The Official Coronation of the Hotel Capitol

Washington D.C. is quickly becoming the hospitality capitol of the world. And its high-time we go our own event! Join us for the Inaugural Bisnow Hotel Investment Summit in Washington, D.C. Hear from the top of the top from giants such as Marriott, Hilton, Choice, LaSalle, DiamondRock, Pebblebrook, Crestline, RLJ, Savills US and many others! And at only $379 there is no way to find more bang for your buck!


RD Jones Honors Jean-Michel Basquiat

Two designers at a RD Jones, Alli Oroski and Chen Lu recently completed a design challenge to create three different room concepts. in response to Jean Michel Basquiat’s “Untitled”

"Untitled" by Jean-Michel Basquiat


The Process | There were two parts to our concept process for these images. First, we created a list of adjectives and characteristics of the painting we used as our inspiration, Basquiat’s “Untitled”, including collage, overlapping lines, positive/negative space elements, and pops of color. The painting has an abstract Cubist influence, which we also tried to play on within our three concept images. Then, we created a list of elements of urban design, which includes green spaces, integration of the street and interior, and reusing existing structures in the urban fabric. The result of these studies is three concept images: ‘Finished + Unfinished’, ‘Urban Nature’, and ‘Urban Grit’.

Finished + Unfinished | Fashion that transcends the past and present. In order to make the overall space more contrasting, a contemporary, minimalistic design approach by highlighting the cool, grey undertone of the floor and wall with red decorations of furniture piece in the space, thereby making the space brighter and more vibrant.

Designer-brand furniture was applied to embellish the personalized style of the space, thereby presenting the avant-garde atmosphere of embracing conflicts within the co-existence of the finished and the unfinished.

 Urban Nature | This concept focuses on the ideas of intersecting lines and the play of positive and negative space, both formal aspects of the painting. Utilizing the current trend of ‘green-ing’ the urban fabric, ‘Urban Nature’ features a green wall composed from intersecting ‘lines’. This natural element over an expansive window frames the urban streetscape of H Street, creating a juxtaposition of nature and urban fabric. These formal elements carry over to the furniture pieces within the space, with bookcases featuring intersecting lines to create storage space – also becoming a sculptural element within the room – and ornamental frames highlighting urban street art painted on the wall surface.

Urban Grit | A seamless transition between the sidewalk and the interior. We played with a loft-like industrial space, leaving the original architectural surfaces with their stripped-down materiality. Street art + text ornament the wall surfaces, along with a mural of the street patterns of DC. A graphic dropped ceiling helps to frame the seating area, which features updated mid-century modern furniture. The materials used within the seating area give a lived-in, warm feel to the space.

This was an exciting new challenge for RD Jones, we look forward to doing many more!

Hotel Execs Share Their Favorite Brands and What They Want to be When They Grow Up

Amenities matter. Comp breakfast is king of them all.

2011’s North American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference was host to one of the most engaging panels I have ever witnessed ( and the fact that it was billed as “Power Hour” complete with open bar, certainly did not hurt either). Conference coordinator, Stacey Silver, wrote in the program “the best conversations always happen during happy hour, and this is no exception.”

It certainly wasn’t. Mike Cahill of HREC – Hospitality Real Estate Counselors moderated a lively discussion amongst  Thom Geshay of Davidson Hotels and Resorts; Jonathan Benowitz of RockBridge; Jim Butler of Jeffer, Mangels of Butler & Mitchell LLP; Doug Dreher of The Hotel Group; and  Robert D. Kline of The Chartres Lodging Group LLC.

As industry leaders and discriminating hospitality consumers, Mr. Cahill posed the question to each panelist “Which brand would you stay in on vacation with your family and in which brand would you invest?” This question followed up by “if not in the hotel business, what would you be?”

Procrastinating, passing, dodging and naming multiple brands was not allowed.

Jonathan Benowitz of RockBridge

Vacation: Four Seasons

Invest: Hilton

In Another Life: Point guard, or , proprietor of a Manhattan bagel shop.

Doug Dreher of The Hotel Group

vacation: Embassy Suites

Invest: Motel 6

In Another Life: Coach of the WSU Cougars

Jim Butler of Jeffer, Mangels of Butler & Mitchell LLP

Vacation: Embassy Suites

Invest: Hampton Inn

In Another Life: Taster of Italian Wine

Robert D. Kline of The Chartres Lodging Group LLC

Vacation: He has abandonned chain hotels! All about the exclusive resorts now.

Invest: Starwood, Hyatt

In Another Life: Surfer

Thom Geshay of Davidson Hotels and Resorts

Vacation: Embassy Suites

Invest: Courtyard by Marriott

In Another Life: Ryan Seacrest

Hilton, moreover, Embassy Suites was a big winner in the vacation realm. Panelists sited free breakfast and family friendliness as important factors.

The power of free breakfast is transcends all segments of guests: USA Today Hotel Check In writer, Barbara DeLollis recently covered the best hotels for business travelers where again, free breakfast is a factor.

The winners?

Four Seasons for deluxe hotels, JW Marriott for upper-upscale hotels, Crowne Plaza for upscale hotels, Holiday Inn for midprice hotels, Four Points by Sheraton for select service hotels, Staybridge Suites for upscale extended-stay hotels and TownePlace Suites for midprice extended-stay hotels.

What  else set these brands apart? Keeping their looks up despite recession woes.

Interestingly, Four Seasons was the only brand to achieve crossover in both categories.

Now that we know their leisure and investment preferences, what do the top hotel executives say as frequent business travelers themselves? That will be something to see.

“The Third Place” in First Place

The Starbucks store at 1912 Pike Place. This i...

Image via Wikipedia. The original Starbucks store in Seattle.

The Conference Tour 2K11 is coming to a close with only IHMRS in New York next week left. Phoenix, Miami, New York, LA, DC and their corresponding acronyms have wrapped.

They were all fabulous. The only complaint I have is prehaps the super-high-gloss-turned up to eleven paint that  covered every surface of my hotel room in downtown LA. But alas, that is my own doing…


“If free wireless internet isn’t in your business plan, you don’t have a plan.”

So was the one of the opening remarks of the 2011 ULI Fall Meeting and Urban Land Expo in Los Angeles. We crave technology today. Not enjoy, like, appreciate, truly need, but crave. Withdrawals occur when we try to quit or lessen the dosage. We snap at those who say we use too much saying “they don’t get it.”

It’s interesting that in a world where 85% of the biggest target market (Generation Y) SLEEPS with a phone (and I with two) that real estate has been slow jump out in front of this bandwagon.

Way lame.

Today’s building environments have not evolved to support this changing lifestyle. They’ve remained static and by default have in fact DEvolved and become frustrating, infuriating, fortresses of “no signal” or payperhour wireless. And off we  bolt to the hip coffee shop or lounge where we can snap through emails at no cost…and look cool doing it…with a tasty latte.

When I interned at Urbaniza Investments in the Winter of 2006. My boss turned beloved mentor and family business partner,Gladys Jourdain, was working on developing a platform to encourage live-work zoning in Miami, the city where she is based.

Five years ago during this precious internship, Gladys told me of how she saw RFPs for office space beginning to shift. No more were the cubicles. Those suffering the deadening pain of revisiting an emotionless space day in and day out were finally seeking treatment.

Offices were becoming spaces for collaboration, convening, and even entertaining. Well before the take over of the Blackberry and iPhone, Gladys saw visionary CEOs come to terms with the fact that it was more productive and profitable to let the Third Place take over for day-to-day tasks, if that’s what the employees wanted.

The Third Place isn’t home, it isn’t work, but its a great office space and we want to be there. It has free wireless. It has for a while. Starbucks has had it since June of last year. The lobby of the last highrise I worked at did not.

Time to wake up and smell the coffee. I agree Anil Mennon on the importance of free wi-fi in any developer’s plan. No free wi-fi? I’d rather use an outhouse than suffer that fate.

Now, Everyone Can Be Eloise: Hotel Trends Come Home

Eloise book cover

On Friday, Rebecca, our principal spoke at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. We developed a speech and presentation on a very up-and-coming topic, that also happens to be an area where RD Jones and Associates is uniquely qualified: the crossover of hotel and multifamily design trends. VIP clubs for apartment communities, and people doing work in their jammies in the lobby of the Nolitan before bed. How are we to tell the difference? The answer is that it’s getting harder and harder. Where we live wants to be sexier, when we’re away from home the we want to stay connected and feel…right at home.

I’ve reposted the speech from the first time we presented on this, at The International Design and Design and Development Conference in Seoul this June, and attached the slide deck from Rebecca’s talk on Friday. Corcoran10.21.11 [Autosaved]

The “what it means to be boutique” talk this week really got me thinking back to this…does it mean “homey-ness” is some regard? What do you think?

Hotel Trends Come Home

Seoul, South Korea 

June 2011

Hospitality and Multifamily Design Trends are beginning to Converge

For Millenials and Baby Boomers, home is not the white picket fence, and the design world is responding.

Establishing and executing a theme is critical for a successful boutique hotel opening. The departure from pre-fabricated and static boxes has migrated from the hospitality to the multifamily design world. Common areas that encourage socializing, amenities that lend an air of exclusivity, and modern elements that contribute to a true sense of place and which make  one feel like they could not be anywhere else but XYZ city are all making their way into the multifamily world.

A major player in the evolution of multifamily design from weary to “wow” is the change in customer. Diane Mosher, Editor-in-Chief of Multi Family News describes this phenomena as the new “Renter Nation.”  Renter Nation is composed of Generation Y’ers aka Millenials who are either migrating out of their parents homes or are growing tired of sharing their space with roommates. They are making more money and are more likely to live in central cities than past generations. This eager and more sophisticated renter seeks the convenience, high-end amenities, and luxurious interior finishes that are often found in single family homes or hotels. Also, thanks to their obsession with social media and their accommodating parents they are used to being heard and responded to. So we better listen up.

They say that the “Technology War” is the new “Bed War”. And no one is more tech savvy than the Millenials. They are 84 million strong with 3 million graduating from college each year.  Technology defines Millenials from using Match for their love lives to going to rehab for World of Warcraft addiction. But perhaps more than any other piece of technology Millenials hold on to their smart phones like security blankets. Literally, according to a Pew Research Center Study 83% of them go to sleep at night with their cell phones in hand.  They would say that it is so they can stay in touch with their wide circle of friends and remain up to date with world news at every moment of the day and night. 

The social network is not just on the internet. It is coming alive in design. We are seeing recreational features appear in condo and apartment buildings that facilitate a strong sense of community and which foster socializing amongst neighbors. Movie theatres, espresso machines, rooftops with gas grills, Wii stations, and lounges with multiple flat screen TVs where residents can gather to watch a soccer game or just sit and talk over a glass of Malbec are appearing in condo buildings from Brooklyn to San Francisco. High speed wireless internet is indispensable amenity in new construction and renovations and we are also seeing conference rooms that built for presentations and hard wiring for video conferencing.

Millenials are largely the children of the Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964); the sheer size of this demographic makes them worth paying attention to as well. Members of this generation are on the cusp of major lifestyle change. These changes are reflected in decisions to downsize and to move traditional urban cores and redeveloping edge-city suburbs.

Like their children, Baby Boomers genuinely enjoy socializing and vibrancy.  Like their children, they want design to complement and enhance their lifestyle.

Designing in this aspirational manner is reminiscent of what we have seen in boutique hotel design for the past twenty years.  Today’s traveler, much like today’s new renter wants more than comfort and convenience.

While modernity and fresh design generally become “it” almost instantaneously, it is usually those properties that adapt to changing demographics and attitudes and succeed in combining fabulous service with chic elegance that endure the test of time. As Mark Humphreys CEO of Dallas based Humphrey & Partners Architects LLC, (the firm that represented 15-20% of US multifamily starts in 2010) ,  told Multi Housing News in May 2011, “Everyone has their way of doing apartments, but if you’re slow to change, you’re going to be like the steam engine, the sailing ship, or the Smith Corona typewriter: obsolete.”

-Caroline Gould, Communications Director

Rundown: Lifestyle/Boutique Lodging Hotel Development Conference

It's so cold, only seagulls enjoy FountainBlea...

Our Host for the Boutique Hotel Conference : The Fontainebleau. A boutique hotel itself?


This was a constructive, informative, useful, beautiful, and fun conference. Well done organizers. (Also, full bar at breakfast never hurts either, thanks Trust Hospitality).

The burning question? What does Lifestyle/Boutique mean?

As an industry married to segmentation,

the undefined makes us nervous. Can boutique can mean the Narnia-like world of the Andaz at Madison and 5th where you “pick your own experience” and the new “hard branded” concepts such as Dream by Wyndham, IHG’s Indigo, and Hyatt House and their accompanying Old Testament sized manual of standards?

John Campo touched on a project he recently developed the Embassy Suites Lofts. Yes, lofts. That’s like having Minivan Vespa dealership. Just….what?

But it works.  If my mom was to tell me she was staying a boutique hotel, I’d probably laugh a little patronizing laugh, but products like the above and the Country Inn and Suites in New Orleans, now make me check myself.  If I were The Library Hotel and The Hotel Giraffe , my original knee-jerk reaction would be that I want these little wannabe pests to get out of my sandbox! but…they do walk the walk (even if the brands won’t let them talk the talk).

Does size matter?

According to recent (and scoffed at) HVS definition, lifestyle equals over 100 rooms and boutique is under 100. Why the scoffing? Usually it’s in Rushmore we trust when in comes to hospitality definitions, but it is easy to see that this particularly label is rather contrived.

Our host for the week, the Fontainebleau: 1000+ rooms and 16 restaurants is that a boutique? Well it certainly is the hippest and most unique in the city.

So, no, it’s not size.

Talking the Talk
Someone brought up the topic of South America. When I was in Cartagena I was continually marveling at the amazing “boutique” hotels in the Old City. However, this term means nothing to the operators of these hotels. In Colombia, boutique merely means “small.” In my eyes it was design forward, not dominant brand, and made me feel cool being there .Aaron Katz, CEO of Modus (operator of chic little spots like The Quincy in downtown D.C.) went on record saying these terms are ubiquitous with LarrySpelts of Charlestowne Hotels backing him up. “Lifestyle” and “boutique” as keywords don’t really generate traction in the U.S. and certainly not abroad. (Where our customers are coming from).

So, these terms really don’t mean much.

At one morning panel, I suggested taking a page out of Potter Stewart’s book in Jacobellis v. Ohio.

“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, [and the motion picture] involved in this case is not that.”

(Yes porn references before 9am also tend to be a good way to wake people up).

I’d expound on this definition a bit. It’s not  so much that I know it when I see it, but I know it when I feel it. As a member of Generation Y, self-esteem reigns supreme when it comes to motivation and what makes us happy.

At a boutique hotel, I feel understood, important, stylish, and like an insider.

The evening following the conference I peeled myself like a stubborn cookie of an ungreased baking sheet from sunning on the bow of my dad’s boat in Bal Harbor (where I had stayed a very colorful weekend–but that’s another story).

I had already committed to a weekend in New York, and as my grandfather always said , “To have a friend, be a friend,” so I schlepped off to the airport to honor my prior engagement.

We passed the weekend at the Mondrian Soho (which is really more so in Chinatown..anywayyy). That hotel is boutique. At every juncture it was style, sex, and energy. The room was probably 200sq ft, but the look and feel well made up for it. Also, who spends time in their hotel room? Clean, fresh, surfaces, PBR in the mini fridge, my beloved Malin + Goetz (hey they know about this stuff?) as toiletries, and an iPad loaded with playlists, quicklinks to fashion blogs, and “the list” of places to eat and be seen, truly “got it.”

My definition of the Mondrian as boutique has nothing (directly) to do with its size, brand, room count, development cost. It’s all about feeling. Maybe it’s more than a feeling. So stop trying to define it. We know, our market knows, so now let’s just focus on growing the product we love to make and our customers love to enjoy.

With that said, more knowledge sharing in the future, less definition mining. Personally, all for more Matthew Lesko-esque more tax credit secrets for development next year. (Thanks Tim Dixon of Iron Horse).

-Caroline Gould, Communications Director

Great Knockers Debuts at Bisnow’s DC Urban Revival Event

Our friends at Bisnow were the perfect hosts for the debut of our Great Knockers line. Earlier last week, our sister company, RD Jones + Associates sponsored an event at the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. where we put out our knockers for all to see….