Tommie: Commune and Thompson Hotels’ New Hotel Brand

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Last year, we blogged that Thompson Hotels merged with Joie de Vivre (JDV) hotels to form Commune Hotels & Resorts. After a long wait, Commune has unveiled the name of the “value-conscious” spin-off brand to Thompson Hotels—Tommie.

The first brand from the merged companies, Tommie has been described as being “borne from the savvy of Thompson Hotels and the playful approachability of Joie de Vivre, defining utilitarian chic.”

“Tommie is about stripping away the non-essentials to create a functional efficiency. Everything is beautiful, but also has a purpose,” Thompson Hotel founder and Commune Hotels & Resorts co-chair, Jason Pomeranc said.

Telling by its shortened, fun name, the brand is going after the “hottest” demographic right now, the Millennials. “We think the time is right for the youthful traveler to have something developed specifically for their needs,” Niki Leondakis, CEO of Commune Hotels & Resorts said.

You won’t find your traditional run-of-the-mill hotel meeting space. Instead, Tommie Hotels will feature “crash pads,” meeting spaces that serve as incubators for productive minds, and casual communal dining experiences. The public lounges, called Reading Rooms, will promote gathering and socializing with games and curated programming.

Most importantly, Tommie Hotels will be heavily technology based, including free WiFi—an amenity Thompson Hotels do not have. “We do think it’s important because youthfully minded travelers grew up with technology,” Leondakis said. “So there is a certain expectation that whatever they have at home or the office, it needs to be better quality in their hotels. This will be a very tech-savvy experience, but we don’t want to compromise the customer interaction.”

It may run on a “help yourself” attitude with its self check-in via tablet, eclectic retail and grab-and-go gourmet marketplace, but its selective service philosophy is still personable and accessible—keeping in line with the Thompson and JDV brands.

Two Tommie locations in New York are already in development—the 250-room Tommie on East 31st Street in Manhattan and the 329-room Tommie in West Soho. Both locations are expected to open in early 2015.

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Alexis Listens to Twitter CEO Speak at University of Michigan 2013 Spring Commencement

Hopefully the title of this post hasn’t turned the Ohio State fans away from reading this blog already.

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Three weeks ago, my parents and I headed to Ann Arbor to watch my brother receive his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan. Now attending a commencement ceremony for a class with a few thousand students doesn’t seem like the ideal way to spend your afternoon (it took an hour and a half for all the graduates to walk into the Big House and take their seats). But when I heard that Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO, was the guest speaker, my interest quickly sparked. Seeing that I had just given a lecture on Twitter through the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber the week before, as well as being the one logged onto social media the most in the McConnell office, I was really excited to hear what he had to say.

“You know I have to start with by tweeting this, so just give me one second. I’m a professional so this will only take a second.” Costolo, a graduate of UM, pulled out his smartphone, snapped a picture of the graduating class and tweeted it. Naturally, I hopped onto Twitter to see if my section made the photo, and of course, my parents and I just got cut off.

“When I was your age we didn’t have the Internet in our pants,” Costolo joked. “We didn’t even have the Internet not in our pants—that’s how bad it was.”

Not only did his humor grab my attention, Costolo’s speech was also inspiring. After graduating with a Computer Science degree, and with three job offers from technology companies under his belt, he moved to Chicago to pursue his dream of stand-up comedy. As he is now the CEO of Twitter, fame in the comedic world didn’t work out for him like his fellow Second City classmate, Steve Carell. He explained, “You cannot draw that path looking forward. You cannot draw any of your paths looking forward. So you have to figure out what you love to do and what you have conviction about and go do that.”

“There are no expectations. There’s no script. When you’re doing what you love to do, you become resilient because that’s the habit you create for yourself. You create a habit of taking chances on yourself and making bold choices in service to doing what you love. If on the other hand, you do what you think is expected of you or what you are supposed to do, and things go poorly…as surely it will, you will look to external sources for what to do next because that will be the habit you’ve created for yourself.”

There are so many highlights, I would basically be writing the manuscript of his 17-minute speech for you to read. So you should probably just watch it instead.

As I watched and listened with a smile on my face throughout the entire time, Costolo couldn’t have ended his speech more perfectly—“hashtag go blue!”

What is Luxury Travelers’ Number One Hotel Amenity? Internet.

Let’s say you’re going on a vacation. Since this is more of a hypothetical situation, there’s no budget in site and you decide to stay at a luxury hotel. Out of all the hotel amenities, what’s the one you have to have? The Resonance Report on Affluent Travel and Leisure surveyed more than 1,200 U.S. households with incomes of $150k+ and discovered to the top ten hotel amenities when choosing a hotel/resort for vacation:

  1. Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 10.05.39 AMInternet Access
  2. Beach
  3. Cuisine
  4. Privacy
  5. Close to Shopping and Restaurants
  6. Unique Activities/Experiences
  7. All-Inclusive Packages
  8. Fitness Center
  9. Online Reviews
  10. Walking Trails

Internet access was the most desired amenity above all by affluent U.S. travelers! According to the survey, 54% of affluents both under and over the age of 55 rated internet access number one. High Net Worth (HNW) households, or those with a net worth of $1MM+, rated internet access even higher at 57%. While affluents over 55 ranked privacy as the second most prized amenity, HNWs rated the beach as theirs.

While some people like to take a vacation from the internet, others have to stay connected at all times. Resonance Consultancy President, Chris Fair said, “It’s clear that American luxury travelers want the option to connect as they please, whether to bring their friends up to speed on their activities on social media or to touch base with the office.”

Fair also said that in order to meet the demands of luxury travelers, “the luxury hotels and resorts of the suture will not only have to provide free internet access throughout their property…but also create mobile applications and a digital visitor experience that will become an integrated part of the hospitality offering.”

Would you rank internet access that high on your top amenities list? Let us know! To download a copy of the Resonance Report 2013, visit www.resonancereport.com. And click here to see the original article from Luxury Travel Magazine!

The Jefferson Suite Makes Its Debut at Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C.

Last month the Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C. opened The Jefferson Suite, the newest addition to the hotel’s list of luxurious signature suites.Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 11.34.26 AM

Named after the Jefferson Memorial just outside the suite’s windows, The Jefferson Suite, according to its website, is an “expansive display of comfort, function and luxury.” This two-bedroom, corner suite comes with a full kitchen, dining room, sitting area and den as it covers 1,900 square feet of the hotel’s fourth floor.

The suite gives a soothing ambiance with a color palette of taupe, brown and neutral tones accented by subtle Asian touches that reflect the hotel’s heritage.

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 11.33.41 AMOnce guests settle into the suite’s luxurious, yet comfortable, living areas, they can look out their window as it frames the Jefferson Memorial like a picture perfect portrait, and enjoy the other picturesque D.C. views of the Tidal Basin, the Washington Marina and Martin Luther King Memorial.

“Restful and relaxing, the suite truly feels like a home away from home, something that’s difficult to achieve on the road,” the writers at Luxury Travel Mavens wrote about the suite. “The full kitchen is stocked not only with the essentials for cooking, but for entertaining as well…It’s easy to entertain…thanks to the oversized mahogany dining table with windows that overlook the Jefferson Memorial, framing it like a picture-perfect portrait.”

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 11.33.26 AMBut don’t confuse this suite with your average extended stay. The Jefferson Suite guests get twice daily maid service and access to the hotel’s Tai Pan Club, a concierge floor that offers daily breakfast, a private room for business meetings, complimentary beverages and snacks throughout the day.

“This is an exciting addition to our signature suite offerings, as it is the only suite with a truly residential concept,” General Manager Adriaan Radder said. “In addition to the compelling views of the Tidal Basin, cherry blossom trees and the memorial, the suite is well suited for long-stay guests or families with its comfortable living areas, full kitchen and abundance of space.”

The rate for The Jefferson Suite is $5,000 per night.

(source: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group official press release)

InterContinental Chicago Gets a Fashion-Forward Renovation

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Historic hotels can be a treasure but can also pose a problem: the fine line between ‘classic’ and ‘dated.’ –Andrew Bender, Forbes

Last week, Andrew Bender, business travel blogger for Forbes, reported that the InterContinental Chicago had an elegant solution to this problem: two towers with two completely different design concepts.

The first wing, the Historic Tower, was built in 1929 as the Medinah Athletic Club, “and it’s been a landmark on the Magnificent Mile ever since,” Bender said. The wing’s classic architecture and decor live up to its name: lion statues in the lobby, the high-rise pool and plenty of other little details. Bender wrote, “Although its 315 European-inspired rooms are regularly renovated (most recently in 2010), a sweeping design change would probably cause insurrection among guests who’ve been staying here for generations.”

The other wing, the Grand Tower, was built in 1961. And before the tower’s renovation was completed last month, the look and feel was more “dated” compared to the Historic Tower’s classic feel. “Gone from its 477 rooms are relics of the Mad Men era,” Bender said. The newly renovated Grand Tower, which is located on the corner of Grand Avenue in Chicago, features brighter lighting and fashion-forward colors and fabrics. Across the lobby is Michael Jordan’s Steak House and the casual, yet chic, wine bar, Eno. The InterContinental Chicago upped its tech features, too, with outlets and USB ports everywhere and a giant video wall behind the front desk that streams a rotating selection of live images of streetscapes outside. “And should you wish to return to the early 20th century,” Bender added, “you don’t have to give up the comforts of the 21st to tour the Historic Tour. An iPod-based audio tour at the concierge desk lets you explore its history at your leisure.”

The renovation is also making the hotel greener. The drapes, signage and headboards were locally sourced, waffle-patterned robes replaced terrycloth (they require less energy to wash), there are low flow toilets in the bathrooms and guests can even charge their electric vehicle in the garage. The hotel plans to roll back utility use by 20% within the next five years. In fact, the InterContinental Chicago has become the first hotel in Chicago to receive an Energy Star rating.

To see a slide show for before and after photos, check out Bender’s original Forbes article.