Cooltels

Over many decades the hospitality industry has spawned a variety of names associated with its offerings. Motels, which sprung from a blend of motor and hotels, have long since acquired a pejorative connotation as even the teeniest of lodging enterprises label themselves as Inns with many affixing Hotel to their moniker. Condo Hotels, that have been the rage in Florida and elsewhere, have brought on CoTels while some have taken on a strange admixture called Hautels that arguably delivers neither Haute nor hotel. So what are Cooltels? London’s Guardian newspaper reports on a new hotel idea best described by the enduring adjective “cool”. Just as the word appeals to all generations, so does the concept developed by Neil Tibbatt of nitenite hotels at www.nitenite.com. At a mere 7.14 sq meters (77 sq ft) it is an astonishingly small (windowless) pre-fab room! And that is the most remarkable aspect to it. A 42in plasma screen serves as TV and window on the world via a camera placed on top of the building and for the claustrophobic, lighting is designed to give a “cocooning” effect. The Cooltel’s interiors are so cutting edge that most guests simply do not care about the truncated room size. The rates? In Birmingham (UK) where nitenite is located, it is a mere 49.95 pound sterling (approx $93) per night as compared to a $165 rate at a drab and unexciting Holiday Inn nearby.

Nitenite’s competitor for the concept, though not necessarily pizazz, is easyHotel (www.easyHotel.com) led by the founder of easyJet, the remarkable Stelios Haji-Ioannou. At a ridiculously young age, Stelios entered the European airline fray with his no-frills airline, easyJet, that has radically altered the market -for the better. The ever enterprising Stelios is now determined to bring that idea to hotels and his easyHotel group has just announced market deals in the Middle East (Dubai) and India to expand the brand. In London a easyHotel room costs an absurdly low 40 pounds. I had the pleasure of meeting him during his recent visit to New York where he would dearly like to plant the easyHotel flag. Unfortunately, New York’s multiple dwelling law precludes that ((for now). Windowless rooms, whether cool, chic, hip or not, are simply not allowed. That is a shame given New York’s high hotel prices and paucity of real estate. Time for the mandarins at City Hall to take a look at the obscure and arcane regulations governing the estabilishment of hotels?

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.

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