That feeling I get when I walk into a hotel lobby at the beginning of a trip is so important. Does it feel welcoming and homey? Modern and luxurious? Or as if I’m racing to the metro to get to the office on time?
Many hotels recognize the importance of that first impression and take time to make it a good one. Fairfield by Marriott is one of them. For their 30th anniversary, the Fairfield revamped its brand to connect more with its Virginian cultural heritage.
Back in the 50s, J.W. and Alice Marriott bought a ranch in Hume, Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains. They used it as a retreat from the city and to host friends, family, and even dignitaries. It inspired the founding of the Fairfield brand in 1987, and I was invited to go check it out a couple of weeks ago.
When I was driven out to Hume, we turned off the highway onto winding roads surrounded by farmland and giant trees. I’d never been out there before. I was surprised by how fresh the air felt and how uncrowded the area was despite being only a little over an hour outside of D.C.
I had a day to soak in the culture of the farm, something the Fairfield’s designers did to visualize the new brand’s image.
They spent a weekend gallivanting around the farm, talking with those working there, and using that experience to shape the design. I quickly picked up on where they went with it.
I arrived for a home-cooked breakfast, complete with farm-fresh eggs, sausage, freshly baked pastries, and hot coffee and juice. I felt like I was in a relative’s dining room.
We ate at a big, communal table, which the new brand design hones in on as well – the farmhouse table in the new lobby.
A fireplace is also built into the design, along with super comfortable chairs, pillows, and carpets.
Walking along the winding road and admiring the surrounding mountains was so peaceful. I took a solo walk down to see their new donkeys, who they hope will help protect the chickens.
Later on, I tried skeet shooting, something I was a little nervous to try. It was fun though – I hit one! Definitely an outdoor activity you can’t do in D.C.
You can see the greens and blues I saw as I wandered around the farm throughout the design of the lobby. It feels refreshing to be in.
The owners do a good job of sharing the history of the farm so visitors can understand why the brand was founded there. This is incorporated into the new design, too.
Just from these pictures alone, you can see why the Marriotts based the Fairfield brand on their vacation home. Calm, simple and relaxing for any traveler.
And the new brand goes beyond that, which I felt during my short time down on the farm. By the way, Fairfield is also volunteering across the world for Habitat for Humanity – that’s 3,000 associates joining local chapters to build homes for those in need – in celebration of its 30th.
Definitely a brand I’m into, with the respect for cultural heritage and social responsibility. I can’t wait to see how they bring this look and feel to hotels in other cities and countries around the world.