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Inside CitizenM’s New York Flagship, The World’s Tallest Modular Hotel

(Source: forbes.com)

Amsterdam-based “affordable luxury” hotel chain citizenM is set to expand significantly in North America, revealing plans to build a dozen more hotels in the U.S. by 2020.

CitizenM opened its Bowery hotel last month as the brand’s new flagship in New York City, joining citizenM Times Square as the company’s second location in the U.S. and 13th in the world. Founded only 10 years ago, citizenM creates modular hotels for guests with an appreciation for art and design.

According to a press release, in the next two years, the company plans to start construction on a dozen more hotels in North America, including locations in the U.S. like Seattle, Boston, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami. By 2020, it will seek to have more than doubled its portfolio to 40 total hotels internationally.

The brand’s “affordable luxury” concept seems oxymoronic at first, but citizenM CMO Robin Chadha believes that it can be accomplished through the company’s modular concept, which means every single room in the hotel is built identically. This will help citizenM achieve its ambitious plan to grow from two to 14 hotels in the U.S. in just two years, and more than double its footprint globally.

CitizenM Bowery towers at 20 floors of 300 identically sized rooms, which makes it the tallest modular hotel in the world, according to Chadha. The 21st floor consists of a large rooftop bar and terrace, while a public plaza out front of the building features a 5,000-square foot wall mural by Jonathan Cohen.

The Bowery hotel also contains the city’s first Museum of Street Art, paying homage to the arts and culture of New York City. It features 5,000 square feet of art space that lives completely inside citizenM Bowery’s 21 floors of stairwell. Entry is free and visitors start at the top of the building, making their way down to the bottom through each floor’s “gallery.”

“We teamed up with 5Pointz and paid homage to the Lower East Side and the Bowery,” Chadha said. “All the artists who painted in the museum also painted at 5Pointz. Art is really part of the DNA of citizenM, so we really love working with local artists.”

In 2013, the famous 5Pointz graffiti space in Queens was whitewashed by the building’s owners, resulting in a lawsuit and $6.7 million awarded to the 21 artists’ whose work was destroyed. When coming up with the design concept for its new flagship hotel, Chadha said, citizenM decided to help replace this lost piece of New York. The entire project took two and half years to complete, and opened earlier this month to the public.

“For me, the best part was seeing all the artists come for the opening,” Chadha said. “Some of them were almost in tears [because] some of them hadn’t seen each other for a long time hadn’t worked together in a long time.”

In addition to art, citizenM focuses on using technology to empower guests through services such as self-check in kiosks and online check-in options, allowing the company to bring its “affordable boutique” experiences to guests. This usage of technology frees up staff to serve customers, and employees are trained in all aspects of running a hotel, from concierge to barista duties.

CitizenM is also able to keep its cost low while providing a curated guest experience because of its modular structure, which keeps the manufacturing cost low and increases distribution efficiency. Chadha said that every one of the 300 rooms in the Bowery hotel was constructed in Poland and shipped over to New York in 210 units.

“Sometimes you have rooms that are a little bit differently shaped at the corners, but [overall] it allows for a very high quality and faster construction time and a cheaper cost per room,” he said.

All of the rooms in citizenM measure 170 square feet and come equipped with a California king bed, Italian bed linens, rain showers, large windows with natural lighting, high speed Wifi and an iPad that controls the room’s ambient lighting, blinds and TV. The average stay in a citizenM hotel is two nights, reflecting the “mobile citizen” concept that gave citizenM its namesake and original purpose.

While Airbnb and other vacation rental companies of the world are encroaching upon the traditional hotel industry, citizenM is not concerned about the competition. Chadha said the company has previously listed its hotel rooms on Airbnb, and is exploring options to collaborate rather than compete with its model.

“We’re always open with working with people,” he said. “Where a lot of traditional-thinking hotels might fear the online travel agents or the disruptors, but we kind of embrace them and see how we can work with them.”

More Info: forbes.com

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