Penta depicts a new generation of lively neighbourhood hotels that offer modern-minded individuals and business travellers comfort and style in a relaxed atmosphere. Here, RLI speaks with Rogier Braakman, Managing Director of Penta Hotels to learn more about the brand’s hallmark and its growing portfolio across Europe and Asia.
Known for its unique interior design and attitude, the lifestyle brand Penta Hotels stands as an innovative beacon in the industry’s upper-midscale segment. With 27 operating hotels under the brand across Europe and Asia, with the properties in Asia franchised locations, the hallmark of the hotel chain is the Pentalounge – a combination of lounge, bar, café and reception – that stands out with its “living room” look and feel.
Rogier Braakman, Managing Director of Penta Hotels took up his role mere weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic made its presence felt on the hospitality industry, so with recently installed new owners, a new Managing Director and with having to transform the company into a Covid-19 proof operation, many challenges presented themselves.
“So what we have done and focused on is keeping the operation afloat and leaving many of the initial plans that the new owners had on the back burner until this situation resolves itself,” explains Braakman. “What I’ve quickly learnt about this brand is that no matter the circumstances, in everything we do we try to inject some fun into it because this is something that is more important than ever with the serious situation the world finds itself in.”
Expansion is still very much part of future plans for Penta, and they are already in touch with many real estate developers and they currently have five properties in the pipeline. Another way the brand is expanding is with the renovation and extension of existing Penta sites, such is the case with its hotel in Rostock in the North of Germany where they have recently signed a new 20-year lease.
In terms of new markets, the brand continue to consider markets that may be exciting for their target audience but also sites that are healthy and sustainable from a financial perspective. The company’s plan is to find further prime locations in secondary cities or secondary locations in prime cities.
Coming under new ownership offered the brand the perfect opportunity to re-vitalise their portfolio, so that it remained attractive and exciting to guests. They went about this by enhancing the destinations so that they continued to be a lively neighbourhood location hotel that appealed to the people surrounding the hotels through its unique and timeless interior design, and making each hotel uniformed so guests know they are in a Penta hotel whether they are Berlin in Germany or Warrington in the UK.
“The Pentalounge concept across the portfolio remains one of our USP’s. They are designed as the pulsating heart of our hotels, a gathering space with Wi-Fi all around where people can check-in at the 24-hour bar, have a drink or a steak at the bar or a sandwich in the cafe, have a game on the latest game console or take advantage of the billiard and pool tables or even choose to relax in the seating area of this unique living room vibe,” explains Braakman.
Discussing the wider hospitality industry, Braakman believes the question is not how are we coping now but rather how will we recover after this temporary abnormal? “I’m an optimist and I still think we are talking about a temporary situation and I believe it is the companies who adapt the best to these temporary changes and who are the most agile in recovering once the market changes that will come through this situation in the best shape.”
With this in mind, Penta are maintaining their locations so that guests that are still allowed to travel feel warm, welcome and safe in their locations so that when the market does have an upswing they will be in the best position possible to welcome more guests back on-site.
Already active on social media, what Covid-19 has offered the hotel company is the opportunity and time to create an app to improve the interactive experience for customers and make sure that people can simply bring their own device and have a one-stop shopping platform whether that is booking a room or ordering a burger in the room so contact and physical touch is as minimal as possible.
The ongoing challenges for the business is maintaining brand standards and genuine interaction between staff and guests in a current and post Covid-19 world. Braakman feels that with all the rules in place the hotel experience can quickly become lost so the challenge moving forward is to combine this need for safety and wellbeing with the good vibe and good experience Penta locations have become known for.
“In these difficult times, we need to keep our brand on the pulse, update our products and convert our ideas whilst taking risks. I think it is important to do this as it sits well within the Penta ideal. We need to be resilient and work our way through this period to reach what will hopefully be a much brighter future,” he concludes.