Face to face: Toni Stoeckl, VP of lifestyle brands and Dan Vinh, VP of global marketing for lifestyle brands, Marriott International

Tell us about AC Hotels by Marriott 

Dan Vinh
Dan Vinh

AC Hotels is a lifestyle hotel brand with Spanish roots and European soul. Renowned hotelier Antonio Catalan founded the brand in 1998 and grew AC Hotels into one of the most respected boutique hotel brands in Spain. Marriott International realised there was great potential to develop this concept globally and in 2011, formed a joint partnership with AC Hotels and Catalan to create AC Hotels by Marriott. It’s a venture that has since seen properties open across a number of key European markets including Italy and France, as well as in North and South America.

What’s the signature concept for AC Hotels by Marriott?

AC is a brand focused on design. Our aesthetics are distinct and unique. AC Hotels have a modern ambiance and bring awareness to moments of beauty – a piece of art, for example. We have a strong focus on cocktails and our bar service – even the way we serve our Gin and Tonic, table side, just like in Spain. We are bringing a mix of Spanish roots with modern European design to the rest of the world. We even serve a European breakfast and the response, particularly in markets like the US, has been phenomenal. The next-generation customer likes this fresh offering, particularly as there is nothing else like it in the US. All of our food reflects modern European style and cuisine – we serve small plates, tapas and snacks, which is all part of the social nature of the brand.

AC Hotel Birmingham
AC Hotel Birmingham

How is this social aspect reflected in the hotel design?

We create spaces that foster collaboration and both professional and social activity. We have media salons for small meetings or quick breakout sessions, kitted out with the latest technology, as well as AC Libraries where guests can meet, network or socialise in chic but relaxed surroundings. Our guestrooms have purpose, with work and play in mind. They are functional, plus our technology meets the needs of today’s traveller. We have free WiFi, mobile check-in and no issues with bandwidth. Guests can stream their own content.

What type of traveller does AC Hotels attract?

Someone who is a curator and who likes moments of beauty. Travellers looking for a work/life balance. That’s one of the reasons we have partnered with Startup Grind, a global startup community designed to educate, inspire and connect likeminded entrepreneurs. We provide Startup Grind members with inspirational places to work where they can mix with likeminded individuals. Our hotels create a sense of community and provide spaces where they can work, have a meeting and then relax with one of our signature cocktails.

What role do your guests play in shaping and promoting AC Hotels?

We take guest feedback seriously and monitor it, particularly through social media activity, so that we understand their mindset and what they are looking for. We are looking at new media like Snapchat where fleeting conversations take place, and following several YouTubers. User-generated content is very important and we are working with influencers and innovators. They include renowned photographers, architects, creative directors, chefs, publishers, writers, as well as Derek Andersen, who heads up Startup Grind. Many of these are part of our online and social ‘Unpacked’ campaign. This project reveals the moments of reflection you experience when you unpack your suitcase.

Tell us about the two new AC Hotels in the UK

They are in very good locations – one in Birmingham City Centre and the other in Manchester Salford Quays. They are wonderful example of design, style and sophistication situated in revitalised thriving urban destinations – perfectly reflecting the AC Hotels brand ethos. They support our commitment to driving growth for our lifestyle brands in Europe and respond to a continued demand from discerning travellers seeking hotels with thoughtful, modern design that calms and enriches the guest experience.

What are your global growth plans?

AC Hotels Birmingham City and AC Hotel Manchester Salford Quays are two of more than 22 AC hotels expected to open globally this year. In January we opened five properties in Mexico, France and the US. By the end of the year will have opened additional hotels in Brazil, Chile, the US, Germany, Poland, Panama, Israel and Mexico. We are planning to open more properties in the UK if we can find the right location.

 

NEED TO KNOW…

AC Hotels by Marriott’s UK properties

AC Hotel Manchester Salford Quays

The 142-room AC Hotel Manchester Salford Quays occupies a prime spot in the heart of the vibrant regenerated Salford Quays district. The cutting edge innovation of MediaCityUK, the rich sporting history of Old Trafford Football Stadium and the diverse cultural offering of Lowry Theatre are all just a few minutes’ walk.

AC Hotel Birmingham City Centre

The 90-room AC Hotel Birmingham City Centre is situated at The Mailbox, the former Royal Mail sorting office, which has been repurposed into an exclusive shopping area with stylish stores, restaurants, cafes and bars. Leisure guests will enjoy the hotel’s easy access to the city’s major attractions, including the National Indoor Arena, Barber Institute of Fine Arts with views over the city while business visitors will benefit from the hotel’s prime location by the International Convention Centre.

Both hotels offer:

The signature AC Lounge, a creative hotspot by day and social hub by night that serves local craft beers, specialty wines, expertly made signature cocktails and a selection of tapas-style small bites.

The AC Library, a quiet space lined with interesting and ever-evolving reading material tucked away from the buzz, is another social space for guests to use and provides the perfect location to relax or hold an intimate meeting.

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