Showing Off With the Hotel Flagship

Showing Off With the Hotel Flagship

The W New York in 1998 was the epitome of cool. It was the first property of the W Hotel brand, then part of Starwood, now Marriott, and boasted rooms with silver couches and mirrored ceilings. The lobby was designed to act as a lounge. The pool was called a wet deck. The presidential suite was titled an “E WOW” suite — Extreme Wow. The W was the most playful hotel around.

Twenty years later the brand has built shinier, more attention-grabbing flagships. One, the Palm Islands of Dubai, opened in February. Guests are greeted by Orsoni glass tiles that reflect the sun, and then sleep in guest rooms with walls designed to mirror the sea and Arabic lyrics written graffiti style. They eat at the celebrity chef Massimo Bottura’s first restaurant outside of Italy.

In the world of retail, flagship properties have always been big in every sense of the world. At Nike’s in New York, visitors can design their own sneakers. At the Microsoft flagship in London, they can play the latest Xbox games in a gaming lounge.

In an increasingly saturated hospitality world where hotels must compete for attention from clients and investors, Flagships give operators the opportunity to put on a show, offering innovative designs, services and amenities.

“The flagship Apple store in New York is bigger, more modern and offers more services than the local Apple store at your mall,” said Barak Hirschowitz, president of the International Luxury Hotel Association. “Similarly a flagship hotel will be in the best location, is usually larger, and offers more bars, restaurants and services than other properties within the brand.”

Like The W Hotels, many brands that have longstanding flagships are replacing them or creating newer siblings. The Ritz-Carlton is building a new flagship in New York City with less formal restaurants and local design elements. It will open in 2021 and most definitely steal some attention away from the old one.

By the end of 2020 Crowne Plaza will introduce six flagship hotels, the brand’s first. To date, the company has 426 properties and 119,494 hotel rooms across the world.

In Hamburg guests will check into rooms with separate places to work, play and sleep. In Paris they will be able to browse local art on the walls of their lobby.

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