Hotel Group Invents High-Tech Hipster Hangouts While Rethinking Old World Luxury

SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is launching two hotel brands, one aimed at presenting luxury in a new way and the other being developed to deliver the experience of tomorrow.

The Quorvus Collection, the new luxury brand from the hotel group, involves joining together independently owned, existing luxury hotels under the Carlson Rezidor umbrella.

Radisson Red, though, will be entirely new construction, creating what the company says will be a new industry category: the upscale "lifestyle select" brand.

"People now want to use hotels in entirely different ways than they historically have," Gordon McKinnon, Carlson Rezidor's chief branding officer, says in a telephone interview. "In designing Red ... we get to plot what is important to people when they use hotels, so everything has been designed around the customer experience -- everything from the way they use the bedroom to the way they order breakfast or interact with other people from a social point of view to what they expect of bathrooms, or check-in and arrival."

Radisson Red's focus on technology includes a mobile application that allows guests to skip reception for check-in, order drinks in the bar, food from the deli or flowers through an online concierge. In terms of design, Red will have an eclectic, modernist aesthetic.

"The bedrooms are much more multi-purpose," he says, referring to an evolution from people "working in the bedroom with a huge desk and a bad-looking office chair ... Technology and people have changed. The vast majority of people now will work with a mobile or laptop, and would much rather multi-task -- listen to music and watch TV while they work. And they want the choice to bring in bottle of wine and pizza if that's what they want to do, as much as we want to force them to bars and restaurants. They want to personalize the experience to themselves, whether that's through music or their own TV channels."

Carslon Rezidor has not committed to building Radisson Reds in specific cities, but has identified the types of cities it would like to host its new lifestyle select hotel; Austin, Portland and Seattle would all be a comfortable fit for the brand, McKinnon says.

"We will roll this out in cities and locations that have the right kind of vibe around them, in terms of demographic, social and cultural life," McKinnon says.

The first Radisson Reds are expected to launch in 2015.

With the Quorvus Collection, meanwhile, the hotel group is aiming for five-star hotel status as well as a new definition of luxury.

"It entails a much broader perspective of what luxury means to people," McKinnon says. "Bars and restaurants are always a good example. A restaurant experience with a luxury hotel doesn't necessary need to be a Michelin experience anymore; it can be much more informal, but still meet certain standards."

The rethinking has grown to encompass everything from the use of new technology to how guests connect with a hotel's neighborhood. In particular, McKinnon says, luxury is no longer just about high-end culture. Instead, it includes such things as guests wanting to find the best nearby coffee shops or have different types of cultural experiences.

Which properties will become part of the collection will be announced within weeks, he says. The collection will likely remain small -- 20 once complete, primarily in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, where McKinnon says there is a much stronger luxury market.

The decision to reassemble a collection of luxury hotels under a new umbrella, McKinnon says, was in many ways driven by cost.

"There's just a huge capital restriction on building luxury hotels," he continues. "We could build 15 Reds or one luxury hotel ... This is another way to create a consumer opportunity."

The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group will bring services to the hotels that become part of the Quorvus collection and act as a vehicle for the hotels to communicate, McKinnon says. He describes the approach as "connecting the dots" for properties that will largely retain their own character, architecture and ambiance.

One of the unifying features of Quorvus hotels will be their six core lifestyle services areas: wellness, replenishment, style, inspiration, entertainment and connectivity.

Wellness, for example, will address such things as a hotel's healthy food offerings, spa services and bathroom amenities.

"With Quorvus there is an opportunity to present luxury in a different way, and to think about it in a different way," McKinnon says. "And I'm excited about Red in general, because it's an opportunity to cover a real niche. We're not going to rewrite all the rules, but it will challenge the market."

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group's existing brands include Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, and Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM.

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