Extended stay hotels typically conjure up images of faded, multi-storey buildings a few blocks from the suburban highway. These cookie-cutter chain hotels are clean, comfortable and get the job done, but leave something to be desired for digital nomads and project-based professionals like nurses and traveling counselors who need a place to stay for a few weeks or months.
Denver-based Sage Hospitality Group wants to make these types of hotels cool again, starting with its first long-stay facility, Catbird, which opened in RiNo in August.
“If you look around the world today, you will find that it is dominated by very traditional concepts, all very general suburban hotels that have a kitchen in the room. This essentially ticks the box for being a Long Stay Hotel.” The first (long stay hotels) were built in the ’80s, and for over 40 years no one has done anything new. When you look at the broader hotel industry, there’s been a lot of change – and forever – but that hasn’t happened in the extended stay.”
While breathing new life into the outdated extended-stay concept, Sage has also drawn inspiration from short-term vacation rentals offered on platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo.
Although travelers get more of the comforts of home by booking a house or apartment through these sites, they also miss out on some of the benefits of staying in a hotel – perks such as a pool, hot tub, fitness center, housekeeping, and – on-site restaurants . Palinpin said short-term vacation rentals can be too hit or miss when it comes to service, cleanliness, host responsiveness and other elements of hospitality.
Catbird fills in these gaps while maintaining the immersive neighborhood vibe and Airbnb character.
“We just wanted to make drastic changes and be pioneers and really look at lifestyle hotels, look at the good parts of Airbnb and home sharing and take the best parts of hotels for longer stays and really combine them together and come up with this Catbird idea.
Catbird’s walkable and public transportation-friendly location is a major upgrade from traditional long-stay hotels, which are often located in suburban office parks and are primarily accessible by car. The new wedge-shaped building, located a block from Light Rail Station 38 and Blake, is surrounded by art galleries, breweries, restaurants and bars.
Another feature of the site is that Catbird’s 17,700-square-foot deck—which includes its bar and restaurant, The Red Barber, pool, hot tub, fire pits, lawn games, and theater and event space—offers panoramic views of the Denver skyline and the mountains beyond.
“We want to be in neighborhoods that people want to live in,” Palinpin said.
Beyond the traditional hotel room, the 390-square-foot Catbird Studios offers all the conveniences of a vacation rental in the smart, space-saving style of a tiny home or camper van.
Each studio (night rates start at $175) has a loft bed with space underneath for a system of large pull-out wardrobes and a convertible desk. The bed faces a huge picture window that can also be used as a TV – the pull-down window shade becomes a screen for the projector installed above the bed. (The room layout and loft bed design are so unique that Sage has applied for a patent.)
In the corner is a specious little kitchen, complete with sink, mini stove, mini dishwasher, fridge and freezer and microwave that doubles as convection oven. The kitchen is full of pots, pans, utensils, dishes, a coffee maker, a cookbook, and even glass food storage containers for leftovers. There are also spices and mini seasonings.
“It’s all the things that you functionally need to be able to really cook, especially for a month or more,” Palinbein said.
Rooms also include free weights and a yoga mat, as well as a pull-out sofa to sleep in for additional guests. There are free laundry facilities and supplies on each floor (and inside some of the larger rooms), as well as water dispensers with sparkling and chilled water. The hotel also has long-term storage lockers and smart lockers for parcel delivery.
The lobby is designed like an open plan kitchen and living room that you would find in someone’s home. To maintain the feeling of being at home, there is no fixed reception desk; Alternatively, guests check in at on-site kiosks or via their phones.
The kitchen offers made-to-order breakfast, lunch specials, and prepared foods and drinks, including a handful of takeaway food items that guests can take to their rooms and cook.
“The main focus is the kitchen table,” Palinpin said. “When you go to someone’s house, everyone heads to the kitchen table and that’s where people feel comfortable.”
The ground floor is also home to small and private offices and a quiet den area with a curated Tattered Cover library (there are also books in every guest room). The Catbird “playroom” offers rental bikes, skateboards, scooters, cameras, GoPros, toys and musical instruments. Guests can also borrow a houseplant from the lobby via a special “plant rental” program operated by Denver’s ReRoot.
With Catbird, Sage hopes to attract both long- and short-term business travelers, people who have recently moved to Colorado, vacationers and even Denver locals. With the emergence of remote and hybrid work arrangements, especially during the pandemic, they also expect to host travelers who work remotely, self-employed or run their own business from the road.
“People love to explore the world,” Palinpin said. “And they can move to a place with their bags – for one, three months or whatever – fully furnished, with WIFI, TV and housekeeping. Literally you don’t have to worry about anything.”
In addition to overnight reservations, Catbird offers leases to guests who plan to stay more than 90 days, with rents ranging from $1,500 to $3,200 per month. Groups of up to 12 guests can also rent the Klee House, an 1890s home that Sage kept on the property.
Building on the early success of the Denver site and what company leaders see as a major market void, Sage, which owns and operates dozens of hotels and restaurants across the country, is already planning to build similar properties in Atlanta and New York City.
“People are tired of the same boring hotel brand formula, boring room, boring restaurant in the lobby,” Palinpin said. “People don’t want boring experiences anymore, they want something really innovative and fun and where they want to be and be seen.”
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