Recently I talked about the new breed of luxury hostels that are popping up around Europe and appealing not only to younger travelers — as hostels traditionally have — but to baby boomer travelers as well.
Now the excellent travel site skift.com has a piece interviewing Josh Wyatt, director of hospitality and leisure at the company that owns Generator Hostels, the leading brand of luxury hostels with eight locations and more on the way. It’s definitely worth a follow-up to hear what he has to say.
For starters, as the skift.com piece points out, Generator is “aggressively targeting” higher-income older travelers by offering a number of guest rooms for singles and couples that include private bath.
For instance, the 154-room Generator Barcelona, which opened this past spring, has devoted more than a fifth of its rooms to singles and couples. The rooms feature two single beds that can be moved together to make a double.
This “hybrid hotel/hostel model,” as the skift-com piece calls it, “provides excellent location, exceptional value, and private rooms for people uncomfortable paying rising hotel rates in popular urban centers” such as Copenhagen, Paris, Venice, Rome, Dublin, London, Hamburg, Berlin, and Barcelona.
And Generator is currently looking to expand to the U.S. as well, in cities such as New York, Washington, D.C., Miami, Boston and Los Angeles.
In terms of marketing, Wyatt acknowledges that while traditional marketing has its place, Generator’s main thrust is to market through social media: the company’s way “of really building a brand voice and loyalty with our guests,” who research their trips and make their travel decisions largely online.
The value aspect is key. The Generator Venice, which just recently opened, sports average rates of just 35 euros per person, a real bargain in that city. Wyatt points out that “instead of staying in a crappy hotel and paying $20 for a Bellini,” you can stay at a Generator and “have a four-euro glass of wine, which we sourced from the local area.”
As for location, here’s one just example: the Generator Barcelona offers some top-floor rooms with balconies that offer city views extending from the ocean to the architect Gaudi’s famous cathedral Sagrada Familia.
Like traditional hostels, Generator Hostels pride themselves on fostering a sense of community among their guests, who, along with the younger clientele, include baby boomers looking for something less impersonal than many hotels. Lobbies are designed to be hubs of activities and the hostels may offer everything from yoga classes to fashion shows.
Meanwhile, the hostels’ public spaces feature a range of cutting-edge design elements — all reflecting the local culture and workmanship, be it in Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, England, Ireland, or Germany — and front-desk staff who continually keep up with social media in order to advise guests of happenings around town that may have only just come up.
“We’re trying to introduce the idea of boutique hotels and boutique design down into the hostel space,” Wyatt says. In the soon-to-open Paris Generator, he contends, “the penthouse suites are going to compete with any boutique hotel in the city.”
“Hostels” and “penthouse suites” in the same breath?
Here’s one baby boomer who loves the concept.
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