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It’s hip to be cheap as hotels democratize design




If you haven’t visited a college campus, second-hand store or seen “Crazy Rich Asians,” in which one of the central characters possesses a Jamba Juice freebie card, you may not have heard: Thrift is cool. In hospitality, that spirit has worked its way from Airbnb mania to spinoff hotel brands and independent properties that promise the travel equivalent of fast fashion.

“Cheap chic is in,” said Chekitan Dev, a professor of marketing at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and the author of “Hospitality Branding.” “The cheap chic hotel brand trend is in line with tiny houses and other minimalist lifestyle trends that are sweeping the country.”

In an undated photo provided by the hotel, the Unscripted Durham, a rehabilitated 1960s-vintage motel in Durham, N.C. With young travelers in mind, several inexpensive hotel brands are embracing a “cheap chic” frugality.
In an undated photo provided by the hotel, the Unscripted Durham, a rehabilitated 1960s-vintage motel in Durham, N.C. With young travelers in mind, several inexpensive hotel brands are embracing a “cheap chic” frugality.  (UNSCRIPTED DURHAM / The New York Times)

Among new hotel introductions heeding the thrifty hip movement, InterContinental Hotels Group just launched Avid, a new brand featuring well-equipped gyms, Chobani yogurt and Kind granola in the breakfast buffets, and rates from $80 (U.S.). The stylish London-based Hoxton hotels made their American debut this month with the Hoxton, Williamsburg in New York, with three restaurants, a rooftop lounge and bed linens from the Brooklyn label Dusen Dusen in $159 rooms. The style-focused consortium Design Hotels recently introduced a “luxe for less” collection with rooms under 200 euros, or about $233.

Bargains, of course, are relative to markets and perceptions. The hotel analytics firm STR identifies the average daily rate (known as ADR) at hotels in the top 25 markets in the country over the past year as $130. That averages out places like New York, where annual ADR is $240, along with Detroit at $104.

The democratizing-design trend dovetails with the rise of millennial travellers.

“At an early stage of their travel cycle, millennials have less money to spend and are extremely value conscious,” Dev said. “They will pay only for those items that give them pleasure, so boring design, bad technology and unnecessary amenities are out and thoughtful and minimal design, fast and free technology and useful amenities are in.”

But they’re not the only ones driving the trend, according to Richard Born, a principal at BD Hotels, which anticipated downsized rooms with its first Pod Hotel in New York in 2007. The five Pod Hotels in New York and Washington, D.C., draw travellers of all ages who tend to share an interest in style.

“It’s about price, but it’s not just about price,” Born said. “It’s about price, style, design and experience.”

Thrifty Brands

Challenged by Airbnb, major hotel groups have expanded their vertical portfolios downward on the price scale and introducing more updated affordable brands. In addition to Avid, newcomers include Moxy Hotels from Marriott, which embraces a party spirit. At the new Moxy Chicago Downtown, for example, the front desk is a bar, and rooms that look into other rooms across a courtyard come with message boards to communicate things like “Meet me in the lobby” to the voyeur across the way (rooms from $170).

The Dream Hotel Group introduced the playful Unscripted brand with its first Unscripted Durham in Durham, North Carolina, in a former 1960s-vintage motel with a rooftop pool and bar (from $129). It plans future openings in Belize and Mexico.

In Israel, Brown Hotels spun off the free-spirited the Dave — Son of a Brown in Tel Aviv, which recently hosted a tattoo artist pop-up shop (from $125). In Japan, Hoshino Resorts launched Omo earlier this year with minimalist design (from about $45).

Tiny Rooms

Aiming to attract diverse travellers, some hotels offer a few tiny rooms at substantial savings.

Among 14 rooms, Hotel Eleven in Austin, Texas, offers two 230-square-foot “crashpads” starting at $159.

“When people come to Austin, they don’t really want to spend time in their hotel rooms,” said Mark Vornberg, the hotel’s co-owner and architect. “The crash pad was developed as a place to sleep. It still has to have a great bed and a great shower, but it doesn’t need a living room. The city is your living room.”

When the 612-room Moxy Times Square opened in New York last year, it introduced 19 crash pad rooms for $99 each (others from $149). The 120 square-foot crash pads can only be ordered from the menu of the rooftop bar, Magic Hour, after 11 p.m.

“Our team anticipated that many of our rooftop patrons would like to ‘take the elevator home,’ keep the party going and crash downstairs,” wrote Mitchell Hochbert, the president of Lightstone, which developed the hotel, in an email.

A hotel with a luxe-to-less price range may also better serve groups like wedding parties, where budgets can vary. The East Austin Hotel, opening in November with a courtyard pool, restaurant and rooftop bar, will house 75 rooms, including 13 “cabins,” or rooms with double beds and shared bathrooms on a single floor, starting at $99. The highest-end poolside suites start at $299.

“It’s all in one facility because the person that travels in a cabin this year may in fact want a poolside cabana next time,” said Jeff Trigger, the founder and president of La Corsha Hospitality Group, which owns the East Austin. “The people that are going to stay in our place want that eclectic style. They’re not coming to be in an environment where everybody is the same.”

Bargains by Design

The 50-room Anvil Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyo. With young travellers in mind, several inexpensive hotel brands are embracing a "cheap chic" frugality.
The 50-room Anvil Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyo. With young travellers in mind, several inexpensive hotel brands are embracing a “cheap chic” frugality.  (READ McKENDREE/ANVIL)

A bargain in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in ski season, let alone a deal with decent design, is a winter unicorn. When I visited last January, rates at the slopeside Four Seasons Resort were $800, but in town, the 50-room Anvil Hotel, a newly redesigned 1950s motel, came close at $174. Double iron beds were dressed in Woolrich blankets and guests gathered around the rustic lobby’s wood-burning pot-belly stove.

“We realize there are more and more travellers out there who can’t afford luxury but are looking for experiences that are in harmony with the environment in which they exist and those travellers shouldn’t be deprived of good design,” said Erik Warner, the lead partner at Filament Hospitality, which owns the Anvil. “You can provide good design without spending a lot of money.”

In many cases, vintage roadside motels have provided hoteliers affordable properties with interesting midcentury bones to spruce up. The hotelier Liz Lambert did her first, the Hotel San Jose in Austin, nearly 20 years ago. Her newest, the Phoenix Hotel in San Francisco, a former 1956 motor court lodge, features vintage concert posters in its 44 rooms and a lobby modelled on a recording studio (from $185).

In Santa Ynez Valley in California, the Skyview Los Alamos — which started as the Skyview Motel in 1959 — reopened in April after a modern renovation brought wood floors, area rugs and vintage furnishings to its 33 rooms, some with outdoor showers and fire pits overlooking its vineyards.

In an undated photo provided by the hotel, a room at the Skyview Los Alamos in California's Santa Ynez Valley. With young travelers in mind, several inexpensive hotel brands are embracing a "cheap chic" frugality.
In an undated photo provided by the hotel, a room at the Skyview Los Alamos in California’s Santa Ynez Valley. With young travelers in mind, several inexpensive hotel brands are embracing a “cheap chic” frugality.  (SKYVIEW LOS ALAMOS/The New York Times)

Many refashioned motels don’t intend to be the destinations that many resorts aim to be. Built in 1963, the Astro in Santa Rosa, California, had fallen into disrepute when Liza Hinman and her partners, who also own the nearby restaurant Spinster Sisters, decided to buy it, renovate it in midcentury style and reopen the 34-room motel last year. Keeping the rooms affordable — they start at $156 — set the property apart.

“The hotel options in Sonoma County skew heavily to the luxury market,” said Hinman. “People coming to Santa Rosa for cycling or touring the microbreweries or for weddings, they didn’t necessarily want all the luxury. They wanted a great, clean, functional, fun place to stay while they went about their vacation.”


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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)




(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel




(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Travel & Escape

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!




Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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