AKA expands reach to
Asia Pacific, Europe, Gulf Region
with Ascott the Residence
April 18, 2012
By Scott Raab
In a.lounge at AKA Sutton Place, William Shatner talks with Scott Raab about Shatner ouevre, dogs, horses, schmaltz, and the afterlife.
Read more , , ,
The New York Times
February 8, 2012
By Elizabeth Olson
Make Yourself at Home Extended-stay apartments offering
a luxurious alternative to hotels are growing in number.
When Tom Cataldi had to leave his hurricane-damaged house in Philadelphia in September, he was definitely not up for camping out, even temporarily. He wanted all the comforts of home in his new lodgings — and more, with no distractions.
“I had to oversee the repairs, but I also had to do my job,” said Mr. Cataldi, 44, human resources manager for a global investment company, whose house walls were buckling from rain dumped by Hurricane Irene.
So he headed nearby, to the sort of quiet, luxurious digs preferred by celebrities, actors and other affluent people seeking privacy, comfort and a generous dollop of pampering, whether they are working away from home, divorcing, renovating or relocating. He checked into a condominium-like residence on Rittenhouse Square, run by Korman Communities to cater to those who can afford well more than $200 a night for long periods and do not want to stay in a hotel.
Mr. Cataldi has breakfast at the first-floor cafe and leaves the cleaning — and the luxurious sheets — to the maid service. He can work out in the building’s fitness center, stop in at its social gatherings or, for an extra charge, avail himself of wine tutorials or other lifestyle courses arranged by the staff. And since Mr. Cataldi has no lease, he can leave whenever he wants.
Longer-term or extended-stay residences, which were developed decades ago, used to mean only corporate housing near office parks. Often drab affairs with kitchens but little else, they did not offer the amenities or residential ambience that higher-income people wanted in lodgings for longer stays. “People want a more homey feel,” said Jan Freitag, vice president of Smith Travel Research, which tracks lodging data nationwide.
As a result, the big hotel chains “are recognizing that there is an underserved niche in the market,” said Mark Skinner, a partner at the Highland Group, an Atlanta-based global consulting firm with expertise in the hospitality business.
Settle In The contemporary a.lounge at AKA Central Park, a Korman Communities extened stay residence.
Some elite chains like the Ritz-Carlton now offer both furnished apartments and condominium units (available for purchase) in their regular hotels or in separate buildings. Other major chains like Marriott have their own extended-stay offerings. The well-off also have choices like the Element Hotels, owned by Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, for those who want green features like low-flow toilets as well as a sleeker overall design, although they are not in the luxury tier.
Mr. Freitag estimated that there are only about 3,000 high-end units across the country, fewer than 1 percent of the 338,000 extended-stay units available — a share that looks certain to grow.
The idea is catching on overseas, too. The Korman brand — which calls its top-end extended-stay units AKA, for A Korman Accommodation — plans to open a property later this year in London’s fashionable West End. The Ritz-Carlton offers extended-stay accommodations in cities including Singapore and Bangkok.
Though the market may be underserved, there are serious costs and barriers to entering it, people who know the niche say. Chief among them is the cost of buying and refurbishing buildings at coveted downtown locations, said Larry Korman, co-president of Korman Communities, which began focusing on the clientele when the housing market softened in 2006. Korman has opened nine properties in the United States, with four addresses in Manhattan including Sutton Place and 58th Street a block from Central Park, largely by converting old hotels or condo buildings.
“We wanted to combine boutique hotel design with the features of great hotels and the privacy of condominiums,” said Mr. Korman, who adopted a “minimalist contemporary” look for the suite-like rental spaces. There are some studios, but most units are one- or two-bedroom suites with substantial closets, fancy kitchens and concierge service; most buildings have cafes or restaurants that guests can use without going out on the street. “We’ve had guests like Diane Keaton who stay here while filming, and others who want the levels of privacy and anonymity that hotels do not have,” he said. “Your name is not announced at the front desk."
While their Manhattan apartment was being renovated last year, Allison Julius and her husband, Zachary, stayed at the Sutton Place property, where one-bedroom suites start at $325 a night for a 30-night stay, said Michelle Abril, associate vice president of Quinn & Company, which represents AKA. Their unit was across the corridor from one occupied by the actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was filming a pilot for the CW television series “The Ringer.” The couple did not intrude.
“I didn’t even ask for an autograph,” Ms. Julius said, laughing.
In addition to renovating her apartment, she was busy working with her brother, Louis, to add a Manhattan location for her Hamptons luxury home-goods business, Maison 24. “We planned to stay at AKA a week, then it became 10 days, and finally we stayed three weeks while new floors, paint and wallpaper were being installed in our apartment,” she said.
“There are lots of hotels not far from our doorstep,” she said of her apartment on 56th Street, “but when you can’t cook or do the dishes, their absence becomes oddly appealing."
She and her husband cooked some dinners in their fully equipped kitchen, and had friends over for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres one night. In the mornings, she could grab a coffee on her way out the lobby door. “You could just arrive with a toothbrush and clothes,” she said of AKA. “They take care of everything.”
November 16, 2011
By James Rothaar
The AKA Hotel Residences is an extended-stay luxury hotel
franchise that is growing in popularity with prominent world travelers.
accommodations provide guests with the creature comforts of a permanent
residence and the amenities of a high-end hotel in one package. The concept
that began in New York City is expanding with new hotel openings in Los Angeles
The hotels predominantly feature fully furnished one-and
two-bedroom suites that are designed for extended stays. There are four AKA hotels
in NYC, with locations in Central Park, Times Square, Sutton Place, and near
the United Nations headquarters. Additional destinations include White Plains,
New York, Washington, D.C., Arlington, Virginia, and Philadelphia,
While the accommodations at all the locations are lavish
throughout, the number of guest suites per hotel is relatively small and
boutique-like. The Central Park hotel has 134 suites, in a 17-story
building, and the Time Square building has a total of 105 guestrooms. Each
of the hotels is centrally located and offers excellent proximity to the prime
spots of the communities.
The AKA Central Park is nearby NYC’s most popular
shopping and arts and culture venues. Bergdorf Goodman, the, Apple store,
Tiffany & Co., Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and FAO Schwarz are within
walking distance. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MOMA, and the Guggenheim
are among the notable museums of the community.
The Philadelphia hotel,
AKA Rittenhouse Square, is surrounded by some of the city’s finest restaurants,
such as Rouge, the Parc, and Smith & Wollensky. It also is within walking
distance of the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts. Its own onsite restaurant,
the a.kitchen, is an acclaimed eatery in the Greater Philadelphia area.
Hotel Residences is a division of Korman Communities, a company that has built
more than 30,000 single-family residences, 12,000 apartments and townhouses,
and more than six million square feet of commercial real estate in its history.
For more information, visit HotelAKA.com.
NY Daily News
Live a little: AKA Hotel Residences upgrade the long-term stay model
By Wendy Ilene Friedman
For Korman brothers Larry, Bradley and Mark, spotting real estate opportunities is in their blood. Steven, their father, can rightfully take credit as the inventor of flexible-term housing.
The Wall Street Journal
New York Real Estate
May 31, 2011
By Dana Rubenstein
The Korman family, of Pennsylvania, has been both influenced by and an influencer of architects. The reigning cast of the four-generation real-estate family grew up in a house in Fort Washington designed for them by Louis Kahn, one of the great modern architects of the 20th century.
At the same time, the family real-estate company, Korman Communities, has built tens of thousands of houses, apartment buildings and commercial properties hiring many an architect along the way.
The latest result of these cross currents can be seen in Manhattan in a $100 million upgrade being made to four hotels acquired between 2004 and 2007 by Korman's AKA extended-stay hotel brand. On one hand, AKA is going for a high-design New York hotel.
The lobby of the AKA Central Park. Rob Bennett for The Wall Street
On the other, AKA is seeking to make the properties comfortable enough for a long-term residence. With the average guest staying more than three weeks, and often as long as three months, AKA is trying to ensure that style and class don't eclipse comfort. The result: the sort of subdued style one might find in a wealthy uncle's home, rather than the sort of overweening hipness to be found at the latest boutique hotel.
"It was very important for us to have a totally different design vernacular than a Four Seasons, or an Ian Schrager," says Larry Korman, a partner at AKA.
Mr. Korman, who is spearheading the redesign effort, has taken pains to make each AKA jibe with the surrounding neighborhood.
The terrace of a penthouse apartment. Rob Bennett for The Wall Street
The 76-suite AKA Sutton Place, for example, caters to a somewhat older crowd. Mr. Korman kept the existing oak paneling in the lobby, and hired Meyer Davis Studio to convert the former Il Valentino restaurant into an oak-panel-accented cafe and lounge for the hotel's residents.
The formerly pink-tiled pool in the basement, which the manager says looked like it belonged in a YMCA, now has the dim lighting and desert-colored hues of a high-end spa in Arizona. "When you think about Sutton Place, you think about prewar, classic, sort of snobby, oak panels, classical detail," says Will Meyer, of Meyer Davis. "What we've done is we sort of freshened it up."
AKA Central Park, a 134-suite hotel on 58th Street, has a strikingly different, more modern aesthetic, one that might appeal less to an distinguished businessman, and more to that distinguished businessman's 40-something son. The redesign was overseen by HLW International, in collaboration with Studio IntraMuros, AvroKO, Steven Learner, and Nicholas Cardone. The guest-only bar has the exclusive feel of a modern-day cigar lounge, with two gas fireplaces, and mustard and brown asymmetric furniture by Ligne Roset.
"We get A-list celebrities who don't want to go to a public bar or club, that come here," says Elana Friedman, a spokeswoman for AKA Central Park.
LED lights in primary colors accent certain walls. On the penthouse floor, the lights between the doors can be changed to satisfy a demanding guest's whim. In the lobby, there's a video artwork depicting jellyfish ballooning and then deflating, designed by Mr. Korman. In the gym below, a Monika Bravo six-panel video installation depicting reflections on water casts natural-seeming light on the machines below. Patinaed stainless steel coats the hotel in abundance.
At the AKA Times Square, Mr. Korman is building a two-story sky lounge with architect Piero Lissoni on the penthouse level, directly across from where the New Year's Eve ball drops.
"It's going to be very cool," Mr. Korman says.
Business Travel 50
July 12, 2010
By Adam Baer
Designed for business travelers who do not want to sacrifice comfort and style, a new breed of extended stay hotels is putting a sophisticated spin on long-term lodging. Our top pick is AKA, a chain with eight hotels in cities such as Philadelphia and Arlington, Virginia, and plans to open locations in Los Angeles and London this fall. Each AKA hotel has sleek, modern suites with a bedroom, living room, and kitchen. Other amenities include a business center, free Wi-Fi access, and a Zipcar account.
Try Again - Global
By Abigail Townsend
Monocle Magazine recognizes AKA as an innovator in the hotel industry who is reinventing the extended-stay hotel.
By Marissa Patlingrao Cooley
Though they’ve traditionally been the domain of traveling business consultants and in-the-doghouse husbands, a new breed of longer-term lodgings has arrived – ones with rooms that are more like a luxe pied-à-terre than a motel. And this means you’ll actually feel comfortable getting cozy on the couch.
AKA Hotels: More like deluxe condos than Residence Inns, the eight locations of this swank chain are ideal for playing host. Penthouses are outfitted with wood-burning outdoor fireplaces, mid-century-inspired furniture, and wet bars. And to help you make the most of your locale, the concierge can arrange in-suite wine tastings or classes from star chefs. New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., White Plains, N.Y., and Arlington, Va., 866-AKA-9999, hotelaka.com: weekly rates from $190 per night.
N2 Growth Blog
March 16, 2007
By Mike Myatt
Today marks the launch of a new category on the N2growth Blog…Companies That Get It. Since I tend to frequently rant about companies that don't get it I thought it only fair to spend a bit of time in praise of those that do. I will not comment on existing client companies and I will not accept any form of compensation to induce coverage. So moving forward when I happen upon a company that conducts its business in exceptional fashion and/or is innovative in its approach I will give them recognition as a company that gets it…
I don't plan on giving much attention to the Fortune 500 as most of them really don't get it, and those that do are already on everyone's radar screen. Therefore I'll use this platform to give exposure to companies that not only deserve it, but that will also benefit from it. Today's inaugural inductee is AKA which is a provider of luxury apartments used as extended stay executive housing.
Anyone who travels as much as I do has undoubtedly come to the same realization about most hotels that I have…Good ones are hard to come by. While I'm a Starwood preferred member and generally choose Westin as my hotel of choice I also have been known to frequent a few of the upscale boutiques. That being said, I'm always left a bit under-whelmed. When you spend a great deal of time on the road hotels are not frivolous expenses but rather strategic business choices. If you're anything like me I look for great locations, security, a bit of anonymity ("aka"), outstanding service, abundant amenities and most of all a staff that understands the business needs of executives. Aka gets it…
Aka is a very upscale extended stay corporate housing provider. These are not hotels mind you, but distinctive, fully furnished luxury apartments. Each of their nine existing properties are exceptionally well located. They have 5 New York locations, 2 Pennsylvania properties and 2 more locations in the Washington DC area. My only complaint is that they don't have a broader footprint but that will likely take care of itself in time. For now if you happen to be traveling in the geographies mentioned above I would highly recommend their properties.
Aka properties have the best in executive concierge services, spa-like fitness centers and spacious rooms much larger than typical hotel rooms. The rooms also have luxury bathrooms and kitchens. Some of the properties have private balconies with great views and all properties have complementary high-speed internet access and free local phone calls.
Next time your in New York, Philly or DC give them a try because Aka is a company that gets it…
Mann About Town
Living Well in New York
The most popular New Year’s resolutions focus on lifestyle goals such as losing weight and exercising, along with living better and traveling more. To kick start long-term lifestyle ambitions, AKA has developed a special package that will help travelers stick to healthy choices throughout their extended stay at any of the luxury brand’s eight locations. Part of the popular AKA Live It! program, the Healthy Living package includes an initial 30-minute personal consultation with a member of AKA’s Wellness Team along with three one-hour wellness classes of the guest’s choosing and a written maintenance plan to keep guests on track to achieve personal goals. Available now through 2011, the add-on perk is priced at $350 per person.
Perfect for guests looking to adhere to a healthy lifestyle, AKA Central Park recently unveiled the new A Fitness; at 2,500 square feet, it’s the largest hotel workout facility per guest room in New York City. A Fitness includes ellipticals, treadmills, weight training and a vertical Pilates machine. The center also offers a private yoga studio or therapeutic massage room. Adhering to the modern design aesthetic of AKA properties, A Fitness also features a unique video installation piece, H20, by visual artist Monika Bravo. Programmed in a progressive loop via six Mac computers, the moving art displays flowing water that appears to run across a 44-foot wall.
AKA guests can also choose to sweat en-suite in the spacious accommodations or while sightseeing in New York City. Visitors can kayak in the East River, jog along Riverside Drive, bike across the Brooklyn Bridge, snow-shoe through Central Park or climb the 1,860 steps to the top of the Empire State Building.
In addition to the AKA Central Park location, AKA offers Manhattan accommodations at AKA Times Square, AKA United Nations or AKA Sutton Place. Each property features its own unique fitness amenities; AKA Sutton Place offers a heated, indoor lap pool for guests.
Launched in 2008, AKA Live It! is a lifestyle program that provides life-enriching opportunities for guests, ranging from wellness programs to learning experiences and more. The program was conceived and developed by AKA co-president Larry Korman to encourage people to follow their dreams and ambitions.
"As AKA guests typically stay a month or longer, we have the unique luxury of extended time and are ideally positioned to facilitate guests reaching their goals," said Korman.
Along with healthy living, AKA Live It! can arrange classes with wine sommeliers, French cooking lessons, learning to play guitar and just about anything a guest has a passion for. The AKA motto is: “Don’t just visit, live it!”
At a time when most hotel brands are cutting costs, AKA continues to build and expand its offerings for guests. In addition to A Fitness, AKA Central Park recently opened A Café – a sophisticated European-style espresso bar serving breakfast and lunch; A Lounge, a residents-only cocktail space, and the A Media lab.
"For the past two years, we listened attentively to guests to determine what would be important additions to the AKA brand," said Korman. "These venues triple our ground-floor space and provide communal areas for our residents to interact in and enjoy. With most stays averaging 30 days or more, these enhancements make a significant impact on the guest experience."
A Café serves single-estate, direct-trade organic coffees from roaster Counter Culture Coffee (including single-origin brews from the one-cup-at-a-time, modern Clover Vacuum Press), handcrafted espresso drinks made with Hudson Valley Coop milk and organic loose-leaf teas. The menu emphasizes local, farm-to-table ingredients and healthy options. Artisanal pastries and fresh breads are delivered daily from fine local New York City bakeries. The design of A Café is conceived around the idea of sculpted light: A changing program of colored light marks the different times of day and the shifting moods associated with time.
Open to the public, the 30-seat A Café operates from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The private dining area seats up to 10 people. For more information, visit www.hotelaka.com/locations/central_park/cafe.aspx or call 212-753-3500.
A Lounge is open to AKA guests only and features cozy seating areas with two fireplaces. Open from 5:00 p.m. until late night seven days a week, A Lounge serves a selection of natural wines, modern cocktails and artisan spirits, including A Vodka, specially distilled for the AKA brand. The house specialty is a Charbay vodka crafted exclusively for the lounge by Marko Karakasevic, a 13th generation master distiller. Charbay was recently honored by Food & Wine Magazine as Vodka of the Year and by Spirit Journal as the #1 Vodka in the World.
A Media is a comfortable second-floor space that centers on a large-screen television with DVD player that can be utilized by guests looking for a movie theater-style showcase. The space also includes AKA’s complimentary computers and business center services such as faxing and printing. Adjacent to A Media is a large boardroom, available complimentary to AKA guests; reservations requested. Most meeting space in New York City is billed by the hour.
A division of Korman Communities, AKA is an innovative, new and growing collection of flexible-stay distinctive residences in prime urban locations. Currently AKA properties are in: New York City (4); Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., White Plains, NY, and Arlington, VA. Across the brand, architecturally inspired spacious accommodations, which range from studios to two-bedroom penthouse suites, offer the privacy of contemporary apartments infused with hotel services. While each property is unique and has distinct guest offerings, all feature the AKA brand standards and amenities of: fitness centers; full-service business centers with meetings space and complimentary high-speed Internet access; en-suite dining; same-day, valet dry-cleaning and laundry service; 24-hour front desk assistance; dedicated doormen, concierge services and full-time, on-site management and maintenance. All suites include top-of the-line kitchens, contemporary furnishings, luxurious bathrooms, meticulous housekeeping; extended digital cable with HBO, DVD players, and complimentary Wi-Fi access. Personalized service is a hallmark of AKA.
Extended-stay, formerly thought of as fringe, is now fashionable. Space and anonymity are two of AKA’s biggest draws.
Sprawling suites with full kitchens with granite countertops and SubZero refrigerators and living rooms trump cramped hotel rooms with little mini-bars.
Nightly seasonal rates for a 30-day stay at AKA Central Park start at $265. For reservations, please contact email@example.com.
For additional information, please visit www.hotelaka.com or call (866) AKA-9999. To keep up with the latest news at AKA, check out the brand on http://www.twitter.com/stayaka and http://www.facebook.com/Stayaka.
New York Spaces Magazine
The Commercial Observer
April 6, 2010
by Jotham Sederstrom
Over the past four years, Larry Korman, a
partner at AKA, has helped transform what
was once a niche hotel submarket with a bad
reputation into a successful business model.
Indeed, with four AKA hotels in New York and
tentative plans for two more, Mr. Korman, 46,
has been spending more time in the Big Apple
watching his growing empire. The Commercial
Observer spoke to the Philadelphia native from
his AKA flagship hotel near Central Park about
the future of the extended-stay hotel.
The Commercial Observer: How did you get involved in the extended-stay hotel business?
Mr. Korman: It was an evolution from the furnished apartment, which my father created in 1966, and it was created by mistake. His father had built a circular building in Philadelphia. It was pie-shaped apartments, and they were tough to rent, so my father would rent them on a three-month basis, a six-month basis. Those residents would say, 'Could you get me some furniture, could you get me a coffee maker, a toaster?' And it really evolved. We saw there was a niche needed for something between what a hotel offered for a few days and what an apartment offered for a year.
The term 'extended-stay' was once thought of as kind of a dirty word, wasn't it?
I think there were a lot of dirty words. 'Corporate housing' had a connotation of spaciousness but low-end, an apartment that somebody couldn't rent so they decided to pass it off on the transient traveler. I think extended stay, 10 years ago, was a low-rent hotel. I think what we've done is taken both of those niches, whether it's the extended-stay hotel or the furnished apartment, and added cachet. The first thing to do was to select a great location. Once you had a great location, you had the interest of the people who otherwise wouldn't bother to pay attention. We're right next to the Plaza Hotel, the Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons.
Does the market for extended-stay housing mimic the hotel market?
I think a true extended-stay hotel rises and falls with the hotel industry because most hotels over the last 10 years have added a suite component to their offers and put it under the umbrella of extended stay. It's hard to define what we are because we're a hybrid of many attributes, but I think most extended-stay hotels are glorified hotel rooms. They're not really much bigger than a true hotel room.
Who stays at your buildings?
I think that has evolved also. I think last year there was a lot of international travel taking place in New York City, and we got a lot of that business as well as traditional hotels. I think the group that has always recognized our attributes, and have liked the anonymity of AKA, is the production companies: from the stars to the directors to the producers to everyone involved with the production. Broadway shows, television shows. Madonna had all her dancers stay here for what she thought would be six weeks, but ended up being nine weeks. I think they liked the fact that they didn't have to go out for meals. They could bring their chefs in and cook in the different two-bedroom kitchens and all eat together as a family. I think that was important to her.
I think there are also individuals going through a renovation and they need a place. They want to be near their house, or condo, while they renovate. Or somebody who's going through a divorce. We have a group here that refers to us as the Heartbreak Hotel.
What is the average stay for most of your residents?
The average stay differs from location to location. We have four properties in New York City. Sutton Place and the United Nations, the average stay may be two or three months. Times Square and Central Park, the average stay is two or three weeks.
Do you consider yourself a residential developer or a commercial developer?
Korman, in general-myself, my brother, my father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather-all would consider ourselves residential developers. You're dealing with where someone is living. We take such passion and pride in what we do because more so than where you eat or what you drive or what you wear, this is where you're staying. And we look at our roots as home builders; but now you're taking that individual who's leaving his home, maybe leaving his spouse, and coming to this crazy city for three months and you're providing that sanctuary. So I think it's even more important than the home itself because they're away from home.
Give me some celebrity gossip.
I think some stars who have been conditioned to stay at the Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, in order to get their acceptance we're trying something new. We promote the anonymity that AKA offers. We're talking about actresses and actors who have won Oscars and are iconic and they love it here. They're skeptical when they first get here. They're not sure, but they fall in love with it. It's one of those wow effects, but it's a slow wow. Over time, the wow factor grows from week to week to week.
Are there any celebrities here now?
Yes. When we were doing [another interview a few weeks ago], we bumped into one major star that was on the cover of the New York Post that day. When we went into the cafe, there was a major female star that's in a major movie in New York. I won't name any names, but the reporter literally bumped into three high-end actors.
Do you work closely with your family on a day-to-day basis?
Absolutely. My father, my brothers, we're all best friends. My father is a spectacular entrepreneur who has mentored us and at the same time has given us great autonomy to spread our wings. My one brother went to Duke with me and then he went to Wharton. He's probably the brightest financial mind I know, and he is completely involved in his world of finance for growing AKA and AVE and ARK. My youngest brother came back into the business, and he runs our commercial division. But we really are each other's best friends; we have each other's back; and we have complete confidence in one another; and that's allowed us to grow and be innovative.
August 1, 2011
By Charisse Jones
The outdoor bedroom at AKA Central Park
Do you dream of sleeping under the stars? How about on a hotel balcony, in the middle of Manhattan?
Travelers can do that and more this summer as hotels offer experiences that make the most of the outdoors, from outside "bedrooms," to a camp-out on a back patio, to rooftop yoga ….
The outdoor packages come at a time when an increasing number of business travelers are pursuing "blended travel," tacking on vacation days, often with their spouses and kids, to work trips. A 2010 study by Hilton's Homewood Suites found that 67% of frequent corporate travelers sometimes blended work with vacations. Hotels have been wooing those guests with perks ranging from enhanced fitness facilities to sightseeing tours.
Among the outdoor offerings:
The AKA Central Park will give penthouse guests the chance to get a night's rest on a bed perched on a 900-square-foot wrap-around terrace. Wood-burning fireplaces and champagne are among the perks ….
Cure for cabin fever
AKA Central Park's outdoor sleeping experience was inspired in part by this year's tough winter.
"Recognizing the scarcity and demand for private outdoor space in New York City, especially after a really difficult winter, we wanted to share our penthouse with those seeking one-of-a-kind experiences," says Elana Friedman, vice president of marketing for AKA, a luxury extended-stay chain of hotels.
AKA Central Park's penthouse suites, which are available through mid-October, can be rented for $3,000 a night. Guests can sleep outside on Frette bedding and have cocktails by a fire with a choice of snacks that include chocolate-covered strawberries. Also available: telescopes and e-readers preloaded with stories to fit the moment, such as romantic poetry.
"The inquiries have been so diverse — from New York City dwellers looking for something completely different to international travelers looking to see New York City in a different way," Friedman says.
Although the program was not envisioned as an annual offering, Friedman says, "If we continue to have the interest … we'll absolutely have it come back."
A Guide to Intelligent Travel
May 29, 2011
By Elaine Glusac
In years past, hotel rooms offering outdoor showers in Manhattan were all the rage. This year, the latest in urban en plein air living is the outdoor bedroom.
This month the AKA Central Park in New York began allowing guests who book the penthouse on the 17th floor of the 134-room hotel to request that staff members move the bed onto the terrace before a wood-burning fireplace. A night in the suite, which features one indoor bedroom, costs $3,000 and includes a bottle of Champagne or vodka, chocolate-covered strawberries and the use of flashlights, an e-reader and a telescope for stargazing.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Special Report: Do Not Disturb
Weekend Edition: December 5-6, 2009
Expansive...an apartment bedroom at AKA Central Park
When Size Matters
Helen Anderson finds room to move in Manhattan.
The Big Apple has some very, very small hotel rooms. Space is surely the ultimate luxury in Manhattan and, like NASA in a recession, finding that space on a budget is my mission.
I search online for a serviced apartment for a week-long stay. There are places that require minimum month-long bookings and there are single apartments for rent with no front-of-house support and complicated booking procedures – and then I find AKA, a “luxury extended stay” company with flexible minimum bookings and four addresses in New York City.
In Midtown, one block from Central Park ablaze with autumn colour and surrounded by Fifth Avenue shopping, I find space – an astonishing expanse of it – in a well-furnished one-bedroom apartment with a big marble bathroom, walk-in wardrobe and separate living room with sofas, a table for four and a proper kitchen. It has smaller studios, apartments with one, two and connecting third bedrooms and two 17th-floor penthouses with wraparound balconies and outdoor fireplaces.
More than an apartment block, AKA is also a four-star hotel, with switched-on front-desk staff, helpful doormen and staff who like dealing with families. And more: free local phone calls and Wi-Fi in all rooms, a small business centre if you’re travelling without your laptop, a boardroom, good coffee and tea at all hours, a gym, well-priced meals delivered by nearby caterers and the rare luxury of DIY communal laundry.
If you’re staying a while and fancy a new fitness regime, or a photography course or classical guitar lessons, the hotel will link like minds. “Our guests can feel like they’re part of the life of Manhattan, not just passing through,” says the hotel’s general manager, Jeffrey Poirot.
Any service I can think of to comfort business travelers, singles, couples or families is provided or on the way: a ground-floor café opens this week and a guests’ lounge with fireplaces, rugs and sofas opens later this month.
And the price? At $US295 ($325) a night in a one-bedroom suite for a seven-night stay, there’s a chance to do more than window-shop on Fifth Avenue.
AKA Central Park is at 42 West 58th Street, New York City. hotelaka.com/centralpark
The Front Entrance at AKA Central Park, New York
Much More Than a Room
Louise Schwartzkoff reports. For a month, a week or just a weekend, hotel guests are looking for all the comforts of home.
With the extra space and home comforts, apartment hotels offer the chance to live like a local. In the US, the long-stay chain, AKA, has luxury apartment blocks in New York, Arlington, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. The studios, apartments and penthouse suites attract holiday makers, business travelers on international assignments, affluent urbanites renovating their homes and A-list actors shooting films.
“People love this idea of feeling as though they are in residence,” says company president M.J. Paschall. “There’s a sense of community and belonging because it’s a leaner model, with only six to 12 arrivals each day.”
“The people here for leisure travel will come back from their sightseeing and museum tours and tell us about their day. For long-term stays, it has a very cool, neighborly feel.”
In many cases, the longer you stay, the better the deals become. Stay in AKA’s executive suite in Times Square for a month and the nightly rate plummets to $US284 ($310), far less than the $US457 for a single night. hotelaka.com/timessquare
AKA: Specializing in stays of a week or more, AKA's luxury furnished apartments offer such hotel services as free wireless internet, local telephone calls, housekeeping, and concierge. AKA properties are in New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Virginaia; soon, Los Angeles and London. See www.hotelaka.com.
Pitch Your Hotel
December 8, 2009
By Juliana Shallcross
After we spent the night in the AKA Central Park, we got a tour of the hotel from the K in AKA, Larry Korman, who launched AKA Hotels in 2006. AKA is a play on the expression "also known as" but it can also stand for "Another Korman Accommodation" as it's a division of Korman communities, a larger real estate company.
As the founder, Larry is obviously very passionate about his properties but we were pleased to see that he was also extremely excited about them too. It's rare that you meet a hotelier who wants to show you every little nook and cranny of his hotel and can talk with just as much excitement about the small fitness center locker rooms as he can about the killer view from the AKA Central Park's penthouse suite, which overlooks the Plaza Hotel and Fifth Avenue.
It was up here in the penthouse (rate: $2,600 a night) that we had him sit down and tell us what makes AKA so different from the rest of the hotels in New York and indeed, the rest of the extended-stay hotel market.
As it turns out, thanks to the spacious digs, the luxury extended-stay brand is popular with production crews and other entertainment folks that need to be in the city for longer amounts of time. About 80 percent of NYC's film and television business spend their nights at an AKA hotel. (There are three others in the city.) Skeptical about this figure? Here are some celebrity testimonials to check-out.
Now, sit back and let Larry tell you in his own words what these entertainment folk like so much about AKA.
New York Times
March 25, 2007
By Alison Gregor
WHILE some other developers may be having second thoughts about New York City's residential real estate market, Larry Korman seems to be making himself at home there.
His Philadelphia-based company, Korman Communities, where he is co-president alongside his brother Bradley, is finding a new niche in turning former condominium projects into luxury extended-stay lodging.
Since 2005, the company, which also builds homes, has bought four residential properties in Midtown Manhattan that were slated for condo conversions.
Two of those properties are now operating as extended-stay hotels, under the name AKA. They are the AKA: United Nations, at East 46th Street and Second Avenue; and the AKA: Sutton Place, formerly the Sutton Hotel, at East 56th Street between First and Second Avenues.
This spring, Korman Communities will also open the AKA: Central Park, formerly the Wyndham Hotel, at 58th Street, near Fifth Avenue; and the AKA Times Square, at 44th Street, near the Avenue of the Americas.
That will bring to nine the number of AKA extended-stay properties, which also include two in Philadelphia and one each in Washington, Arlington, Va., and Westchester County, N.Y. The properties were originally intended for condo conversions.
The AKA name is a play on words, standing for "also known as — your home away from home," said Mr. Korman, who is 43.
"It took me 10 years to come up with the AKA name," he said, explaining that it also stood for "A Korman Accommodation."
The guests at the AKA properties, which are the size of boutique hotels, typically require lodging for 30 days or more.
Amenities at AKA hotels include luxury kitchen appliances, mosaic-tiled showers and choices of pillows.
The residences provide technological amenities like Internet service and other conveniences like kitchens, fitness centers and pools, along with hotel services like housekeeping, he said. Rates are usually about half of what a boutique hotel in the neighborhood would charge and vary with the length of stay, Mr. Korman said.
Mr. Korman oversees the general operations of Korman Communities, handling duties ranging from deliberating with architects on design issues to ensuring that the curbs near his properties are clear of trash. He leaves the acquisitions to Bradley Korman, 42, while another brother, Mark, 39, is working on building up the company's commercial real estate division.
The company — founded in 1909 by his great-grandfather Hyman Korman — is a family affair: His father, Steven Korman, 67, is the chief executive. Larry Korman's wife, Korin, who owns two spas, develops spa products for the AKA residences.
Larry Korman said he knew from a young age that he wanted to run Korman Communities someday.
"From age 3 on, we all used to go on the weekends with my father to the properties," he said. He went directly into the family business after graduating from Duke University in 1986, where he majored in business and political science.
"This is something that to do well, you have to have a passion for what you do," he said.
The Wall Street Journal
August 14, 2008
By Charles Passy
We Hit the Road,
To Breakfast Buffets
Why stay in a hotel when you can park yourself in a place that feels like home?
For more than two decades, that's been the pitch behind extended-stay lodgings, which are really more like studio apartments with real kitchens and living spaces than traditional hotels. Most also offer amenities that go beyond a newspaper at the door: Think breakfast buffets and evening "socials."
The concept has proved to be highly popular -- and highly profitable. That's because extended-stay hotels appeal primarily to business travelers, which means they're less affected by the economic downturns that make leisure travel a luxury. And that's why many hotel chains are investing heavily in the category -- and in some cases, redefining it as well.
Hilton Hotels Corp. plans to expand its Homewood Suites by Hilton brand from 242 locations to nearly 400. The Global Hyatt Corp. took over the Summerfield Suites chain in 2006 and has added seven locations to the existing 21. And category leader Marriott International Inc., whose Residence Inn by Marriott brand has more than 500 locations world-wide (and 168 more are to open by 2010), recently started rolling out its Infusion suites, designed to showcase "contemporary decor and finishes that reflect the comforts and luxuries of a modern American home."
Plus, there are significant newcomers. In 2006, Korman Communities Inc. unveiled AKA, a chain that aims to bring urban sophistication to the extended-stay concept; its seven locations are spread throughout New York, Philadelphia and metro Washington. And earlier this summer, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. opened its first Element, touted as a "green" extended-stay brand, in Lexington, Mass.
To see if these brands delivered on their promises of a homey experience, our family of four took a 300-mile, eight-day road trip through five states, stopping at a different extended-stay hotel almost every night. (Besides their appeal to business travelers, extended-stays also are popular with families.) We judged everything from the comfort of the bed linens to the choices at the breakfast spread.
Of course, that's provided we could make it to breakfast. At the Residence Inn by Marriott Shelton Fairfield County, in Shelton, Conn., that became an issue when our reservation was canceled on less than two days notice. The general manager explained that the hotel had to unexpectedly host guests forced to leave their homes because of a fire. We were sympathetic, but put off by his choice of alternative arrangements -- a nearby Marriott property that wasn't an extended-stay. That left us with having to settle for a Residence Inn in Meriden, Conn. -- some 30 miles away.
And the Meriden accommodations, even after we were given a free upgrade to a two-bedroom suite (we paid $164 a night, the one-bedroom rate) didn't make up for our frustrations. This was a property in sore need of renovation, from the hole-ridden curtains to a bathroom door that wouldn't properly lock. The staff also wasn't very responsive to our complaint about the shabby conditions. Still, we did make it to breakfast -- a hearty spread of everything from eggs to fresh fruit.
At the Hyatt Summerfield Suites Bridgewater, in Bridgewater, N.J., it was the evening spread that caught our attention. This was more a dinner buffet than a happy hour's worth of light bites, with offerings that included cold cuts, salad, soup and a make-your-own nachos station. The staff contributed to the festive mood, rushing to collect plates and maintaining a join-the-party attitude. Our two-bedroom suite ($258 a night) didn't disappoint, with its slightly upscale look and smart amenities, including a flat-panel television in the living room. Our minor quibbles: The space in the room was somewhat tight, and the three-floor hotel lacks elevators (we were successfully able to request a first-floor room.)
The Homewood Suites by Hilton Providence-Warwick in Warwick, R.I. , delivered the most friendly service. The staff was quick to go out of their way to handle just about any request: When we had problems using the fax machine in the otherwise large and highly functional business center, an employee took it upon herself to do the faxing from the hotel's own machine -- at no charge. Breakfast and evening socials were more noteworthy for their sheer conviviality than for the quality of food. Too bad, however, the one-bedroom suite ($141.55 a night), didn't rise above the level of nondescript, looking more generically corporate than stylish.
It was the newer chains that best seized on the idea of extended-stay with a designer's vision. At the AKA Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, that meant a hotel with a hipster attitude, from the less-is-more aesthetic of the reception area to the rooms that boast Egyptian cotton linens in the bedroom and stainless-steel kitchen appliances. However, the AKA -- located in the heart of the city -- was the most expensive of the hotels we visited ($385 a night for a one-bedroom suite). Then again, that suite was nearly twice as large -- at 980 square feet -- than any other hotel room we stayed in during our trip. Staff didn't neglect the details, from assisting with getting the luggage into the car to asking about our vacation plans. The surprising negative: A skimpy continental-style breakfast, served in a fairly small room that didn't encourage much in the way of socializing.
With Starwood's Element Lexington, style and eco-minded functionality went hand in hand. With an almost Zen-like look, the hotel is designed to blend in with its bucolic mountain setting. It might seem a bit insufferable, but the hotel's "eco-chic" attitude and array of amenities also translates into an extraordinarily comfortable experience. We loved the oversized rain showerheads, the emphasis on natural light, even the hotel mini-mart stocked with gourmet goodies, like a mini Whole Foods. And instead of another buffet-line plate of bacon and scrambled eggs, we enjoyed a healthy morning wrap made with egg whites.
What didn't measure up? In some instances, the staff: They were going through lots of opening-season jitters. We also cut ourselves -- twice! -- on door panels with a very sharp edge. (We're told they've since been replaced.) But such problems notwithstanding, the best measure of Element's appeal might be that when our time was nearing an end, we opted to extend our stay, adding another day. In other words, we felt at home.
Conde Nast Traveller
By Hannah Metcalfe
We are looking for a really good hotel in Manhattan for three or four nights in October. We want somewhere stylish, not too big and within easy walking distance of Central Park. Can you help?
The AKA Central Park on West 58th Street is a really good choice if you want to have the flexibility and ease of a private residence but the service of a great hotel. This, the third AKA aparthotel, is like having your own pied-à-terre in the city with all you’d expect from a five-star hotel but with the added benefits of a fully equipped kitchen and a spacious living area. It’s great for that “home from home” feel if you’re travelling with your family. The first-class concierge service, in addition to knowing smart answers to questions such as ‘where is the nearest place for a rooftop drink?’, is just as adept at delivering on requests for private cooks, yoga classes or Spanish lessons. Not only will staff be able to provide you with keys to a car to zip off to the Hamptons for the weekend but they will pack a picnic, too.
HANNAH METCALFE is a California-based journalist who has spent three months staying in New York hotels this summer.
Philadelphia Business Journal
April 6, 2007
By Natalie Kostelni
Korman Communities Inc., a name that has become ubiquitous with furnished apartments and extended-stay accommodations, has ramped up its offerings to target elite clientele with discerning tastes.
Korman formed a new division called "aka" that caters to people who are used to being pampered and are accustomed to spacious accommodations and luxury. Be it a movie star or corporate executive, Korman is hoping to capture a niche that five-star hotels offer on an overnight basis but instead offer it on an extended basis -- be it a week or a month. So far, the Plymouth Meeting company has committed roughly $1 billion to the endeavor.
The division and brand, aka, stands for "also known as -- your home away from home" as well as "A Korman Accommodation." Location is one of the main factors that makes aka different from Korman Suites, the residences the company began offering 45 years ago.
"When Korman Suites started in 1962 and 1963, we created something that we thought was very special and did it in areas that were good areas but you wouldn't say they are Triple A areas," said Steven H. Korman, CEO.
The Korman Suites, as the company bills itself, were short-term, furnished apartments in traditional residential settings where apartments were already clustered. They appealed to corporate executives as well as others in need of temporary housing, such as someone going through a divorce or having a home built. By comparison, aka is in top-notch urban settings and so far sit among the country's toniest addresses.
"These properties are in Triple A locations," Korman said, adding they are spots where people want to be.
In New York that means in Sutton Place on 56th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues, Central Park along 58th Street between 5th and 6th avenues, the United Nations on 46th Street between 2nd and 3rd avenues and Times Square on 44th Street between 6th and Broadway. In Washington, that means two blocks from the White House.
In Philadelphia, it's Rittenhouse Square.
While location is paramount, so is creating an environment that would make someone spend between $250 to $900 a night -- for the long haul. Korman has spent about $15 million to gut the properties if need be and redevelop them into new apartments with fine appointments that would make a visitor feel right at home. Sometimes it's old hotels and apartment buildings that are being redeveloped; other times it's old office buildings.
The units vary in size but have ample living rooms, some with balconies, bedrooms and baths with fine linens and towel and fully loaded kitchens with limestone and granite countertops. All come with hotel amenities such as housekeeping and others have concierge service on site.
It's the combination of a prominent location with high-end accommodations that Korman and his team believe will find an audience for aka.
"It's recreating apartments with hotel services," Korman said.
How deep of a market exists for this type of deluxe extended-stay apartment is unknown since it's so new at this level. Corporate housing, such as apartments for extended-stay business travelers, is not new and is a distinct separate lodging product, said Peter R. Tyson, vice president at PKF Consulting, a firm that specializes in the hospitality industry. For example, Marriott's ExecuStay program is similar to this but not specifically oriented to the upscale market, Tyson said.
"I'm sure there's demand for this type of product as upscale hotels do not particularly go after this demand because the costs to the guests are too high even with discounting, and the hotels are doing well selling to transient business," Tyson said, adding that there's likely a need for this level of long-term accommodation. "I'm just not at all sure how deep the market is and what the price points are."
In all, Korman has developed nine aka properties with plans for more. "It's growing pretty rapidly," Korman said.
Mann Report Residential
AKA Times Square is the fourth Manhattan property for the burgeoning and innovative AKA brand of luxury extended-stay hotel residences that are being selectively rolled out worldwide by Philadelphia-based real estate developers Korman Communities, a fourth generation family company led by CEO Steven Korman with sons Larry and Brad as co-presidents. Located at 123 West 44th Street, the property is currently finishing a $28-million renovation transforming the landmarked former hotel to its original, turn-of-the-century architecture and best use. In doing so, AKA Times Square us reviving a New York City tradition of providing short-term housing for stars of the stage as well as business executives, leisure travelers, and other guests who flock to New York City for a week or more.
Over the past 115 years, the building has undergone several remarkable conversions. It began as the Hotel Gerard, a Romanesque, German –Gothic and Renaissance-style building designed by popular theater architect George Keister in 1893. While lauded as a New York City landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, to the theater and literary set is became known as Hotel 1-2-3, an apartment hotel for entertainers and other guests. In fact West 44th Street used to be called Rodgers & Hammerstein Row for the many actors, including Audrey Hepburn and James Dean, who lived in the residential hotels that lined the street.
During the condo craze of the early 2000’s, it was gut-renovated and converted into a condominium. The developer’s timing was off, however, when the market went south, units wouldn’t sell. The Korman’s discovered the building in late 2006, fell in love at first sight, and embarked on a multimillion –dollar renovation to fashion AKA Times Square.
AKA Times Square has once again been discovered by the Broadway set, as actors and actresses in town for long-running plays have made the luxury property their home away from home. Celebrities especially appreciate the privacy AKA offers with spacious suites infused with high-end hotel services such as a fitness center; same-day valet dry-cleaning and laundry service; 24-hour front desk assistance; dedicated doormen; concierge services; and full-time, on-site management and maintenance.
“AKA as a brand is very comfortable catering to celebrities,” noted Larry Korman. “AKA gives them what they desire most: anonymity, staff that makes them at ease, and space. They love being able to spread out between a kitchen, living room, and bedroom instead of being shoe-horned into a hotel room dominated by the bed.”
Under Korman’s supervision, the 12-story AKA Times Square building was redesigned into 111 well-appointed studios, one, and two bedroom suites, including nine bi-level penthouse suites. The architectural design of the interior was a combined effort of several boutique firms, including Studio Intramuros, a recently named as a finalist in the Best of the Year awards by Interior Design magazine.
All accommodations feature flat-screen televisions in the bedrooms and living rooms with digital cable and HBO, complimentary Wi-Fi, exclusive REM mattresses with Egyptian cotton linen, and a selection of pillows. Modern, full kitchens are a big draw with Sub-Zero appliances and quartz zodiac countertops with frosted glass back splashes. Mosaic baths with glass shower enclosures and Bosch washers and dryers complete with stylish ambiance.
AKA Times Square stands as a welcome and innovative model of contrasts boasting a thoroughly modern interior with all- new building systems and providing today’s stylish comforts in a beautiful pre-war façade recently returned to its original splendor.
Enterprise Business Travel
October 6, 2008
By Daniel McGinn
Hip, new extended-stay hotel chains cater to road warriors who expect amenities like flat-screen TVs, stainless-steel appliances and outdoor fire pits.
Mann Report Residential
Seeing Opportunities on the horizon and making highs out of market lows
Brad Korman “We have opportunities that did not exist several years ago and our program fits these market conditions beautifully.” AKA Korman Communities.
When New York City condominium developers find their for-sale projects languishing, they turn to Brad Korman.
As co-president of AKA, a fast growing and innovative extended-stay hotel brand, Korman wants to convert the right condo buildings into fully-furnished, all suite AKA properties. He and his brother, Larry Korman, have already done this successfully in New York (at AKA Central Park, AKA Times Square, AKA United Nations and AKA Sutton Place), Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Brad is currently looking to pick up troubled condo developments from cash-strapped developers in New York City, Los Angeles, London and other major world markets.
While some condominium developers and lending institutions may think an exit strategy for a troubled project is to turn it into a straight rental building, Korman maintains this won’t work in this market. “You can’t get standard rents of one year or more on unfurnished apartments high enough to cover today’s costs,” said Korman. AKA, because it commands higher rents for well-appointed, fully furnished residences with hotel-like services for guests who typically stay 30 days or more, can make the numbers work.
The Right Time in the Right Market
Currently, the lodging industry’s hottest segment, the $5.7 billion extended-stay market, is growing three times as fast as traditional hotels. The market share for upscale extended-stay brands has more than doubled in the past decade, from 14 million room nights in 1998 up to 29.3 million in 2007.
AKA was created by the Korman family of Philadelphia-based Korman Communities to serve the high-end long-stay market in major urban areas. Korman Communities, a fully integrated real estate company with development, management, and financial capabilities operating through out the United States, discovered this unmet need within the market and eagerly launched the new brand. As a fourth-generation family company, CEO Steve Korman leads Korman Communities and the co-presidency of AKA is headed up by Larry, who handles the general operations of the properties, and Brad, who handles portfolio acquisitions.
Setting the Brand Apart
Brad and Larry have worked hard to distinguish AKA and infuse the brand with innovations that resonate with consumers. At AKA, the tagline reads, “Don’t just visit, live it!” This bold statement led to the creation of a lifestyle program that offers life-enriching opportunities to guests who are away from home for extended periods of time. This includes classes with wine sommeliers, French cooking lessons, learning how to be a DJ, learning how to play the guitar and more.
A favorite among the entertainment industry for its inherent anonymity and spacious suites as opposed to cramped hotel rooms, AKA is very protective of the A-list movie stars, entertainers, and television crews that make AKA properties their home away from home while on location.
Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Market
Korman says that today’s credit crunch also works in AKA’s favor because there are fewer buyers. “We have opportunities that did not exist several years ago,” he says. “And out program fits these market conditions beautifully.”
The AKA portfolio currently consists of eight properties throughout metro New York (5), metro Philadelphia (1), and metro Washington, D.C. (2). With plans to expand, the Korman brothers’ goal is to have 20 AKA properties worldwide by 2010. While securing locations in Manhattan, Los Angeles, and London, Korman says he will be happy if the next ten deals are New York. As the market continues to embrace the AKA brand, that aspiration may soon be realized.
New York Times
September 17, 2007
By Elaine Glusac
WILLIAM KUTNEY tends to think of his temporary accommodations in New Jersey as a home away from home. He has a full kitchen, flat-panel television and, of course, Wi-Fi. He attends happy hours there, and the staff handles his dry cleaning. But he doesn't have to change a light bulb or commit to a lease, which gives his current suite an edge over his previous six-month stint living in a furnished apartment in Indiana for work.
"Here, if the contract ends, I can be out of the hotel tomorrow," said Mr. Kutney, 27, a financial industry consultant from Dallas who has been staying at the Hyatt Summerfield Suites in Morristown since December. "The staff helps make it nice, and you don't have to do your own sheets."
Meant to serve the 20 percent of travelers — many of them on business — who check in for five or more nights, extended-stay hotels were a 1980s innovation, offering larger closets, living areas, full kitchens, laundry rooms and discounts for guests who were willing to stay in what were often out-of-the-way suburban locations. They were aimed at budget customers, who dealt with fluorescentlighted work space, cheap kitchen counters and part-time reception staff. But as the number of such hotels has risen, so has the quality. There are now more services, better designs and, in some cases, locations in actual cities.
Hyatt's new 19-unit Summerfield Suites, which it bought last year and plans to expand by adding 11 locations this year, offers free grocery shopping service, swimming pools and outdoor grills. In 2008, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide plans to introduce Element Hotel, an extended-stay chain with a loft-style design and "green" elements, like low-flow toilets. AKA hotels, based in Philadelphia, recently opened two properties in Manhattan, two in suburban Washington, D.C. and one this month in Philadelphia, each with designer kitchens, 400-threadcount sheets and flat-screen TVs.
Established contenders like Residence Inn by Marriott are honing their appeal with more contemporary décor and features like outdoor fire pits. Homewood Suites by Hilton, which ranked highest for satisfaction in the extendedstay category in a 2007 J. D. Power & Associates survey, will replace all its beds and allow guests to choose their suite through an online program by the year's end. Staybridge Suites, managed by InterContinental Hotels Group, has begun adding screening rooms for sports and movie watchers.
"We've reached a level of maturity in extended stay where a greater range of services and amenities is important," said Bjorn Hanson, a lodging consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers. The market for high-end extended-stay rooms — where rates average $117 a night, more than double the low-end average of $54.82 — grew 7.3 percent in the first six months of 2007, according to Smith Travel Research, a database information group. Overall occupancy in all extended-stay rooms, 73.6 percent, is 10 percentage points above the national average; the rate among the top tier is even higher, at 75.2 percent.
"You see a lot of people traveling on the road doing training seminars and consulting, which benefits the extended-stay category," said Jan Freitag, vice president of Smith Travel Research.
The downside is often giving up city locations for suburban or business park locations. Guests can't get room service, except for those staying at AKA hotels, which usually have restaurants in adjacent areas. Most extendedstay hotels restrict food service to free self-serve breakfasts. Their business centers rarely offer full services, though most offer free Wi-Fi.
And, of course, guests share living space with strangers. "It will always feel like a hotel if you don't have a home," said Connie Miller, 52, who had been living for four months at the Hyatt Summerfield Suites near Denver while her husband, a mining consultant, relocates for work. "Privacy is an issue." Such complaints are difficult to satisfy, but new high-end extended-stay hotels hope to raise aesthetics, as well as rates. Element hotels, for example, will offer uncluttered lobbies with 16-foot windows, as well as generous showers and sectional couches in the guest rooms. Microbrew beers will be served around fire pits at happy hours. Starwood plans to open 500 Element hotels in 10 years, with the first in Lexington, Mass., to open in July 2008, at rates 10 to 15 percent above what competitors charge.
Amenities at AKA hotels include luxury kitchen appliances, mosaic-tiled showers and choices of pillows.
"Nobody was going after the person who was going to be here for a long stay who would normally stay at the Four Seasons on a short stay," said Larry Korman, a co-president of the Korman Communities, which buys condominiums that are under construction and converts them to luxury extended-stay hotels. Rates vary by location and length of stay, but dip to $255 per night for 30 days at the new AKA Central Park.
Even existing hotels are polishing their acts. "Expectations are different and it's more competitive," said Robert Radomski, vice president of brand management for Staybridge, which will add more than 21 locations this year, its busiest yet. In 2006, the hotel began upgrading its suites with walk-in showers and granite vanities, and built home theaters in public areas, with leather seats for up to 15 people to sit before a 60-inch monitor.
To make its properties friendlier, Residence Inn by Marriott has added basketball and volleyball courts as well as pools and fire pits. "The residential atmosphere is very important to us," said Rich Rollison, an American Army liaison officer for South Korea. He books up to 500 guests a year at the Residence Inn Arlington-Pentagon City for officials and officers coming to the capital for meetings. "When you have a 10-day stay, you get tired of going out to eat. Suites are critical to what we do."
April 22, 2006
By Sarah Abruzzese
Plenty of apartment buildings have transient tenants -- but not as transient as those at 1710 H St. NW.
The building, which is blocks from the White House and the World Bank, rents furnished apartments for terms as short as 30 days. Many residents are here on work assignments.
The 141-unit building was originally designed as a condominium, but Korman Communities bought it last year, while it was still under construction, and switched it to short-term rentals.
The company, which is based in the Philadelphia suburbs, also runs similar high-end short-term rental buildings in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina.
The H Street building has been open to tenants for almost a year. While most construction is complete, there are still a few projects underway, such as the installation of a rooftop deck with a retractable canopy.
Residents say that, like many other short-term visitors to Washington, they don't spend a lot of time in their rooms. Still, they praised the spacious apartments, welldesigned living space, friendly staff and convenient location.
"I love it," said Jerry Alex, 24, an accountant who was sent here from Ohio for a six-month work assignment.
He has lived at the Korman Communities building for three months.
"It is very luxurious," he said, adding that the people who work in the building are kind. "These guys hook me up with everything," he said.
With the exception of room service, all the services offered at hotels are available, including maid service. Mark Signorelli, 46, a trial consultant, spent two weeks living in a onebedroom apartment. "Seems like they didn't cut many corners," he said about the building.
His client chose the building for him and arranged for daily maid service instead of the standard weekly service. Even though he wasn't home often, he said, it was "more economical to do this than spend $250 a night for a hotel."
The furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments also include more than most hotel rooms. Each is outfitted with a flat-screen television and DVD player in the living room and each bedroom. There are a stereo system, high-speed Internet access, and a frontloading washer and dryer.
All the apartments share the elegant but simple decor: There are dark wood floors, high ceilings, marble countertops, steel appliances in the kitchen, and spacious bedrooms and living rooms. The interior designer has created open spaces with strong, clean lines, without superfluous decoration.
There are also four penthouse apartments, which have higher ceilings and private balconies with a table and chairs, perfect for relaxing in the spring.
Kitchens are fully outfitted, too. In addition to major appliances, each has a toaster, coffee maker and microwave oven, as well as a set of cookware.
"The kitchens are great," Alex said. "Everyone who has come to visit me [is] very impressed."
And when friends come to visit, Alex borrows a rollaway bed from the building. His apartment is so spacious, he said, that even then, it's not overly crowded.
The building has a fitness center with cardio and weight machines, as well as an adjoining spa room. The concierge can arrange for a massage there. There is a business center with a connecting conference room, where staff will set up everything needed to give a presentation. Continental breakfast is provided on weekdays.
The minimum stay is 30 days, and the apartments are available for monthly contracts. Lynn Taylor, the general manager, said many companies such as the one Signorelli was working for have long-term contracts on apartments that their guests use.
The building is "strategically located," Alex said. It is just a couple of blocks to Metro stations on both the Red Line and the Blue/Orange line. Alex uses the subway to get to his job near Tenley Circle.
And for when he's not working, there are also plenty of restaurants and bars within walking distance.
Signorelli said the neighborhood is reasonably quiet but still a walkable commute to his client's office. He said, though, that he is used to New York City's extensive transportation system and wishes there were more taxis here.
R.W. Apple Jr., 71, and his wife, Betsey, have lived in a twobedroom apartment in the H Street building since December. The Apples own a home in the area but were looking for a place without lots of stairs while he undergoes medical treatments. His doctors say he probably should avoid steps for about six more weeks; when it's time to move out, he will have to give just 15 days notice.
The apartment is "absolutely wonderful," said Apple, an associate editor for the New York Times. "I hate to be overly enthusiastic; it is not my professional pose." Nonetheless, he said, "The location is fabulous, right in the middle of everything." Because the building is downtown, friends can easily visit on their lunch hours.
"We haven't regretted coming here for a minute," he said.
The apartments are "bright, very much to our taste," he said.
"When you are sick, the last thing you want is gloom. You want something peppy and bright and cheery, and this has been that for us."
Korman has been providing temporary corporate rentals for about 40 years, slowly expanding from its base in Pennsylvania to other locations along the East Coast. There are 21 communities in the chain. Many of them are split between standard apartment rentals and short-term rentals. When the company bought the H Street building, the plan was to rent both short term and long term, but the leasing has been such a success that the entire building is used for short-term rentals, Taylor said.
December 12, 2008
By Natalie Kostelni
Korman Communities Inc., which sat on the sidelines for the last year and a half, is poised to make some real estate grabs next year - spending more than $300 million - to expand its three residential real estate divisions.
The move comes as the company decided to re-brand two of its lines of business to better distinguish itself from competition and solidify its position in the Middle Atlantic States and the Northeast. This comes after the company established a new division last year called "AKA" that caters to clientele who want to stay in luxury accommodations in major cities. It was Korman’s way to try to capture a niche that five-star hotels offer on an overnight basis but instead offer it on an extended basis - be it a week or a month.
Now the Plymouth Meeting real estate company has formed a new division based on its existing and growing portfolio of midrise and garden apartment complexes in the suburbs called “AVE” and plans a big marketing push of the brand. It will eventually roll out "ARK," which focuses on its original Korman Suites apartment properties, some dating back to the 1950s.
The branding effort highlights how a real estate company that is entering its 100th year of business has evolved and stayed above the fray at a time when many highly leveraged commercial builders are retrenching, with some even faltering, as they cope with a dearth of available credit.
In the first part of last year, the private company completed $624 million in deals between acquisitions and sales and then pulled back. Its financial partners, pension fund advisers and investment management firms supported the move.
"We stopped buying in the middle of 2007 and we were purposefully quiet all of 2008," said Brad Korman, who serves as co-president of the company with his brother Larry Korman. "Frankly, we thought prices we too high. We went to the sidelines to basically focus on operations."
Times have changed and the company is set to seize upon some good deals. "We think there will be a lot of opportunities for us in 2009," Korman said. "We don’t know where the opportunities will be, but we think it will be in all segments."
Korman is ready to spend $200 million to $300 million buying up to five properties in Philadelphia, Washington, New York and New Jersey. For example, Brad Korman anticipates finding some steals among stalled condominium projects in urban areas that may go for 60 cents on the dollar and fold them into the AKA brand. The company also is conservative about its transactions, leveraging between 60 percent to 65 percent on a deal.
Korman was founded in 1909 by Hyman Korman, who mostly did residential construction in the region. His grandson, Steven Korman, developed the concept of Korman Suites in an apartment building along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway that is now an Embassy Suites. Slow to rent the pie-shaped apartments, Steven Korman decided to furnish one as an example of how the unit might look. Then someone wanted to rent the furnished apartment for a few months but not as long as a year.
"All of a sudden it hit him that there was a need for a whole realm of lodging for someone who needed a place for six months," said Brad Korman about his father Steven.
At that point, the Korman Suites concept took off. In the mid-1980s, Brad and Larry Korman joined the family business, expanding its footprint into Atlanta, Washington, Delaware and Raleigh, N.C. About four years ago, the company decided to exit the Southeast and focus on the mid-Atlantic area and Northeast Corridor, where it’s more difficult to build new apartments but allows the company to find ways to stand out from the competition. One way of doing that was to create these brands and invest heavily in new and existing properties to ensure the real estate and brand were in synch.
For example, at an existing 264-unit community off Route 30 in Malvern, it spent $6 million on a complete overhaul to the property that was built in 1996. This summer, it completed an $80 million project in Union, N.J., and is completing the construction of a $70 million development in Dulles, Va.
AVE properties are in suburban locations near corporate centers, major arteries or transit stops, shopping and restaurants. However, the style is anything but suburban. "The AVE collection is chic, modern, hip yet warm and comfortable," said Lea Anne Welsh, president of the AVE division. "You feel like you’re in a suburban W Hotel."
Korman will next focus on its ARK division. This older portfolio consists of garden apartments that have a smaller percentage, usually between 10 percent and 20 percent, that are furnished. The properties, typically in established neighborhoods, are geared toward traditional renters who sign year-long leases.
May 23, 2008
By Kitty Bean Yancey
Ericka Nelson, whose husband is a thunderous snorer, knows from personal experience that it can be hard to get a good night's rest.
The general manager of Kimpton's 70 park avenue hotel found an anti-snore pillow in a store. It worked for her hubby, and in March she rolled out a pillowmenu at 70 park avenue, including a PillowPositive model. It props up the neck, she says, and allows users to sleep on their backs or sides with airways open to promote peaceful rest.
"A hotel can have all these great amenities, and everyone (in the industry) keeps trying to find the latest thing. But when it comes down to it, what we're really about is a great night's sleep," Nelson says.
"A hotel can have all these great amenities, and everyone (in the industry) keeps trying to find the latest thing. But when it comes down to it, what we're really about is a great night's sleep," Nelson says.
• Before arrival, 70 park avenue guests can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call a "pillow librarian" to request one of 15 complimentary rest-inducers. Most popular, Nelson says, is a pillow made with buckwheat hulls, which is said to stimulate acupressure points and increase circulation. Also on the menu are aromatherapy pillows containing scented sachets that aid in relaxation. Turn-down chocolates contain sleep-promoting melatonin. The pillow menu will expand to more Kimpton hotels in the future, Nelson says. Information: 877-707-2752; 70parkave.com.
• Another Kimpton, the Hotel Monaco Chicago, has unveiled a "KN Tranquility Suite," an oasis of serenity with waterfall and soft bamboo sheets. It's stocked with neck pillow, sleep masks, sound machine and named for Karen Neuburger, a designer of sleepwear. Rates start at about $360 a night. 866-610-0081; monaco-chicago.com.
• Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts in North America offer a "Sleep Advantage" program, developed by a sleep expert. Guests get a free kit with ear plugs and eye mask, calming lavender mist, a CD that lulls them to dreamland — even a clip to close drapes to shut out light. Also offered: "Quiet zone" floors. If guests don't receive a requested wake-up call, they get a refund for that night's room cost. 877-227-6963; crowneplaza.com.
• A dozen Omni Hotels have in-room "Sensation Bars" that sell sleep CDs and lavender mist (average cost $10 and $5, respectively).
• SpaTerre at La Playa Beach and Golf Resort in Naples, Fla., covers wellness as well as sweet dreams. Its "Summer Sunset Slumber" program aims to encourage healthful sleep while teaching habits to incorporate back home. "We're hoping to have it running by July," spa director David Carter says. Rates begin at $250 for a lifestyle consultation, yoga or other classes and a sunset beach ritual and massage. Carter also suggests that guests trying to de-stress "put your cellphone in your room safe" and check e-mail only once a day on vacation — if you must. 239-598-5117; laplayaresort.com.
• The new Aqua Cancún resort wafts mint, eucalyptus, lavender and calming music throughout the property. Guests choose a pillow, order an aromatherapy turn-down service or take a calming "nap" spa treatment. 800-343-7821; feel-aqua.com.
Some hotels and spas take a more medical approach to sleep problems, which the National Center for Health Statistics estimates affect as many as 70 million people in the USA.
• Canyon Ranch, with branches in Tucson and Lenox, Mass., offers physician assessments for insomnia, snoring and frequent waking at night. In Tucson, an all-night study in the Canyon Ranch sleep lab diagnoses problems, and a sleep-specialist MD recommends treatments. Cost is $2,325 and may be covered by insurance. In Lenox, guests can opt for a sleep study at a local hospital to check for common problems, such as sleep apnea. Cost: $1,200, including physician follow-up. 800-742-9000; canyonranch.com.
• Another leading spa, Miraval Tucson, also is serious about sleep. Its Director of Sleep Programs is Rubin Naiman, author of Healing Night, who opposes routinely prescribing sleeping pills. (They disturb natural sleep patterns, he says.) He takes a mind/body approach. Miraval guests can listen to Naiman lecture free or consult with him (from $190). Miraval just started a "Healthy Sleep and Dreams Package" (from $2,140 a person for four nights, including lodging, meals, customized sleep counseling and spa treatments). 800-825-4000; miravalresort.com.
• The Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village near L.A., which adjoins the California Health & Longevity Institute, has launched a "Sleep Well" program. Created by physicians, dietitians and other experts, the program includes sleep-inducing meals (no heartburn, please!), spa treatments, specialty pillows, acupuncture, meditation and clinical sleep studies. Eye masks, ear plugs, foot warmers, humidifiers, sound machines — even teddy bears — are available. Cost varies depending on services used. 800-332-3442; fourseasons.com/westlakevillage.
• The four extended-stay AKA lodgings in Manhattan offer an "AKA Sleep School." It includes a free lecture by directors of the New York University Sleep Disorders Center and New York Sleep Institute that is open to guests and the public. The next one is June 3 at 6 p.m. at the AKA Central Park at 42 W. 58th St. For a fee, experts from those sleep centers will make house calls to AKA guests to assess sleeping patterns and recommend treatments. A sleep study at the centers can be arranged by calling 866-252-9999.