There was a time once when you could walk into a multinational hotel chain anywhere in the world and see virtually the same things in each. The same furniture, the same uniforms on the staff, the same restaurants, carpets and virtually everything down to the door handles. It made hotels little more than a place to sleep. Fast forward to today and my, how times have changed.
It’s hardly a secret but the buzzword dominating hospitality and tourism strategy sessions is – authenticity. Being able to completely disengage from the norms of everyday life and embrace a different culture has been at the forefront of travel for decades but only fairly recently have hotel operators been taking notice and loosening the shackles of brand standards to suit this. Interior design communities have run wild with creativity and imagination and now, there’s excitement and charisma oozing from every corner of modern hotels all over the world.
Undoubtedly, one of the catalysts of this change has been voco Hotels, the newest brand to emerge from the IHG Hotels and Resorts coddle. Australia’s Gold Coast is 16,602 kilometres from IHG HQ in Denham, UK, but there it was that Queensland’s Glitter Strip was selected as the launchpad for voco to make its grand global entrance in late 2018.
It was a grand occasion as the former Watermark Hotel in Surfers Paradise was transformed into voco Gold Coast. With the golden sands of the beach a block or two away, the world was introduced to voco. But what exactly was it? The energy exuding from the bright yellow décor is impossible to ignore but beyond that, the public needed to know more.
IHG says voco seeks to be reliably different. The Latin-inspired name meaning ‘to invite’ and ‘call together’ intrigued the travel community. The market needed somebody playful and relaxing, and a brand that sat partly in the boutique column and partly in the column for the big brands, as it is backed by the global might that is IHG Hotels and Resorts.
For hotel owners, the power is largely in their hands to make their voco the upscale hotel they want it to be. However they wish to play it, a voco must be welcoming, comfortable and social. Guests are greeted warmly on arrival, provided with their personal sanctuary in which to make home for their stay, whilst tempted with exciting restaurants, bars and other social venues that should be impossible to resist.
Sustainability is also at the heart of a voco hotel, with recycled materials making up 100% of its bedding; linen made from sustainable cotton harvests and bathroom amenities coming in large-volume refillable containers and biodegradable dry materials.
From there though, an owner can mould and shape their hotel to suit their clientele and their destination. If your voco is near the beach, maybe you can decorate your bar with ocean treasures and pepper your menus with colourful beverages. If you’re in the city, efficiency may be your key to success.
A regional setting may mean a sense of adventure and discovery is at the core of your decoration. The possibilities are endless.
In its three short years of life so far, voco has been around the world and returned to its roots in Queensland to celebrate its next major milestone. Just up the road from where the story began, voco will soon open, in the Sunshine State, its 50th open or pipeline hotel globally in the form of voco Brisbane City Centre.
Australasia is a key focus for voco’s growth, with Kirkton Park in the Hunter Valley, Sydney, Auckland and Melbourne signed, with one of the world’s first newbuild vocos opening in Melbourne’s 380 tower later this year.
It’s easy to close your eyes and envisage yourself walking into a voco hotel. The joy of travel is alive and well, at least for now only on a domestic front, but when the world opens up once again, expect the bright yellow brand to take another step up and lead from the front.