We ask Design Director Sonya Haffey of Venus Williams' interior design firm all about Airbnb-branded private residences with platform-ready apartments
Airbnb raised eyebrows with the home sharing giant’s October announcement of its planned foray into private residences. In a collaboration with the Miami-based Newgard Development Group, the first project, “Niido Powered by Airbnb,” will be a 324-unit building in Kissimmee, Florida, near Orlando. Regulations allow the residents to rent out their apartments on Airbnb up to 180 days each year. An early press release states: “Backed by a $200 million equity investment program from Brookfield Property Partners, Niido will continue to acquire and develop multifamily residential buildings branded ‘Niido Powered by Airbnb’ in Florida, as well as major cities in the U.S.”
V Starr Interiors by tennis star Venus Williams will be designing the interiors of NiidoHome units. hT scratches the surface with Sonya Haffey, design director of V Starr Interiors.
How will a Niido Powered by Airbnb apartment complex be different from home sharing as we know it? How will it be different from a hotel property?
Niido will differ from a hotel in that it will have tenants that rent and control the appearance of each unit, who may then share their homes for up to 180 nights per year. The building will have a small café, game room, gym, pool, BBQ areas, and firepit. Features like package and food delivery services, environmentally friendly cleaning, and on-demand concierge services through the MasterHost are a unique take on the home sharing model.
Let’s talk rooms. What will be the key distinctions between Niido rooms and hotel guestrooms or traditional home shares?
Niido apartments will have design features such as keyless entry and lockable areas in the closets, kitchen, and bath that set the property apart from a hotel. The apartment will allow guests the ability to dine in with home cooked meals, should they prefer that.
In addition, Niido tenants will have access to a new app fully integrated with Airbnb that will enable them to manage guest stays remotely by way of a “MasterHost” at each property, who will assist with items like guest check-in, cleaning, and linen service.
What can a guest expect from the Niido Powered by Airbnb experience compared to the traditional Airbnb stay?
Niido will provide guests access to unique listings that come with a set of amenities and conveniences specifically designed for travelers. While each apartment is distinct, much like traditional Airbnb listings, Niido provides a set of standards across each building that will ensure a quality stay.
Will there be any soundproofing/acoustics management in place, considering tenant noise has been a point of concern for Airbnb in the past?
As the property owner, Niido Powered by Airbnb will ensure quality construction throughout the buildings.
Is every room created the same or will they be one of a kind?
Each unit will be one of a kind in that the tenant will be able to decorate and change the layout of the room as they see fit. However, parts of the property will be consistent throughout each apartment like the kitchens and baths, wall finishes, wireless speakers, and keyless smart locks.
Back to the apartment model, who will own the apartments? And who do the terms “host” and “landlord” refer to?
Though the properties are owned by Niido, Airbnb’s “Friendly Buildings Program” means that hosts, or the tenants that reside in each individual unit, and landlords, the owners of each individual building, will share revenues generated from home sharing.
What more can you share from a designer’s perspective about the project?
We designed the amenities, shared spaces, interior finishes, and furnishings for the NiidoHome units inspired by the NiidoFamily, so that each “member” expresses a different style and interest. The “Bookworm Blogger” or the “Advertising Executive” are examplesof these different personalities, and each will vary from city to city.
The first Orlando property will be based on the “Bookworm Blogger” personality, with warm fabrics, finishes, and lighting to make it both contemporary and inviting.
Seven time Grand Slam singles champion tennis professional Venus Williams is the founder of V Starr Interiors.
Any additional comments and features that you might want to share?
Being a green property, we are providing bikes to help with getting a little outdoor exercise or going to a nearby eatery or market. We are adding details by the minute, and the sky is the limit. We are hoping to release additional features soon, so please keep your eye out for them.
About Sonya Haffey
Sonya Haffey is the design director for V Starr Interiors, and has led the day to day of the firm’s operations for the last nine years. When she joined the company, Sonya used her extensive experience from previous roles, as partner at Urbanica Group and founder of her own design firm, to transition V Starr Interiors from being exclusively residential to including a strong commercial basis.
About V Starr Interiors:
V Starr Interiors was founded by professional tennis player, Venus Williams, in 2002. Combining Williams’s value for excellence as an athlete with her passion for design, V Starr Interiors is a full-service commercial and residential interior design firm. High-profile clients such as InterContinental Hotels, Midtown Athletic Club and The Hotel at Midtown, Curio by Hilton, and Howard University, among others, have turned to V Starr Interiors to successfully translate their vision into reality. The company is based in West Palm Beach, Florida. For additional information, visit www.vstarrinteriors.com
Images courtesy of V Starr Interiors.
INDUSTRY RESPONSE TO NIIDO
THE OPTIMISTIC TECHIE RESPONDS
Airbnb’s success promotes travel, and that’s good for everyone at the end: It’s good for hotels, real estate owners (in general), tourism-related services, and transportationrelated services. In addition, when you consider the additional millions of travelers coming into the pipeline from Asia, then Airbnb’s model isn’t a gimmick―it becomes a must in order to be able to absorb the extra demand. Hotels often get worried about Airbnb eating their lunch, but hotels tend to forget that they are fabulous models that run armies of hospitable, trained staff. Therefore, they hold a precious advantage that Airbnb could hardly replicate: going the extra mile in servicing their guests.
Hotels will never die. Home sharing will never die. Everyone will come out richer in the end, inclusive of the guest.
CEO of HotelsByDay
THE MILLENNIAL HOTELIER RESPONDS
The real estate venture Niido Powered by Airbnb will encourage home sharing; however, it will have a direct impact on the hospitality industry moving forward. It is difficult to compete in a shared economy. To illustrate, the first Niido complex is being developed near Walt Disney World, which will create a disadvantage to the hotels in the area. Guests will have other options of accommodations and hotels will see a drop in occupancy. The 324-unit apartment complex will drive travelers to rent these units over booking at hotels. These complexes will also have perks such as being able to check in guests and assist them with anything throughout their stay.
If we connect the dots, Airbnb is stepping up with concepts that you see in hotels. Hotels have 24/7 onsite personnel for guests throughout their stay. Airbnb continues to have the major advantage as they will not own any of the Niido properties being developed. Niido will surely have a direct impact on the hospitality industry, but I continue to advocate that Airbnb rentals should not be prohibited. I am a millennial. I believe in technology and I believe in the Airbnb concept; however, I continue to believe Airbnb should play by the same rules and regulations as hoteliers do.
President and CEO of Mirage Hospitality
By Najook Pandya