
We've completely reimagined the Wyndham Garden brand through its new prototype. Spaces are designed to bring in the serenity of a garden to keep our guests at ease, from the communal lobby to modern bath and guestrooms with cutting-edge design—at a very competitive cost per key.

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The Super 8 design still showcases its iconic sign, complemented by a sleek new exterior embracing the brand’s love of the road for tomorrow’s guest.
 
Days Inn’s exterior design is vibrant, channeling the energy of the sun for a fresh take on economy that shines both inside and out. 
 
The dual Hawthorn/Wingate prototype is a brand-new, flexible design that combines the balanced and connected features of Wingate with the amenities that make guests comfortable for long periods of time from Hawthorn.

2. How were the new prototypes developed? What went into the design?

Ohlsson: We work very closely with our design team to continually examine our brand designs; creating modern prototype designs at a very competitive cost per key for our economy and midscale brands is vital to keeping them relevant for owners and for the everyday traveler. We’re always value-engineering. With Wyndham Garden, for example, we engaged hospitality design firm Krause + Sawyer, known for their work on more upscale brands, to help us find ways to bring that experience to upper-midscale at the right price point for owners. The prototype [includes] dappled light art features, a living wall and a flexible, open lobby.

3. Why were the new prototypes needed? Why were the refreshes needed?

Ohlsson: We partner with our owners—many of whom opened their very first hotel with us—as their businesses develop, and have seen many of them grow from one hotel to a large and diverse portfolio. It’s critical that we evolve right alongside them. We’re always innovating on the design front, making sure the hotel brands generations grew up with stay relevant for the next crop of guests.

4. What inspired the Wingate/Hawthorn dual-brand prototype? Why was Wingate the right brand to be under the same roof as a Hawthorn? Will other brands partner up under one roof going forward? 

Ohlsson: We saw a natural fit for Wingate by Wyndham and Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham. Demand to develop continues to grow for each brand: Hawthorn rapidly surpassed 100 hotels last year and Wingate saw several multiunit deals. Wyndham Hotel Group is focused on delivering the best the industry has to offer for our owners; we saw a major opportunity to tap into both the extended-stay and transient markets with these brands. We’re offering double the brand appeal to travelers with the efficiencies of operating one hotel for our owners. We have no doubt this prototype will influence others to follow in this trend. 

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