If you ask Merriam-Webster, Moxie means “energy” or “pep.” If you ask Marriott, Moxy is “a playful, affordable, and stylish hotel brand designed to give guests everything they want and nothing they don’t.”
And that’s exactly why TPG readers crowned Moxy as the best affordable hotel brand in the 2023 TPG Awards.
If you’ve never stayed at one of the 125-plus locations spanning the globe — from Tokyo to Tromso, Norway; Shanghai to Seattle; and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Sydney Airport (SYD) — you’ve probably at least noticed the chain’s neon pink signage or been tempted to book after seeing its typically affordable price points, attractive photos and trendy locations.
MICHAEL KLEINBERGWhat makes a Moxy?
According to Brian Jaymont, the global brand leader and senior director of Aloft Hotels and Moxy Hotels, Marriott found out that guests wanted three things before it announced the brand back in 2013: a comfortable bed, an awesome TV and a great shower.
Armed with that knowledge, the Marriott team got creative and came up with “small but smart” rooms that typically measure around 185 square feet. Instead of a closet, Moxy introduced simple peg boards where guests can hang clothes or a bag. Rather than a full-on desk, some rooms offer small fold-up options that double as wall art. And in the bathroom, guests will find solid walk-in showers to wash away a day or night out on the town.
The company also realized that the brand’s target traveler was satisfied with a small accommodation because the locale was the focus of the journey.
“Our travelers have told us they want to explore the destination,” Jaymont said. “They don’t want to just be stuck in the room.”
With that in mind, the brand ditched the traditional check-in desk in favor of Bar Moxy, where guests can get their “room key and a cocktail,” as the Moxy website states. (In fact, many Moxy properties offer a free drink at check-in.) It turned the lobby into a design-forward social hub and built a place that served more as a launch pad into the destination itself rather than a refuge from it.
“What we ended up doing is proposing a deal to the traveler,” said Mitchell Hochberg, president of Lightstone, the development company behind a handful of Moxy properties in New York City, Miami and Los Angeles. “We reduced the (room) rate and (in return gave) them a room that’s efficient, i.e. smaller, but still stylish, along with public spaces that are engaging and well designed.”
Typically, those smaller rooms equal a smaller price tag — rates can even be found for less than $75 a night in certain markets — but ultimately will vary depending on location and seasonality.
1 size does not fit all MICHAEL KLEINBERG
One thing is for certain: Moxy isn’t a cookie-cutter hotel brand. Sure, each property’s values are the same across the board: playful vibes, efficient rooms and a community-driven atmosphere. But each hotel has something different to offer.
Take Hochberg and Lightstone’s spin on the brand, for example. Rather than offering a simple grab-and-go market and Bar Moxy with cocktails and bar grub, the company teamed up with Tao Group, a world-famous hospitality group with restaurants and clubs, at properties like Moxy NYC Lower East Side and Moxy NYC East Village to open Instagram-adored restaurants like Cathédrale and stunning rooftop bars with incredible city views.
“Food and beverage is always going to be a very important component,” Hochberg said, explaining that having great restaurants and bars makes it easy for guests to spend time outside the room. “There’s just a multitude of options that we provide (guests).”
Some Moxy hotels have nightclubs with lines down the block to enter. At the Miami location, you’ll find a rooftop pool. At those properties, where you could eat and be entertained for hours without leaving, the hotel experience outside the room is the destination travelers seek out — or, at least, an extension of it.
And, as Hochberg explained, Marriott allowed his team to be very creative, and their partnership has been “nothing short but extraordinary.”
MARRIOTTCatering to the location
Yet the reality, as Jaymont told TPG, is that not every market the brand explores will support something like the Tao Group. But that doesn’t mean Moxy isn’t looking at expanding its food and beverage options. Some markets, including Europe, “are asking for a little elevated offering compared to what we traditionally think of a select service (hotel),” he said.
In some places, that might mean opening a food truck window or a coffee shop. In others, a rooftop bar or a single full-service restaurant may make more sense.
“We’re trying to find the balance on not over-engineering and just making it feel like it belongs there,” Jaymont said.
Some things never change
The one thing you will find at all Moxy hotels is a fun spirit and friendly staff.
“We’ve really gone out and hired a staff that you would feel like, ‘Hey, this would be a friend I would hang out with at this hotel,’” said Steve Choe, the general manager of the Moxy Downtown Los Angeles. There, instead of starched uniforms, staff wear black jean jackets and trucker hats and will be quick to tell you their favorite local hideaways and hangs.
“I think it’s it’s much more of a brand where people can relate to the people checking them in,” Choe said, adding that Moxy is a place for someone who wants less of a stuffy, formal experience and “a little bit more of an informal way of hanging out.”
He also pointed out that the guests themselves represent every age group and demographic, but all share one common trait: “a youthful mindset.”
Today, the brand has over 24,000 rooms in 25 countries and territories, with more than 125 properties in the global pipeline, including in Canada, Tanzania, Thailand, India and beyond.
Despite the rapid growth, Jaymont says Moxy will always be smart about where it plants its seeds.
“We’re trying to find all those little spots (where) we can embrace the community, be part of it — and not just another building,” he said.
With that many rooms, open properties and a massive pipeline, it’s hard to believe that Moxy is still rather fresh in what Jaymont calls the broader Marriott engine.
“Look, the brand will be 10 next year. So we’re a baby, right?” he joked when asked about what’s next. “It’s pretty amazing to see where the brand was in 2014 and kind of where we are and where we’re going. We want to keep our playful spirit. I don’t ever want to drop that, but as we grow, so does our thought of what play is.”