A year and a half after IHG announced the brand, the first Atwell Suites hotel is now under construction in Miami. Expected to open by summer 2021, the 90-room hotel is located in Brickell, an urban neighborhood in Miami’s financial district. Sunview Companies owns the property.
The hotel is part of a new high-rise, mixed-use property that will include a new 140-room Hotel Indigo Miami Brickell. The Hotel Indigo is owned by Francisco Arocha, Pedro F. Villar, Albert Ovadia and Sunview Companies.
Developing the Brand
IHG’s newest brand was launched last year targeting longer stays of up to six nights. “When we looked across the mainstream category as a whole, and we did our consumer research, we saw that within the mainstream category there was an all-suite segment that was growing,” said Jennifer Gribble, VP of Holiday Inn Express and Avid Hotels at IHG, noting that the segment represents $18 billion in industry annual revenues and has seen strong growth during the past four years. “So as we did our research, and we looked across the portfolio of brands we already have, we knew there was an opportunity for another brand.”
In developing the brand, Gribble added, the team wanted to be sure they were not only meeting specific guest demands but also creating something that would generate solid returns for owners and attract investment. To that end, the company’s owner advisory board helped out with the development process. BJ Patel of Baywood Hotels, a member of that board, said that as an owner, he was focused on cost to build, return on investment, operational efficiency and the overall cost of labor.
“The costing of the product is a key element in terms of hitting desired ROI,” said Kevin Schramm, VP of development mainstream brands - U.S. and Canada at IHG. “Through many iterations of refinement, [we were able] to drive the cost of the prototypical building to be between $105,100 and $115,000 per guestroom, excluding land and other unique development costs.” Combining the cost per key with the brand’s targeted average daily rate—“somewhere between 5 and 10 percent above our Holiday Inn Express [rates]”—Schramm expects the brand to appeal to developers. “The efficient building and streamlined staffing models enable operators to maximize guest interactions while controlling operating costs. So it's a high-touch, lower-labor model that's going to yield for our owners.”
Just over a year since franchise sales began, 20 Atwell Suites are in various stages of development in Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Denver; and Phoenix. Construction is expected to begin on additional Atwell Suites properties in the coming months, with several other dual-brand opportunities and at least one conversion.
IHG fabricated a full hotel build-out with public spaces and guestrooms at IHG’s Design Center in Atlanta, and made a virtual walk-through version available online for potential owners and guests.
The two-story lobby has food-and-beverage facilities on the lower level—including a breakfast area that becomes a bar in the evenings and a complimentary coffee bar—and The Common and The Study on the upper level. The Common was inspired by coworking lounges and includes desks and a range of seating options while The Study is a bookable meeting room for private gatherings.
The guestrooms will have minikitchens with an undercounter refrigerator, a microwave, a coffeemaker and a bar sink; a work area with a high-top desk that can double as a dining table; a pull-out sofa; an oversized vanity in the bathroom; and a two-sided closet that can be accessed from both the guestroom and the bathroom as needed.
“We have not had to alter any of our design of the hotel or key experiences based on COVID,” said Karen Gilbride, VP of Avid hotels and Atwell Suites at IHG. “Certainly based on when our hotel opens and where we are, all of the items that we have across our IHG hotels that help to deliver against our safety protocols—sanitizers, social distancing—would be things that we can easily incorporate as we do into all of our hotels, but we have not fundamentally changed any of the design or experience of this brand.”
While the company currently expects the brand to have a 60/40 business/leisure balance, it can adjust to demand, Gilbride said. With business travel currently down, Patel added, the model can shift quickly to suit leisure needs. “That flexibility is not always there with other brands.”