Accor’s latest hotel expansion cemented its status as a cool, hip sibling among global competitors.
The Paris-based hotel giant on Tuesday announced plans to partner with Faena, a hotel company with three hotels between Miami and Buenos Aires. The business may seem small, but Faena’s properties are more like small neighborhoods with restaurants, condominiums, and cultural components spanning multiple city blocks.
The joint announcement of the partnership even marks future efforts as Faena Districts rather than hotels, similar to Faena’s existing properties in Florida and Argentina.
A close cooperation between the two companies, which is not a sale to Accor, emphasized Faena founder Alan Faena in an interview with Skift, is the latest game from Accor, which focuses even further on luxury lifestyle hotels, with which a higher proportion of sales is achieved in their restaurants and bars.
“You bring a lot to the table,” said Faena. “It is very difficult to be totally independent today and you have to look for your perfect partner to advance the vision we have with Faena.”
After what the hotel founder described as a two-year negotiation process, the working relationship between Faena and Accor is official. Accor will assist with Faena’s global expansion plans, with a Dubai project next, but anything beyond that remains unclear.
Each project aims to “create a unique, socially responsible, holistic environment that is anchored in cultural experiences”, so the announcement of the partnership. This includes hotels, residential projects and cultural spaces.
The original Faena neighborhood in Buenos Aires includes the Faena Hotel as well as the Faena Art Center and several residential buildings in a neglected part of the Puerto Madero neighborhood in the Argentine city.
Miami’s Faena District – formerly a relatively ignored property between the South and North Beach neighborhoods – includes both Casa Faena and Faena Miami Beach hotels, as well as developments such as the Faena Forum exhibit space, luxury condominiums, and retail stores.
“We always find places that aren’t the coolest,” said Faena. “We create the place.”
Hotels that are destinations in and of themselves are an increasing priority for Accor. As part of a corporate reorganization last year, the company created independent departments for its ultra-luxury brands such as Raffles and its Lifestyle Hotels, which are hotels that, as part of a corporate reorganization, generate up to half of their sales from their grocery and beverage stores.
“There are many outside partners knocking on Accor’s doors trying to work with their own similar brands,” said Sebastien Bazin, Accor CEO, of the new lifestyle division at Skift Global Forum last year. “But they would only do this if they were welcomed into a dedicated business unit and not under the big Accor umbrella.”
The lifestyle brands were later spun off into a separate entity as part of a merger with Ennismore, the London-based company behind brands like The Hoxton.
It is not yet clear whether the Faena brands would fall under Ennismore’s purview, as Faena sees for itself that the company fits into both luxury and lifestyle forms. He also notes that his business is more about partnership than Accor taking a stake.
“We didn’t sell anything. I’m much more committed than ever, ”said Faena. “It’s a big difference because we maintain that integrity and no one more than me wants to keep the brand, the energy and the culture because this is our culture.”
However, Faena recognizes that a global partner like Accor can help build an independent brand like his own, which he founded with UK investor Len Blavatnik in 2000.
What used to be independent brands like W is often criticized for selling to a bigger, global company that will turn around and expand the band and lose some of its exclusivity in the process. In such deals, however, the distribution often outweighs the coolness factor.
Brand awareness and dissemination on a global platform are especially beneficial when all hotel businesses are trying to address the limited travel options during the pandemic recovery.
While sales are an added perk to partnering with Accor, Faena said he was ultimately drawn to the company because it was more willing to think like a smaller boutique brand than a giant hotel conglomerate.
“What I found is that they are big, but they are also small,” he said. “If you are a creator and you want to keep expanding and reaching more people, this is always a challenge. So my plan is to go to the most demanding team I can have. “
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Photo Credit: Accor is working with Miami-based Faena to expand the company beyond Florida and South America with three hotels (Photo: Pao, a restaurant in Faena Miami Beach). task