• Janet Heinz-Barlow

Contemporary Hotels

While some find comfort in the traditional, others seek out the newest and most modern. This is true of everything from cell phones to music choices to beverages to lighting fixtures.

Why should it be any different when it comes to choosing a hotel?

For those in search of what’s new and modern, contemporary hotels can bring a fresh look and feel to a meeting or event. Finding the right venue with the latest in technology, amenities and comforts offers these groups everything they need and are looking for in a hotel that has been designed to best meet the needs of forward-thinking business attendees.

Diane Spiers is the VP of advertising and marketing for Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. The property has opened on the site formerly known as Revel, which has always had a very modern exterior design.

Spiers notes that the property offers spectacular ocean views from its floor-to-ceiling windows in its guest rooms, restaurants, casino and throughout the property. The largest building in the state, Ocean Resort Casino was built with all glass windows, and it features outdoor sky gardens that overlook the ocean. Additional amenities include: three saltwater swimming pools; a heated indoor/outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi; the HQ2 Night Club and Beach Club; the world-class Exhale Spa; a Top Golf Swing Suite; over 12 dining options; and Ovation Hall, which boasts more than 4,000 seats and headliner entertainment.

Ocean Resort Casino is unlike any other casino hotel, in part, due to its spectacular views and modernization, explains Spiers. “We are the newest hotel-casino in Atlantic City, and you can see the ocean from all areas of within the property, including the casino floor.”

While the resort doesn’t refer to itself as being “modern,” Spiers says it is both comfortable and approachable.

From the beaches and ocean at the shore of Atlantic City, NJ to the largest sports complex in America situated in Maheim, PA. At Spooky Nook Sports, planners will find one of the most unique and surprising hotels anywhere.

Mackenzie Bender, PR and communications manager for Spooky Nook Sports, notes that The Warehouse Hotel is connected to Spooky Nook’s sports complex. “Starting with full access to our state-of-the-art fitness center, and easy access to our ever-changing rock-climbing walls, guests can fill their day with activities to keep their hearts racing and adrenaline pumping.”

While it’s true that first impressions are important, sometimes they don’t tell the full story. While the hotel may look like a warehouse from the outside, “When you walk into the Warehouse Hotel, you’re greeted by an amazing lobby with none of the typical framed floral prints and vases of dried flowers you find in traditional hotels. Wood pallets that have been recycled from when the hotel was built grace the walls. Our amazing glazed concrete floors and stainless-steel front desk are far from your ‘normal’ hotel aesthetics.”

“We show off our former warehouse architecture with exposed piping and metal beams in our ceilings,” Bender continues. “Almost all of our rooms have remnants of the piping running through them as well, proving once again, you are not staying at a standard hotel.”

The hotel offers energy efficiency throughout, including in guest rooms with the property’s energy conscious lighting system.

“Your room key activates the light switches in the room, so when you leave for the day, everything turns off, saving precious energy and resources,” explains Bender.

“Modern hotels are changing the vision of what people see when they hear the word ‘hotel.’ When you picture a traditional hotel, you see a rectangular building with long hallways and stale breakfast,” says Bender. “You picture the place that you spend your time sleeping in while you are on vacation.”

“Modern hotels are now offering feasts for your eyes, your taste buds, and your experiences,” she continues. “They are no longer just a place to sleep. The Warehouse Hotel has taken an old industrial warehouse and turned it into a hotel with 135 rooms for guests to relax in after spending the day at the attached indoor sports complex. You can spend the day rock climbing, taking fitness classes, and walking nature trails, and then enjoy an amazing meal and a few drinks in our restaurant, Forklift and Palate, before heading to bed - all while never having to leave the premises.”

When Sara McWilliams, senior director, global accounts for HelmsBriscoe, seeks out contemporary hotels for her group meetings, she is definitely interested in what kinds of technology are available on-site. This includes, but is not limited to, flat screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi in guest rooms and meeting space, along with the option to upgrade to more bandwidth and access to wired connections. Charging stations are an important feature for her meetings, too.

Beyond these tech offerings, she explains, a lot really depends on the client. As for the property’s appearance, she says that clean, renovated hotels are usually at the top of her clients’ list of “must haves,” along with impeccable service, of course.

When it comes to the aesthetics, McWilliams explains that the building’s architecture, style and design all play a role, as well. “It’s definitely a ‘wow’ factor. I love historic hotels with a twist of modern touches.”

Cynthia Jones is the VP of sales and marketing for the newly opened Live! Hotel in Hanover, MD. This flagship hotel features 310 guest rooms, luxury suites, exciting dining options, a day spa and salon with unique spa suite options that include in-room treatments, as well as a state-of-the-art event center that offers 20,000-square feet of meeting and banquet space for conventions, corporate retreats and other private events. A Phase Two expansion is planned that will double the size of the property’s event and meeting space.

According to Jones, “As part of Maryland’s top tourist destination, Live! Hotel offers a multitude of luxury amenities in one place with unmatched accessibility between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and a short drive from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. Live! Hotel also is just steps away from the gaming floor of one of the largest commercial casinos in the country, which is known for its ‘anything can happen environment.’ It’s situated next to the Arundel Mills Mall, too, Maryland’s largest shopping mall.”

“Guests have raved about our Vegas-like atmosphere... first-class gaming, dining, shopping and nightlife,” she adds.

Live! Hotel is the first hospitality property worldwide to carry the Live! brand. Where it differs from traditional and corporate-owned properties, Jones says, is in the fact that they are often more focused on the bottom line, whereas “our priority is to deliver the highest level of customer service to our guests that we treat like family. That includes groups of all sizes who value our flexibility and wide range of customizable options that are offered in a welcoming environment. Our guests seek us out for a dynamic gaming and entertainment environment where they also can experience luxury accommodations, world-class dining and shopping - all at one location.”

Live! Hotel boasts many unique design features throughout the property, including a diverse contemporary art collection with pieces from world-renowned artists (most notably a signed Andy Warhol piece) that has been curated exclusively for the hotel. “Nearby in the casino is Orchid Gaming and Smoking Patio, a visually stunning space that is Maryland’s first and only outdoor gaming area that features both table games and slots.”

According to Camela Pastorius, CMP, vice president, meetings and events for the Bryn Mawr Communications Group, “We look for properties that impress our guests upon entry. This may mean a welcoming door man and front desk, or a property with a beautiful lobby area and meeting space. We can immediately tell when a property is in need of attention by worn carpets, old window treatments, marks on walls, etc. We like for the property to look like it’s well maintained with the meeting rooms and guest rooms having fresh, updated furnishings.”

When it comes to meeting technology at modern hotels, Pastorius says that It’s important for the Wi-Fi to be high-speed and able to accommodate large groups.

As for the look and feel of contemporary hotels, Pastorius says that her company likes to see properties that will impress their guests. “This may mean a large lobby with architectural features that are unique and relevant to the city we are in. It’s also nice when a property has a unique venue inside the hotel where a special reception can be held. This might be a top floor reception space, a rooftop swimming pool area, a speak easy, or a bowling alley within the hotel. These types of features are a draw for our group, as it’s something cool and different.”

At the Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown Center City in Philadelphia, PA, general manager Jerry E. Rice, Jr. expresses excitement over being able to brand the property as the “CAMBRiA Complex,” because it has multiple entities working under one roof.

“In addition to our CAMBRiA hotel with its 223 guest rooms and suites, 3000-square feet of flexible meeting space, and a lobby restaurant and bar, Treble and Bass, we house Attico Rooftop Restaurant and Bar, a stunning 16th floor venue with amazing views of the city and open air outdoor space focused on craft cocktails and an exquisite food menu developed by noted Philadelphia Chef Jason Cichonski,” exclaims Rice, continuing, “The venue can host up to 200 for private events and is open daily to the public.”

The property’s Broad Street entrance is flanked by the 25th U.S. location of Del Frisco’s Grille, the sister restaurant to Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, with its famed made-from-scratch kitchen and exquisite service. On the other side is The Lucy by Cescaphe, Center City’s newest event space that can host up to 500 people and is run by the catering group Cescaphe.

“Modern hotels are unbound by convention… and that’s an amazing thing,” observes Rice. “The ability to change the game with regard to design, guest services, and especially food and beverage offerings is giving travelers experiences that would have been unheard of 23 years ago when I started my career. That progress… allowing hotel brand and property teams to be entrepreneurial in our approach to the guest experience is liberating… and creates memories that can last a lifetime. We see this locally with the influx of new lifestyle branded hotels entering our market, such as CAMBRiA, the Ascend Collection, Moxy, Pod, Hyatt Centric, W, and Element.”

This is one modern hotel brand that embraces its opportunity to stand out and be different.

“Janis Cannon, SVP of Upscale Brands for Choice Hotels International, and the corporate design team, insist that each CAMBRiA hotel have its own unique personality,” explains Rice. “CAMBRiA builds no hotels that look the same and our hotels reflect the neighborhoods and cities that we serve. Our location on the Avenue of the Arts allowed our developers, Rittenhouse based Pearl Properties, to team with DAS Architecture and concept a hotel with nods and touches to the rich artistic and musical history of our zip code.”

“They accomplished this with elements like a sweeping gold spiral two-story entry staircase, lobby chandeliers fashioned from trumpet bells, and Yamaha drums as coffee tables that are lit,” Rice continues. “All custom designed, coupled with curated art that provides nods to the Mummers and other significant Philadelphia-centric historical references to make this hotel one-of-a-kind. And CAMBRiA does that in every single location. It makes the development process fun, engages developers and owners, and provides décor that guests have never seen before.”

And having additional features like Bluetooth-enabled mirrors in each guest room makes both Baby Boomers and Millennials alike happy, says Rice, “who doesn’t want to listen to their favorite music as they shower each morning?”

Planners have many choices when booking meetings and events for their clients, so for these hotels staying up-to-date with technology is a must.

Today’s planners see wireless connections and integrated audio-visual elements as the baseline, notes Rice. “Trends like chatbots that provide on-demand information for attendees only make a hotel more enticing to event planners. Integrated event management software, registration systems, event apps, and post-event surveys are extras now that I foresee being the standard in the future. Planners also want these elements reflected in their attendees’ hotel experience.”

“For example,” Rice continues, “at the Clarion Hotel in Amsterdam, guests are introduced to their AI-enabled chatbot butler, an in-room assistant based on Amazon Echo. It is designed to help guests with many of their service requests such as hailing taxis, ordering room service, finding information online, along with other hotel-related operations.”

Modern hotels provide planners with everything from aesthetically pleasing architecture to unique features to modern technology to updated amenities, meeting spaces and the ability to breakaway from the norms of traditional settings.

For those planners seeking something exciting and new, these contemporary properties offer a great balance of the familiar and the unexpected.

These properties offer exciting new choices and enticing options for those seeking the newest spaces in some of the most innovative settings around.

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