December 28, 2012 By Tom LeBlanc
Route 9 in Massachusetts looks like a lot of places in America.
Twenty miles west of Boston, on the Natick and Framingham line, there’s a Starbucks, an Olive Garden, a Barnes & Noble, a T.G.I. Fridays, a Verizon store, you name it.
It’s convenient, but it’s also rather cookie-cutter.
That is, until you notice a funky-looking Crowne Plaza hotel so removed from the conventional image of the popular hotel chain that it has been co-branded as The Verve Crowne Plaza.
With a violet hue emanating from the lobby, The Verve Crowne Plaza gives off more of a Las Vegas vibe than a suburban Boston feel. It seems to appeal more the urban steak frites crowd than the blue collar burger and Bloomin’ Onion demographic.
That’s intentional, says Lou Carrier, president of Distinctive Hospitality Group (DHG), which owns and operates The Verve Crowne Plaza. “There’s been significant growth in non-downtown hospitality.”
Photos: Technology Infused Crowne Plaza
Carrier explains that many companies, particularly high-tech and pharmaceutical firms, have been setting up shop outside of congested cities. The results are sprawling corporate campuses crawling with young, sophisticated employees and visitors who sometimes want non-franchise options when they go out for dinner, drinks or choose a hotel.
“There are lots of companies out here,” he says, referring to Boston’s MetroWest area, “and they have four-star expectations.”
One of those nearby companies is Framingham, Mass.-based audio manufacturer Bose, and Carrier made it a priority to leverage Bose’s well-established brand throughout the hotel. Most hotels, for instance, opt for speakers to be flush-mounted and painted over, but at The Verve Bose speakers pop off the walls, even hang from the entrance vestibule.
The technology, particularly the Bose brand, was designed “to be in your face,” says Mark Herron of Mood Media/Muzak.
The global integration firm, which recently bought Muzak, provided solutions for the hotel’s common areas, lobby bar, restaurant and concert venue. (Yes, you read that correctly. The Verve Crowne Plaza hosts concerts including a recent one by ’80s pop band Loverboy.)
Mood Media provides seven zones of Muzak distributed audio in the lobby areas that reinforce The Verve’s atmosphere - largely pop from ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and vintage TV theme songs.