by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | August 16, 2017

Cheryl-Anne SturkenToday, Hyatt Regency released a film, Come Together, which celebrates the Chicago-based brand's 50th anniversary. The Hotel Insider, who was sworn to secrecy before today's official launch time, got to enjoy a sneak preview of this powerful short piece that reflects on Hyatt Regency's birth in Atlanta at a critical time during the civil rights movement, and how its core values of understanding and collaboration are equally relevant today.

Atrium of the Hyatt Regency AtlantaThe brand was launched in 1967 with the opening of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. For Martin Luther King Jr. and his circle of activists, however, it was known as the "Hotel of Hope," because it was one of the few places that allowed civil rights leaders to hold their meetings. The film features New Orleans-based spoken-word artist Tarriona "Tank" Ball, who tells the story of the brand in a bluesy, rap-style dialogue against a backdrop of historical images and smart video production.

"Empathy and understanding have always been part of our DNA. It's what continues to differentiate us in the marketplace," said Debra Goetz, senior vice president of corporate marketing for Hyatt Hotels Corp., Hyatt Regency's parent company, in commenting on the making of the film. When asked how Hyatt Regency has managed to retain such a strong identity in an industry oversaturated with new brands, all jockeying for customer attention, Goetz noted, "This brand has always been very innovative, from architecture and design to meetings. In fact, Hyatt Regency Atlanta was the first atrium-style hotel designed by the legendary John Portman."

Ball, the winner of this year's NPR Tiny Desk Contest, which invites unsigned musicians from across the United States to submit videos of them performing original songs for the chance to perform a series of NPR concerts, said she was honored and excited to be a part of the making of Come Together. "The themes of understanding and inclusion are so relevant right now. They really hit home for me," said Ball, who beat out more than 6,000 artists for the NPR award. "The film has such an important message, at such an important time."

Today, the 1,260-room Hyatt Regency Atlanta remains a fixture in the city's downtown. In 2012, a $65 million renovation was completed that included its 29,000-square-foot Centennial Ballroom, said to be the largest hotel ballroom in Georgia. In 2014, the iconic revolving restaurant on the 22nd floor, Polaris, was reopened. Over the years, the property has hosted its fair share of Hollywood celebrities and U.S. presidents, from John Wayne and Liberace to Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

By far, however, the hotel's most important annual event is the Heritage Collection gala award dinner held every February, Black History Month, which has become one of the city's most sought-after invites. The brainchild of two associates, the evening celebrates the hotel's rich and lengthy relationship within Atlanta's African-American community and honors clients who have demonstrated outstanding service to Atlanta with a Crystal Customer Award. Past recipients have included Coretta Scott King, Andrew Young and Henry "Hank" Thomas, one of the original 13 Freedom Riders. This year, the 15th annual Crystal Award was presented to one of the city's own residents, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), for his enduring leadership.

What's next for this storied brand, which now stands at 175 properties worldwide and counting? Expansion and a commitment to caring, said Goetz. "This brand has a long history of creating effortless experiences for groups, and we will continue to offer our guests what matters most to them." She added, "We are continuing to grow every day. We just opened our newest hotel, Hyatt Regency Lake Mary at Seattle's Southport this past July."

Happy birthday, Hyatt Regency.