Grand Opening: Choice Hotels Opens First Cambria Hotel & Suites in Manhattan

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The Cambria Hotel & Suites in Manhattan celebrated its grand opening on July 14, 2015.

Cambria is part of Choice Hotels, and the Chelsea location is the first in New York!

Out and Out was excited to attend the grand opening celebration, and to talk with key members of the Choice Hotel senior management team about the hotel and Choice Privileges, the hotel chain’s loyalty program.

Cambria Hotel & Suites Grand Opening in Chelsea

Location: 123 West 28th Street, New York, NY 10001 (between 5th and 6th Aves)

Because the new Cambria is located in New York’s Flower District, most everything was flower-themed. Including the drinks!

Right outside, there was a bar serving blueberry lavender mojitos.

Even the drinks were flower-themed

Even the drinks were flower-themed

Blueberry lavender mojito. Of course I only had one ;)

Blueberry lavender mojitos. I only had one 😉

Inside was packed!

There were 3 more bars. 1 with regular drinks on the 1st floor. A champagne bar in the basement. And craft beers on the roof, beyond the 18th floor.

There was also a buffet with selections from local restaurants, gourmet desserts, and hors d’oeuvres every time I turned around.

Peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies from Ovenly on the roof

Peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies from Ovenly on the roof

There was also an art studio with artists creating new artwork for the lobby.

3 artists created new artworks during the opening

3 artists created new artworks during the opening

Lovely decorations

Lovely decorations

But the real highlight was getting to hear the members of Choice Hotel management talk about everything that went into the creation of a brand new hotel in Manhattan. Extremely fascinating stuff.

We got to hear from Steve Joyce, the President and CEO of Choice Hotels, speak about opening the property

We got to hear from Steve Joyce, the President and CEO of Choice Hotels, speak about opening the property

Packed house

Packed house

We also got to hear from Michael Murphy, SVP of Upscale Brands at Choice Hotels, and the owner of the hotel, Rob Chun.

The team behind the new Chelsea Cambria location

The team behind the new Chelsea Cambria location

Everyone spoke in-depth about how long it took to get the hotel open (3 years), how long it took to build (over a year), and what their goals are with the property.

But what really struck me was how grateful and positive everyone was. It was really nice to hear everyone speak, and to see the humanity behind the business.

And it got me more interested in the Choice Privileges loyalty program.

The property

I snapped some pics of the brand new guest rooms and a few other areas of the hotel.

First, the penthouse apartment with a king bed, and 2 rooms.

King bed in the penthouse apartment

King bed in the penthouse apartment

Living room

Living room

Desk

Desk

Pretty much

Pretty much

And then over to the double queen rooms.

2 queen beds

2 queen beds

Seating area

Seating area

Which pulls out into a bed

Which pulls out into a bed

Another desk setup

Another desk setup

Throughout, lots of clean, modern touches, hardwood floors, TONS of closet and storage space, and bathrooms with walk-in showers.

Showers at the Cambria

Showers at the Cambria

The Cambria Hotel & Suites had a soft opening in April, and lots of guest have posted their own photos on TripAdvisor.

It’s also already ranked #54 out of 469 New York hotels. I only see this number going up as it’s a beautiful property!

Oh, and the roof. Always amazing to be high above the city.

View from the Cambria roof deck

View from the Cambria roof deck

Grand opening floral decorations

Grand opening floral decorations

Rooftop lounge seating

Rooftop lounge seating

Thoughts about the branding

The amiable guys I spoke with told me they’re specifically targeting both millenials who travel infrequently, and business travelers in town working with any of the companies in the area, like Google, Spotify, or AMEX.

That’s because the business travelers want to be near their work or meetings.  And millenials will be drawn to the location and no-nonsense branding of the hotel.

The Cambria slogan is “Where everybody is somebody.” They don’t fuss with priority check-ins, or have meaningless low-tier elite levels.

So they’re trying to grab people who only travel maybe 3-4 times a year, don’t have status, and don’t want to bother with status.

As far as branding, from a millenial’s POV, it’s a little sterile.

I'd overhaul it, beginning with the logo

I’d overhaul it

And clicking around the website trying to learn about the various elite levels, how to earn and redeem points, and rules of the program was an exercise in clicking and scrolling. I pieced it together just fine, but I could see how others could get frustrated.

For example, I saw that I’d earn bonus points as an elite member.

That’s great! But what’s a point based off of? I’m guessing “X” number of points per $1 spent. That took some clicking around.

And then more clicking to see how I could use the points.

I’d say maybe add some graphics and tables to lay out their info. It’s currently described in long sentences without any paragraph breaks.

I'd like to see this as a table. Or picture

I’d like to see this as a table. Or picture

I’d like to see the branding mission extend beyond the hotel and throughout the website, especially for the Cambria brand.

I just simply don’t expect that much from the other Choice Hotel brands:

Choice Hotel's other brands

Choice Hotel’s other brands

But for Cambria and Ascend, the other Choice Hotels brand, I want a little more.

But since they’re targeting people who don’t want to bother with status anyway, perhaps they don’t have to change anything. And just keep focusing on the property instead of where it falls within the overall Choice Hotels umbrella.

Either way, it’s certainly interesting to think about, as the hotel is still brand new.

Huge props tho

They have a whole section on their website for LGBT travelers.

Love this

Love this

Including upcoming events, and local gay bars!

And it’s accessible from the hotel’s front page!

It’s a great touch. And trust me, it’s not lost on LGBT travelers.

Very tastefully done, and very appreciated. I’m glad they added a little nod to the history of the Chelsea neighborhood.

The future of Choice Privileges

I guess I didn’t realize how robust the Choice Privileges program actually is.

They have a lot of ways to earn:

Earn Choice Privileges points

Earn Choice Privileges points

And a lot of ways to redeem:

Redeem Choice Privileges points

Redeem Choice Privileges points

And apparently they’re adding more – and easier – ways to both earn and redeem.

I haven’t gotten into the ins and outs of Choice Privileges yet.

But after speaking with lots of the higher-ups about the program, I can tell it’s definitely on their mind. And they’re willing to shake things up a little.

I’m looking forward to seeing what they do!

Bottom line

It’s always cool to see how something was created, and to hear the story directly from the people who made it happen.

That happened last night with the new Cabria Hotel & Suites here in New York.

It’ll be interesting to see how Choice Hotels positions themselves in the New York market, and how the Choice Privileges program develops along the way.

And what a treat to discuss strategy directly with the people who oversaw the building of the hotel. I’m sure the property, and any future plans they have for it, will be a success.

Wanted to share this look behind the scenes. Hope you guys enjoyed it.

Thanks to the team at Cambria Chelsea for having me! 

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. The opinions of the commenters are not necessarily the opinions of this site.

Comments

  1. With other hotels going for over $400/night, when I stayed at this hotel in June it was only 8,000 points + $30. Great hotel and a great location. I will definity be staying at this hotel again.

  2. I was there on a four night award mid-June and really enjoyed it. Spacious, comfortable and convenient. Loved the rooftop, and the textured (read: non-slip) bathroom flooring. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. (In hindsight, I wish I’d taken a photo of it.)

    My only (very slight) niggles were I could clearly hear general noise from the person next door through the connecting door, and my last two nights I heard faint *boom boom* of heavy foot steps from the room above me.

    I was hoping to get a peek at their one and only suite, but it was occupied for the duration of my stay.

    I ordered a coffee one day. It was terrible. The in-room coffee was that Wolfgang Puck garbage, and I think the kitchen uses the same. At least that was the to-go cup they served me. No breakfast included as far as I know.

    Had a nice chat with one of the front desk managers (Tyler). He seemed genuinely interested in my stay.

    Choice recently revamped their website, prematurely releasing it, shutting down their old site. It’s a mess and not user-friendly at all. Here’s the FT thread: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/choice-choice-privileges/1669836-choice-trying-out-new-website-design.html

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