Different types of retail brands are bringing their signature offerings to the hotel industry by opening their own properties.
GLOBAL REPORT—While hotels designed or inspired by jewelry or lifestyle brands like Baccarat, Versace and Bulgari are nothing new, other types of retail brands are moving into the hospitality space.
Scottish brewer BrewDog and Japanese homeware and lifestyle brand Muji have opened or will soon open new branded hotels, while English retail and lifestyle company Laura Ashley is set to expand overseas and out of its British roots.
BrewDog was formed in 2007 in Fraserburgh, Scotland, located 50 miles north of Aberdeen. The brewer will open its first two hotels in 2019. The first property, a 26-room hotel called The DogHouse, will open in first half of 2019 in Aberdeen, 30 miles from its current headquarters and brewery in Ellon, Scotland.
BrewDog’s second hotel—a 50-room, crowd-funded property—is coming to Columbus, Ohio, where the company has its second brewery. The Columbus hotel is likely is to open in the second half of 2019.
Producing and selling a variety of craft beers with distinctive names such as Punk IPA, Dead Pony Club, Elvis Juice and Make Earth Great Again, BrewDog has 50 bars worldwide, including 33 around the U.K. and locations in Barcelona, Berlin and Rome.
Hotels have always paired well with beer. Both Whitbread PLC—parent company of Premier Inn and Hub by Premier Inn—and InterContinental Hotels Group can trace their origins back to brewing companies.
Sarah Warman, global head of marketing at BrewDog, said the company will likely operate hotels as it does its bars.
“We will manage it ourselves as opposed to through a third party or a franchise model,” Warman said. “Obviously, there is still a lot we are yet to arrange, but this is the initial plan.”
She said BrewDog will see how the first two hotels perform before looking at growing the hotel brand.
“It is our first foray, but the initial response to these two sites has been very encouraging, very responsive, and we’re very excited,” Warman said. “The hotels will sit within our retail division. Hospitality is our thing, whether we expand that out ourselves or get third-party management.”
Muji, also known as Ryohin Keikaku Company, was founded in 1980 and is one of Japan’s largest retail companies that sells lifestyle and homeware goods. The company entered the hotel space in the first few months of 2018.
Muji opened its first hotel, a 79-room property in Shenzhen, China, on 18 January. Then on 20 March, the company’s second hotel, a 42-room property, opened in Beijing.
Hiroyoshi Azami, executive officer at Ryohin Keikaku, said the hotels allow customers the opportunity to experience and feel various Muji goods and services. He added the company’s product development division will also benefit from guests’ feedback.
“Further expansion could be considered after opening those two hotels,” Azami said.
Azami said the concept of the hotels has been “designed to reflect an anti-gorgeous, anti-cheap concept. The goal is to offer great sleep at the right price, to provide a space supporting both body and soul while away from home and to connect travelers to local communities.”
Azami said Muji hotels will use third-party operators, but the company will still be heavily involved.
“We will provide to an operator the license, the concept of Muji Hotel, and supervise the interior design and customer-service plan, as well as fixtures, fittings and amenities,” Azami said.
Despite being a Japanese company, Muji opened its first hotels in China. Azami said the two properties took root in China through unique opportunities.
“Other than Japan, China has been an important market for our group. There, we fortunately found business partners who were willing to support our new challenge,” Azami said, adding Japan is a potential development candidate in terms of expanding the hotel brand.
Although Laura Ashley has existed as a home-furnishings, clothing and lifestyle brand since Laura Ashley and Bernard Ashley started the company in their English kitchen in 1953, the brand decided to start a hotels division much more recently in summer 2013.
The 49-room Manor Elstree, located in Hertfordshire close to the northern edge of London, was the debut property of the brand’s and opened in July 2013. A year later, the company opened the 62-room Belsfield Lake District on the shore of Lake Windermere in the Lake District National Park.
Now, Laura Ashley Hotels, Resorts & Hospitality—which contains a serviced residences division—plans to roll out the brand across the Middle East, Indian Ocean and Asia/Pacific region, according to the division’s principal Nick Turner.
Turner said the Laura Ashley brand has been loved for more than 60 years, thus making the idea of expanding the brand’s hospitality wing an obvious one.