Driven by a robust pipeline of product both within the U.S and overseas, brand leaders for the Canopy by Hilton flag maintain they have 20/20 vision going forward as expansion efforts accelerate.
Gary Steffen, global head, Canopy by Hilton, acknowledged as much recently when he revealed that the company expects to more than double its portfolio of 15 hotels this year with the potential to open some 20 hotels in as many as seven countries.
“It’s going to be a great year. We’re going to have to rely on the construction at the end of the year, but right now on paper it’s 20 in ‘20 and for this kind of segment, that’s big,” he said.
The upper-upscale, lifestyle brand has already added two properties this year with the opening of the Canopy by Hilton Washington DC/Embassy Row and the Canopy by Hilton Cancun La Isla, the latter of which marked the brand’s debut in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Projected international openings for the year include such cities as Sao Paulo, Brazil; Hangzhou, China; Paris, France; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and London, England.
Steffen emphasized the fact that the brand opened its first property in Reykjavik-City Centre in Iceland represented a strong statement that Canopy was very much a global brand. While he did point out that the current makeup of the portfolio is roughly 75 percent in The Americas and some 25 percent EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Asia) and APAC (Asia Pacific), he added he expects that ratio to change in the coming years.
“I see moving forward that number is probably going to increase outside of the Americas because there’s a really strong appetite for a brand like Canopy throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific,” he said.
Meanwhile, U.S. projects expected to open in 2020 include Austin-Downtown; Baltimore-Harbor Point; Charlotte-SouthPark; Dallas-Frisco Station; Grand Rapids-Downtown; Jersey City-Arts District; Kansas City Downtown; Memphis-Downtown; Philadelphia-Center City; San Antonio-Riverwalk; Scottsdale-Old Town; Tempe Downtown University Area; and West Palm Beach-Downtown.
From a longer-term perspective, the brand has targeted development opportunities in cities such as Bangkok; Boston; Cape Town; Chicago; Kuala Lumpur; Madrid; New Orleans; Riyadh; Toronto and more.
Describing the brand—which was launched in 2014—as design centric and neighborhood driven, Steffen attributed much of its extensive pipeline to its strong local ownership base and custom approach to development.
“They [owners] can have so much flexibility in the design to bring that neighborhood to life. For me every time I look at the current and future openings I say ‘wow, that’s a statement.’ What’s really attractive to those owners is it can be their brand in their neighborhood,” he said, adding that local owners have the added benefit of being able to draw from friends and family.
Steffen also touted the unique positioning of the brand within the industry. “There’s not a lot [of competition] in that upper-upscale category. That’s why I feel really comfortable about the space that we’re in,” he noted.
Steffen further stressed the importance of the brand’s residential design pointing out that properties don’t feel like a “traditional or typical hotel” with guestroom elements like hard-surface floors, mismatched nightstands and open closets as well as a mixture of seating groups in public spaces. The residential style design includes neutral color palettes, plenty of natural light, clean lines and open, flowing spaces that are inspired by how the locals live, according to the company.
“That’s been a powerful lift for the brand because the consumers like it and that’s why, of course, the development is where it is today,” said Steffen.
He further emphasized the importance of local when it comes to different elements like art as well as each hotel’s customized approached to food & beverage. Canopy properties feature evening tastings of wine, beer and spirits from regional producers and a cocktail program.
Steffen detailed how the aforementioned approach helps define the brand.
“For us it was really important not just to say we were lifestyle but to really say we’re lifestyle in a very unique way and that is throughout the entire guest journey and I think that’s a big difference,” said Steffen.
According to Steffen, another key point of differentiation for the brand is its culture, which begins with staff training and is also designed to further reinforce the emphasis on local.
“The hospitality and the culture that we bring to life in Canopy is different; it has to feel different. We very much encourage our enthusiasts [team members] to bring their full personality to work. We encourage our management company to really use that as a catalyst to bringing that neighborhood to life,” he said.
Steffen emphasized how well the brand has been received by guests as evidenced by positive guest reviews on sites like TripAdvisor as an example. He noted in cities such as Atlanta, Portland and Minneapolis, the brand’s properties are among the top 5 hotels.
“It really just says to me how the guests perceive this brand and it really is a win for the customer experience,” he said.