by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | October 16, 2014

Canopy LobbyIt has been a busy year for lifestyle brand launches. This week, Hilton Worldwide took the wraps off Canopy by Hilton, which will marry cool design to neighborhood personality and offer modern conveniences such as mobile-technology check-in. The chain says its goal is to have 100 Canopy hotels opened or in the pipeline within the next five years.

While the news made a splash, Hilton is playing catch-up in the lifestyle brand race. This past year alone, four new entries have been launched. Earlier this month, Minnetonka, Minn.-based Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group announced the launch of Radisson Red, which "caters to a new breed of traveler." That's code for Millennials, the demographic that is behind most of the industry's new marketing and development efforts. Days ago, Carlson announced it had signed its first development deal for the brand, the 300-room Radisson Red Shenyang Hunnan in Northeast China, part of a mixed-use development project close to the Shenyang International Exhibition Center, which also will include a Radisson Blu.

Other entrants include Best Western International, which earlier this month introduced Vib -- short for Vibrant -- which the company plans to position as a midscale boutique chain heavy on modern design, technology and social engagement. "We recognize that travelers' preferences are evolving, and it's our job to keep up," said David Kong, Best Western president and chief executive officer, in announcing the new brand, which will include features such as a fireplace and Zen Zone in each lobby. Likewise, this past September, Dubai-based Jumeirah Group revealed plans for its new lifestyle brand, Venu, and said it plans to open the first property on Bluewaters Island in Dubai. According to Jumeirah, Venu will target travelers "with a passion for simplicity, style, efficiency, and effortless living and working." Hot on its heels will be Loews Hotels, which currently is putting the final touches on its OE Collection. According to management, OE, which stands for Original Experiences, is expected to launch next January and will be positioned in the luxury lifestyle category.

Hilton, which began developing a lifestyle brand more than five years ago, is eager to make Canopy a standout from the pack. Christopher Nassetta, the chain's chief executive, said each hotel will embody its individual sense of neighborhood, with features such as locally crafted beers and foods, and art installations by local artisians. The first Canopy by Hilton will open right in Hilton's backyard in Rockville, Md. The 177-room property is scheduled to debut in late 2016 or early 2017. Hilton said it is actively working on 10 development deals, including Miami; Nashville; New York; Portland, Ore.; and San Diego. It also has its eye on London, which would be Canopy's first international footprint.