This week has seen the launch of a new brand, The Resident, into the UK hotel market. But the city centre-focused brand is built on far more solid foundations than many, and is poised to grow off the back of that strong base.
The Resident is being built from the reformatted Nadler hotels brand, which has continued to thrive since the departure of eponymous leader Robert Nadler. With the same focus, and the same backers, hotelier and CEO David Orr has honed the offer and under its fresh brand, the company ready to grow the portfolio into a more national chain.
Currently, The Resident has four hotels in central London, and one in Liverpool. Its most recent opening, a new site in Covent Garden, was completed in the style of the new brand, enabling fine tuning of a model that Orr wants to improve, rather than change fundamentally.
“I’m mindful of the legacy of predecessors,” Orr told Hotel Analyst. “With Covent Garden, we could look to the future as well as respect the past.”
The brand started life as Base2Stay, with a hotel in London’s Kensington, adding a second property and rebranding to Nadler in 2013. In 2018, at which point the brand had three properties open, Nadler left the business after a disagreement with shareholders over the future direction of the business.
The brand consistently focused on a city centre offering of smaller hotels, avoiding the need to run an in-house food and beverage offer by linking with local restaurants and bars, and picking off sites that would not have the scale the big brands prefer. The offering now includes a “hosted model” that includes evening drinks in a format that allows guests to chat with others and with staff, picking up knowledge of the locality as they need it.
Orr has extensive previous operational experience, having launched City Inn in the 1990s; he subsequently headed the Mint portfolio, whose eight properties were sold to Blackstone for GBP600m.
A private family office, Mactaggart Family and Partners is the main long-term backer of the company, and has been with the business for more than 15 years. “It works extremely well,” said Orr, with consistently high guest satisfaction delivered from an empowered team. “It’s very much about talking to the person as a guest – I’ve always been guest-obsessed.”
The past few years have seen him concentrate on developing strong revenue management systems: “The business intelligence is up several notches,” he says. A combination of the Duetto system, plus “an extremely good revenue manager in the business,” has meant consistently good returns. Within London, “we know when our micro markets will get busy – and we’re planning the whole year, every day.”
Orr would like to introduce The Resident to a number of UK city centres, and says his target list includes other areas of London, too. The lean operating model could be applied via management contract, while he is also happy to take on sites and develop, convert buildings or take over existing properties.
HA Perspective [by Chris Bown]: Deliver a simple concept, and do it well, and you don’t need complex loyalty programmes – guests will return to a hotel where they genuinely feel loved. Mike de Noma, when he took on Amba, showed it could be done even in a tricky employment market like London, and Orr is doing something very similar.
The Resident feels like a very considered evolution of the Nadler concept. There are one or two others, at different levels of the market such as Z Hotels and Firmdale, who also prosper in this market, offering quietly efficient places to stay, with none of the frippery of big brands, and enjoying the quiet appreciation of regular travellers who simply want the basics done very well.