by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | September 29, 2017

Cheryl-Anne SturkenEarlier this month, New York's Fashion Week unleashed its typical whirlwind of runway models, notable designers, throngs of photographers and crowds of eager spectators. But on one particular runway, something very different unfolded that was every bit as glamorous. Five frontline Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts staff members sashayed and strutted in the hotel brand's new employee wardrobe collection, called Momentum by Timo Weiland for Crowne Plaza, featuring some two-dozen signature looks, alongside a team of professional models.

modeling Crowne Plaza's new uniformsThe uniforms, created by designer Weiland, are part of the hotel brand’s “Crowne Plaza Accelerate,” a $200 million, three-year initiative that was announced this past April by parent company InterContinental Hotels, based in Atlanta. The overhaul, said IHG, was necessary to ensure the brand remains at the forefront of new technologies and design, and stays on the radar of business travelers in an increasingly crowded hospitality landscape.

"First impressions are extremely important, and the Momentum uniform collection immediately reflects that we are a modern, design-led brand," Carol Hoeller, director of guest experience, Crowne Plaza Americas, told me as we caught up after the big event. "We piloted the collection in our hotels and received ongoing feedback and employee preferences. It's that frontline insight that helped us create uniforms our team members could be both comfortable in and proud to wear."

Designing a functional and fashionable uniform, it turns out, takes quite a bit of collaboration. So, Crowne Plaza melded Weiland's fashionista senses to the supplier muscle, not to mention manufacturing skill, of Chicago-based Cintos Corp., a major player on the supply side of hotel uniforms. What resulted was a collection created and endorsed by Crowne Plaza's employees. "They are completely functional, and give an excellent first impression to our guests. At the same time they are fit for the runway," said Hoeller.

For the big unveiling at Fashion Week, Crowne Plaza decided it was only right that its employees should have the chance to show off the finished product. A call went out from corporate for model nominations, with an all-expenses trip to the Big Apple included. "Any team member, at any level, could nominate an inspiring co-worker who they saw as an excellent representative of the brand," said Hoeller. Nominations flooded in from all corners of Crowne Plaza's portfolio in the Americas, which currently numbers close to 140 properties.

New wardrobes aside, Crowne Plaza's sweeping repositioning also includes new WorkLife guest rooms, which have distinct zones for guests to work, relax or recharge. In addition, the brand currently is piloting the Plaza Workspace. Designed with on-demand, tablet-based F&B ordering, the new spaces offer flexible, adaptive meeting areas for planning sessions, team huddles or working solo. "Plaza Workspace will enhance our offerings for meeting planners, giving them additional options for clients in need of fully connected breakout areas and more casual meet-ups," said Hoeller. "We are so excited to hear their responses to this pilot program."