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Cashing in with Themed Engagement

Travel and hospitality sectors focus on capturing fans’ imaginations.

Jane Neal

May 4, 2022

3 Min Read

During the pandemic, the travel and hospitality industries were hit exceptionally hard. In 2021, as many other sectors of the economy neared recovery, business travel spending remained approximately 50% below 2019 levels and international travel spending was down a staggering 78% compared to 2019. (Source: Hospitality.net

Now that the world is opening up more and more, we’re seeing more location-based experiences pop up in the hospitality sector. Brand-themed hotels and/or themed hotel rooms allow fans to immerse themselves in overnight adventures. Many of these LBEs are created with kids and families in mind, while others appeal to the kid in all of us. 

In late 2021, Miral, Abu Dhabi’s curator of experiences, in collaboration with Warner Bros., opened The WB Abu Dhabi, located on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, the first-ever Warner Bros.-themed hotel, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. The hotel offers hospitality experiences that bring WB stories and characters to life.  

In December, Dr. Seuss Enterprises and Vacasa teamed up to create an overnight experience based on “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Guests could book a holiday stay in the Grinch’s Mt. Crumpit cave. 

It’s been 45 years since “Star Wars: A New Hope” introduced the world to a galaxy far, far away. That galaxy became much closer when Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser debuted at Walt Disney World Resort in March. The immersive vacation adventure allows guests to become the heroes of their own Star Wars stories during a two-night adventure aboard the Halcyon starcruiser, a vessel known for its impeccable service and exotic destinations. Passengers relax in themed cabins, enjoy dining at the supper club known as the Crown of Corellia Dining Room. Guests can experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in new ways and explore the ship in search of hidden secrets and new experiences. An extensive merchandise collection for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser broadens the role-play vacation experience, inviting guests to further enhance their recreation. The Chandrila Collection boutique offers a wide assortment of apparel and accessories guests can purchase and wear during their voyage. 

In March, Merlin Entertainments entered a multi-territory exclusivity agreement with Sony Pictures Entertainment to develop and operate attractions, rides, lands, retail outlets and themed hotel rooms based on the studio’s “Jumanji” film franchise across Merlin’s resort theme parks and waterparks in Europe, the U.K. and North America.   

Acamar Films announced new Bing-themed bedrooms at CBeebies Land Hotel at Alton Towers Resort in March. The rooms were created especially for families with preschoolers and include a special interactive entertainment wall and a variety of toddler-friendly features.  

Character-themed hotels are extremely popular in Japan. Charlie Brown and Snoopy fans can stay in the Peanuts Hotel in Kobe, Japan. In April, Tokyo Disney Resort opened a new Toy Story-themed hotel with 595 guest rooms and 11 stories.  

To allay conceptions that overnight LBE offerings are strictly for kids, Hard Rock International announced the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel New York. Situated in Midtown Manhattan, steps from Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center and the Theater District, the new Hard Rock Hotel New York will offer a glimpse at New York’s historic Music Row, with intricate design, curated amenities and award-winning guest experiences.  

For sports fanatics, Sports Illustrated is starting its own string of themed resorts – Sports Illustrated Hotels and Resorts. The first Sports Illustrated resort location is expected to open in the Dominican Republic in 2023.  

Sports enthusiasts can also look forward a FILA-branded hotel in Shanghai, slated to open in 2024.  

FILA House Shanghai will join the JdV by Hyatt brand. In China, the Italian brand is owned and managed by ANTA, one of the country’s sportswear companies. The development of FILA House Shanghai marks the first time FILA China is extending its brand into the lifestyle hotel space.  

Hyatt is also collaborating with Keyestone Group on China’s first Hello Kitty Hotel in Hainan, scheduled to open in 2025. The hotel will have rooms and villas decorated with popular Hello Kitty characters and will be a part of the Sanya Hello Kitty Resort, also to open by 2025. 

The hotel will offer seasonal events, activities and menus to celebrate key festivals with guests throughout the year. 

About the Author(s)

Jane Neal

Content Editor, License Global

Jane Neal is a Content Editor for License Global. Working remotely in the great state of Wisconsin, Jane specializes in retail and pop-culture trends.

She has worked extensively in the communication field as a managing editor, advertising copywriter, technical writer and journalist. She detoured for several years into academia where she taught journalism, English and humanities at the college level.

A complete Marvel nerd, she enjoys food, films, fishing, friends and family … and alliteration.

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