The name Marriott carries considerable heft in the hotel world, a trusted brand that sets a gold standard when it comes to hospitality. Still family run, the company has more than 450 hotels and resorts and 18 brands around the world.
But of all the adjectives that might come to mind to describe Marriott’s many brands, hip and cutting-edge are two that would generally not leap to mind.
Enter the new 220-room AC Hotel New Orleans Bourbon, a Marriott brand that is targeting millennials with a bolder style of design and grouping of amenities.
AC Hotel Bourbon is a Marriott brand geared to millennial travelers — Photo courtesy of AC Hotel Bourbon
While the hotel's Bethesda, Md.-based parent company Marriott International has its roots in the 1950s, the AC Hotels brand – which was founded in Spain in 1998 by hotelier Antonio Catalan – is reaching for a segment of travelers born in the 1980s to early 2000s.
New Orleans is the first U.S. location for AC Hotels, but there are 100 urban openings planned in the next few years, including D.C. and Miami.
AC Hotel Bourbon has gorgeous historic bones. Situated in two historic buildings – The Security Homestead Association and The Cotton Exchange, which opened in 1871 as a the hub of cotton trading in the city – the hotel is a National Historic Landmark notable for its sweeping columned facade and loads of architectural details.
But while the Cotton Exchange has a past, the AC Hotel's interior design and concept is all about right now. Millennials, who already outnumber Baby Boomers, according to the United Nations Department of Economic Social Affairs, are the next generation of travelers, and they're hitting the road for business and pleasure.
The AC Hotel Bourbon reaches out to this younger, tech-enabled traveler in a few different ways. Traditional style is out the window; instead, rooms are sleek in design with hardwood floors instead of carpeting. There is free Wi-Fi throughout the property, extra outlets and USB ports, Bluetooth-enabled speaker systems and flat-screen TVs.
No bottled water here. Instead, each floor has a hydration station with carafes for filling, as well as chilled glasses in each in-room fridge.
Plus, the lounge serves craft cocktails on tap and a tasty menu of tapas – a nod to the brand's Spanish roots. Forget the in-room minibar; it’s replaced by a small lobby shop that sells wine and snacks and necessaries like phone chargers.
Instead of a business center, guests can work in the open library, with iMacs and wireless printers available. Meetings are held in a “media salon,” where guests can connect wirelessly to flat-screen TVs for presentations.
"It’s not like walking into a regular Marriott," says Darin Dungee, a Virginia Beach resident who works in New Orleans on a regular basis. "The service was amazing, and I really loved the bar. The artwork, design elements in the room, rain shower – it was all an experience that I'd recommend."