HOTELS Interview: Design details on new Hyatt brand

Hyatt Hotels Corp., Chicago, made big news last week with the announcement that it is rebranding its 38 Summerfield Suites and 16 Hotel Sierra hotels as Hyatt House.

Hyatt said the key concept for the new brand was to create a home away from home, and the switch involves significant renovations.

To find out more details about Hyatt House, HOTELS talked with Mike Suomi, principal, design and marketing director at Stonehill & Taylor Architects, the New York City-based architecture firm that worked with Hyatt on the design for the new brand.

HOTELS: You just designed a new extended-stay concept for Hyatt. That has been an overlooked category for a long time. Why the focus on extended stay now?

Mike Suomi: The workforce in the last few years has become much more mobile. There has been a discrepancy with more people needing extended-stay environments and availability of properties fit for contemporary living. We were excited when Hyatt asked us to develop a concept that would bridge that gap.

HOTELS: How do you see the hotel living experience changing?

Suomi: We found that most extended-stay experiences first and foremost were isolating. We heard over and over again that the extended guests were looking for a place where they can feel at home, be productive, but also socialize with colleagues, family, and friends. We wanted to increase comfort, productivity and create areas for socializing. So our concept is a lot more open and flexible from the lobby to the guestrooms.

The Hyatt House guest might stay as short as one night or as long as a year. We had to create a flexible concept that would work for these different types of travelers. Hyatt House will feature apartment-like guestrooms in studio, one, and two bedroom kitchen-suites. A first for extended-stay hotels, transient rooms are arranged to create the two-bedroom configurations. We utilized every inch of the space adding flexible storage in the entryway hall tree and en-suite island kitchens for multitasking.

HOTELS: How did your experience with boutique properties like Ace Hotel and Crosby Street Hotel inspire Hyatt House?

Suomi: Sociability was extremely important in our boutique projects. The Ace’s lobby is almost like a sophisticated town square. The Crosby has quickly become a major hang-out since it opened last year. We took our experience in creating comfortable socializing areas and applied here. The Great Lounge in the Hyatt House, a large comfy-modern “place” with key ideas taken from open-plan residential layouts, it’s filled with ample relaxing and entertainment spaces and a mix of seating types.

We created the H Bar breakfast to bar counter, iPad touch tables, over-sized sofas in the social sectional area and a glass enclosed grown-up game room complete with foosball, a pool table and arcade games. Guests can shop for prepared foods right in the lobby at Bites & Basics an open, airy marketplace, or rent a wide variety of items such as rice cookers, bicycles or an Xbox 360. 

Outside, a 24-hour outdoor back-patio provides a mix of large and small semi-private spaces including an open air high-end guest kitchen, wet bar, fire pits, and areas of shade and sun.

HOTELS: Tell me about the furniture you created for this project.

Suomi: To accommodate the “always on” lifestyle of many of our guests, we designed a unique lounge chair as a one-of-a-kind work and play station that can allow the guest to be alone or social and is envisioned with power outlets, a fold out work surface, reading light, reclining back, cup holder and heat.  With a swivel base and upholstered “blinders,” guests can work privately by turning away from the crowd or publicly by facing friends or colleagues.

We also created a unique open market featuring gourmet food and beverages, called Bites & Basics, and a contemporary version of the old “automat” concept for common lifestyle items like bicycles, kitchen appliances, and game systems.

Mike Suomi
Mike Suomi