WASHINGTON, DC—This September, alternative lodging service WhyHotel is set to launch a new pop-up in a luxury apartment building in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood.
The West Coast location is a first for the company. WhyHotel partnered with AvalonBay Communities Inc., which will operate this project for eight to 12 months. WhyHotel will occupy 50 fully furnished apartments in the 24- story, 275-unit residential high-rise at 210 Wall St., between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. The property will provide both residents and hotel guests access to a best-in-class fitness center and a variety of both indoor and outdoor common areas and cooking spaces.
“Given the great hospitality market, strong residential development community, and the relationship we have with Avalon Bay, it all aligned with what we look for in new markets, and we couldn’t be more excited to launch our latest pop-up in Seattle,” said Jason Fudin, CEO and co-founder of WhyHotel.
What made Seattle the ideal launchpad on the West Coast? For starters, Washington’s popular attractions can be found nearby, including Downtown Seattle, South Lake Union, the Olympic Sculpture Park and more. The location also aligned with WhyHotel’s goal to expand across major West Coast markets.
“The stars really aligned on this particular project,” said Fudin. “From the amazing support we’ve received from AvalonBay, to the full backing of the city for securing regulatory approvals, it became clear earlier this year that this location would unlock our ability to operate and introduce the WhyHotel pop-up concept to the West Coast.
WhyHotel has pop-ups in dynamic cities such as Baltimore and Washington, DC. Data drives the selection process for the next pop-up city. Using a three-pronged approach, the team at WhyHotel evaluates new locations and future projects.
“First, we look at the strength of the traveler market; we’re looking for destinations where there’s already a strong hospitality demand. Secondly, we look into the existing local regulatory environment, only going into a new building if it has the full backing of the local jurisdiction,” he said. “And finally, we evaluate projects based on the surrounding market conditions and our anticipated operational life cycle within a given project, doing a deep dive on the scale and amount of multifamily development that is going on in a given city/submarket/neighborhood.”
More growth is on the horizon. WhyHotel will continue to expand its geographic footprint with the pop-up hotels, with additional openings across a half dozen new markets slated for 2020.
According to Fudin, the future is bright for the pop-up business model as momentum builds among multifamily developers and the hospitality community. He believes in the benefits of this concept for building operators, residents and travelers.
“The pop-up model doesn’t permanently displace any of the long-term housing stock in a given residential building, but rather we only activate the vacant units for short-term stays, and as the building leases up with long-term residents, WhyHotel winds down our footprint in the building until we eventually leave altogether,” he said. “This provides property owners with the ability to de-risk their projects with the interim WhyHotel use, and both the building and the surrounding retail spaces experience early activation from the WhyHotel guests.”
Fudin emphasized what makes it stand apart from the rest of lodging providers, “We have found that guests (both business and leisure) love WhyHotel because we provide the space and comfort of a home-share with the consistency and service of a 24/7 onsite-staffed hotel. Thus, our brand-new product is a serious step above the existing stock of hotel rooms and home-shares. Being hosted in a brand-new home away from home, with full kitchens, bedrooms, living space, washer/dryers, and additional amenities, provides an elevated and differentiated hospitality experience for our guests.”
WhyHotel is now building on its success by launching a business unit, Hospitality Living, to deliver an innovative approach to the world of ground-up development by building a first-of-its-kind, ground-up, flexible use asset class that can optimize between apartment and hospitality use.
“Our pop-up hotels bring flexibility to developments by creating synergies between hospitality and home,” he said. “The launch of Hospitality Living will allow us to focus on the next phase of our company, the evolution of buildings into truly flexible assets. These high-rise projects will be built from the group up and designed, entitled, and constructed to flex between uses, continuing WhyHotel’s vision to blur the lines between hospitality, home, work and play.”