The celebratory ribbon cutting was still fresh in their minds when managers at Quirk Hotel Charlottesville had to close after only two weeks in operation due to Covid-19. It seems that new hotel openings, especially this summer, are going to face a few more challenges than usual.
Social distancing and futuristic cleaning protocols are the new normal. Heightened awareness among staff and travelers alike play a strong role in travel recovery. Many hotels are reorganizing their public spaces and service standards to match recommendations from health experts.
Existing hotels that had closed are reopening, and new hotels on the heels of a celebration (like Quirk in Charlottesville) are finally getting their chance to greet the travel world. It is certainly different than they had originally planned.
Travel brands are encouraging cautious travel through bonus point promotions; they know loyalty programs drive business, and extra points and elite status extensions are helpful in winning travelers back.
But, what about the hotels that were scheduled to open for the first time in 2020, following years of meticulous planning? This is not the economic environment they had predicted with hotel designs upended to meet new regulations.
New hotels are symbols of hope for the industry
Hoteliers are not throwing up their arms in frustration. Instead, they are embracing the opportunity to evolve quickly.
“We feel people will be eager to travel again and that there will be a profound sense of gratitude in seeking out experiences we’ve missed during this time,” says Mike Defrino, CEO of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.
Enhanced cleaning protocols are the new normal in hotel operations, and new hotels won’t get a free pass. Luckily, they had the chance to make Coronavirus safety adjustments before they open for the first time, which is less disruptive to their business.
According to Matthew Brink, general manager of the Quirk Hotel Charlottesville, “Now is the perfect time to open a new hotel not to just survive, but to thrive. In fact, some guests may feel safer in a new and untouched hotel.”
New hotels could tap into the demand for rooms that have never been previously used. Despite potential quarantines and visitor restrictions, hotels are readying themselves for future business whether that is local “staycation” traffic or pent-up, post-pandemic demand.
These are the exciting new hotel openings around the country and overseas that are ready to welcome visitors for the first time this summer and beyond.
In the northeast
The highly anticipated opening of Miraval Berkshires is still on target for late summer. For many, it couldn’t come at a better time when people are looking to drive to a resort or spa destination focused on life balance and well-being.
In addition to wellness and recreation programs and Miraval’s popular equestrian offering, guests can participate in life-affirming private sessions with well-being specialists or walk the living labyrinth for some quiet reflection time.
The resort participates in the World of Hyatt program, which means guests can earn or redeem points as well as take advantage of a triple points promotion this summer.
The Wayfinder Hotel in Newport, Rhode Island opened during the pandemic. Its owners felt it was important to stay on track with the opening as a way to support area small businesses. The hotel has local partnerships through its restaurant and onsite programming.
In Jersey City, the Canopy by Hilton Jersey Arts District will open this month with bikes for guests to borrow to get out and explore the neighborhood.
Rockaway Beach will see a blended urban-beach getaway when The Rockaway Hotel opening this summer in Queens. It is easily accessible via public transportation on the subway, ferry, or city bus.
Midtown Manhattan will see a new hotel name when the first NH property to open in North America unlocks its doors on Madison Avenue. The NH Collection New York Madison Avenue is on schedule to open at the end of summer.
In New York’s Finger Lakes region, The Lake House on Canandaigua will be among its newest openings. A summer road trip is in the cards for many, but one of the most exciting developments here is the option to arrive by sea plane from New York’s East River directly to the lake. A phased opening will begin with guest reservations in mid-August followed by the Rose Tavern restaurant in September. The Lake House Spa by Soveral will open later this fall.
Across the midwest and southern states
Like the northeast, many southern states have been pummeled with Coronavirus cases, but cautious hoteliers are positioning themselves for better times. The Kimpton Pittman Hotel in Dallas will open this summer as previously scheduled as part of a historic downtown building.
Nearby Hyatt Regency Frisco-Dallas opened at the start of the summer with high hopes. The hotel says it has already seen some short-term demand for meetings as well as social event planning for holiday parties and weddings.
One advantage to opening during the pandemic, according to hotel owners, is that there was more time to focus on how to blend hospitality and service culture with the safety of staff and guests. General Manager Lance Stumpf said that the hospitality world is evolving, and “we are continuing to learn on a daily basis how to better the experience for our guests.”
That’s a sentiment that many hoteliers echo with recent openings. Even though occupancy may be down, it is better to face the learning curve before a hotel gets packed with guests.
Named after the hotel owner’s grandmother, Hotel Effie at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in South Walton, Florida is still on target for a mid-August opening. With a rooftop pool, spa and 20,000 square feet of meeting space, it has an optimistic look on travel rebounding along Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast in the future.
THēsis Hotel Miami had planned a May opening, but delayed it to August due to Covid-19. It is now on target to open and already seeing strong reservations especially for future graduation seasons (the hotel is across the street from the University of Miami).
In Omaha, the Kimpton Cottonwood is opening this summer with a steakhouse and resort-style swimming pool. Once known as The Blackstone Hotel, it is said that this is where the Reuben sandwich was invented.
In the west
Airlines are seeing growing demand for travel to national parks and states where people can spend time outdoors. American Airlines says demand is growing for travel to Colorado, Montana, and Utah among other similar destinations.
The Kimpton Armory Hotel Bozeman, slated to open during the coming weeks in the city’s historic Armory building, will be ready to meet the growing interest. In its backyard is Yellowstone National Park and plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities, which is giving the entire region some travel momentum this summer.
California’s Wylder Hotel Hope Valley, which will open this summer, offers guests one of 30 cabins to enjoy nature and solitude. The property is 25 minutes from South Lake Tahoe.
Following the same theme, Camp Sarika by Amangiri opened this month with ten tented pavilions ready to welcome only 30 guests at a time in the heart of the Utah desert. Its famous big-sister property Amangiri is a 30-minute hike away. Small properties like these are also ideal for complete hotel buyouts.
Around the world
Even with restricted travel to many countries, people are eager to plan future trips. New hotels may hold the same allure.
Nobu Hotel Warsaw will open August 3 as the Polish capital’s first design hotel with Japanese-inspired interiors and an address near the city’s famous Old Town. As its name suggests, it will house a Nobu Restaurant, which will also be the first global chef-led restaurant in the city.
In hard-hit Spain, Torre Del Marques in Matarraña was planning to open in April. It will open this summer instead. Located in a 15th century farmhouse, this Small Luxury Hotels of the World member (and World of Hyatt-participating hotel) decided to move forward with its opening to prepare for both domestic and international visitors in the future. Its countryside location in Aragon is reminiscent of the Tuscan hillsides of Italy, and the outdoor, remote setting resonates with what many travelers are looking for at the moment. And for those that want it, the hotel is providing masks and gloves for guests.
Originally planned for a spring opening, Villa Copenhagen pushed its official first day to the summer. It will be near the central train station in a historic building formerly housing the Central Post & Telegraph Head Office. According to General Manager Peter Høgh Pedersen, domestic demand is growing and international visitors are inquiring about stays later this year. He said the summer opening is important to keep up the momentum of excitement among both staff and locals interested in seeing the building’s transformation.
With 12 beachfront swimming pools, Alma Resort opened this summer on the Cam Ranh peninsula in Vietnam. The southeast Asian country has seen zero deaths to Covid-19 so far and has been widely hailed for its pandemic response. Hotel owners in Vietnam are hopeful this will encourage people to visit the country when they are ready.
Alma is not taking any chances and is performing temperature checks for arrivals as well as guests whenever they enter one of the 14 restaurants and bars on property. Vietnam will begin issuing e-visas to U.S. passport holders this month paving the way for a potential uptick in visitors.
Palace Hotel Company is launching a new brand called Zentis with its first property opening next month in Osaka, Japan. Zentis Osaka will offer modern interiors (it is a member of Design Hotels, which participates in the Marriott Bonvoy program) at select-service prices.
The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko, in Japan will move forward with its opening this summer, too. Hotel representatives say they are expecting demand to pick up both domestically and from within Asia in the coming months. The property is big on doing business with the local community, too. Its opening will support the farmers that supply Wagyu beef and fresh eggs and artisans that produce pottery and other supplies for the hotel.
Hoteliers are bullish on the future of travel knowing the number of people they employ and local businesses they support are economic drivers for communities. Those responsible for opening a new hotel this summer deserve kudos for their motivation during a tumultuous time for travel.