Insights

Sense of community as a growth strategy

Andaz Mexico City CondesaThe idea of an urban hotel embedding itself into the surrounding community is nothing new, but for many properties it remains just that: an idea that’s talked about in press releases and on the website yet seldom woven into every aspect of the operations and amenities. When a hotel does in fact go through the meticulous process of creating a strong sense of community, the results are nothing short of magical, and this is reflected through a positive impact on guest satisfaction, demand and the ability to grow rate.

Celebrating its one-year anniversary this past January, the newly opened, the Andaz Mexico City Condesa – a Concept by Hyatt serves as the quintessential example of how a hotel can go about fostering this sense of community in order to create spaces that are truly special to both travelers and locals. At 17 stories, this luxury lifestyle hotel consists of 213 residential style guestrooms including 20 suites, with a private courtyard, rooftop pool, a 24-hour fitness center, full spa, art throughout the public spaces and five dining options.

In sitting down with General Manager Analía Capurro, we learned that the story of Andaz Mexico City Condesa is as much about what makes this particular property successful as it is a tale about the unique neighborhood that is La Condesa and the current lifestyle hospitality renaissance that’s happening throughout Mexico City (CDMX).

General Manager Analía Capurro

A rapidly evolving hotel landscape

Hailing from Buenos Aires and having been in the Hyatt family for over 20 years, Capurro first moved to CDMX over a decade ago where she almost immediately became enamored by the city while stationed at the Hyatt Regency Mexico City – a landmark property over in the ritzy Polanco neighborhood. During this time and also during the opening of the Andaz Mexico City Condesa, she has witnessed a tremendous shift in the traveler composition to CDMX.

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“It used to be that Mexico City was a Monday to Thursday night town, with business travelers coming in for midweek meetings then emptying by the weekend,” commented Capurro. “While that segment is still very much alive, Mexico City has come into the global limelight as a leisure destination, cultural center and gastronomic hub, where today weekend occupancies sit above 70% year round. The city is alive!”

Major brands are hardly ignorant of this evolution either, with the luxury and lifestyle segments achieving huge growth in recent years to capitalize on this new demand. Notable recent openings include The Ritz-Carlton, Mexico City in October 2021, Mondrian Mexico City Condesa right across from the Andaz Mexico City Condesa in December 2022, Soho House Mexico City in September 2023, and a handful of boutique homegrown brands like the 49-key Hotel Volga in the nearby neighborhood of Cuauhtémoc that soft-opened in June 2023 followed by the design-centric aparthotel ONTO Tonalá that opened in November 2023. Nor is this trend letting up with a strong development pipeline for CDMX that includes the likes of Park Hyatt and Rosewood over the next few years.

Writing about CDMX as outsiders, it’s important to also talk about the international perception of crime in this city – an aspect for which Capurro has observed a steady downswing since she first moved there. Nowadays, all the main tourist areas are safe, while the government has also established special tourism police force with all officers fluent in English and knowledge about insurance claims. Just as the city’s commerce, tourism and development continue to boom, the criminal element will recede even further.

As goes Condesa-Roma goes Mexico

With commerce in CDMX centered on the grand avenue of Avenida Paseo de La Reforma, the two neighborhoods immediately south from there, La Condesa and Roma – together as Condesa-Roma – represent the cool capital of Mexico. Gastronomic, fashion and lifestyle trends start here before spreading nationwide.

As a wellness-oriented example of this, it’s in Condesa-Roma where yoga and Pilates first took off in Mexico. To embed itself into this relaxed-yet-avant-garde sensibility, the Andaz Mexico City Condesa paid particular attention to how it designed its services and amenities in order to attract locals as well as foster a dynamic atmosphere where capitalinos and viajeros intermingle.

Starting out from the Andaz brand’s Wellbeing is Personal mission, the interpretation here was to adapt this motto into monthly programs at its Pasana Spa & Wellness that purposefully introduce locals to the latest wellness and vitality trends while showing the warmth and sense of belonging of Condesa-Roma to travelers. This was achieved by alternating the hotel’s regular Saturday classes between contrast therapy – circuits of ice baths, saunas and breathwork – and barre – a form of dance class that brings in elements of yoga and other low-impact exercises. Capitalizing on an even newer trend, they also now run animal flow classes, which are movement routines focusing on natural transitions for a full body workout.

To ensure the community stayed engaged, each new offering was first posted on social media for organic awareness. Critically, though, while hotel guests can always learn then purchase through the app or via onsite QR code, class pricing was not made prohibitive to local attendance, resulting in a 50-50 split for these two segments.

Next, as a fun bit of trivia, Condesa-Roma also has the most dogs (as pets) per capita of any urban area in the world. So, while most properties in CDMX are pet friendly, the Andaz Mexico City Condesa went far beyond mere box-checking in this aspect by developing its own outdoor restaurant concept, Wooftop Beer Garden & Canine Club, aimed directly at pet owners coming with their furry companions. Adjacent to this is Bulldog Sports Bar which, per its name, also serves both hominids and canines in an indoor bar and lounge with massive TVs, air hockey and nostalgic arcade games. Whether they’re visiting from Los Angeles or New York – two of the property’s main feeder cities – or a few blocks away, this differentiated programming is yet one more way that the hotel has built an organic following that compounds to make for healthy year-round revenues.

Being stewards of the community

It’s often said that the best hotels are not only those that are excellently designed but those that enhance their environs. If there’s a single word that encapsulates this, it’s stewardship. Condesa-Roma is a neighborhood that tests boundaries and as such the Andaz Mexico City Condesa has strived to be forward-thinking with its wellness and pet friendly amenities.

But this being the culinary capital that CDMX is known for, no discussion of stewardship in this city is complete without a sharp focus on the hotel’s core restaurant offerings, especially with every competitor property already at the forefront of gastronomy. Besides an outlet specifically for pet owners, the hotel’s signature concept is Cabuya Rooftop, focusing on contemporary seafood and cocktails with panoramas of the downtown skyline and curated music every night. One year in, this positioning has earned the terrace restaurant heavy traffic all week with four out of five patrons being local.

Rounding out this keystone offering is the Derba Matcha Café where, per its name, the hotel recruited ostensibly the best pastry chef in CDMX to theme the array of caffeinated beverages and baked goods around this healthy green tea powder. Embracing guest wellness and vitality here, everything is made in-house with no additives from whole foods, and the staff are trained to be able to answer guest inquiries about where the ingredients came from.

Then, as a fifth dining option, the hotel has Pórtico, the newest offering that just debuted on the first floor, which exclusively focuses on breakfasts during this initial launch period. Finally, spilling out from the lobby are billiards and tables equipped with card games that, alongside the activities within Bulldog Sports Bar, transform the main floor into a hangout for locals every night. What you can observe from all this is that whatever amenity hotel guests opt to use, they become immersed in a lively atmosphere brimming with residents from the area. This serves to amplify their experience in CDMX, which boosts satisfaction and loyalty, while also diversifying revenues away from just ancillary capture by travelers.

Ending with the guestrooms

Of course, the core revenue generator of a hotel is mostly to be its rooms, so that is where we conclude this overview of how building a product for locals as much as for guests adds to more than the sum of its parts. For the Andaz Mexico City Condesa, wellness yet again is ever-present with the Headspace app available via a brandwide agreement with Hyatt, a custom pillow menu, on-demand exercise equipment and the minibar outfitted with healthy snacks – for example, avocado chips instead of the expected global brand potato chips – as well as chocolates that are sustainably sourced from within Mexico.

But the property being one block away from the Auditorio Blackberry, a popular live music venue, they added an element of emotional wellness by ensuring all rooms have their own record player with individual records available downstairs. With the Andaz brand’s new tagline of ‘Indulgence like no one’s watching’, the Andaz Mexico City Condesa team lensed this as ‘Move like no one’s watching’ by leaning into what their neighborhood has to offer and bundling a DJ experience for hotel guests. In this package, the resident DJ from Cabuya heads down to the guestroom for a personal tutorial on the craft.

Like all the other amenities we’ve covered, this DJ experience is authentically local, directly aligned with the posh sensibility of the brand and wholly part of a smart strategy that offers either a unique approach to market for travelers or a welcoming hangout for residents of Condesa-Roma. Now one year into its launch, the Andaz Mexico City Condesa has plenty more lessons for the industry as it continues to adapt its programming in lockstep with its rapidly evolving community.

This article may not be reproduced without the expressed permission of the authors.

Tags: Andaz Mexico City Condesa, Sense of community, stewards of the community

Managing Partners at Hotel Mogel Consulting, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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