Big hotel chains are adding more flags than ever, sometimes without obvious utility. That was my first concern when I heard that Hyatt was creating a new category it calls the Unbound Collection. However, I think there’s an important distinction to be made here. Some brands, like Hyatt Centric or Tru by Hilton, don’t really seem to fill a need. Many of the properties are existing hotels that simply get remodeled to fit the standards of the new brand.
On the other hand I do respect the effort to unify the more independent and occasionally historic hotels that stand out because they aren’t branded. The Luxury Collection from Starwood includes some of my favorite hotels (although I’m not sure how Starwood makes a meaningful difference between this and the Tribute Portfolio or its partnership with Design Hotels). Hyatt has been adding to its list of such properties for a while without really doing much to link them to their corporate parent.
The Unbound Collection will include such properties as The Driskill (Austin), Hotel du Louvre (Paris), Carmelo Resort & Spa (Uruguay), and the Coco Palms (Kauai).
What promotional material exists is designed to target property owners, not customers. I can tell you from experience that my wife and I loved our stay at The Driskill a couple years ago, we have a reservation at Hotel du Louvre for this fall, and we’re looking forward to staying at the Coco Palms when they re-open. (We enjoyed Kauai when we visited, but the location of the Grand Hyatt wasn’t really what we were looking for.)
These are all examples of hotels that, in my opinion, should not be made to fit the cookie cutter template of a traditional brand. Even the name “Unbound Collection” speaks to the need for these hotels to have some freedom. At the same time I appreciate being able to earn and redeem points at such properties as well as enjoying the benefits of elite status.
Is brand explosion an issue? Sure. And maybe as hotel chains continue their recent spate of consolidation we’ll see some of them relax and nix the losers. But I do think there’s room for at least one of these brands at each major chain to bring together the unique gems in their portfolios.