Le Meridien's New Hub: Grand Plan or Glorified Lobby?

07/05/2011 02:48 pm ET | Updated Sep 04, 2011

What becomes a lobby most? For most properties, modern furniture, subdued music and thoughtful attendants are the formula for elevating this standard space into a pleasant thoroughfare.

But not for Le Meridien.

The Parisian luxury property is relaunching its lobbies into a veritable destination, complete with sensory elements. At least that's their hope.

At last week's press conference at ABC Kitchen, they unveiled grand plans to roll out a tide of redesigned lobbies dubbed "The Hub." True to its name the space is designed to be a hub of activity, attract guests, capture attention and stimulate conversations. The net benefit of time -- and money -- spent here is to generate the exchange of idea, if not numbers.

Their strategy for this comes down -- in large part -- to decor. Individual tables have been replaced with communal seating. A curated selection of books, reflecting the culture and heritage of the particular locale, are carefully strewn about. Their Latitude Bar will also serve as an integral focal point for engagement with signature coffees by day and wine by night.

But the true soul of the hub will be fueled by the LM100 Members, a group of "cultural innovators" across a myriad of fields, helmed by Le Meridien's Cultural Curator Jerome Sans. It is members of this group who according to the press release, "contributed their creativity to enhance the Hub experience."

If you think this is a lot for a lobby -- you may be missing the point.

"More than 12 years ago when Starwood launched the W brand," explains Eva Ziegler, Global Brand Leader for Le Meridien and W Hotels Worldwide, "our lobbies became living rooms, and soon after, Sheraton brought people together with the Link@Sheraton."

The natural progression then is for Le Meridien to follow in such footsteps and according to Ziegler, it will be with similarly tangible results.

So far the Barcelona outpost of the Paris-born hotel is the only location to roll out this concept. In the short time, Ziegler reports an increase in guest engagement, drink sales and pride felt by employees. Considering the volume of investment they are making, feelings might be the least important indicator of success. Yet that, ironically, might be exactly what becomes a lobby a most.

Zandile Blay is a Style & Culture journalist. Read more from her at The Blay Report and Africa Style Daily.