Thought you’d appreciate the following article.  Interesting take we’re seeing over and over … the trend towards more casual, yet personal luxury touches.

Call it rational luxury. And one company that thinks they are playing by the rules instead of irrational exuberance is Hyatt Hotels Corporation. This week the company is opening the Andaz Wall Street, which owned by The Hakimian Organization, Peykar Brothers Realty and Gorjian Properties. It’s the third luxury boutique hotel Hyatt has opened under this moniker and company executives think it’s the right product even if the so prognosticators think it’s the wrong time. Come spring, another Andaz is scheduled to open further uptown on 5th Avenue and 41st Street, and on February 1 the Ivy hotel in San Diego will adopt the Andaz name.

While the hotel adopts many characteristics of the traditional boutique hotel, such as an edgier design than a typical hotel, the defining factor here is service, according to every executive I spoke to at an opening event yesterday.

“One of the key things I reflect back on is how we got to where we are today and engaging with our guests and asking them what they want. We wanted to craft something that is truly responsive to needs in the market,” said Mark Hoplamazian, President and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corp, said at the event. “We will demonstrate what authentic hospitality is, which is a mission in our company.”

While “authentic hospitality” sounds like a buzzword used by every hotelier, Andaz goes further than any brand we’ve seen to break down barriers between the guest and staff. So much so, that the phrase once again means something. Even the name is meant to connote the brand’s service ethic. Andaz means “personal style” in Hindi.

There is a heightened sense of intimacy in the hotel that is real and genuine because of the initiatives put forth into the brand’s DNA. For example, rather than being shuffled from staff person to staff person during the check-in process, a “host” greets a guest upon arrival. They make sure bags get to the room, serve an espresso or perhaps a glass of wine to the guest, and check in the guest with a portable tablet computer. They’ve eliminated the need for a front desk entirely with this.

But the “host” is just that. That person is the guest’s conduit to a perfect stay during the entire visit. They also act as a concierge and will handle all the needs a guest may have. While we have not yet had an opportunity to stay at Andaz, it’s a formula that will surely create a more highly personalized experience. And, with a single point of contact, guests will connect with their host in ways that aren’t possible when dealing someone different at every point of contact like at many hotels.

“I think Andaz is going to mean many things to consumers,” Jonathan Frolich told me. He is the recently appointed GM of the soon-to-open uptown Andaz. “This is a new approach to hospitality. We are providing a non-traditional, less formal approach to service with zero compromise with finer things in life. We’ve mixed attention to detail with a great mix of style, flair and fun. We are not here to be cool and trendy.”

To that end there will be no nightclub or desire to create a “scene”, said Frolich, just a comfortable upscale environment that is highly reflective of the hotel’s location.

Take the restaurant, for example. At Andaz Wall Street, the open kitchen hides nothing. Guests can walk full circle around it and see their meals being prepared. And most interestingly, the bar has no bar. Incredibly informal liquor is displayed on tables and the bartender can move around the table in the same space inhabited by guests. It’s more like being in someone’s home – albeit a lot cooler one than the people we know – than in a hotel.

And that is the point. The philosophy can even be seen in the clothes. Created by design house Theory, there aren’t separate uniforms for different departments. Rather, a collection of separates has been designed that staffers can make their selections from.

“Andaz is really about delivering exceptional experiences in a non-traditional environment that is less formal and fashionable without comprise to attention to detail,” said Toni Hinterstoisser, GM of the to Andaz Wall Street.

Rates at the Wall Street property start at $275

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