A Field Guide to the Hotel Companies' New Brands

Canopy by Hilton in Reykjavik Canopy by Hilton
It's not like your hotel searches haven't been confusing enough, but the big hotel companies are all trying to add boutique brands now. Wade through the names Hyatt already lobs at consumers: There's Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt House, Hyatt Place, Andaz, and plain old Hyatt. Only a Hyatt employee or high-status business traveler may know the difference—yet Hyatt is adding yet another name to the brand salad. 

So here's your field guide to the giant companies' new efforts.


Pictured: Rendering of Canopy by Hilton, Reykjavik, Iceland
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Hyatt Centric room Hyatt Centric
No, a Hyatt Centric it's not a selfish Hyatt. Hyatt Centrics are hotels that happen to be situated in the center of the city, and the staff will be trained to direct guests to the best local experiences that the hotel conglomerate can dig up. Depending on how choice their locations are, Hyatt will soon re-flag some existing properties, including former Hyatt Regency hotels, as Hyatt Centric. 
 
As Hyatt tries to explain it, "Hyatt Centric is a global lifestyle brand, focused on distinct, cosmopolitan, lifestyle hotels located in prime destinations... Simply put, we strive to be a part of our guests’ unique adventures — in our destinations and beyond."
 
All Hyatt Centrics have something called "the Corner," a place to browse "a curated collection" of local books and magazines. They also have free Wi-Fi and they're pet-friendly. So far, they're slated for a dozen cities including San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Miami, Houston, Santa Barbara, Key West, and Washington.
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Marriott AC Hotel Chicago Downtown AC Hotel Chicago Downtown
Just like Hyatt Centric, the AC's promotional materials announce "a curated collection" (the same phrase as its competitor's) of reading materials in a lounge, but here it's called the AC Library. It, too, has a bar where a high-profile mixologist was recruited to come up with a menu of original cocktails that management can promote to its target market. 
 
At AC, which is now one of Marriott's 19 brands, sleek furnishings are typical of the new vanguard of "lifestyle brand" chain hotels. Says Marriott: "Guest rooms incorporate warm grays and charcoal tones, with clean lines and hardwood floors; furniture is lifted to create a sense of space, and crisp white linens are used to create a look that’s both refined and elegant... Guests will find open-concept closets and integrated work desk and luggage benches in all rooms. Complimentary Wi-Fi, ample USB and power ports and smart TVs that can stream on-demand content..."
 
They are already open in Chicago (pictured), Miami, Kansas City, Paris, Copenhagen, and near Washington, D.C.
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Canopy by Hilton room Canopy by Hilton
Like Hyatt is doing with Centric, Hilton's parent corporation aims to capture the "experience"-hungry youth market by putting an emphasis on local culture and products.  By night, the breakfast area becomes a bar for local brews and wines, and staff will be educated in the specificities of the neighborhood.

During check-in, guests can order "thoughtfully themed and priced foodie bags" for their in-room minibar. Rooms have open shelves—having no closets is another major trend among these brands—and free filtered water. Free breakfast is either delivered to the room or served to go, and like Hyatt Centric and Marriott's AC, the operational manuals encourage staff to put forth a concerted effort to connect guests with local arts and local things to do. Wi-Fi is free, but throttled; pay an upcharge for a quicker signal.
 
There are a dozen in the works, but the first one is in Reykjavik, Iceland. 

www.canopybyhilton.com
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Pool at SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino SLS Las Vegas Hotel and Casino
You may confuse Curio for Canopy, but don't. You won't see the word Curio getting top billing in the name of its hotels. That's because it's more of luxury guarantee than a franchise. When the company acquires a fine hotel with its own history or culture and doesn't want to muddy it with the Hilton name, since 2014 it has added it to the Curio Collection. The idea is that discerning travelers will look up Curio Collection properties when they want a luxury stay at a venerable property but still want to earn points. Each Curio property has its own vibe—there's no formula.
 
Curio includes properties such as the Madison Beach Hotel in Connecticut, The Sam Houston in Texas, the Diplomat in South Florida, and the SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. There are nearly four dozen such properties around the world right now.

curiocollection.hilton.com
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Room in Moxy Hotel Moxy
Another new-brew brand that jettisons closets in favor of open shelving, Moxy goes one further by setting things up to be as self-service as possible and pre-fabricating rooms before installation. Marriott calls its brand "affordable luxury", and in the press materials, it dwells an awful lot on how good the coffee is—which tells you a lot about the kind of traveler it's going for.

Says Marriott: "Every room makes a statement with a spirited floor to ceiling art piece. The design is functional and uncluttered with simple, thoughtful touches including glass shelving and open closets... Also, apparently we’re not the only ones who wince at instant coffee. We brew up fresh joe downstairs in the lobby every day so no one has to know you’re not a morning person." So far, Moxy is only in Europe (where happily, rates start under €100) but Marriott promises some for major U.S. cities within the next few years.

moxy-hotels.marriott.com
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London EDITION hotel room Edition Hotels
Marriott recruited developer and hotelier Ian Schrager to plan these hotels, so what you get is high style calculated to appeal to post-hipsters—observe how artfully that faux-fur throw is arranged on the bed, notice the retro-'70s wood panelling—paired with tip-top service. Really, they're more like traditional hotels (fitness center, higher prices), but with funky style to please younger people with some cash to burn. Since nightlife is part of what they're going for, London EDITION (yes, it's capitalized) also has a hot restaurant and popular lobby cocktail bar. 
 
So far, it's in London, New York, Istanbul, and Miami Beach, and it's poised to sweep China and L.A. soon.

www.editionhotels.com
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Vib by Best Western room rendering Vib
Technically, the dot over the i in Vib is supposed to be a dash like a hyphen, but who can be bothered? Vib, which is short for vibrant, is Best Western's foray into faux-boutique territory (announced in 2014 but so far still in planning for Chicago and Miami) and brand standards will include TVs that stream on-demand content, ample power outlets, LED mood lighting, "grab-n-go stations" for food, and a "Zen Zone" in the lobby. If the renderings come true, they will be a marked departure from the historically spotty Best Western standards.

www.bestwestern.com
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Beach at Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida Diplomat Resort & Spa Hollywood
Autograph is Marriott's version of Hilton's Curio: an umbrella for established, often upscale independent hotels that it has brought under its auspices. In an unintended fashion, the word Autograph seems to admit, "This hotel is nicer than a Marriott."

Autograph Collection hotels include Casa Monica in St. Augustine, Florida; the Algonquin in New York City; the Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida (pictured); the Grand Bohemian outside Biltmore Estate in Asheville; and the Brown Palace in Denver.

www.autograph-hotels.marriott.com
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Tru by Hilton double queen room prototype Hilton Worldwide Holdings
Hilton launched Tru in 2016 and put it on a fast track to eventually overtake its Hampton as the Hilton brand with the most units—it hopes. Features include shower-only rooms, four designated "zones" in the lobby for eating, working, and so forth, free Wi-Fi, and a kiosk for snacks and light meals. The rooms (which cap out at 275 square feet) don't have closets; they have a "landing zone" with exposed hooks and hangers. This mid-scale brand is in the United States and Canada. Where you'll find it first: Atlanta, Dallas; Houston, Chicago, Denver, and Nashville.
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