'Lifestyle' hotel brands are on the ascendancy, as operators look to tap into a new generation of travellers and draw millennials back to the hotel market, says the CBRE Hotels' annual Check INreport.
In the report, which tracks hotel trends in Australia, CBRE director of hotels Peter Hamilton says lifestyle hotels have much in common with the boutique hotel concept, "with a heavy focus on being creative and innovative".
"Lifestyle hotels now have the potential to be replicated and rolled out across the globe."
He says uptake of lifestyle brands has been strong as owners perceive a threat from Airbnb, and due to changing accommodation preferences of Millennials and Generation Z.
"These generations have become key drivers of the lifestyle and leisure segment of the hotel market.
"Generally their preference is to experience highly social spaces, with constant connectivity and the availability of food and beverage services."
However, it is not just Millennials driving a new breed of hotels. One sub-category of lifestyle hotels is the so-called "wellness brand", which appeals to a broad range of travellers including the corporate sector.
With its innovative EVEN Hotels chain, the InterContinental Hotels Group is one example of an established hotelier branching into the wellness space, says Hamilton.
"EVEN Hotels are equipped with fitness facilities, healthy eating options and an environment that promotes the feeling of wellbeing. The brand recognises the growing appeal of being health-focused while travelling.
"Auckland now has a range of lifestyle hotels, including MSocial Auckland and Naumi Auckland Airport hotels, which both opened recently. The So Auckland will open in October, and new EVEN and Indigo hotels, both IHG brands, will be built by 2021.
"The advent of these operations — following the introduction of the QT brand to Wellington and Queenstown over recent years — shows the lifestyle trend has well and truly arrived," he says.
"This is exciting, as New Zealand has historically attracted brands of international operators offering a more homogenous hotel experience."
Though lifestyle brands are on the radar of most hotel owners, uptake of the concept remains relatively slow in this country.
"It's probably because the more established brands have proven track records and can be perceived as a more appealing investment model.
"With choosing a brand already established in the market place, comes the opportunity to leverage off previous experience and supply chains already in place. In Australia, we found that while operators are keen to get a foothold into the sector it's often difficult to find an owner willing
"However, watch this space." says Hamilton.
"Millennials have become an increasingly important customer group, and the realisation has dawned (on owners) that brands will need to be well placed to capture this next generation of corporate travellers."