Hotels Redesign for Family Needs by Building More Spacious Suites

Skift Take

Bigger rooms and kid-friendly accommodations yield longer stays — but come at a higher cost for those booking them, and for hotel operations teams.

Carley Thornell, Skift

Ask any parent about a family getaway in a double room, and they’re bound to tell you that it’s often double the trouble.

“Why would I want to share the same room as my kids, and sleep in a smaller bed than the one I have at home?” said Massachusetts mom Krystal Borges of the traditional setup with two queen beds. “It’s not exactly a vacation trying to get my son and daughter to share a small space, (let alone) a mattress.”

But she and other parents are about to have more options. Hotels are increasingly redesigning their rooms to attract families, a lucrative market poised to travel in large numbers this year.

The Hoxton is one brand that’s overhauled its rooms to provide more space for families. It launched two new room categories — Homey and Homey Up — this spring at its Barcelona property that provide more amenities and space than its previous largest category, Biggest. Both of the new largest room categories feature a kitchenette and dining room while the Homey Up includes two private rooms with big beds that can be separated.

“These categories are our version of a suite, but Hoxton-style. They go quickly before the other room types … because they’re really convenient for families and longer stays,” said Rob Andrews, The Hoxton’s chief operating officer, adding that it’s learning toward offering Homey categories at four new properties in its pipeline.

For brands like Hoxton that haven’t traditionally catered to families, that’s a significant operational shift. And Andrews believes it’s one driven by brand-loyal millennial parents eager to travel in style as well as parents taking families with them during business trips.

“The average length of stay for these types of trips is quite high, and it’s really high in these (new) room categories,” Andrews said. “You’ve got a business trip that used to be two to three days and now people are adding four, five, six nights for that leisure component. That has a really big impact (on business).”

The Hoxton isn’t the only brand seeing increased demand for longer stays in more spacious digs. The Origin Hotels Collection reports that rooms with family-friendly bunk bed suites are among its most popular bookings, and it plans for all of its future properties to include bunk bed rooms.

Bunk bed rooms are also a big hit at Harborside Hotel in Bar Harbor, Maine. Manager Eben Salvatore immediately wanted the property upon to build family suites upon assuming his role because he saw how popular they were at another hotel he worked at.

“Everyone was asking for a separate space for the kids, a space to sit down and have meals,” said Salvatore. “But it was always either two beds or a king, the same box, the same square footage.”

Two- and three-bedroom suites at Harborside provide guest kitchens, washers and dryers in addition to bunk bed rooms with video game consoles. Salvatore said those suites are the hotel’s most popular offerings, being filled to 95 percent capacity during its busiest period last year. Their popularity is one reason he supports building family cottages at a nearby site owned by Harborside’s parent company Ocean Properties. Salvatore predicts that the average length of a family stay will jump from three to six days if those cottages open.

However, operating those family suites is not a light lift. In addition to the expenses required for redesigning rooms, Salvatore acknowledges that his cleaning staff spends on average three hours working on a suite in contrast to the industry average of 39 minutes on a standard leisure room.

Meanwhile, families will likely find hotel rooms continue to evolve, especially if Marriott’s plans come to fruition. Its design lab is collaborating with robotics and architecture startup Ori to reconfigure guest rooms to make them more family-friendly.

“For example, perhaps putting a lofted bed in a room,” said Tina Edmundson, Marriott International’s Global Brand and Marketing Officer, about one possible configuration.

“Ori combines engineering, technology, and design expertise to create spaces that are more flexible and multi-functional, and also more sustainable as they essentially create two rooms out of one. Ori thinks about using space differently and makes dynamic furniture to create spaces that adapt to our needs.”

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