Tuesday, February 28, 2012

IHG Launching New Brand : EVEN Hotels

Artist's rendering of public space in an EVEN Hotel
InterContinental Hotels Group, with its North American headquarters in Dunwoody, is
preparing to launch a new hotel brand : EVEN Hotels.

"EVEN Hotels will make wellness an easy, natural part of travel. You'll find a place to stay, work, relax, socialize, exercise and eat on your own terms, the way it should be."

The website for the new brand includes multiple computer generated images of guests rooms and public spaces but surprisingly no "guests."  White it's not unforgivable not to include guests in images such as these, hopefully it's not foreshadowing the success of the brand.  The first Hotel Indigo opened on Peachtree Street in midtown Atlanta in October 2004 but the brand has no grown as much or been as well received as originally hoped.  

An Indigo was under construction at the historic Carnegie Building on Carnegie Way in downtown Atlanta in 2009 but when it finally opened it opened in early 2011, it was a Courtyard by Marriott. Dipolomat Companies, the hotels owner, decided the Hotel Indigo brand, though part of InterContinental Hotels Group, was itself not well known enough to attract people to the property.  Courtyard by Marriott is renovating and changing many of its properties is a far more well known brand in the industry.  

This was not the first instance where a last minute reflagging occurred either.  The Hotel Indigo Miami South Beach was reflagged the Wyndham Garden South Beach.prior to opening in May of 2010.  

Having been to one of the newest domestic Indigo Hotel's in Raleigh, North Carolina as well as one in Chicago, both seem more like boutique feeling Holiday Inns rather than boutique properties with their own identity.  Having looked at the images and verbiage describing EVEN Hotels, hopefully this new brand will right the wrongs of Indigo.  I will say however, some of the images remind me of Element, a new(ish) brand from Starwood Hotels & Resorts that is struggling to find a place in a crowded and growing segment of the hotel industry.

I did a fair amount of domestic travel last year and would have say I was most impressed with the Andaz hotel, a boutique brand developed by Hyatt Hotels.  I visited their locations on Wall Street and 5th Avenue in New York and was thoroughly impressed.  The hotel features locally sourced items in the mini bar and the check in process is done without a desk and instead via a self contained unit that agents come to you with in their open and welcoming lobby.   

No word on when or where the first EVEN Hotels will open but I'd wager a guess California, Texas or Florida may be some of the early locales.  IHG plans to open 100 hotels in major U.S. cities within the next five years. They plan to announce the first location for EVEN this spring with an opening of early 2013. 

What do you think? Is EVEN Hotel a favorite in the making or another half-baked boutique brand?  What is your favorite boutique hotel?  Do you prefer independent of chain?   Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.  

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