Skift Take

Details are scant about Ace Hotels' new sister brand. But if Ace Hotels' track record is any proof, perhaps this could be a hit. But the bigger question is how do you balance travelers' desires for more local experiences versus feeling like they can escape the city they're in?

Ace Hotels‘ newest property, the 200-room Sister City hotel in New York City, which is set to open this fall, will have a very different look and feel from its nine existing urban hotels.

Information about the property has been less-than comprehensive so see Ace’s Takes (i.e. the marketing messages so far) versus our Skift Take translations of those points below.

Meanwhile, instead of being a place where an entire community transplants itself into the lobby space — as evidenced by the often-bustling crowds that have transformed the lobby of the Ace Hotel in New York City — Ace will market and design the new property as a “respite” from the city, Ace Hotel partner and chief brand officer Kelly Sawdon told Skift.

“We were curious what a sister of Ace Hotel would look like, rooted in the same love of cities, but activating that love differently,” she said. “Ace invites the city inside, whereas Sister City is more of a recharging station — a respite that sends you out to explore the wider world.”

Located in the Bowery in New York City’s Lower East Side, this hotel resides in a busy neighborhood just as Ace Hotel New York does not far from the Empire State Building.

The building itself was once the Bowery Salvation Army Building. Ace Hotels’ first property, in Seattle, was a former mission.

“We are inspired by the philosophy of less, but better,” Sawdon said in a press statement announcing the new brand. “The inherent satisfaction of having just enough. Sister City looks through a focused lens to truly anticipate what people need when they’re traveling — comfort, beauty and human connection.”

Details from that same release announcing the new brand were very scant, but we took a stab at translating its language into something a bit less obtuse.

Ace’s Take: “Sister City is an experiment in essentialism; a hotel distilled to its most beautiful, working parts … [it] offers 200 intimate, efficient rooms …”

Skift Take: The rooms are small. Ace Hotels told Curbed that Sister City’s guest rooms will range in size from 162 to 262 square feet, and nightly rates start at $259. The smaller guest rooms remind us of the pod-like hotels that have opened in the city in the last year, including Moxy Times Square; Ian Schrager’s Public; and Pod Hotel Times Square.

Ace’s Take: “For this new brand, we asked what was needed for today’s traveler, and shaved off the excess.”

Skift Take: Select-service, here we come.

Ace’s Take: “We considered aesthetic sustenance, human connection and modern needs. We took inspiration from the functional perfection of Finnish saunas, Japanese bento boxes, rock-cut cliff dwellings of prehistory and John Cage’s 4’33”.”

Skift Take: Trust us, we still know how to be cool (hello, John Cage reference). We know you still want that, but that you also want some hygge, the Danish concept of extreme coziness, in your life, too. Also, we’ve probably read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” a lot.

Ace’s Take: “The result: a new prototype for compassionate hospitality where efficiency and beauty find union. Sister City provides you shelter from the elements, but orients you to the wider world, as well.”

Skift Take: The big question is how do you balance travelers’ desires for more local experiences versus feeling like they can escape the city they’re in?

Other details about the new brand: The hotel will have a ground-floor restaurant, which will be run in partnership with the same group behind Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream. It will also have a rooftop bar. And the entrance to the hotel will be a garden at the end of Freeman Alley, further emphasizing the hotel as an escape from the concrete jungle.

It will be interesting to see if Ace can add something new to the current micro-hotel, style-driven lifestyle select-service model with this new brand. Marketing it as more of a sanctuary than an extension of the neighborhood is a start.

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Tags: ace hotel, brands explained, hotel brands

Photo credit: A promotional image of a guest room at Ace Hotel's newest property, Sister City. Ace Hotels

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