Creative meeting concepts

// Katharina Brauer

Hotels are adopting a personal approach and providing an innovative ambience – a real experience. The hotel lobby is taking on a new role as a meeting and co-working space.

The NYX Hotel in Mannheim promises inspiring meetings. (Photo: Leonardo)

The nhow hotels offer local stories and good design. (Photo: NH Hotels)

(Photo: Leonardo)

Inspiration. “We want to signal to people of all ages and nationalities that the doors of our hotels in every category are open. We want to convey a sense of warmth and security,” says Andreas Neudahm, the owner of Neudahm Hotel Interior Design, who takes care of design for Leonardo Hotels. The hotel group is growing rapidly in Europe and has just opened the Leonardo Royal Amsterdam, a 480-room hotel with 1,200 sq m of meeting space in 11 rooms. The 900 sq m ballroom with an adjacent terrace is ideal for vehicle presentations. “We have infused the hotel with a special sense of the Netherlands, its history as a maritime trading power and the role of the bicycle, which is a regional phenomenon. The guest immediately feels a connection to the country. The loft-like charm of the spacious halls is complemented by cosy corners where the guest can really feel at home,” explains Neudahm.

The open lobby concept is also rigorously implemented at the NYX Hotel in Mannheim, which officially opened on 12 July. With 151 rooms and an innovative meetings area on two floors for 200 guests, the hotel embodies Leonardo’s company credo: “feeling good”. The experiences offered at the official opening event – presentations by local artists and fashion designers, a “dessert in the dark” and LichtYoga, for example – are also available for booking by planners. One ABB meetings organiser believes the hotel provides “an exciting new option for meetings”. Leonardo is opening NYX hotels with a creative meeting spirit in Warsaw, Hamburg, Offenbach and London in 2020.

As an iconic lifestyle brand, the nhow hotels of the NH Hotel Group impress with fresh design and local stories. The 650-room nhow Amsterdam RAI at the RAI Convention Centre will be opening in 2020, offering nine conference rooms and a colourful event area. It will be the largest hotel in the BeNeLux countries. The nhow Marseille, which opened in 2018, offers 14 conference rooms including a 322-seat auditorium.

A 375-room nhow hotel is opening in 2021 in Frankfurt’s Europaviertel quarter next to the Kap Europe conference centre and the trade fair centre in the 190-metre ONE office tower. “The bespoke design by architect Rafael de la Hoz plays with Frankfurt’s image as a financial centre and combines it with current trends in art,” explains Maarten Markus, the NH Hotel Group’s managing director for northern Europe.

The NH Hotel Group is also putting its faith in innovative design and digitalisation for its conference hotels. The NH Hotel Berlin allows guests to check in and out and even choose their room online. The new “mood room” function lets guests control the light source and colouring. In the morning, for example, they might choose the “fresh working” option. The feel-good experience of the NH guest begins on arrival in the lobby, which has a warm, comfortable ambience with co-working niches.

The company behind the area24|7 capsule hotel in Karlsruhe is clearly of the opinion that the heart of a hotel nowadays is its co-working space. The 16 capsules or pods where guests sleep are designed to be like space capsules and grouped around the central workspace. A coffee machine and crockery give users some home comforts. 32 more capsules are planned in the building next door. The success of the area24|7 has encouraged the Space Development Group, the hotel operator, to open further hotels in Heidenheim and Frankfurt.

The pioneer of the idea of focusing more on the lobby area than the rooms is the Radisson Hotel Group with its Radisson Red brand. Colourful lobbies with a lounge-like ambience are designed to appeal to millennials, in particular. Following the brand’s strong start in Brussels, Glasgow and Cape Town, a Radisson Red will be opening in Vienna in 2021. Accor offers “inspired” meeting rooms at the Novotel Wien Hauptbahnhof in the Austrian capital. Each room has a separate theme. One room (“Innovate”) has flexible Roche Bobois sofa modules, while another (“Design”) has pallet furniture on a green carpet in a garden-like setting. The wall here is a single large whiteboard.

Accor introduced the innovative “Business Playground” meeting concept to its flagship business hotel brand Pullman in 2015. The company worked with the designer Mathieu to create rooms with “tool boxes” on the tables and “curiosity boxes” on the walls – rooms that open people’s eyes and stimulate them to come up with new ideas. The concept has been implemented at the Pullman London St Pancras, three hotels in Paris and the Pullman Berlin Schweizerhof.

In Berlin, privately managed hotels are also setting trends and making waves with their USPs. The Ellington, a legendary jazz hotel, conjures up the atmosphere of the Golden Twenties, while the Hotel Palace Berlin, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World Group, features a stylish lobby lounge and serves its guests over 150 different varieties of gin in the aptly named House of Gin.