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Hyatt's hot Andaz brand

 WORDS JAMES WILKINSON IN SAN DIEGO

From its debut in London in late 2007, Hyatt’s Andaz brand has been a sleeping giant that’s suddenly been awoken – and the hotel industry is paying attention.

Andaz San Diego's rooftop bar

Here is a boutique brand that has the potential to challenge W Hotels like Starwood’s never seen. Sure Thompson Hotels, Viceroy Hotel Group, Melia and Morgans have all been giving the challenge a good go, but Andaz has the power of Hyatt behind it and has the potential to be as big as Starwood’s uber-hip brand.

Hyatt has four Andaz properties open – in London, West Hollywood, New York and San Diego – and a further three in the development pipeline.

The newest property, Andaz San Diego, was formerly the Ivy Hotel, a hip, boutique stand-alone property in the heart of the city’s bustling Gaslamp Quarter. What Andaz has brought to the property is subtle branding, a much greater distribution system through Hyatt and of course human resources and support.

The branding is so subtle, that all of the locals still know the property as the Ivy Hotel, thanks to its hip bars – which includes a rooftop pool bar, a wine bar on the ground floor and a nightclub underneath.

“The concept behind Andaz was born out of the belief that today’s travellers are in search of hotels that offer warm and friendly service and have a unique design aesthetic,” says Andaz San Diego General Manager Rusty Middleton.

“We are excited to offer them that experience here in San Diego, one of the most appealing destinations in Southern California,” he says.

San Diego is one of America’s most desired cities to visit at present and when it comes to hotels, the quality is all class – alongside Andaz, other leading properties in the hip segment include the W San Diego and Hard Rock Hotel San Diego. All three have extremely popular bars and challenge each other every week to be the hottest venues in town.

Middleton says what Andaz was able to offer the hotel’s owners, Kelly Capital, was more than just bars and room reservations.

“Simplicity and personal service and style are just a few of our Andaz brand values,” he says. “We try to infuse these qualities into everything we do – from our check-in process to our guestrooms amenities.

“At check-in for example, an Andaz ‘host’ combines the roles of front office, concierge and bell attendant and uses handheld technology to check guests into the hotel. And, for guests who feel like lingering in the hotel lobby, complimentary welcome beverages are available (including wine).

“Our hosts are unconventional, unpretentious and extremely knowledgeable about the hotel and local happenings. Our goal is to make our guests feel like they are being welcomed into a friend’s home,” he says.

More than just the service, Middleton says the Andaz brand values are also embodied in the hotel’s guestroom design and amenities.

“Each of our 159 rooms at the Andaz feature custom fixtures, flat panel televisions and generously sized glass-enclosed bathroom,” he says.

“Complimentary amenities include a mini-bar stocked with non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, as well as wireless internet, unlimited local phone calls and home-away-from-home comforts to help our guests have a good night’s sleep.”

A good night’s sleep is exactly what you get at Andaz San Diego – thanks not just to the comfortable beds and pillows, but from the service the moment you arrive. Here. You’re relaxed as soon and you walk in the front door.

Hawaiian Airlines flies three times per week from Sydney to San Diego via Honolulu. The author recommends flying in First Class, which is excellent value for money and offers food from celebrated Hawaiian chef Beverly Gannon. For bookings and schedules, visit www.hawaiianair.com

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