Radisson RED is “fight[ing] the beige in the hotel industry,” as Richard Flores, vice president branding, Radisson & Radisson Red Hotels at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, put it. The new hotel concept, with a focus on local art, music and fashion, has completely reengineered and reimagined the traditional hotel design; it is completely redefining the experience from tangibles like aesthetic to intangibles like interaction between guests and staff. Radisson RED Minneapolis is the flagship hotel in the U.S., and only the third worldwide.
The first thing Radisson RED did away with? The front desk. Employees—termed creatives—greet guests as they walk through the red-tinted sliding doors and check them in via an iPad without the barrier of a desk between them. They’ll even put in an order for a latte if you ask. The experience feels as though you’re in an Apple store rather than a hotel. Keys can be created upon request, but keyless entry is available through the RED app. Creatives, notably lacking uniform, will be trained to help guests with any need they have, rather than specific roles per person, and also take social cues from guests—striking up a hearty conversation or letting a guest be on their way with minimal interaction.
RED is creating an entirely new kind of atmosphere, right down to the words it uses to describe its space. Instead of the front/back of the house, it’s the heart/soul of the house. The first-level spaces flow into each other seamlessly, creating a “social hive.”
OUIBar + KTCHN’s layout looks more like a coffee shop than hotel lounge. Among the bar, booths and four-person tables is a long bench with seats across the table, most of which equipped with outlets. The entire space is punctuated with the giant Adam Turman mural, depicting Loring Park’s murder of crows with the Basilica and skyline in the background. On tap at OUIBar is local craft beer and on the menu is simple street-style food from around the world, drawing inspiration from the food trucks on 2nd Avenue.
Pingpong tables and Fatboy bean bag chairs fill the Events & Games Studio and is open to anyone to hang out. RED has a movie license so movies can be played on the projector. The space can be used as meeting space, complete with a projector screen, and can accommodate 75 guests classroom-style.
The 164 rooms—or studios—are a bit smaller on average by design, but feel more spacey. And that’s due to the absence of bulky furniture like desks and drawers. How often do you unpack your suitcase and put away clothes into the drawers and closets, anyway? Instead, studios are furnished with picnic-style tables and sleek locker-style wardrobes. Another amenity purposely missing from the rooms? Coffeemakers. RED puts a focus on craft coffee, and a great cup is available for guests in the kitchen. And instead of paper and pens, there are small dry-erase boards with markers (which are meant to be taken as a keepsake).
It may sound like RED is missing a lot of things: keys, desks, room service. On the contrary, the simplification makes room for what guests are really craving: a unique experience, and that’s because of another thing that’s missing: rules. RED is designed to make you feel more at home; its Baxter’s Pet Policy allows pets to stay with you and room TVs can stream media from guests’ own devices (200 dual band MGB Wi-Fi means there’s no buffering).
In a time when hotels are competing with Airbnb for business, Radisson RED is creating a space that’s the best of both worlds. And while the conversation tends to focus on how hotels should cater to millennials, RED refutes that notion; the hotel’s lifestyle isn’t just for a certain age group—it’s for the millennials at heart.
The hotel is connected via skyway, and guests can easily get to downtown and U.S. Bank Stadium without stepping a foot outside. But Creatives are on hand to dish out lesser-known brewery and restaurant recommendations to those looking for a real sense of the neighborhood and city.
RED is actively invested in the community, too. The hotel is working on forming a partnership with the family homeless shelter People Serving People—located directly across the street—in hopes of hiring people from its job program and arranging a food program with the organization so hotel food isn’t wasted.
Radisson RED Minneapolis is slated to open Nov. 16.