HB ON THE SCENE: At Charlotte Marriott City Center, There’s An Emphasis on Innovation

CHARLOTTE, NC—The Marriott City Center has reopened following a multi-year process to reimagine the public spaces, deliver localized food and beverage concepts, elevate guestroom design and create new guest-centric touchpoints.

At the hotel’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, which heralded the culmination of the brand’s long-range research, planning and execution, Arne Sorenson, Marriott International president & CEO said, “Innovation is about pushing boundaries in both large and small ways. With this hotel, we’re evolving like never before.”

It’s only been 17 days since the acquisition of Starwood, and Sorenson is buoyed by the prospects of what’s to come. He noted the brand is collectively looking ahead, while remembering what has always made them great.

“The culture of innovation, which Starwood had for a long time, and what Marriott is doing here, is important to be fed. We want to deliberate and applaud innovation. There’s a lot of exciting, neat stuff that’s coming,” said Sorenson.

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With this incubator of new ideas and concepts, “the overarching goal is to deliver against the reliability and trust of the Marriott brand, while taking a leap forward to challenge paradigms and test new ways of thinking,” said Matthew von Ertfelda, VP of insight, strategy and innovation at Marriott International. “The work is being done across all channels, including the brand’s products, services and business models.”

Toward that effort, Marriott researched various cities, looked at available hotel properties in the chain and ultimately purchased this 30-year-old hotel here and funded the renovation. The overhaul not only changed how the hotel looks, but how guests are welcomed into a warm and vibrant city such as Charlotte through inherently localized offerings, and how associates deliver upon the brand promise to ensure guests “Travel Brilliantly.”

However, this particular project is much more than a property makeover. It is a testing and proving ground for key elements and features designed to engage and inform guests—including showcasing the American spirit of Bourbon with elaborate craft cocktails; fostering collaboration in a farm-style-chic cafe that feels at once local and on-trend at Coco and the Director; and providing an open-concept kitchen that leaves no doubt how the sausage is made—that will eventually be rolled out to 500 properties in the chain worldwide.

Among the many activated spaces at this hotel, travelers are encouraged to interact and be inspired. A temporary art installation by Marriott, The Art of Innovation, beckons guests to activate it through a touch, tap or stroke of the hand. It also illustrates the brand’s sincere interest in creating new and novel moments to surprise and delight guests in various areas of the hotel.

Guestrooms are a visual example of customers’ wants and needs being heard, but then going beyond the solicited feedback to provide a restful space that is tranquil, modern, aligned with the overall design and anything but utilitarian.

Coco and the Director is Marriott’s coffeehouse concept, which picks up on consumers’ cravings for warmth and simplicity, with wood tones throughout, galvanized-metal accents and a menu of healthful, artisan-quality sandwiches, soups and salads.

In the lobby bar at Stoke, barkeeps are dandily dressed and quietly evoke a simpler, time-gone-by era in both style and manner. Craft cocktails feature fresh, seasonal ingredients that are expertly mixed and topped with artful storytelling as part of the Marriott Hotels Bourbon Program, creating a compelling and engaging experience for guests and locals alike. 

—Corris Little

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