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  • Writer's picturewarrenkok

Envisioning Modern Hotels, Social Clubs & Communal Spaces

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

As branded hotels, modern event-spaces and communes (co-working + co-living) jostle for new conceptual rights for the next big thing to multi-fit the Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z, the prime domain occupying the innovators' minds, CEOs and Co-Founders, is what makes sense as the next viable business model in this context.

Kafnu Alexandria, Sydney, Australia

As hotel margins get squeezed as city travellers move from 5-star properties to boutique hotels, modern economy 3-star hotels and 4-star branded entities and the interplay between hotel-branded websites, OTAs (Online Travel Agents), and entities like AirBnB, accommodation providers innovate to suit, match and align their concepts to feed the aspirations of the generations and segments they target in key cities around the globe.

The lifestyle and social clubs of today, are very different from the traditional member clubs, gentlemen clubs, country, golf & marina clubs and business clubs of yesteryear. It is no longer about status per se, and getting together for fellowship to talk about a deal, families, issues and news. Exclusivity remains but it is now personified by the presence of celebrities, of known figures, of IOT and Big Data and Fintech enthusiasts along with Application, AI, VR and software developers and the usual Family Offices, C-suite officers, towkays, scions, business elite, surgeons, doctors, lawyers, accountants and professionals and the new generation elite of Social Media influencers, fashion designers, models, artists, sculptors and culinary champions.

From The Refinery in Hong Kong, to 1880 and Straits Clan in Singapore to The Quorum in India, and the Clubhouse Brera in Italy, the Club Matador in Spain, and many more, each of these private, member-only social clubs bring a unique flavour to the shores they represent. The community model in Social Clubs is one that thrives on conversations, where individuals are held in high regard in their respective industries, be it in creative or arts scenes, empire builders, second/third generation scions and inventors.

It encourages and fosters participation, collaboration and unity at pre-planned events and activities organised primarily by the communal club so that knowledge, work, ideas, networking and opportunities arise, for diverse minds to gather, meet, connect, relax in great company, comfort and where ideas will blossom to make the globe a better place... Indeed, the intrinsic value of a well-designed, fostered environment to do creative work and the added opportunity to meet, mingle and collaborate with like-minded talents and creative professionals, is a winning formula.

If you read the introductory membership pitch for the City Society, it goes like this - "The City Society is Beijing’s private members club in China, developed to support remarkable people in the areas of both business and leisure; uniting stimulating spaces with bespoke services tailored to elevate lifestyle; conduct business in high-end workspaces, rendezvous with like-minded leaders, and enjoy exclusive curated events; a sophisticated and exclusive setting to empower business and enhance lifestyle awaits" - such is the basic tenet for all private member clubs around the world.

One of the leaders in the innovation pack is the Next Story Group; since 2017, they started to create and transform urban spaces into thriving communities by harnessing imagination and innovation, and they do this by launching Kafnu : a brand that combines the best elements of a shared workspace, hospitality, and a social community all at one-go. Members would then have global access to Kafnu properties and benefit from bespoke learning and networking activities that support co-creation, co-exploration and co-innovation in a commune.

Next Hotel Colombo + Kafnu Colombo

Co-Combine Amenity Checklist At-A-Glance : The Next Hotel Colombo in Sri Lanka consists of a 47-storey mixed-use development in Colombo, with 164 guest rooms and suites over 8 floors and the usual hotel amenites as a corporate and meetings hotel, and also has direct access to the upscale mall within Colombo City Centre, featuring more than 50 international brands, a six-screen cineplex and a virtual reality playground.

What is unique is that Next Hotel Colombo will feature Kafnu as part of its comprehensive offering; as such, guests of the hotel can optimise their productivity at the 750 sqm Kafnu Colombo, which will offer shared workspaces, meeting rooms and a lounge. Conceptualised as an urban village for the new generation of creators, Kafnu is a physical, intellectual and social launch pad for today's trailblazers. and it is designed primarily for members to Work, Learn, Play and Stay in an open environment. Kafnu members will get to enjoy access to strategic partnerships, premium services and private events.

Kafnu Ho Chi Minh City

Similarly, the Next Story Vietnam will feature Kafnu Ho Chi Minh City; Kafnu members will have accessibility to a range of workspace options, en-suite hotel rooms (8 of them), bespoke member events, curated workshops, six meeting rooms and a multi-screen event space that can accommodate up to 150 guests. A virtual fitness studio will offer members more than 1,500 classes to choose from and the food and beverage options will include Soy, a modern Asian restaurant, and Habitat Cocktail Bar, which features live music. The individual and collective potential of its members is elevated through work, rest and socialising in an ideal environment meta-mix.

In Australia, Kafnu Alexandria is located next to The Grounds of Alexandria, within one of Sydney’s thriving creative and industrial hubs, and only five minutes from Sydney Airport. The 3,000 sqm property offers 16 guest rooms, a range of workspaces and meeting rooms, as well as a virtual fitness studio, and Tonik, a gin bar that stocks over 20 varieties of Australian gin and local craft beers. Again, another hospitality + member + social commune offering!

Over at the Rosewood Hotel Group, they are looking "at an experience" that is "no longer rooted in <extravagance> but rather one that’s more about “bringing in the city to the hotel.” As guests and customers thrive for a full immersion into the cultural experience, they are also adopting a more casual experience stance as they want a less formal experience.

This prompted Rosewood to launch their upcoming Khos lifestyle brand that is premised around a more community-driven model, and one that encapsulates and combines work and play and juxtaposes the concepts of a social club, co-working and being a lifestyle hotel plus a membership model; this will create and build a community and the fact of the matter is that people want to be connected; so it's truly about human connectivity and creating the biggest buzzword for 2020 : developing a community ecosystem.

Rosewood Hong Kong

Speaking to a prominent Vietnamese trend-setter, who has been instrumental in launching successful lifestyle concept in Ho Chi Minh City, we gathered a key observation from social clubs like The Refinery and 1880 Singapore, that the positioning of such social membership concepts is encapsulated in a somewhat similar format to everything that an urban hotel or commune possesses or what we call a hotel ecosystem <a reception, great service, lobby, dining spaces, bars, activity space, gym, spa> with <event rooms> for activities and conducting social luxe or fintech events and <co-working spaces> minus the rooms. What sets the difference is the plethora of events, range of activities and a membership business model!

As concept developers and trend innovators continue to evolve, incubate and pilot concepts, similar to that driving the newness behind Kafnu and Rosewood, we can see a clear demarcation that most hotels, resorts, social clubs and co-working spaces do and excel in what they do best; to be thoughtful, to be intuitive; that successful brands will continue to innovate and continue to stay well ahead of the curve in order to match the intergenerational demand and to align with the changing palates, preferences and needs of consumers and their desired segments ; a simple describe that we all learn at Business School - a powerful but simple textbook reference topic called "consumer behaviour".

(Credit for Images : Various brands + concepts mentioned in the article, from Brand's website and imagery/press releases)

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