Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Wed August 05 2015

Hotel RL Brand Comes to Baltimore On a Mission

Hotel & Resort | Claudette Covey | August 05, 2015

Hotel RL Brand Comes to Baltimore On a Mission

All photos courtesy of Red Lion Hotel Corporation

Red Lion Hotel Corporation (RLHC) has unveiled the first hotel in its new Hotel RL urban lifestyle brand with the opening of the 130-room Hotel RL Baltimore Inner Harbor.

Plans to open a hotel in Baltimore were underway, of course, long before the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody and the more recent surge in violent crime.

“The situation in Baltimore was a tough time for the city,” said Greg Mount, CEO of RLHC about Freddie Gray’s death. “We have always recognized that this is a resilient city and one we want to be a part of.”

Regardless of the inauspicious timing of the hotel’s opening, Mount said he believes the city of Baltimore is an excellent fit for the new lifestyle brand. “We are excited to enter this market and have every reason to believe it will be a good market for us,” said Mount. “The local officials have been incredibly supportive. At the same time, we need to remain sensitive to the events in the Baltimore market as we open the first-ever Hotel RL there.”

In tandem with the hotel’s opening, RLHC unveiled Project Wake Up Call, a fund-raising initiative designed to help combat homelessness, which includes a partnership with Baltimore-based Health Care for the Homeless. The program is also bringing awareness to the issue of homelessness through images created by homeless photographers, which are showcased on the Project Wake Up Call website. Through Oct. 31, those who donate $100 or more on the Project Wake Up Call website will be eligible for one-night trial stays at the Hotel RL Baltimore Inner Harbor.

“With all that has occurred there, we think Project Wake Up Call is more relevant than ever,” said Mount. “Health Care for the Homeless is dealing with the citizens who live on the streets and are most vulnerable. We want to support them in their efforts to be certain all citizens have an opportunity to have a roof over their heads.” 

Mount noted that the initiative is already reaping rich rewards. “The campaign has already grown beyond our expectations with the homeless clients of Health Care for the Homeless taking their photos of their plight from their own perspective,” he said. “The pictures are very moving.”

The hotel itself has also been positively affected by the initiative. “When we hosted a casting call to hire staff for this property, many of the candidates mentioned they wanted to join our team in part due to the Project Wake Up Call efforts,” Mount said.

Going forward, hotel employees and guests may very well have the chance to play an active role in the initiative. “We have been talking with Health Care for the Homeless about our own associates volunteering for their organization with the 10 hours paid volunteer time offered by Hotel RL,” Mount said. “Now, we are talking about how our guests might become involved in ‘voluntourism’ at Health Care for the Homeless. We can provide packages that allow guests to engage in volunteer time.”

In all likelihood, the Project Wake Up Call initiative will appeal to Hotel RL’s targeted demographic, which the brand defines as “consumers with a Millennial mindset” who place a high premium on authentic, experiential travel – but not at the expense of 24/7 Wi-Fi access.

“Hotel RL is an urban lifestyle brand that will offer visitors a uniquely local experience and Baltimore is the perfect place to unveil this concept,” said Mount. “We emphasized comfortable, communal spaces and advanced technological touches which will appeal to travelers with a Millennial mindset – those who are addicted to their devices.”

Guests have the option to check in to the property through an app that enables the downloading of an electronic key. The lobby, which serves as the hotel’s focal communal space, features a bar and grill. It also houses The Steps, a public space that replicates the ambiance of a Pacific Northwest-style coffee house that doubles as an entertainment venue whose lineup will include a roster of interactive discussions.

Guestrooms, which feature hardwood floors, also focus on comfort, with plush bedding, free Wi-Fi, large televisions, mini-fridges and microwaves.

The hotel is located at 207 East Redwood Street in downtown Baltimore and in walking distance of Camden Yards, M&T Bank Stadium and the Inner Harbor.

RLHC, whose portfolio of hotels include Red Lion, Red Lion Inn & Suites, GuestHouse International and Settle Inn brands, unveiled the Hotel RL brand late last year. In all, RLHC said the brand would 80 urban markets within the U.S.

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