Check into a hotel belonging to one of the fastest-growing accommodation brands in the world, grab a meal and then enter your room – all without having to speak to a single member of staff.
In a style touted as the future of the hotel industry, it’s a fully digitalised operation which appeals to tech-savvy millennials, customers concerned with COVID-19 hygiene and budget-conscious travellers alike.
And now, with 63 hotels already open around the world, and 129 in the pipeline, the Moxy Hotel brand, owned by Marriott International, is about to launch in Australia.
The first, Moxy Melbourne, has just been designed for South Yarra, an 150-room standalone hotel expected to start construction in the first quarter of 2021 and open in 2022.
“There was a commercial imperative before COVID-19 to move towards smaller staff numbers operating hotels,” said Jonothan Cowle, principal at designers Rothelowman.
“But now it’s even more evident and Moxy as a brand really explores that digital self-service aspect in a way that no other competitor does.
“There are so many synergies in a COVID environment where these things have to be considered in the future and it means you can keep yourself totally to yourself, or choose not to and use the communal entertainment spaces in the hotel. Whichever a guest’s choice, Moxy makes this kind of concept exciting, fun and memorable.”
Moxy is the newest of Marriott’s 30 brands, and is intended to be affordable, quirky and very different to the regular kind of establishment.
These hotels have reception desks doubling as a foyer bar, where guests can either digitally check themselves in, take a ‘grab ‘n’ go snack from a vending machine, and go straight to their rooms – or have a cocktail with the barman and check in in the old-fashioned way.
While the rooms are compact, they will have floor-to-ceiling glass and guests will be able to use the many communal spaces around the hotels. In Melbourne, they will include the foyer bar, a restaurant and bar, a rooftop bar, a grab ‘n’ go food self-service, a library, a plug-in coworking quiet space, a gym and a games room.
Melbourne businessman Hector Ktori, who has worked for years in retail, commercial and hospitality fit-outs, says he liked the concept and stayed in Moxy Hotels in New York, London, Amsterdam and Berlin to check them out before deciding to start one in Australia.
“I think there’s definitely a niche here for a lifestyle hotel that’s fun, affordable and offers more than just a room,” said Mr Ktori, who plans to price the rooms at between $130 and $200 a night. “It’s an experience, pretty much; just like in retail it’s all about offering experiences.
“Moxy is now the fastest-growing brand in the world and they’re everywhere, with numbers that, pre-COVID, were going crazy. They’re suited well to a COVID world too, as they can present minimal risk with little human interaction if you choose to go that way. When I started looking into the brand, there were just a handful of hotels, and then suddenly there were 30 or 40.”
Perth and Sydney could be the next cities to have the franchised Moxys, while there are now also moves to start them in Auckland and Queenstown. Their key competitors are considered to be the funky Citizen M, Tommie, Generator, Motel One, Yotel and Mama Shelter brands.
Millennial travellers tend to love options for a fully digitalised service while the health pandemic has made contactless, efficient hotel experiences even more relevant. At the same time, it also makes hotels more economical to run, with the Moxy Melbourne, in theory, needing no more than one or two staff to keep it going.
The Moxys are also designed to reflect their surroundings. The Moxy Melbourne, for instance, on Claremont Street, close to Chapel Street and South Yarra Station, will have prints of Victoria’s Ned Kelly on the walls and iconic Angry Penguins everywhere – harking back to the famed works of the artists of the Heide Circle.
“They’re keen on iconography and artworks to speak to the audience, with subconscious cues, as if the building speaks to you,” Mr Cowle said. “It’s about tailoring the hotel to the fabric it sits in.
“It’s like [the TV show] Cheers, where everyone knows your name, but a modern reworking and it’s as friendly and as personable as you’d like it to be. Near the reception, each of the Moxys has an Instagram-able wall for guests to take selfies that will be part of the whole narrative of the area.”
Richard Crawford, senior director of hotel development, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific, for Marriott International, said he was delighted that Melbourne was to become Moxy’s first base in this country. “We’re thrilled to be debuting Moxy in Melbourne, a city that radiates the playful essence of the brand,” he said.
There are currently 12,433 rooms in Moxy hotels around the globe, with 23,800 more being designed and built and planned in the next two years.
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