“They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing,” said the French Bishop Talleyrand of the House of Bourbon in 1824. Talleyrand’s pithy maxim may just sum up Millenials, those born in the 80s and 90s who came of age during the meteoric rise of the Internet and social media. We have digitally documented our lives and stored our passwords in the browser. As Millenials, we want uninhibited access to all information, comfort, and efficiency, but are only curious in knowledge as much as it allows us to settle a dispute, form a personal bond, or decide where to hang out. Likewise, we will not spend much time in a place that doesn’t facilitate this lifestyle, such as a stuffy hotel lobby, with its clunky wi-fi login and lack of charging stations. On the flipside, though, if there were a hotel that catered to us with DJs, wifi, and tapas, well that would be a different story. We’ll stick around.
In 2011, Marriott purchased AC Hotels, acquiring more than 80 hotels across Europe. These hotels appeal mostly to young professionals, trading uniform, predictable hotel rooms for “stylish and urban hotels for people looking for a new way of understanding and experiencing the city.” Now, Marriott is betting that they can sell this philosophy to American Millenials with the grand opening of the AC Hotel Bourbon in New Orleans.
The AC Hotel Bourbon isn’t actually on Bourbon Street, but I think that makes the name more interesting. The popularity of bourbon, the American whiskey made primarily from corn, has surged thanks to frequent appearances in shows like Mad Men. Whiskey is joining the ranks with mustaches and flannel as cool solely because they were recently not cool. The name Bourbon piggybacks on this trend, that drinking an Old Fashioned while Tindering is in fact a hip thing to do. But Bourbon has history, too, all the way back to the French Royalty. The elite connotations of the word reassure guests that they are not just part of some hipster trend. On the contrary, they are above the trend, hanging ten on the lip of the wave, tweeting, “the AC Hotel Bourbon is where it’s at.” Finally, naming the hotel after a type of alcohol suggests that it isn’t just a place to sleep. The hotel is a place to party, network, and get lucky – your room is just an elevator away.
Part of me wishes they could have pared it down to just Hotel Bourbon, because I find the AC tacky and it is the Bourbon that delivers on key Millennial messages. But at the end of the day, they want to cultivate a recognition of their brand of hotel, in whatever hip city it may be, so let’s not split hairs. This is the Bourbon, after all, where you can learn everything and forget everything all at the same time.