The New York City-born boutique brand is in expansion mode as it plans for its flagship opening.
NEW YORK—Arlo Hotels does not want lines forming in its lobbies for its rooftop bars, according to Javier Egipciaco, the brand’s managing director. While there are lifestyle hotels that aim to be exclusive, he said the Arlo brand is all about approachability.
“(We want visitors to New York) to feel comfortable about making one of our experiences part of their agenda,” he said. “We don’t want to be the coolest kids on the block; we want everybody … to be able to get into the bar.”
In what he describes as a “sea of boutique hotels” in New York, Egipciaco said Arlo has managed to set itself apart after opening just two properties. He said the brand has been able to gain traction by finding unique partnerships “and not being afraid to take chances on anything.”
Arlo currently has hotels in Manhattan’s SoHo and NoMad neighborhoods. Both are distinguished by large and attractive public spaces with relatively small rooms, the smallest of which is about 150 square feet.
While the brand was originally conceived as a micro-hotel with small guestrooms, Egipciaco said it no longer sees itself that way, thanks to guest feedback. The rooms are smaller, he said, “but because of the design and an incredible bed and a great bathroom, guests do not get that feeling.”
A third property, Arlo Midtown, is slated to open in the burgeoning Hudson Yards development on the far west side of Manhattan late next year or early in 2020. It will be the brand’s largest, with 494 keys, twice the public space of the other properties and larger guestrooms, making it the brand’s flagship, he said. The hotel will have an “elevated, unique food and beverage experience” patterned after the other hotels, where restaurants have been profitable.
Beyond New York, Egipciaco said Arlo is looking at other primary markets, including Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Miami. He said that while Arlo has developed its first three hotels, there is interest from other developers, and Arlo will be offering management services.
Design is a big growth driver for the brand—something Egipciaco called “a huge part of our success and how we brought the brand to life.” He said the hotels’ designers did “an incredible job of giving us a space where we can program and activate partnerships.” No matter what is done in the market, he said, “the space has to lend itself to it well.”
As an example of that creative (and often profitable) use of public space, he pointed to a partnership last winter with a company that set up tents in the hotel’s courtyard. Marketed as Camp Arlo, the installation featured a sustainability fair and snow features, so guests could toast marshmallows and enjoy a camping experience.
Partnerships are key for the company, and Egipciaco spoke about being the first hotel brand to partner with a hip New York City barbershop-meets-bar concept for its bath amenities.
“We started with the bath amenities and then launched other Blind Barber components, and that is typically how we operate,” he said.
The brand is now in a phase the company is internally referring to as “Arlo 2.0,” as leadership decides the best direction for it to evolve, Egipciaco said.
The company recently embarked on a brand refresh based on guest data showing the majority of guests are between 35 and 54 years old. While the hotels attract a lot of millennials, he said, Arlo is more about appealing to the “youthfully minded traveler, about allowing people to feel young in our space.”
Community is another key element for Arlo, he said. Locals generate a lot of business, and he said about half the people in the lobbies are not staying at the hotels, but work or live nearby and come to work in the lobby or enjoy the food and beverage or the rooftop bar.
Arlo’s parent company is Quadrum, a real estate developer that owns real estate in multiple asset classes around the world, including additional independent hotels in New York, Chicago and Florida. Egipciaco said Quadrum is “super-passionate” about development, quality and “never shying from the best technology in order to create the best overall guest experiences.”
As an example, he said there was feedback about air conditioner noise, so the brand is investing more money into HVAC systems to fix that.
“As a management arm,” he said, “we have to show our backers our dedication to putting forward an incredible product.”
The hard part now, Egipciaco said, “will be to grow but to stay true to the brand.” While there have been discussions of other brands, he said, “we feel Arlo is attractive enough to continue developing it for now.”
Despite supply growth, New York remains an attractive market as visitor numbers keep rising, he said, but Arlo must stay current in its product to get its fair share. He said costs are restrained by efficiencies like mobile check-in and having team members take on multiple responsibilities.