We connected with Kane Sarhan, Vice President, Brand Marketing at Starwood Capital Group. His hotel brand management company oversees the development and management of 1 Hotels (my favourite NYC stay). We found out how nature influences every aspect of their business, why you actually want to shop from their room’s minibar, and how staying at their hotel can change how you live your life at home.
How can nature inspire a hotel?
How can it not?! For us, it inspires everything about our hotel, from the way we build our building, design our spaces, the way guests arrive and depart, to our philosophy on food and programming. We really see nature as the grand master and the starting inspiration point for everything we do.
Lots of hotels are undertaking green initiatives these days – what sets yours apart/ahead?
What makes us different is we go beyond initiatives. Nature inspires everything we do. It’s in our DNA, from the beautiful and sustainable fabrics in the guest rooms, to the feeling in the lobby that provides a sense of well-being. People can see, touch and feel nature. (note from Lisa: when a hotel says they are “green” and are simply making a few efforts like asking you to refuse housekeeping, sheets being changed or reuse of your hotels, that is not impressive. I stayed at 1 Hotel Central Park and was so impressed at not only the thoughtful, conscious aspects and initiatives, but how the communicated the reasons and the impact their efforts are having immediately and in the long run.)
The Field Guide is such a creative name for a blog! How did you come up with that?
It came from our desire for our blog to be about exploring and interacting with the communities we are in and the most beautiful places in nature. We wanted it to be more of a guide to life than anything else. (well done, we love reading it)
How do your menus contribute to a healthier world?
We source locally and organic wherever we can—lowering our footprint and supporting farmers who build businesses without the support of pesticides. We focus on great ingredients and simple but well prepared food—this just naturally translates to healthier options.
Which is your favorite 1 Hotel to kick back in?
They all have a special place in my heart. The rooftop at South Beach is my favorite to catch sun, the second floor of Central Park is great for a quiet place to work, neighbors café in Brooklyn is cozy in the winter and the outdoor seating is some of the best in NYC during the spring and summer.
Can social media really convince someone to book with you?
100%. We see it every day. And it is not just OUR channels. User Generated Content is so important in driving discovery and consumer interest. If your friend posts a beautiful shot of a hotel and says they love it, what better endorsement do you need?
You use the hashtag #DayLife – where does that come from?
We want folks to get their day back when they’re with us—have a Daylife. In our day to day lives, we lose sun up to sun down to work, responsibilities, school, etc.. When guests are with us, we help them capture the day.
Can you really keep rooms clean with green cleaners?
Yep—you can tell by just staying at a 1 Hotel. (I also love that your rooms are scent-free!)
How do you choose items for your mini bar?
Our minibar is called goodthings, meaning it’s a collection of things that are good—for you, for environment, for the folks who make them. We worked with this amazing friend, Meghan Godin, to curate our program. We also took it a bit further and created experiences. With just the tap of a screen, guests can choose from the goodthings and (not so) goodthings menus with ease on the 1 Hotels bespoke ‘1 Guide’ app, an in-room device in which every guests’ want or need is a mere click away. Each time guests orders from (not so) goodthings, 1 Hotels will donate a portion of the proceeds to Action Against Hunger’s Porridge Moms project. With this program, guests are able to give back with proceeds going toward pregnant women and new mother education, as well as peer support to improve nutrition and health for their children.
Do you serve organic alcohol?
Yep! Not exclusively.
What space stands out as being most spectacularly eco at any of your properties?
Each one has its own highlights—1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge has our first water reclamation program which waters Brooklyn Bridge Park… love that.
Why Keetsa beds?
Have you ever slept on a Keetsa? They’re amazing. They’re also amazingly good for the environment and you… no chemicals.
Thank you for using organic linens. That’s obviously more expensive than conventional cotton, and we applaud your efforts. How do you justify that additional cost?
Because it’s the right thing to do and because guests like you recognize it and thank us for it, and come back because they know we are committed to making the right choices. (thank you for being leaders!)
What is the best way to book with you? There are so many online apps these days!
Direct through 1Hotels.com—will always have the best rate and it’s way prettier than those other sites. (it really is a beautiful – and fun website)
How do you prefer to receive customer feedback?
YES! Feedback is the most important thing ever. It informs all of our decision making…we like good and not so good feedback. We send a survey to each and every one of our guests after they leave us, and we also read and respond to most of them. Our practices and standards are built off what our customers appreciate or respond to.
You claim that 1 is more than a hotel – it’s a philosophy and a platform for change. It’s why I would always choose to stay at one of your properties. Do you think people are now seeking this refuge and responsible travel?
I think people have so many choices and that travelers want to travel with brands that believe the same things they do. I also think that a lot of travelers who stay with us may arrive having no idea what we’re about. The exciting thing is our data shows us almost 1 out of 2 of guests who stay with us say that their stay with us has impacted how they live their life at home. That’s exciting and inspiring and that’s why we do what we do. (I know that has impacted my desire to visit anywhere that you have a hotel, so thank you and see you again soon!)