FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, July 30, 2004

Hotel Living: The Newest Trend in Real Estate?

Trendspotting.com, a site that tracks marketing trends, has an item in its August 2004 newsletter about what it calls "5 Star Living." It's an interesting concept, and if it takes off, it could heavily affect the future of real estate.

Many upscale hotel chains are launching "residence hotels" that are something of a cross between a condominium and a traditional hotel. In other words, a hotel room that's your permanent home. The appeals of such an arrangement are obvious to anyone who's stayed at a fine hotel: all the services you could possibly need (concierge, valet, laundry, room service, housekeeping) in elegant surroundings. Currently, chains such as Starwood, Marriott and W are opening residence hotels in the hearts of major cities, but if the trend takes off, expect to see residence hotels to pop up in upscale suburban and rural locations as well.

Residence hotels could be an ideal living arrangement for people who appreciate fine living and like being pampered (yet aren't rich enough to afford their own personal staffs), and who don't want the upkeep of a house or even a traditional apartment. They would seem to be particularly appealing to those who travel frequently, and who have grown to appreciate hotel amenities. Young, affluent professionals and "empty nesters" are two potential customer groups here.

Of course, residence hotels aren't for everyone. As mentioned before, they are mainly concentrated in large cities... so if your heart is in the suburbs or the country, you may have to wait awhile. Plus, despite offering babysitting services, residence hotels don't appear to be terribly child-friendly (and certainly not large-family-friendly). And if you're a pet lover, well, the limitations are obvious...

Residence hotels could grow to become a key housing alternative for aging baby boomers who are looking to trade in their large suburban homes for something smaller and lower maintenance, yet stylish and luxurious. If that happens, residence hotels could become a hot market nationwide.