Crowne Plaza is out to change what their brand looks like and how your experience will be at them. Here is a look at the “new” Crowne Plaza, the flagship in Atlanta, and what they would like the rest of the Crowne Plaza properties to look like.
A Look at the “New” Crowne Plaza
The Crowne Plaza Accelerate Program – Upgrading the Brand
Forget about your past stays at Crowne Plaza properties – IHG is investing heavily their “Crowne Plaza Accelerate” program that will change what they look and feel like. It is a $200 million investment to upgrade the Crowne Plaza brand to make it more welcoming to modern travelers, especially those on business.
I had the opportunity to take a tour of their new US flagship property, the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia, recently to check out how they are remaking this hotel as a model for the brand overall. If the owner/operators of other Crowne Plaza properties follow the lead of the corporate properties, this new look could be on its way into Crowne Plazas all over the world (and many owners/operators are touring the Atlanta property to see firsthand what it looks like).
I had not been to this property before the renovation (which finished earlier this year) so I do not have anything to really contrast this new look to. However, I have stayed at several Crowne Plaza hotels and could tell that this newly remodeled property is definitely upgrading things in a big way.
Right away, I will say this – they are trying to tailor a lot of it to business travelers. I toured the whole property and saw the new conference rooms, meeting rooms, as well as the restaurant and guest rooms. Since most readers would be more interested in the upgraded rooms, I will talk mostly about that and the dining area (with some of the conference rooms and meeting hubs thrown in as well).
Because they are tailoring it for business travelers, there are several things you will find with the new Crowne Plaza – meeting spaces and workspaces all around, great use of public spaces for small groups/breakout spaces, electrical outlets everywhere – yes!!!, places in the public spaces to connect for presentations on monitors, etc. They are definitely making it a great modern workspace with a hospitality feel.
The Costs at the New Crowne Plaza Perimeter at Ravinia
For regular nights, you can expect to pay around $140 on the weekdays or $271 for a suite. On the rewards front, it will cost you 35,000 points per night – not bad for this new hotel overall.
The Crowne Plaza Business Spaces
There are two new meeting rooms that the Crowne Plaza has designed that can be rented by guests in the hotel or can be reserved online by those that just wish for a quiet meeting space during the day. These rooms are available for $60 per hour for the smaller one and $80 per hour for the larger room. They come with WiFi and food and drinks can be ordered from the tablets in each room.
They have styled the rooms to have more of a local and comfortable theme and to move away from the more sterile, office type look. In this way, they have done a very good job as they appear to be very relaxing with plenty of space to move around and to meet. The smaller one is designed for 6 people and the larger for 8 people but you could fit more if you needed to.
The Crowne Plaza “Shop”
In a nice twist for a business hotel, there are no mini bars in the rooms. This is because they have installed a market shop near the front desk with plenty of snacks and beverages that you can buy. To make it even easier, you just check yourself out at the machine near the door as well. Another nice touch? No huge prices like for typical mini bars (500ml of Coke for $6.50!) but instead you can expect prices more in line with shops past security at airports.
The New Crowne Plaza Workspace
Again, Crowne wants to make sure that business travelers have what they need at their properties and one of the ways they are doing that is extending the way and places that meetups or demos can occur. Not everyone wants to stay in a windowless conference room or their room all day! So, they have placed work spaces around the common areas to make it easier to connect with people (and for your electronics) or for you to just be able to work in a nice, mini space.
From places for several people to mini spaces for one, there are plenty of options to get some work down away from the conference room or hotel room.
The New Bedroom Designs – The WorkLife Rooms | The New Crowne Plaza
While naming different parts of a hotel bedroom by “zones” may sound a little bit of a stretch or different, it is nice to see that Crowne has put a big effort into designing the hotel rooms (or, “WorkLife Rooms”) of the new Crowne Plazas to suit the need and desires of the modern traveler, especially the modern business traveler.
Room Tip: If you want the larger Light Work sitting area and the more angled headboard/bed, choose a King Room over a Double Bed Room.
They have 5 new “zones” for each room:
- The Sleep zone – obvious one here, yet they did a new angled designs for the bed that does change up the boxiness of the typical hotel room
- The Light Work and Relax zone – this is a new chair or mini couch that is much more comfortable and functional than a typical chair that seems thrown into the room as an afterthought
- The Focused Work zone – the desk area – with plenty of outlets and space to spread out
One of the things I liked about the bedrooms is that they removed the dresser. For many business travelers (and many travelers overall), the dresser does not really fit the need like it used to. Many travelers hang their clothes in a closet or keep the non-wrinkables in their suitcase. So, this was a good move to remove that older piece of furniture.
Because of that, the room itself seems quite a bit larger and now they have their TVs situated above a little shelf space. It definitely gives a larger feel, even in the basic rooms. I also really did like the curved headboards of the King Bedroom. It also gave an overall different feel to remove the edges a bit better.
They do have their suites as well and even their “basic” Junior Suite is really quite large! These are perfect if you are traveling with your family or if you just need some extra space for hosting anyone.
Dining at the New Crowne Plaza
Let me start this section by saying this – I have never been a big fan of eating dinner at a hotel restaurant (with a couple of exceptions). The reasons are twofold – one is the cost is typically much higher than other area restaurants and two is that I never found the taste to be as great/good as standalone restaurants (with a bonus “third” that many hotel restaurants stay with a more corporate/normal option of food instead of diving into the local cuisine).
The Crowne Plaza wanted to redefine their dining experience as well and that included going more into the local cuisine. Their new restaurant really has some nice, local/southern options as a well as many of your typical restaurant options as well. I ordered the Flat Iron Steak Salad as well as the Skillet Cornbread (for the local feel!) and both were very well made and full of flavor. It was definitely something I would have expected from a nicer, standalone restaurant yet it was right in the hotel. Disclosure: they let me order for free.
They have also renovated some of their outdoor space to give yet another option for guests that just want to get out for a little while. Even in Atlanta on a hot, September day, it did not feel humid with all the vegetation around, which is definitely a plus.
The Rollout of the New Crowne Plaza Design
At present, there are two other flagship Crowne Plazas, one in Paris and the other in Hamburg. IHG is inviting franchise owners to visit the new flagship in Atlanta to show their new look and they are working at rolling this new design out to other corporate Crowne Plazas as well.
I really like the way that the new Crowne Plaza clearly put thought into how to meet the needs and desires of the modern traveler. From the mini work spaces to the power sources everywhere, it definitely is doing a good job of letting people stay connected and comfortable wherever they choose to be at the renovated property.
I really hope the rollout works across the brand because there are many Crowne Plaza properties that could definitely benefit from the upgrade and it would give Crowne a much better reputation (not that Crowne has a bad reputation) for business travelers and as an event hotel. I look forward to trying out their new properties in Europe as well to see how well the local flair comes into play in a place like Paris.
Featured image courtesy of Crowne Plaza