Residential propety

Hotel residences: a post-pandemic future

The pandemic may finally be slowing down, but its consequences are only just beginning. Nowhere is this truer than hospitality. From design and amenities to how often housekeepers change towels, the past two years are destined to change hotels forever. If nothing else, it is clear from the statistics. As early as August 2020, a survey by Criton found that 80% of hotel guests would now download a hotel app that would help them check in, a 10% increase from a few months earlier.

The Rosewood Vienna Suite offers stunning views of local Austrian architecture. (Photo courtesy of Rosewood Hotels and Resorts)

By mid-2021, the dial had slipped again, with 93% of guests now expecting hotels to outline their Covid-19 safety measures, as shown in the 2021 Housekeeping and Hygiene Study. ‘Hospitality Net.

Yet amid inquiry and musing, it’s easy to forget that Covid-19 could also portend a shift in the most fundamental tenets of global hospitality. Forget apps and cleaning protocols, the hotel of the future may not even be a hotel in the traditional sense. Instead, it could transform into something approaching an upscale apartment, allowing guests to enjoy both the comforts of home and the glamor of times gone by. At any rate, that’s the feeling you get talking to Rosewood’s Vice President of Global Residential Development, Brad Berry.

Over the past few years, Berry says there has been a “fundamental shift” in the way the residential market is viewed, suggesting buyers are “now more than ever prioritizing privacy, security and to experiences”.

That’s a good point — and not just because the residential hospitality market grew 170% in 2020 and 230% in 2021, according to a report from Savills. Berry, after all, is a residential veteran, with over two decades of experience in the industry. During that time, he worked everywhere from Vancouver to Dubai, making a name for himself at prestigious companies like Four Seasons.

Last January, as the pandemic raged, Berry took his final leap, becoming vice president of global residential development at Rosewood. It’s a match that seems quite appropriate. Like Berry himself, this is a company on the move, with sweeping plans to radically alter the way operators plan and build properties. Not that residential hospitality will be all of these changes. Driven by the boom in long-term residential real estate, traditional hotels could also adapt, with colossal consequences for hospitality.

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In the House

He may have hit the pinnacle of residential hospitality just when his industry began to boom, but Berry still remembers how things used to be. “Up until 15 years ago, there were primarily a handful of luxury hotel brands operating in this space,” he says, adding that Rosewood has been in the business for more than 20 years. Yet this relative stability has changed.

“Recently,” he says, “we’ve seen an increase in new brands, both in the luxury, lifestyle and midscale market, entering the space due to demand. ” Beyond that overall growth, that’s certainly reflected in the numbers. According to research by Savills, for example, the global hospitality industry will have over 900 residential projects by 2026, together comprising over 100,000 units.

Much of this growth can be attributed to the pandemic. With lockdowns and social distancing turning many into relative hermits, customers are looking for places where they can relax in privacy. Berry also suggests that the “remote work trend” is causing bettors to think differently about where their primary residence actually is.

Why head to chilly Wall Street if you can instead buy a suite at a luxury Caribbean hotel, knowing your bed will be made and your minibar replenished once you return from dinner? With this scenario in mind, it’s no surprise that opulent residential properties are particularly popular here. As Berry puts it, many customers are increasingly looking for experiences that “seamlessly blend the residential and luxury hotel experience.”

As this last point implies, much of this growth would be impossible without the hotel brands themselves. Although traditionally focused on short-term stays, many companies are adding residential wings to new hotels, or even developing bespoke residential properties. Rosewood is ahead of the curve here, with 50%
its pipeline projects with a residential component.

However, the Hong Kong giant is far from the only one. Four Seasons, Fairmont and Ritz-Carlton are just three of the high-end brands increasing their residential stock, with Ritz-Carlton alone increasing its supply by 64%. And for Berry, this enthusiasm makes sense. In a world where guests are increasingly demanding — 60% of Americans have higher hospitality expectations than before the pandemic, as a SiteMinder report shows — developers understand that branded residences bring credibility to a property in a way that unbranded alternatives never could.

Artist residency

When it opens in 2023, Rosewood Half Moon Bay will offer guests everything they could expect at home. This covers everything from private gardens to beautiful stone baths and private swimming pools. The difference, of course, is location.

Rather than squatting in an affluent suburb like Westchester or Weybridge, Half Moon Bay instead basks on an Antigua beach. Flanked by a 3,200ft stretch of white coral sand and touching a world famous national park, Half Moon Bay is the kind of place most of us dream of living. And for a wealthy minority – the project’s website invites people to “join the lucky few” – that dream will come true.

It can all look like a single piece. But in its breathtaking opulence, the Half Moon Bay is one of many upcoming Rosewood properties. There’s the Rosewood Residences Doha, housed in a pair of sleek new towers and due to open in Qatar next year. The Rosewood Sao Paulo will also soon join the company’s list, lined with works by 57 Brazilian artists. And Rosewood Residences Mandarina, off the coast of Mexico, will be embraced by waters just as alluring as those of Half Moon Bay. Combine that with similar enthusiasm from other hospitality giants – 90% of future Four Seasons openings will include a residential component – ​​and it’s easy to imagine operators sticking properties to a map like darts to a board. .

Berry, however, quickly disillusioned with this idea. “Rosewood’s expansion,” he says, “is a highly selective process, largely limited to the world’s most desirable towns and resorts.” Certainly, this is taken up by one of Rosewood’s major residential growth areas. Between Hangzhou and Ningbo in China, as well as a host of other properties in Japan and Vietnam, it’s clear that East Asia is a prime area for growth.

Given that China’s hotel sector alone is expected to reach $103 billion by 2026 according to Statista, this direction seems reasonable. And as artistic flourishing at properties like Rosewood São Paulo implies, the operator fights just as hard to give each new opening a unique and engaging feel.

Borrowing the “sense of place” principle that runs through all Rosewood properties, Berry describes how his team works closely with designers and craftsmen to ensure that each residence blends seamlessly into the existing landscape. The Rosewood Residences Doha is a good example. Designed by a team from the Arab Engineering Bureau, its coral-inspired facade is meant to elegantly echo the magnificent coastline of the Arabian Gulf.

Beyond these design issues, there is evidence that combining ordinary hotels with residential properties can be a boon for both. On the residential side, for example, owners can enjoy all the glitz of the traditional vacation — from personal butlers to world-class dining. From a traditional hospitality perspective, Berry suggests that residences can fill the dryness in demand that occurs during off-peak seasons. Even better, he notes that the two sectors can support each other in other ways, encouraging owners to stay at regular Rosewood hotels when they are eager to leave their (second) home.

As he puts it: “We recognize that branded residences that are part of a hotel development are a key driver of brand awareness – particularly in new markets, given that residential is active in sales well before the opening of a hotel in a mixed-use project”.

At the service of two masters

As that last comment suggests, Rosewood’s residential pipeline is intertwined with that of its regular hotels. But Berry is also excited about a future where residential properties also thrive individually – which is already happening. The Rosewood Residences Kamala, a seaside property in Thailand, will be the company’s first stand-alone residential property in Asia Pacific when it opens in 2024.

This is dwarfed by similar businesses, especially in Lido Bay, Florida. “The branded residential model is well established, with a lot of faith in brands that do it well,” says Berry, noting that Rosewood’s experience in the industry allows it to consistently deliver impeccable service without necessarily needing to a regular hotel attached.

Specifically, Berry is certain that this trend will continue, especially given that the line between long-term hotel stays and residential ownership is increasingly blurred. “We saw our serviced apartments and our branded residential offering for sale to serve both of these audiences,” he says. “Experiencing Rosewood’s residential-style service – which we are known for in any of our properties, serviced apartments or residences – is the key marker of potential purchases.” It also goes without saying that this could have incalculable consequences for hospitality as a whole.

Rather than seeing customers as fleeting guests, Rosewood may soon see many of them as long-term partners, with all the opportunities that entails. It is clear, in any case, that the upheaval of 2019 is far from over.

This article originally appeared in International hotel management.