Design Hotels CEO Claus Sendlinger about global nomads

Claus Sendlinger just opened a new Design Hotel for the generation Chipsy in Mexico. We sat together at the Design Hotels Headquarters in Berlin and got his very personal view on hotels as happening places, a creative generation of hoteliers and his vision of what is next in hospitality.

Claus Sendlinger: Global nomads don‘t want to be tourists but participants in a global world.

It is 11 o’clock in the morning and old barges pass the Spree River while I am jiggling on my design chair in Design Hotels‘ headquarter loft. In a moment I will meet my PERSONAL BRAND GURU: Claus Sendlinger, the head and founder of Design Hotels. In case you should not know, Design Hotels™ is an international lifestyle brand that curates a collection of member hotels, which are very carefully selected. Last year 400 hotels did apply, 25 made it under the umbrella of the brand. All of those have an asset. And this is NOT JUST DESIGN. According to Claus Sendlinger “design is no competitive advantage anymore it is a minimum requirement.“ What made those hotels great enough to be supported by Design Hotels are the creative entrepreneurs behind them. The hoteliers.
Design Hotels is scanning the hospitality world for the „most creative, passionate and authentic minds“. They kind of look for hoteliers who love to admit:

at the end of the day we are all crazy

quote Emanuele Garosci in their campaign made by originals. And craziness means to live for the creation of “touching” spaces and services. Hospitality experiences that evoke your very personal potential, scooping the power of the country you are in.

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Claus Sendlinger is the pulse maker of this spirit

He is niche and a global brand rolled into one. In his 20ies he rocked the Air Force’s PR department, travelled the world in between, engaged in PR for the nightlife scene, bought a travel agency with 23, led it to success with three of his homies and a charming old lady and was always ON TOP OF THE TECHNO AND SNOWBOARD CROWD.

Later he brought nightlife and travelling on a whole new level by organizing raves in ski areas and providing brands with parties that would always differentiate by design. With the openings of the one of the first design hotels in Paramount, Claus Sendlinger would become even more connected with the mover and shaker of the design scene and 1987 finally decided to launch a creative travel agency: COORDINATES, which six years later, would turn into Design Hotels™.  Soon the agency represented some of the coolest hotels in NYC, L.A., Paris and London. Do I need to say that their owners were mostly creatives out of the music and design scene?…

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Claus Sendlinger: the challenge of offering hospitality for global nomads

Claus, travelling means to me, “finding new triggers for different experiences”. What is your target group, the „global nomads“, seeking?
Since taste has become so diverse, staying in a hotel is more about moments than about a design experience or a location.

There is no my favorite hotel but my favorite moment which happens in very different ways in very different hotels.

The more intellectual and forward thinking someone is, the more he has a mind of his own. Don‘t try to heavily convince him of your hotel. Those people want to discover or maybe stay at a friend‘s place. They don‘t want to be tourists but participants in a global world.

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What do you think your guests of choice expect from today‘ hotels?
Today forward thinking people expect more from the creative product than just the hardware, the aesthetic room. You easily eat one‘s fill with design and creative class people are swift to leave anyway. They are always looking for the upcoming COUNTER CULTURE of an actual movement.

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Claus Sendlinger: Hotels as happening places

I love hotels for their potential to hook me up with pulsating people. How does Design Hotels realize this potential?
We sometimes challenge our hoteliers by asking:

Do you build your hotel for the transient passenger or for the locals? And where do you draw the demarcation line? Is it in the lobby? At the spa or at the restaurant? Is this a house or a happening place?

The answer always depends of the very specific setting of a hotel. It is about the property and the district and the design. The later is always the catalyzer and the architecture needs to embody the hotel‘s soul.

Tell me, where is this successfully happening?
Hmmm….the Roomers in Frankfurt is such a place. The two hoteliers Micki and Alex are the local chiefs when it comes to party. They do amazing parties in their own hotels and the guests draw the guests.

What do you think of the idea that hotels become modern saloons?
Once upon a time, the Grand Hotels’ teatime was the DJ of the 19th century. Guests would define themselves by the hotels they lived in. The aristocratic class would not travel the world but the hotels. YOU WERE WHERE YOU SLEEP. Then mass tourism and hotel chains arrived.

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How do you get cool locals wowing for Design Hotels?
It is definitively not an event. It needs to happen organically. People should love to meet here because they like the atmosphere, the people, the place.  That is how it happens in hotels everywhere in the world. Design Hotels plans something like that in Berlin. At different locations with different concepts. We think about an open door concept including an aesthetic powerful space where you can work and talk…

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Claus Sendlinger about the Sendlinger Vision

I consider you as a very visionary creative entrepreneur. What is in your mind, you haven‘t realized yet?
A lot…but do I want to talk about it now?
Having always been the consulting part, I would love to create my own hotel.

Beyond that I think of a completely new definition of the leisure experience or let‘s call it „CHICK SHACK”.

So far, all I see is so NOT right. It does not match the real needs. All those concepts seem to just copy successfully implemented models. Nobody really tracks the zeitgeist and the change of needs and translates it in a new product.

So what might this new product look like?
My topic is the aesthetic room, which doesn‘t necessarily need to be covered with buildings. Why not just cover it with plants? In my eyes all existing spaces today are way to expensive as it is far too much SIGNATURE DESIGN.

What is the alternative?
Design should be defined by the atmosphere of its surroundings. The last thing an urban guy who travels the mountains needs is a Barcelona chair. He needs a walnut and an apple served on a clean wooden plate. Design should make you INHALE THE COUNTRY you are in.

Thank you Claus