The smart money

The smart money

Cheaper, more chic hotels that can steal business from first-class, full-service, old school hotels are where it’s at.

New school is Starwood Capital’s Postcard Inn brand. It is a resort alternative that has fewer bells and whistles favoring smartly designed, comfortable and cozy hotel spaces that cater to families. It comes as no surprise that the F&B component at the new Postcard Inn is a burger joint — an upscale burger joint, but a place for burgers, fries and comfort food nonetheless.

Look at what Ian Schrager is trying to do with Public. He says he is competing with Courtyard by Marriott. He is not spending a lot in the rooms and is continuing his “lobby social” approach with an accessible café and places to lounge a la Starbucks. Smart, not overdone, not too expensive and with a focus on volume.

I just read on Business Insider how the hottest place to hang out and work in New York City is the lobby of the Ace Hotel, with its communal tables, trendy drinks and a cool vibe that attracts the socially engaged.

I also read about how smart restaurateur Danny Meyer is going to run an accessible steakhouse at the upcoming Conrad in New York City with US$40 center-of-the-plate items as opposed to old-school US$100 entrees. When I think Conrad, I would have thought an expensive, dark upscale restaurant. Not anymore. Take note.

Less is more, and that is going to continue to be the big trend in 2012. Just look at the popularity of concepts like CitizenM and Yotel. We are at a point in the new cycle where overdone is cooked.

I am not saying luxury is dead, but that is for that elusive 1% to 2%. For the rest of the industry, if you are not downscaling your F&B, if you are not trying to create relaxing, inviting public spaces, if you are overdesigned and big, you are behind the curve. The smart money is moving down the segment scale.