Holiday Inn

How ‘Grab-and-Go’ Markets in Hotels Fill a Need

Full-service hotels like Holiday Inn typically provide a restaurant serving breakfast and dinner, and select-service hotels like Holiday Inn Express and Comfort Inn provide a complimentary breakfast. Until recently, guests looking for a boost in the middle of the day or night would have to seek food outside the hotel.

Corner Market Place convenience store at the Holiday Inn New York Lower East Side

Holiday Inn New York Lower East Side

To address this need, the Holiday Inn brand introduced Corner Market Place convenience stores. These “grab-and-go” markets, available 24/7 in the lobby, feature a variety of snacks, beverages and toiletry items. Some even offer more substantial fare, entrees that can be heated up in the microwave. Snacks run the gamut from salty and sweet to healthy and nutritious. Not incidentally, sales provide a modest additional revenue stream.

Corner Market Place convenience store at the Holiday Inn New York Lower East Side

Holiday Inn New York Lower East Side

Taking their cue from the success of the Holiday Inn brand concept, M&R’s Holiday Inn Express and Comfort Inn on the West Side of Manhattan are both in the process of adding grab-and-go markets. Tracey Rucks, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express Manhattan Midtown West, notes the markets will benefit guests who check in late, after nearby restaurants are closed, and are looking for a quick bite.

On-site convenience stores are one more way our hotels can be proactive in providing what we like to call “hands-on hospitality.”

Brand Standards Can Require a Balancing Act

At the heart of every hotel brand is a set of standards and procedures carefully crafted by the brand’s parent company to help ensure consistency across hundreds and even thousands of individual hotels across any number of countries.

Holiday Inn Express Staten Island guest bedroom

Photo: Holiday Inn Express Staten Island

For operators, standards define the brand’s personality, right down to the way the bed sheets are folded. For guests, standards provide the assurance of consistency. They know that when they check into a Holiday Inn Express in Staten Island, they’ll find the same services and features they enjoyed at a Holiday Inn Express hotel in Seattle.

Consistency is at the core of the “brand promise” and the value proposition. Yet individual hotels differ in age, location and type: suburban, highway, airport and city center, among others. So the major brands build in a degree of flexibility to account for these differences.

When a required room element doesn’t work or could actually be detrimental to the guest experience, the brand will consider a waiver. A hotel in New York with limited guest room space might, for example, waive a requirement for a desk and swivel chair in every room.

Comfort Inn NYC Midtown West guest bedroom

Photo: Comfort Inn Midtown West, New York, New York

Similarly, the brand will consider a waiver for other elements of its guest room furniture standard, should the size of the room present constraints. In the same spirit, brands require hotels to decorate the lobby and breakfast room seasonally but give each hotel considerable leeway as to what these decorations should be.

For the guest, the variations allow each hotel to be distinct to a degree, while still providing a reassuring consistency. Now that’s a balanced approach everyone can live with.

M&R Hotel Management Adds Long Island City Holiday Inn to Portfolio

Today M&R Hotel Management announced that it has been awarded a contract to manage the 136-room Holiday Inn L.I. City – Manhattan View hotel in Long Island City, Queens, which becomes the 14th hotel in the company’s portfolio.

Holiday Inn Long Island City exterior

The full-service hotel at 39-05 29th St., owned by Queens Plaza North LLC, features king and queen rooms and suites, each equipped with a Keurig coffee maker, refrigerator, premium cable TV channels, audio connection for iPhones and MP3 players, desk, speakerphone, voice mail, iron and ironing board. Top-floor suites and many other guest rooms feature views of the East River and Manhattan skyline.

Holiday Inn Long Island City guest bedroom

Complimentary amenities include wired and wireless high-speed Internet service, local calls, daily newspaper, bottled water, 24-hour fitness and business centers and on-site parking. The hotel also offers valet laundry service, an ATM and two function rooms that each can accommodate up to 60 people, theater-style.

breakfast tray in a guest bedroom at the Holiday Inn Manhattan View

Rio Grande, the hotel’s full-service Churascaria restaurant, serves traditional Brazilian barbecue in the main dining room. Breakfast is served in an enclosed patio, and a bar-lounge offers a limited menu every evening.

The Holiday Inn L.I. City – Manhattan View offers access to Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn as well as LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports via frequent subway service, taxicabs and private car service. The hotel is near LaGuardia Community College and offices of JetBlue Airways, MetLife, Citigroup and Barclay’s Bank.

For guests interested in exploring Long Island City, the hotel is near the Museum of the Moving Image, P.S. 1/Museum of Modern Art, Noguchi Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park and Gantry Plaza State Park.

Holiday Inn Long Island City exterior at night

Guests at the Holiday Inn L.I. City – Manhattan View can earn points in the IHG Rewards Club program redeemable for free hotel stays, merchandise and other benefits. Reservations can be made online at holidayinn.com or by calling 800-315-2621.

Holiday Inn L.I. City – Manhattan View participates in the IHG Green Engage program, an online system that measures its day-to-day environmental impact, tracks energy, carbon and water consumption and waste management. IHG Green Engage provides tools to help hotels use fewer resources, improve their carbon footprint and reduce water use.

Holiday Inn L.I. City – Manhattan View complements the M&R Hotel Management portfolio of hotels in New York City, where we developed a reputation for consistently pleasing guests by providing high-quality accommodations and friendly, helpful service.

2015 Looks Like Another Good Year for Hotels

confetti flying through the air on New Years Eve 2015 at Times Square

Image: @timessquarenyc via Instagram

Those of us who have worked in hospitality long enough know the business is cyclical due to market forces of supply and demand. Fortunately, we have enjoyed several strong years as the economy rebounded from recession, and we are looking forward to another year of healthy growth in occupancy and rates.

The midscale segment — where most of M&R Hotel Management’s hotels operate—performed well in 2014 and is expected to continue to perform strongly this year. PKF Hospitality Research says revenue per available room, or RevPAR ̶ an indicator of profitability ̶ jumped 7.8 percent in 2014 and will grow another 5.5 percent in 2015.

Holiday Inn Staten Island front desk and waiting area with couches

Holiday Inn Staten Island

M&R has benefited from the up cycle as owners seek expert management for their new and existing hotels. We recently opened the newly constructed Holiday Inn Staten Island in our home market of New York and expanded into the Boston and Caribbean markets as operator of the Holiday Inn Express Braintree and Alegria Resort in St. Maarten.

Alegria Resort, St. Maarten guest bedroom

Alegria Resort St. Maarten

During the last 10 years, M&R Hotel Management has built a reputation for managing hotels efficiently, delivering excellent guest service and driving sales and revenue. While I’ll take an up cycle over a down cycle any day, I am confident our commitment to performance and quality and service will prevail in any economy.

The Challenge of Creating a Great Hotel Restaurant

When planning a hotel restaurant, overnight guests are the obvious target market. But really successful hotel restaurants manage to come up with a menu concept, ambiance and buzz that reaches beyond in-house guests to attract members of the local community and even visitors.

The best hotel restaurants reflect their locations, for example in terms of fresh, local ingredients but also in the sense of the restaurant being a “neighborhood favorite,” filled with the energy of people enjoying themselves. That’s why “we want to eat where the locals eat.”

Ideally, the restaurant should have an entrance separate from the hotel’s front door and distinct signage. It also needs curb appeal and its own identity to attract the customer’s attention. Also, an entrance from within the hotel is important for the convenience of hotel guests.

At M&R Hotel Management, all our hotels are branded, carrying the flag of widely known national brands. Belonging to a brand means we must adhere to various standards. Our Holiday Inn hotels, for example, require an on-site restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner. Lunch service is optional, depending on the demand in the local market. As managers, however, we have considerable leeway as to concept, design and menu.

The restaurant at our Holiday Inn NYC-Lower East Side, for example, features a 1950s-style diner concept with upscale comfort food called Retro Bar & Grill. The restaurant at our soon-to-open Holiday Inn Staten Island will be called Lillies, featuring American cuisine with a Mediterranean flair, from fish to steak to pasta.

As hotel managers, we know we’re lucky when we get all aspects of a restaurant operation right the first time. In many instances, we partner with experienced restaurant managers and work to refine the concept, add or delete menu options, perfect the service delivery, tinker with the decor and adjust prices to ensure they’re appropriate to the market.

But when we get it right and the restaurant takes on a life of its own, it’s a rewarding part of being in the hospitality business. And speaking of business, the more successful a hotel restaurant, the more attention it attracts to the hotel it’s part of. And that’s good for business as well.