by Melissa Mesku
For those who would say it’s not coworking without a community, hotels seem an unlikely partner. But this week, Proximity Space, Inc announced a coworking pilot partnership with Hilton at the new DoubleTree by Hilton Vail. Locals, hotel guests and visitors to the luxury property will have access to the coworking space, which is powered by Proximity’s coworking management platform.
What remains to be seen is how the offering differs from the desk-and-photocopier setup that is standard in today’s upmarket hotels. Coworking is more than just aesthetics and office amenities. An overblown business center would make a sorry excuse for a coworking space—no matter how elevated the view. The difference will likely be in how the local community takes to it.
Amy Kemp, co-founder of nearby coworking space ELEVATE coSPACE, agrees. “To make their space work as a coworking space instead of just a glorified business center within the hotel, they’ll need to invite, cultivate and foster the local community with events, resources and an ongoing group of dedicated members.”
Kemp’s coworking spaces in nearby Frisco and Breckenridge are just some of the options in the immediate region. There are pop-up coworking events in Vail itself at Root & Flower; in nearby Avon, the nonprofit Vail Centre runs a coworking space called BaseCamp. The appeal of a luxury space in Vail may not be as enticing to locals as it is to visitors. Then again, having a major hotel as an anchor may be a way to make coworking even more viable in high-rent resort towns like Vail.
According to their announcement, members at any existing coworking space in the Proximity network can access this new space with a Proximity Guest Pass, and non-members can drop-in for an “affordable daily pass.”
“This is a really interesting partnership. It seems like a smart move for Proximity, as well as Hilton,” Kemp said. “[A] coworking space gives visitors the opportunity to plug in to more than just WiFi and a desk—they can plug into the local community. This is an often overlooked benefit,”
As this is a pilot program, there’s a lot riding on how well it goes. The partnership was built explicitly on the idea of so-called lifestyle coworking, “making it easy for people to pivot between work and play so they no longer need to choose between the two,” according to a recent press release. A successful venture here will go a long way to establishing luxury hotel partnerships as a viable model of coworking.
“Proximity is heavily invested in the support and infrastructure of the coworking community and industry,” said Josh Freed, CEO of Proximity. “[It] is a major step forward for coworkers around the world. The gap between work and play just became easier to cross for everyone looking for a true live/work/play lifestyle.”
Kemp told us, “I think you can expect to see other partnerships like this happen as lodging properties seek to cater to the changing needs of their guests and the ever-evolving ways in which we travel, work and live. I hope that many of the local communities can work with their local coworking spaces, support them and see the value in partnering with them in the future,” Kemp said.
For those who would say it’s not coworking without a community, hotels seem an unlikely partner. Whether hotel partnerships point the way forward for the coworking industry depends on the degree to which the local community adopts the space as its own. As for this one, Kemp said, “Proximity is an emerging leader in the coworking industry. They understand the difference between a business center and a coworking space.” If so, they have a good chance of getting this right.