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Well Red: Radisson’s newest brand breaks traditions in Minneapolis

As you walk into the bathroom inside a guestroom at the soon-to-be-open Radisson Red Minneapolis, you are greeted by an image of a stag’s head etched in red into the white tile of the shower. It’s an image that is both inherent of Minnesota and a cornerstone of the nascent Radisson Red brand. It’s called the Badge of Honor, according to Rich Flores, VP branding, Radisson & Radisson Red Hotels at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, and it’s something that will be distinct to all of the brand’s hotels, and one of many unique features aimed to attract guests looking to get something different out of their hotel.

The Minneapolis property, which is expected to open on Nov. 16 (Flores said the hotel was “99% finished” in early October), will be the brand’s first U.S. property and second overall. 

“We were inspired by our Scandinavian roots as an organization. The design has a Scandinavian influence with very, very white and very, very crisp, clean lines, but mixed with that influence is the fact that Red is a very bold, very alive brand. So, we wanted to bring those two worlds together where we’re doing big pops of red but, in the room, the bathrooms are still crisp and clean. There’s a lot of white that balances out that bold design,” said Flores, who is responsible for leading global Radisson Red brand development and execution teams across the U.S. and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) regions, including design and construction and procurement. “The other philosophy we follow is the notion of challenging ourselves to not do things in the traditional hotel format. We don’t have a front desk; we have one giant social area that used to be the lobby.”

For guests walking into the hotel for the first time, it may be alarming not to see a front desk or even a couple of kiosks. Instead, Flores and his team devised an open space where staff members—called creatives—will help guests find what they are looking for.

“We purposely designed the hotel so that when guests are walking in, they’re going to look for one of our staff members,” said Flores. “They are not necessarily going to know exactly where to go, but they’re going to walk into this big, inviting, very energy-driven space.”

He continued, “The space has phenomenal FF&E. There are some signature chairs actually made out of concrete. We wanted to repurpose as much as possible, so we have a chair that once was a shopping cart. We have this red hexagonal seating—think of it as a giant ottoman—but the entire thing is moveable, so the guests can sit down and take two or three pieces of the ottoman and create their own little seating cluster.”

The space also features a large digital wall, where guests can take selfies in front of a TV screen, hashtag themselves for their own social media feeds, and the images also get aggregated into the brand’s social media feed.

In the area that was traditionally the lobby are the hotel’s F&B component, OUIBar + KTCHN, and the 1,000-sq.-ft. Events & Games Studio. The former is “a very large inviting bar with a lot of communal seating,” said Flores. The latter, he noted, is different from other hotels because “usually that is separate, or on a different floor. Here, it’s part of the lobby. What divides the studio from the lobby are these glass accordion doors. So, when the events studio is not in use, we open up those doors and it becomes an extension of the lobby.”

The guestrooms also break from tradition. Radisson Red calls them studios, and there are 164 of them in the Minneapolis flagship. The first things guests will likely notice are not what’s in the room, but rather what is not.

“One of the things we were inspired by was to remove the items out of the room that the guests don’t necessarily want and/or use,” said Flores. “For example, there is no desk. We also got away from having the old-fashioned dresser. 

“In place of the desk, we created a picnic table. There’s a bench and on the other side there are two different chairs,” he continued. “We’ve created a standalone wardrobe that’s not taking up a lot of space. We also took away the carpet and went with luxury vinyl tile.”

Besides the big red stag head, bathrooms are equipped with standalone showers with rainshower heads and wands; C.O. Bigelow bath amenities; and lighting the brand dubbed “love yourself lighting.” Said Flores, “One of the things we hear from guests, especially women, is ‘We need better light.’ So, the bathroom is really crisp and fresh. It’s white tile with red grout, and the lighting in there is spectacular.”

Something else guests may not notice is that the studios are 100% paper-free. “There’s no guest-service directory. There is no tent card.” noted Flores. “We created a cool piece of art behind the door that basically tells the guests what to do if they’re hungry; how to download the app; how to get on the WiFi; and whatever other information we can capture behind the door.”

The windows in each studio are oversized, and that was for two reasons, according to Flores. “First, as you look out the window and watch life going by, that technically is art,” he said. “The flip side to that is every room features a piece of art we converted into wallpaper, and when you’re outside of the hotel and look up at  the window, if the shades are open, you can vividly see the art in every room.HB

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