On a recent business trip to San Francisco, I stayed at GOOD Hotel in SOMA, one of San Francisco-based hotelier Joie de Vivre’s properties. The bright, hip, and completely sustainable hotel stands as an excellent example of how paying up front for green can actually yield more green in the long run, and how smart design and branding just pays back in dividends.
Chip Conley’s company has an uncanny knack for taking old buildings and turning them into swanky, well-designed, yet unpretentious lodging. GOOD Hotel is comprised of what was once probably a sleazy hotel and a rather unremarkable and squat motel with motor court. In the lobby, they feature an ingenious vending machine selling wares by ReadyMade Magazine. In the rooms, the bed covers are made from a soft fleece made from recycled bottles. The beds are made from reclaimed wood. The carpets are remants. The wallpaper is eco-friendly. The bathroom features efficient shampoo, conditioner, and soap pumps. And little tags with information about why certain design decisions were made educate visitors about issues of sustainability, and more importantly, waste.
On the same block, the Americania and the Carriage Way Inn (next door) are also old buildings that Joie de Vivre has reinvented through good design and smart marketing. Each of the three hotels has a different character, encapsulated by a set of key words that each local designer was given as their only direction for the design. (In the case of GOOD, the keywords were happy, hip, conscious, etc.)
Essentially, Joie de Vivre has taken a once forsaken block of 7th Street and transformed it into a hub for visiting business people and tourists. Located blocks away from the Moscone and within view of Thom Mayne’s looming Federal Building and just a block South of Market (albeit a rather seedy part of Market), the block is now a revenue-generating destination, for both travelers and locals (who swear by the giant burgers served at Americania’s brilliantly branded burger joint Custom).
Joie de Vivre just proves time and time again that it is not necessary to tear down old buildings if one can re-invent them as money-makers. If only the rest of the hospitality industry would occasionally use this golden recipe.