GENERATOR Hostel to open in Paris!

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Generator are set to go Parisian chic in Winter 2014! Yes, the secret is out and confirmed on new promotional materials, which first circulated at ‘City Fair’ Wembley at the end of June.

The huge property is located in the 10th Arrondissement, close to  Gare du Nord… and coincidentally just a few blocks from the newest St. Christopher’s hostel to open in Paris.

While St. Christopher have the location (you will see it first as you come out the station), Generator have the beds – almost 1000! By far the biggest hostel bed offering in a hostel in France.

Once the property is fully renovated and individually styled with French flair, it will offer penthouse rooms with private terraces, a vast selection of dorms and private rooms, large bar and nightclub, cafe and lounge and a range of entertainment – making it a premier addition to the haven of arts and cafe culture the area is now bursting with.

The property will have views towards Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur and will obviously be in high demand for both FIT and group bookings, the latter which will be keenly utilised by both buyer and supplier.

So – the question is… which part of the year of Winter 2014 will the property actually be unveiled in all it’s ‘je ne sais quoi’?! That’s something that the Generator are keeping secret for now 😉

 

 

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25 Cool Hostel chains worth staying in

…… in no particular order

1. Generator – founded in London, soon to open its tenth EU hostel – a juggernaut! Check them out

2. St.Christopher’s – teamed up with the ‘Beds & Bars’ group, funky, chilled, food and drink, good EU locations

3. Oasis – Lisbon, Malaga, Seville, Granada…. all very cool

4. Base – Australian & Kiwi hospitality at its best

5. Sant Jordi – an incredible 6 locations in Barcelona

6. Equity Point – great quality properties in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and USA

7. Flying Pig – Amsterdam, Uptown & Downtown… and by the beach in Noordwijk

8. Home – two central in Valencia, one in Barcelona… chilled

9. Dizzy Daisy – cool, four Polish locations and one Prague

10. Nest – funky Spanish, a favourite for travellers in Granada, Valencia, Barcelona, San Sebastian

11. Hatters – UK: Liverpool, Birmingham & Manchester

12. Smart – UK: multiple, central London locations

13. Journey’s – UK – three London, one Brighton… extending to Asia

14. Bohemian – cool hostels in Prague, well known group – look them up!

15. A&O – founded in 2000, largely German…. expanding through EU – considered the biggest chain

16. Meininger – well known German, plus London, Vienna, Brussels… set for big expansion

17.USA hostels –  California anyone?! Backpacker hostels in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego

18. Wombats – Austrian & German, recent opening in Budapest… next stop, Milan?!

19. PLUS – great hostels, plus camping…. Italy, Czech, German….. Berlin is amazing

20. Baxpax – funky German styling, three Berlin locations

21.Hip Hop Hostels – about a dozen in Paris – a collective

22. Palmers – posh UK, London times two…. and an opening in Zagreb, Croatia

23. Nomads – a brand affiliated with properties all over…. bigger in OZ & NZ… looking for world domination!

24. YHA – a brand affiliated with properties all over… big in UK, Scotland but some key Australia properties are best!

25. HI – a brand affiliated with properties all over… big in USA and Canada

There are so many great hostel chains and independent hostels out there… I have been so lucky to have visited a lot! Are there any not on this list that you think should be included?

Happy travels ))

Most European destinations mentioned are cheaply reached by budget airlines

I prefer to use Ryanair or Easyjet

Big hostel brands set for European expansion in 2013

Hostel chains expanding in 2013: News keeps on breaking of big, well-known, award-winning chains expanding to all parts of the globe.  This is especially true in Europe – where student, family and budget travel for business and independent travellers shows no signs of slowing down.  A demand for trusted and cool budget accommodation is literally hitting new highs!

This is possibly fueled by the global financial crisis that we still find ourselves in…. ironically, somewhat complimenting our budget accommodation industry who are left asking ‘What GFC?!’ People still travel and it seems that what was not an option for some previously, now is… the rise of the hostel, or the concept of what a hostel should be and offer, keeps on adapting in these hard times and is reaping the benefits. People from hotel backgrounds are cashing in on the hostel product, bringing their expertise to the market.

For most the prominent chains, bookings and revenue are strong – making new openings possible. However, the news of the chains or ‘big boys’ coming to town has left a lot of smaller, independent properties quaking while they wait to see just what kind of impact the introduction of extra beds from brand expansions will have on their business. A great example is Barcelona, who this year alone are set to be inundated with a few thousand extra dorm beds.

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As Product Manager at HostelBookers, if I look at the three brands that have recently won the ‘Best Chain’ category for our Awards for Excellence, I can see that 2013 is going to be a big year for expansion for them in particular. Recently while in Berlin for ITB, I managed to catch up with some of these brands…. and more.

So – the first three from our recent Awards:

GENERATOR – Berlin & Barcelona.

I went to a cool party they put on the night before ITB started. They billed the party as ‘ for one night only, rising from the foundations’ of the new property about to open in Berlin Mitte… and what a property it is set to be! It’s on the same strip as Meininger and well placed in a backpackers hub of town. However, this is just one city set to benefit from a Generator opening….. Barcelona will have two, a hostel and a hotel (same building, two entrances and receptions)…and other cities with strong, rumored interest include Rome, Milan and Amsterdam… no sign of slowing! Their new logo and re-branding is epic….. forget what you once knew…. Generator has jumped a few levels!

http://generatorhostels.com/en/destinations/barcelona/

http://generatorhostels.com/en/destinations/berlin-mitte/

EQUITY POINT – Prague.

They have secured a prime location and building and renovation work and just about finished, with their newest property set to open just after Easter. A great location, just over Charles Bridge in the Mala Strana district….. an area screaming out for a classy hostel and boost of youth to its historic area under Prague Castle.

http://www.equity-point.com/en/hostels-prague/equity-point-prague/hostels-prague.html

PLUS – tbc…

Currently riding high off the huge success of what is PLUS Berlin, which really upped the ante of their overall product and brand offering two years ago….. the PLUS crew are scouting for new locations and are set to make announcements soon…. speaking to some of the managers, it is clear that they are after steady growth, with the plan to open up a new property every few years… so I guess that time has come! Keep an eye on their website for their latest, exciting news http://www.plushostels.com

Now, other big brands about to expand that you probably know of if you travel / work in the industry:

ST CHRISTOPHER’S – Paris.

A second hostel for them in this beautiful city set to open soon, around the corner from Gare du Nord station….. how central can you get?! The recent opening of their Barcelona property has seen them rise to the top of Barcelona bookings and ratings quickly. They even won ‘Best Newcomer’ for the Barcelona property in HostelBookers Awards for Excellence… as well as ‘Most Popular’ for the Prague Mosaic House – so expectations ride high for what they can achieve in 2013…. expect more openings other than the immediate Paris open this Spring! http://www.st-christophers.co.uk/paris-hostels/gare-du-nord

MEININGER – Brussels & Barcelona.

They won ‘Best Value Hotel’ in HostelBookers recent ‘Awards for Excellence’. Interestingly, there has been a very recent shift in the ownership and management of this company – with Eric Van Dijk (previously overseeing the Generator expansion) being hired as part of the new Meininger line up. Meeting with a rep recently at ITB, I can confirm that there is strong focus on acquiring openings in London (more) and Amsterdam (new). Their Brussels property was the latest to open… an excellent budget choice hotel / hostel for the numerous business travellers the city attracts.

http://www.meininger-hotels.com/en/expansion/

WOMBATS – Milan…. This is most likely set to open early in 2014…. as stated on the bottom of their email signatures. Their newer Budapest property has been a big success…..also picking up an Award for Excellence for Cleanliness. But don’t expect them to stop at Milan in 2013/14 either… great properties, giving travellers exactly what they want! http://www.wombats-hostels.com/about-us/investor-relations/

A&O Hostels – Vienna & Graz. By far the biggest ‘hostel’ chain…. Vienna opens this month and is massive at almost one thousand beds! Just look at their run sheet of locations they are scouting….if you were ever thinking of  getting into the business, now is the best time

http://www.aohostels.com/en/about-aampo/new-openings/

Most destinations mentioned are cheaply reached by budget airlines

I prefer to use Ryanair or Easyjet

One80° Hostel Berlin win ‘Best Newcomer’

one80

One80° Hostel have picked up yet another award – this time from Hostelbookers in their recent Awards for Excellence. I met up with some of their managers at ITB today to congratulate them of their win. Stella Lindemann, Guest Relations Manager for the property says of the win, ‘Wow, we did not expect to win anything, being new and not established….but now it feels like we made it! All the work, the blood and sweat, it all makes sense!’

Asked about the brand philosophy of One80°, she continues, ‘We are all a team. We all live and breathe One80°…it is love, positivity, kindness. It is a love for Berlin that comes from the staff, the knowledge….being informative and helpful.’

Walking into One80°, one could easily expect to be in a hotel. High spec finishes, high quality materials, vast communal spaces and am amazing basement nightclub and band room. Part of the Azure hotel group, they are quick to add, ‘we are definetly a hostel! This is part of the philosophy. We are a hostel, but from a hotel background. We bring a different perspective – a high customer focus but easy atmosphere’. Stella should know, her title says it all… Its not something that a typical hostel provides, but something found in four and five star hotels.

Asked about the biggest challenge faced when opening, Stella says, ‘It was to get people to see and recognise something new. For OTA’s to see us as a serious player. That, and the size – over seven hundred beds is big..we were so surprised at how many beds we sold…. A huge amount…even before we had opened. It was a high anxious energy when we opened. The first few days, all of a sudden it was all hands on deck….there was chaos, but in a beautiful way, where everyone worked together and it just became normal…it gelled.’

Already under an investor group of hotels, I ask if the One80° ‘hostel’ concept will be pushed further. I’m happy to know that their investors are already scouting for other locations. Where this will be is anyone’s guess, although Prague and London seem to denote a positive response. Wherever it is, the location must be central to attract a young and funky crowd – something which lent to the success of the current stand alone property in the heart of the city, Alexanderplatz. You know you are in Berlin when the looming view is the iconic TV tower ‘Fernsehturm!’

‘What about the name – there must be something in that?’, I ask. Of course there is a story which encompasses the response already given. Stella states, ‘Yes – One80° was thought of by the investors…. As they worked in hotels and wanted to open a boutique conceptual hostel, it was a one eighty degree turn on what they did, on what they thought a modern hostel should now offer…a hotel approach in a hostel environment…so, the brand is born!’

Brand?! Yes, confirming the brand again is exciting – a brand that is set to grow quickly off the back of the current success of one of the best new hostels opened in recent years. Not just in Europe, but worldwide. A feat that all Berliners should be proud of – party and highly desirable travel capital of Germany.

Get your photo taken in their photobooth after partying in their nightclub!

Get your photo taken in their photobooth after partying in their nightclub!

So what next for the current product? What has been missed that could be introduced? What other strategy is there for 2013? Both girls giggle and talk of how cool it would be to have a rooftop terrace, an infinity pool or rooftop lap pool, but these are most likely ideas for the next hostels. For now, the concept is perfect. The strategy revolves more around pushing the club facilities and promoting bands and dj’s, who they are happy to give a few free nights stay to in exchange for service and talent.

Julia Schroeder, Sales Manager adds, ‘All of us, the owners and investors, are really happy with the awards we receive. To see everything come together, from the design, to the customers, to the atmosphere created in our communal spaces where people are working, socialising, having fun….its amazing! We just didn’t realise the affect it would have.’

Chatting with the girls, I can see the passion and enthusiasm they have for the business. Julia has excellent experience in hospitality management, which she studied and worked in places such as the London Ritz Carlton and the Holiday Inn Berlin, before being snapped up by the Azure group. On the other hand, Stella comes from a teacher background, bringing the nurturing and caring side into the customer relations mix. They are a dynamic duo, riding a high wave of celebrated success.

So, who knows what is next? It seems like anything is possible for the One80° concept. Philosophy and strategy aligned, the Azure group’s next projects sound set to be touched and turned to gold…this could be the new brand to take on the likes of current ‘best chain’ winners Generator, PLUS and Equity Point in future years! Congrats!

For a full list of HostelBookers ‘Awards for Excellence’ 2013 winners – view here

http://www.hostelbookers.com/2013-top-accommodation/

Grand Hostel Berlin win ‘Best Staff’ award

Grand Berlin - logo

Hostelbookers ‘Awards for Excellence’ has awarded Grand Hostel Berlin a ‘Best Staff’ award within Western Europe. The property has won numerous awards from a variety of OTAs since opening, making it one of the more wider known and respected hostels in Berlin’s saturated market. As I am here for ITB, I managed to visit the property for a tour and a catch up with the owners and managers.

Of the win, hostel manager Clara Rueter states ‘Wow! This means we are doing it right! Our staff are all very individual, all very natural with people. We are roughly 17 people, all speaking different languages from all over the world. While all different, we are all in harmony – and the guests pick up on that’.

The reception staff are all well trained and have excellent experience in hospitality management. The trend in the industry is that a lot of staff that work in hostels actually come from four and five star hotel backgrounds. This is also the case with Grand Hostel Berlin.

Adding to reasons for their win for Best Staff, Clara goes on to say ‘We have very entertaining staff. Every day we offer something, a different nightly event. We are a medium size property, so the customers really get to know the staff…. and we, the customers. We fulfil the needs of our guests. We are not a party hostel. We are more boutique. Our product is comfort, relaxation and a good nights sleep. We bring customers together…we are their home when they stay with us’.

Nina Geserick, a new manager to Grand, says ‘I noticed straight away the difference here. You can see the customers are not just a number. I have worked at larger hostels where this easily happens… Here, everyone knows each other on first name basis. The property size is manageable with just over one hundred beds. It is a friendly, medium size… Not a crazy party. We leave that to the others!’

Nina should know, she has a wealth of experience in the industry, having worked in Berlin hostels such as the Generator and One80 – both properties also having won awards in this years Hostelbookers Awards for Excellence. Generator for ‘Best Chain’, One80 ‘Best Newcomer’.

Award winning boutique Berlin hostel

Award winning boutique Berlin hostel

Jorg, part owner, talks about the introduction of their restaurant ‘Grand ma’s’. ‘We had so many customers asking where they could go for proper German food, there was no where great close by. We want them to stay with us, or have even more reason to come back to us after a long day out….so we created our restaurant with more traditional and affordable German dishes. Customers love it. The local businesses even come to us for lunch. Our strategy is to really get the evening service established, looking after our customers needs even more’.

Whatever Grand is doing, it is getting it right! The place is immaculate, the staff attentive, friendly and well spoken. They range from countries such as Australia, South Africa and Kazakhstan….some speak up to seven languages fluently. This worldly combination obviously suits the industry and product – it really is true and I hear it time and time  again, that great staff are invaluable – they either make or break the business. In Grand’s case, business is well and truly booming! Congrats

For a full list of HostelBookers ‘Awards for Excellence’ 2013 winners – view here

http://www.hostelbookers.com/2013-top-accommodation/