The First Two AC Hotels By Marriott Managed By Valor Launch In The UK
The UK’s first two AC Hotels by Marriott®, managed by Valor Hospitality Europe, have officially opened in the UK.
Situated at the heart of thriving urban locations – Manchester Salford Quays and at Birmingham’s ‘Mailbox’ – the hotels have undergone extensive refurbishment programmes, transforming them into AC Hotels by Marriott®. AC Hotels is a design led lifestyle brand which originated in Europe. Aimed at the creative, well-travelled guest, the brand offers personalised experiences in well-designed spaces.
Design Coalition were the designers throughout all aspects of the project and the principle contractor to the two hotels was Sanderson’s.
Speaking to Premier Hospitality magazine, Roy Kirby, Director at Design Coalition said: “They were a top to bottom redesign and remodel of the properties into the new AC Hotels concept and values. Both projects ran in tandem starting in January 2016 and completed in April. The Birmingham property was fully closed down for the period, whereas the Salford Quays hotel converted the full brand transformation whilst maintaining trading through a series of phases.”
The openings mark a milestone for Valor Hospitality Europe which manages 20 hotels across the UK under franchise from Hilton, IHG and Marriott International.
Co-owners and managing partners, Euan McGlashan and Steve Cesinger formed Valor Hospitality Europe in November 2014. The company has ambitious expansion plans and aims to manage 50 hotels in the next five years. This growth will come through its existing relationship with MCAP Global Finance Ltd (MCAP), which is a UK subsidiary of New York based investment adviser Marathon Asset Management, LP and from actively seeking new third party management contracts with other equity partners.
Brian McCarthy, Managing Director of Valor Hospitality Europe said: “It is fantastic to be working with Marriott to deliver the very first AC Hotels by Marriott® hotels in two of the most celebrated commercial, shopping and cultural destinations in the UK.”
Tim Walton, Marriott International’s Regional Vice President of International Hotel Development for Western Europe, said: “These two properties are wonderful examples of our commitment to opening lifestyle hotels in thriving urban destinations where we see growing demand from increasingly discerning and style-conscious travellers.
“The regenerated areas of Manchester’s Salford Quays and Birmingham’s Mailbox complex fit the AC Hotel brand’s progressive, urban design ethos perfectly and we are extremely proud to launch the UK’s first AC Hotels in these two flourishing locations in partnership with Valor Hospitality Europe.”
Roy added: “The design team kicked off the process in June 2015 in Madrid with a full presentation and a show round of AC Hotels values, design and properties. There were various meetings and sharing of information which meant we could convert the same style and approach to that in Spain and deliver it here in the UK. Clearly there was attention to ensuring best value for the investors which meant we had to assess what aspects of procurement worked more favourably from Spain and therefore bring on board more UK based procurement partners to ensure that there was no loss in detail and design regardless.”
Each AC Hotel is designed to reflect the uniqueness and character of its urban location, combining a sophisticated European style with a contemporary feel. The 142-room AC Hotel Manchester Salford Quays and the 90-room AC Hotel Birmingham offer unique spaces including the ‘AC Lounge’ and ‘AC Library.’ The AC Lounge is a creative hotspot by day and social hub by night with local craft beers, specialty wines, signature cocktails and a selection of tapas-style small bites. Meanwhile, the AC Library is a quiet space lined with interesting reading material and is another social space for guests to use to relax or hold a meeting.
AC Hotel Birmingham
The 90-room AC Hotel Birmingham is situated at The Mailbox, the former Royal Mail sorting office, which has been regenerated into an exclusive shopping area with stylish stores, restaurants, cafes and bars. Leisure guests can enjoy the hotel’s easy access to the city’s major attractions, including the National Indoor Arena and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, while business visitors will benefit from the hotel’s prime location by the International Convention Centre.
The full closure of the Birmingham location during the refurbishment was due to a full hard fit out that was required to the bedrooms, including all new bathroom suites and new air conditioning. Bespoke vanity units were made by ASD Unlimited and tiling firm Squarefoot Ceramics was also used.
Throughout the bedrooms hard flooring was used with the use of planked vinyl flooring from Moduleo. Carpet tiles were used in the public areas and guest corridors, which challenged the more conservative Axminster approach. In the bedrooms as part of the AC Hotels development in Madrid they had a series of rooms with timber wall panelling and in Birmingham, Design Coalition turned to a mixture of wall coverings from companies like Seltex and Muraspecs using their timber affect Strataflex range.
Roy commented: “A lot of work was done on case good design with the help of Target Furniture based in Northampton, who not only understood the design brief but the commercial efficiencies of getting the bedroom rates right to develop so we could achieve the AC Hotel room cost effectively.
“The public spaces at Birmingham were not easy to convert and required extensive internal alterations to open up the space initially as much as we could to bring guests through the space to the back of the floor plan, using the bar as a beacon. We also had, within the space, a Starbucks to which we formed its own external entrance so not to confuse the hotel entrance. Likewise a hotel side entrance, which at closing time of the Starbucks did not distract from the model lined AC Hotel interior or experience. The Starbucks also went through alterations not just to the ingress but was upgraded to Starbucks latest design.”
AC Hotel Manchester Salford Quays
The 142-room AC Hotel Manchester Salford Quays occupies a coveted spot in the heart of the vibrant and fashionable Salford Quays district. The cutting edge innovation of MediaCityUK, the rich sporting history of Old Trafford Football Stadium and the diverse cultural offering of the Lowry Theatre are all just a few minutes’ walk away. Meetings and events are also expertly catered for and guests can choose between three fully flexible meeting rooms that cater for up to 100 people.
The refurbishment of the Salford Quays location was a similar tale to that of Birmingham for its finishes.
At Salford Quays, the bathrooms were newer and the refurbishment was more cosmetic and functional, rather than a complete overhaul.
Roy said: “The public spaces enjoy a far greater sense of space and light than Birmingham and sit far easier into the AC Hotels design model. We did challenge the Madrid team with the introduction of the new first floor library lounge. We had to form a new opening and modern staircase up to the space to provide a double height aspect. With the added benefit of a double aspect, illuminated public space is visible from street level on a key elevation.”
The Salford Quays site also had a double aspect entrance which meant that the reception had only one place, yet for AC Hotels the bar is hero – there is no formal dining room as such, so Design Coalition had to make sure that the reception dropped into the one space meeting the needs of guests, yet maintaining the cool bar experience.
Much of the behind the scenes work was undertaken by Valor in respect of a UK version of the AC Hotel menu. The operational aspect is very different, offering breakfast from the bar servery, which opens up as the breakfast line and then folds away neatly to provide a true bar space and no awkward empty food areas.
Roy concluded: “The first two AC Hotels in the UK are really on par with current AC Hotel principles as acknowledged by AC Hotels owners. The time scale for converting these two projects was the huge challenge to maximise the investment opportunities for the owners.
This meant working closely together and very much on bespoke items, cost engineered without template mock ups so we could all deliver. Good briefing, good design and communication are key to all of this and, not to gloss over it, but it was not without issue at times but ultimately opening on time with a design meeting huge approval is a great result for everyone involved.”
Philip Cowan Interiors
Philip Cowan Interiors manufacture, supply and install quality made to measure curtains and soft furnishings. Philip Cowan Interiors is a family run business offering a personal service. Operating in the UK market, they offer an unrivalled service and value for money.
The company has been in operation for 20 years and with 40 years’ experience, they specialise in manufacturing curtains for the hotel, healthcare, high-end residential and education sectors. Their customers include interior specifiers, contractors and end users.
Philip Cowan Interiors recently worked on the AC Hotels by Marriott® in Manchester and Birmingham. They were responsible for supplying and fitting curtains, voiles and cushions.
Commenting on working on the project, Philip Cowan said: “This was a new brand and a new opportunity for us. As a company we pride ourselves on being a family run business that offers a reliable service with personal contact.”
The experienced team at Philip Cowan are always on hand to advise and offer solutions to their customers.
Muraspec Decorative Solutions Limited
Muraspec Decorative Solutions Limited specialise in supreme commercial wallcoverings. The company supply, design and manufacture high quality, robust, decorative wall finishes at their plant in the UK, for use in all commercial environments.
As a highly accredited British manufacturer, Muraspec Decorative Solutions Limited is proud to have supplied amazing, beautiful wallcoverings to many varied hotel brands and individual properties across the world, from Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International and Intercontinental Hotels, to Malmaison, Hotel Du Vin, Radisson and many more. The company’s versatile approach and valued custom wallcovering service has given individual styles to many iconic five star Hotels – including The Connaught, The Berkeley, The Savoy and London Corinthia.
Most recently, Muraspec Decorative Solutions Limited has been involved with the AC Hotels by Marriott® project.
Mel Stonestreet, Leisure Sector Leader for Muraspec Decorative Solutions Limited, said:
“When AC Marriott designers were looking for a cost effective, durable, quality finish for public spaces and guest room walls they did not hesitate to ask for our help. We instantly had a solution – Strataflex, our IMO certified self-adhesive laminate film.
“Strataflex has given AC Marriott a maintenance-free, striking vinyl wood finish, with all the peace of mind. The product is fire rated, safe to use and will continue to look sensational in years to come.”
“We are proud of all aspects of our business, from customer service, design & manufacture of high quality products, environmental and social responsibility. After all we have been finding solutions for our customers for over 135 years!”
Target Furniture Ltd
Target Furniture Ltd specialise in the manufacture of contract furniture, including chairs, tables, sofas, seating, cabinets and bedroom furniture for use within the hospitality industry. The company has been in operation since 1978 and in addition to the aforementioned products, Target Furniture Ltd also sources Italian chair frames, which are then finished and upholstered in-house.
Over the years, Target Furniture Ltd has worked on many varied projects within the hospitality sector, from individual penthouse suites, country houses and spa hotels to large hotels, award-winning bars, restaurants and food outlets. Most recently, the company has been involved with AC Hotels by Marriott®, manufacturing and supplying furniture for public areas and bedrooms.
Ron Darlow, Target Furniture Ltd, said:
“We value our involvement with these projects as these are the first AC Hotels by Marriott® in this country.”
“As manufacturers, one of our prime qualities is flexibility – being able to accommodate design ideas during the initial process or accommodating any changes during the project is something we are very proud of.”
Matrix Fitness specialises in the design and supply of fitness equipment for use in the leisure and hospitality industry. Operating for 40 years Matrix has worked with many of the leading names in the hospitality sector, including Marriott, IHG, Wyndham, Four Seasons and Hyatt Hotels.
Recent projects have also included AC Hotels by Marriott®, providing conceptual gym designs for the brand’s new hotels.
James Blower, International Hospitality Manager EMEA, commented:
“As a customer centric, aspirational and innovative company, Matrix is currently the fastest growing fitness brand in the world. Matrix has a global purchasing contract with Marriott, and we were happy to support their strategy in launching this new hotel brand.”
Lightique is a decorative lighting specialist, supplying an extensive range of lighting to the hospitality industry. The company has been in operation for almost 30 years and within this time has supplied decorative lighting to the likes of Harvester, Toby, YO! Sushi, Yates, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Brewhouse & Kitchen, amongst others.
Most recently, Lightique has supplied decorative lighting to all the bedrooms and the public areas for AC Hotels by Marriott®.
Neil Smith of Lightique, said:
“It is always fantastic to be involved in new brands but when you bring such a prestigious brand to the UK as AC Hotels by Marriott® has done, the opportunity to provide all their lighting is a great honour.”
“To bring a project to life you need lots of elements of skill but more than ever you need a team that can work together, produce outstanding products and work to a tight schedule, facing problems together as they materialise. I would like to think of us as the first choice in decorative lighting.”
Square Foot Ceramics Ltd
Square Foot Ceramics Ltd specialise in the supply of ceramic tiles to the construction industry. The company has been in operation for 11 years and within this time has worked on numerous projects throughout the leisure sector.
Most recently, Square Foot Ceramics Ltd has been involved with AC Hotels by Marriott®, supplying ceramic tiles for use in their hotels. Square Foot Ceramics Ltd worked closely with project designers, Design Coalition in order to meet the specific design requirements.
Colin Trenery of Square Foot Ceramics Ltd, said:
“We are thrilled to see our tiles used for a prestigious hotel brand such as AC Hotels by Marriott®.”
“At Square Foot Ceramics Ltd we pride ourselves on our excellent customer service, from supplying samples to the designer to the delivery to site.”
Interface Hospitality creates nature-inspired design for AC Hotels by Marriott®
Interface Hospitality, a sub brand of Interface – the world’s largest global manufacturer of sustainable commercial modular flooring – was selected by Design Coalition to provide luxurious high end flooring for the latest AC Hotels by Marriott® in Manchester and Birmingham.
Design Coalition used the principle of biophilic design to provide a calming and rejuvenating space for guests. Biophilic design is a concept founded on the idea that human beings have an intrinsic connection to the natural world and crave its calming, revitalising presence. The benefits of re-establishing this bond with nature have been proven in research, showing that biophilic design can help us feel less stressed, as well as more productive and more relaxed.
A number of Interface Hospitality’s nature inspired flooring collections were chosen for AC Hotels in a variety of colours and textures. These included Human Nature, a biophilic collection inspired by the most elemental of floor coverings – forest floors, grassy fields and pebbled garden paths.
Design Coalition recognised the creative flexibility and functional benefits that Interface Hospitality modular flooring offers, such as the ‘Design by Tile’ approach (offering endless design possibilities), ease of maintenance (removing and replacing single damaged tiles) and acoustic benefits. The deeper piled textures were used to create underfoot comfort and provide a luxurious feel.
Visit www.interfacehospitality.eu for more information.