Hotel Desk: On Your 2016 Radar

Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City.
Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City.

Two top-notch hotel companies are upping the ante for 2016 by getting a brand refresh and adding even more product to their already thick portfolio.

new look for SLH

Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) has announced a new look and feel that, according to press material, demonstrates a contemporary and forward-thinking positioning for the brand.

“Our new strapline, ‘Independently minded,’ means passion rather than anonymity; it means dedication rather than don’t care; it means you’ll remember its character rather than its lack of,” points out Tim Davis, global director of brand/marketing. “Our new brand and marketing may appeal to a different market than the one we may have attracted in the past—we hope this new demographic will be inspired by our new look and feel, and as a result will find out what SLH is all about. Once they make a booking with us, we have no doubt they will return as the hotels and the service we offer is simply fantastic.”

The new campaign, The SLH Way, focuses on matching independently minded people with independently spirited hotels, while repositioning SLH as an anti-brand type of brand. Davis defines independently spirited hotels as “small, luxury, independent, character-filled hotels that actively go above and beyond to set themselves apart.” For the new campaign a new logo has been designed, new apps for iPhone and Android have launched, and the SLH directory was reintroduced for 2016.

The revamping for the brand includes new initiatives for 2016 such as raised standards for hotels interested in joining the brand and to remain as members; and a focus to offer SLH hotels in new destinations. For 2016 that includes Ibiza, Dubai, Hawaii, Munich, and Sydney, as well as major cities in the U.S.

Davis says that the revamped branding at the property level is expected to roll out soon. “This is a huge undertaking as you can imagine, but it goes hand-in-hand when launching a new logo. We’re working with both logos for the time being so there isn’t any rush,” he notes.

Davis points out that SLH will become harder to join and harder to stay a part of to ensure that all SLH hotels are maintaining the highest levels of quality. Adding that, “Our quality assurance program has recently become more robust with a new inspection report and a partnership with Revinate so we can adopt a more holistic approach and evaluate hotels based on a wider criteria, integrating Club reviews, complaints and wider online reputation, viewable by live feed.”

These raised standards aren’t hindering hotels joining the brand. There are nine hotels joining in 2016—Arovada Private Island in Cambodia, Ayard of Ch’an and Tai Residence in China, Hotel Pashmina in France, 7 Secrets Resort and Wellness Retreat in Indonesia, Chable Resort in Mexico, Mahana Villa in New Zealand, Anya Resort & Residences in the Philippines, and Keemala in Thailand.

And because travel advisors make up about two-thirds of the SLH reservations, SLH has launched its first recognition program for travel advisors—Small Luxury Heroes. The program rewards agents who register with Amazon gift cards, SLH gift certificates, and complimentary reward nights. In addition, agents who register by Jan. 31 will be entered for a chance to win one of 25 $1,000 SLH gift certificates.

starwood + design hotels
Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced last month an expanded partnership with Design Hotels, which consumers will see as the 11th Starwood brand after the recently launched Tribute Portfolio. Hotels include the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City; Ten Bompas in Johannesburg, South Africa; the C-Hotel in Lake Como, Italy; Nira Montana in La Thuile, Italy; Nira Alpina in St. Mortiz, Switzerland; and Kruisherenhotel Maastricht in the Netherlands. Also expected to join are the ION Luxury Adventure Hotel in Iceland, the Tribe Hotel in Kenya, GRUPO HABITA hotels in Mexico, the Town Hall Hotel in London, Gezi Istanbul in Istanbul, The Waterhouse at South Bund in Shanghai, New Hotel in Athens, Wanderlust Hotel in Singapore, Les Bains in France, and nest hotel in South Korea.

Design Hotels bookings made directly through any Starwood channel will now receive select SPG benefits and be eligible to earn Starpoints.

Though this partnership offers you more products to choose within the Starwood portfolio, Design Hotels will continue to operate independently from Starwood; the partnership simply offers a distribution and loyalty benefit to member hotels.

contact information
Small Luxury Hotels: slh.com/travel-agents
Starwood Hotels & Resorts: spg.com/pro