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万豪酒店时尚变脸

Sheridan Prasso 2011年07月28日

万豪酒店(Marriott Hotels)终于调整至最佳状态。

五月初开业的伊斯坦布尔EDITION酒店

    万豪酒店(Marriott Hotels)终于调整至最佳状态。该连锁酒店由前摩门教传教士创立,现在仍由其79岁的儿子比尔•马瑞特(首席执行官)执掌。多年来,酒店一直秉承坚实可靠的企业信誉(如果不是因循守旧的话),如今开始入主时尚的精品酒店市场,以吸引年轻、新潮的顾客。

    万豪(MAR,财富500强)联袂酒店业者伊恩•施拉格推出全新时尚连锁酒店品牌EDITION——直接瞄准当前喜达屋酒店集团旗下W酒店占主要地位的细分市场。五月份,EDITION酒店正式亮相伊斯坦布尔商业区,W酒店也是在这个东西方交汇的城市开始了其欧洲攻势。随后几家EDITION酒店预计将于明年推出,并且超出当前W酒店所在的范围:巴塞罗那、墨西哥城、南海滩以及伦敦——W酒店于二月份在伦敦莱斯特广场(Leicester Square)正式开业。

    “这意味着我们能够进军至今还未触及的市场,”总经理斯达特•内姆里在伊斯坦布尔EDITION酒店告诉笔者, 酒店大堂里充满了红茶的香味。电梯中的马赛克地板、圆顶天花板大厅以及客房中悬挂的铜灯造型优美,用现代手法完美诠释了拜占庭风格。“我们希望用焕然一新的面貌呈现一个全的新品牌,这既是挑战,又是机遇,”他说。

    为确保持续增长,万豪热切希望能够吸引更为年轻的顾客,并弥补其损失,因为在经济衰退期间,商旅人士放弃了万豪旗下高端的丽思卡尔顿酒店(Ritz-Carlton)。万豪的股价依然徘徊在其2007年顶峰时的65%左右,尽管在很大程度上万豪已从2009年初的低谷中得以恢复。

万豪酒店:最佳雇主

    首家EDITION酒店去年秋天登陆夏威夷威基基海滩,但这一尝试并不成功。五月份,威基基EDITION酒店的所有者和开发商起诉万豪和施拉格,称他们必须对“酒店极低的入住率和房费”负责。(酒店为特许经营。)诉讼中称酒店每日房价为220美元,入住率不及30%。(伊斯坦布尔EDITION酒店的每日房价为425美元至600美元。)施拉格在一份声明中称该诉讼“无聊可笑”,并将越来越不景气的旅游归咎于重要市场日本的萎缩——该国在今年年初遭遇地震和海啸的袭击。他还提到威基基EDITION酒店开业时获得的热烈反响,其中包括《旅游与休闲》杂志(Travel + Leisure)的评论。

    现在断言EDITION酒店在伊斯坦布尔的表现还为时尚早,但首批游客在旅游点评网站TripAdvisor上对酒店装潢时尚、服务周到以及ESPA水疗中心赞不绝口。伊斯坦布尔当地居民也对该酒店兴趣颇浓,原因之一是该酒店取代并复建了这座城市著名的地标性建筑之一——汇丰银行(HSBC)驻土耳其总部,该建筑在2003年的一次自杀式炸弹袭击中毁于一旦。银行三名员工丧生,基地组织宣称对这一事件负责。

    但所有这一切都已成为久远的历史。5月2日,土耳其名流政要出席了伊斯坦布尔EDITION酒店的开业典礼。就在前一天,美国出人意料地宣布其特种部队已经成功击毙了本•拉登。

    伊斯坦布尔W酒店的入住率依然很高,不像EDITION酒店那样低调的布置,W酒店倾向于奥斯曼帝国式的富丽堂皇。喜达屋酒店首席执行官Frits van Paasschen说:“我们已经占领先机。”在近期与《财富》杂志(Fortune)编辑的交谈中,他表示W酒店拥有强大的拥趸并欢迎竞争:“这正是资本主义美好的一面。”

    Marriott Hotels is finally getting its groove on. After years of riding a solid-if-not-stodgy corporate reputation, the chain founded by a former Mormon missionary and still run by his 79-year-old CEO son, Bill Marriott, is going after the chic boutique hotel market in an attempt to lure younger, hipper customers.

    Marriott (MAR, Fortune 500) has linked with hot hotelier Ian Schrager to launch a new chain called EDITION hotels -- aiming squarely at the segment currently dominated by W Hotels owned by Starwood. In May, an EDITION hotel officially debuted in its first corporate location in a business district of Istanbul, the East-meets-West city where W launched its European push. The next several EDITIONs are scheduled to launch next year and beyond in locales where W Hotels are present: Barcelona, Mexico City, South Beach, and London -- where a W opened in Leicester Square in February.

    "It means being able to tap into a market that we weren't present in until now," says Sedat Nemli, general manager at the Istanbul EDITION, where the lobby and amenities are scented of black tea. Mosaic tile floors in the elevator bank, domed ceiling lobby, and hanging bronze lamps in the rooms evoke a sleek, modernist interpretation of Byzantium. "We have a challenge and opportunity to present a new brand in a new setting," he says.

    In order to keep growth moving forward, Marriott has been keen to lure a younger clientele and to make up for the losses it took during the recession when business travelers turned away from the high-end Ritz-Carlton chain, which it also owns. Marriott's stock price remains roughly 35% below its 2007 peak, though it has largely recovered from its depths in early 2009.

Marriott: Best Companies to Work For

    A first EDITION hotel had opened on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii last fall, but that foray isn't going so well. The Waikiki EDITION's owner and developer filed a lawsuit against Marriott and Schrager in late May alleging that they were to blame for "outrageously low occupancy levels and average daily room rates." (The hotels are franchise operations.) The suit said that occupancy was less than 30% with average daily room rates of $220. (Rooms at the Istanbul EDITION start at $425 to $600.) Schrager, in a statement, called the suit "frivolous" and blamed decreased tourism from the important market of Japan, which was hit by an earthquake and tsunami earlier this year. He also pointed to glowing design reviews the Waikiki EDITION received when it opened, including one in Travel + Leisure magazine.

    It's too early to tell how the EDITION in Istanbul is doing, but initial traveler reviews on TripAdvisor have raved about the chic décor, attentive service, and ESPA spa. Interest is high among Istanbul locals as well, in part because the hotel took over and restored a famous site -- the former HSBC bank headquarters in Turkey, which was heavily damaged by a suicide bomber in 2003. Three bank employees were killed, and Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility.

    But all that is ancient history now. The opening ceremony of the EDITION Istanbul, attended by Turkish celebrities and government officials, came on May 2, the day after the surprise announcement that U.S. Navy Seals had killed Osama bin Laden.

    At the W Istanbul, meanwhile, occupancy remains high, and instead of the understated tones at the EDITION, the décor trends toward the Ottoman opulent. "We have been able to get the first-mover advantage," says Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen, who noted in a recent conversation with Fortune editors that W Hotels have such a strong following that the competition is welcome: "That's the beauty of capitalism."

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