I once wandered into Aloft Minneapolis during a lunch-hour walk. When I saw the living room-like lobby, I wished that I were from out of town. I liked the pool table, the snack bar that sell actually enticing food and the W XYZ bar, with its ample supply of bottles artfully backlit. I wanted an excuse to stay at the Mill District spot near the Guthrie and Gold Medal Park.
The hotel, part of the Starwood Hotels chain, is a pretty succinct encapsulation of the latest trends in hotels. There is the emphasis on technology, including an app that lets you check in and unlock your room, free Wi-Fi, and a community table lined with charging stations. There is a sense of community: Large sofas sit near a fireplace and the 24/7 snack bar has with grab-and-go options to eat in the lobby or your room. There is sleek design; those sofas are midcentury modern.
These latest trends are an effort by the hospitality industry to appeal to the mighty millennial crowd. That group is the largest generation in the U.S. workforce — and hotels want their business and leisure travel, according to the editors of Jetsetter, a travel site that offers deals on five-star hotels and resorts worldwide.
The man behind the counter at Aloft on the day I visited said that the hotel was trying to be a less expensive version of W Hotels for young professionals.
Starwood is not alone in introducing a new brand of hotel that merges the boutique and bargain concepts.
Marriott International, the parent company to Starwood and Aloft, now has Moxy, with “stylish design and approachable service at an affordable price point.” Radisson Red — which the company calls “a lifestyle brand for the millennial mindset” — joined Radisson Blu in downtown Minneapolis and is expanding around the country.
Of course, these trends appeal to all sort of travelers, so thank you, millennials.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at email@example.com, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.