Homewood Suites launches new prototype, brand refresh

Homewood Suites by Hilton, one of the company’s extended-stay brands, has revealed a brand refresh complete with a new prototype design, ‘Prototype 10.0,’ and an updated brand identity.

The new prototype is the first for the brand in seven years. “What we realized is that the attributes of Homewood Suites as a brand really resonate, we needed really to modernize the brand,” Rick Colling, global head, Homewood Suites by Hilton, told Hotel Business. “It was really time for us to double down and take a hard look at a brand that has been tremendously successful over the course of 31 years, and really make sure that for the next 31 years we are building up the prototype that really resonates.”

Prototype 10.0 represents a reduction in site size from 2.49 acres to 2.36 acres and building area by more than 3,350 sq. ft.; increases the number of room keys from 121 suites to 131 suites; and enhances food and beverage options to generate additional revenue opportunities.

King Efficiency Suite

One attribute that Colling calls a game-changer is the new King Efficiency Suite, which represents up to 30% of the property’s inventory. At 358 sq. ft., with many of the attributes of a full suite, including a fully equipped kitchen, a work-space area, soft seating and a separate vanity and bathroom, these room types can be booked independently, while also having the functionality to be booked as a connecting suite to accommodate larger groups and families.

Also part of the prototype are what Colling refers to as elevated shared spaces, including a reimagined fitness center and a guest laundry area that has nearly doubled in size to be more reflective of the experience of guests in their own homes. Elevated shared spaces contribute to the premium guest experience by offering a place to relax and grab a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a beer. The Backyard outdoor space has been completely redesigned with fire pits, outdoor kitchen areas, upscale picnic tables and a recreational area.

The Backyard

“One of the things for an extended-stay guest is we don’t want to lose you,” he said. “The technology of the day has afforded us the opportunity to check-in and pick the room,  and you don’t even need to speak to anyone if you don’t want to. We wanted to create environments that pull you out of your room and you come down and join us so we can chat with you while you are here. Everything was about elevating the engagement with our guests.”

The lobby area now has a new elevated retail experience, which provides guests with more choices and control, while offering an opportunity for increased revenue for owners. New features include barista-style specialty drinks brewed at the front desk, healthy meal prep items and salads from the adjacent Suite Shop convenience store and a Tap Wall with beer and wine for purchase. “What we found over the course of COVID—if we have learned anything—is that guests really resonate to elevated retail,” said Colling.

Another addition to the prototype is a newly appointed flex storage area that allows guests to enjoy clutter-free living by storing oversized items such as bicycles, golf clubs, skis, strollers and large suitcases outside of their suites.

The entire redesign process started at the end of 2019, and the onset of the COVID pandemic—and the brand’s relative success throughout—led to some adaptions in the prototype. “We learned a lot about the brand over the course of COVID that influenced the prototype,” he said. “It was really informational for us. It really taught us a lot about what the real core brand attributes were.”

One of the items added to the rooms was a productivity table, which allows guests to work. “I don’t think that was in our first impressions of the room, but to say if you have to live here over the course of 14 days, let’s make it the most functional suite that we can,” said Colling. “We doubled down on the kitchens. We doubled down on the efficiency of things like the productivity table.”

They also added more possibilities for engagement. “It was interesting for us because we said as we come out of COVID what can we really thirst for and that was engagement,” he said. “We took the public space and built it up with much more engaging experiences so we could actually celebrate getting back to face-to-face conversations and maybe a handshake and a hug.”

The new prototype, which is expected to be in market in 2023, is the product of a collaboration with a select community of owners who regularly provided feedback and insights at defining moments throughout the creative journey, according to Colling. “What resonates for me is this beautiful brand that we have ended up with has really been created by owners, for owners,” he said. “They have kept us really honest on some of the metrics.”

Nelson Knight, chief investment officer, Apple Hospitality REIT, was one of the owners involved with building the prototype. “Homewood Suites came to this new prototype design from a position of strength; the brand is performing very well,” he said. “Part of what attracted us to Homewood Suites originally, and kept us involved, is the broad consumer appeal and market penetration. From that lens, we weren’t trying to make massive corrections with the new prototype; rather, we were focused on how we could enhance the guest experience—such as check-in to the lobby, the elevated outdoor recreation area and the expanded fitness area—while delivering a product that is more attractive to developers to build.”

New logo and renovation guide

Inspired by the refreshed hotel design the brand will introduce an updated brand identity later this year, including an evolved logo mark—the first time it has been changed in its history—that reflects the updated prototype and elevated experience of the brand. “We thought, from the exterior to the interior, how would you take a brand and completely modernize it without changing what would be the logo?” said Colling. “We went with a modernized logo. The color palette is fresh, and it talks about the attributes of day to night…For us, it was really about creating a brand that really wraps a warm hug around them when they arrive at the property and says, ‘Hey, we are here for you and we will take care of you over the course of your stay.’”

Also rolling out later this year, in conjunction with the new prototype, Homewood Suites will release a renovation guide for existing hotel owners to provide guidance and direction on updating elements of their hotels.

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