In major cities like Paris or London, it has been a trend for some time: hotels offering very cool restaurants and event spaces that are filled to the brim by non-hotel guests. “Hotels abroad are real destinations: they are decorated so cool that they want to be seen and you want to see them – whether you sleep there or not. In Belgium, we don’t know that yet. We have very nice hotels, but no concept today excels in a 24/7 atmosphere with a nice mix of locals, tourists and business people. That had to be resolutely different at Yalo, we decided some 4 years ago when we made the first plans,” Nicolas said.
King George invents with Ghent-based Yalo the hybrid hotel concept of the future, just like in world cities07-03-2022
Anyone who thinks in 2021 that a hotel is just for sleeping and a store for shopping has been living under a rock for the past few years. The experience economy growing post-Corona more than ever challenges concept creators like creative agency King George even more. “With Yalo in the heart of Ghent, we haven’t set up a hotel, nor a restaurant, nor a meeting venue. It’s all of that in a well-shaken hybrid cocktail that tastes like more. The future of hospitality is multi,” said King George creative director Nicolas Block.
Yalo is multi-purpose
First the facts. Yalo is located in the heart of Ghent on the Brabantdam, has 92 design rooms, a bar and restaurant of 600 m2, 4 creative meeting rooms, a conference room and a rooftop with a beautiful view of the Ghent skyline. Nicolas Block: “After making a thorough study of what Ghent needed, we managed to get owner Joris van Duffel of Urban Link on board with the story that a hotel should be a public place that would be and remain ‘the talk of town’. After a few talks, we were able to convince him not to rent out the former Braempoort shopping center below the hotel, but to transform it into a very unique hospitality concept himself. We know that the profitability of catering at hotels in Belgium is often a problem, so that’s why in terms of concept we had to go all the way in experience and design so that it could exist 24/7.” This manifests itself in a place that can be both breakfast, apero, dinner and club and where you can meet in highly original meeting rooms during the day or host private dinners in the evening. “Everything in Yalo is multi-purpose, which is also what makes it so unique,” Nicolas says. “Even the rooms count 5 furnishing concepts that are used interchangeably so that even on different visits you can always be surprised.”
Many successful catering concepts have already been conjured out of King George’s hat, such as Balls&Glory, Nona Pizza and even F&B concepts for Kinepolis. “Yalo is our first project where we bring everything together and that was obviously a huge challenge, especially when you know that the shape and layout of the existing building was not adaptable everywhere,” Nicolas says. The interior design is also what King George describes as hybrid: no vintage, no design, no luxury, but all of that in a balanced mix. “Yalo got the typical King George sauce: unique, luxurious with a touch of rock ‘n’ roll,” Nicolas smiles.
From A to Z
The interior design, branding and marketing were meticulously thought out from A to Z by King George. “Everything has to be right in a concept like this, you have to feel a common thread in everything. Both when you sit in the bar, go to the toilet, sleep in a room, surf to the website or call the hotel: the surprise should never be far away. The basic idea of all our work was that hotel guests would no longer feel like leaving the hotel to eat and drink because it is so unique and that locals would forget that Yalo is actually a hotel. Time will tell if we succeeded in our goal, but the first reactions are already very positive,” Nicolas concludes.