Swire Hotels, a Hong Kong-based hotel company, just opened its first property in the U.S. after nearly three years of planning and development. According to the hotel’s GM, Laurent Fraticelli, the thesis of the hotel was to design accommodations that combine both ancient and cutting-edge designs with roots in feng shui and spirituality.
To achieve this design, Swire worked with Miami-based architectural firm Arquitectonica for the hotel’s public areas. For the guestrooms and public spaces, Swire worked with Clodagh Design of New York to create separate zones, each with their own emotional tones.
“The vision for the hotel was to design a property with a high-end welcome experience mixed with the soul of Miami,” Fraticelli said. “The guestrooms were designed to be very spiritual, almost zen-like, while the public spaces were made with the intent to be fun and energetic.”
Swire is a relative newcomer to hospitality, and its hotel branch has only been in operation for roughly 10 years. However, Fraticelli counts the company’s youth as one of its strengths when it comes to technology. As one of the first hotel companies in Asia to stock its guestrooms with iPads, Swire is bringing that tech focus to its Miami property with the introduction of a companion app that allows guests to make reservations for on-property amenities or interact with hotel staff.
One thing that sets the East, Miami apart from others in the brand is its focus on food-and-beverage offerings. “We have greater F&B amenities than in our Hong Kong or Beijing hotels,” Fraticelli said. “We know this is important for guests these days.”
The hotel will have two signature restaurants: Quinto La Huella, located on the fifth floor, and Sugar, a rooftop bar and garden serving tapas. Fraticelli said the decision to add restaurants into a brand that typically goes without them was made to appeal to both local and visiting guests, giving both a reason to come to the hotel regardless of their starting location.
“We are positioned to capture the community, and they are welcome here,” Fraticelli said. “For visitors, the first thing they want is a nice restaurant, bar or lounge. We want both communities to know we are not just offering food, we are creating a full experience.”
Part of the hotel’s community involvement includes participation in exhibitions for local artists, and a $600,000 donation to participate in the development of a highline transportation project. The hotel is located near an elevated subway station that travels to a variety of local areas, and Fraticelli said the hotel is bullish on becoming a part of the city.
“We are strongly after the community life in Miami and in our neighborhood,” Fraticelli said. “We want to take on the life of this city, particularly when it comes to events. Miami has wine and food festivals, and the biggest art fairs in the world. We’ve made partnerships all over the city to become a part of these events, and our hotel is positioned to activate when these events happen.”
The East, Miami is located in the Brickell City Center, a mixed-use development that encompasses more than nine acres of land. The development includes a 500,000-square-foot shopping center that is expected to open fall 2016. When it opens, the center will be home to a number of retail shops and more than 30 restaurants. The hotel is a 15-minute drive from Miami International Airport, and is connected to city districts such as Wynwood, the Design District and South Beach.
May 31, 2016
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The biggest obstacle the hotel faced was in the planning stages, when Swire busied itself researching the local Miami market. As the first U.S. hotel for the company, there were multiple differences between the travel needs of U.S. guests compared to those in Hong Kong or Beijing, such as seeing a greater value in F&B. GM Laurent Fraticelli said that the company had to do everything from scratch during the process, calling it a “fantastic learning experience.”