Meet the Owners: Leonardo Annecca, MySuites, New York

Leonardo Annecca, founder and creative director of MySuites and Design & Co, has made a launch into the serviced apartment sector with a sense of creativity.  Originally from Milan, he studied in Paris at the Supérieur des Arts Décoratifs Annecca where he crossed paths with Philippe Starck at the École National, at the time when he was a visiting professor. He then worked closely with designer Jacques Garcia on prominent projects such as La Reserve, Geneva and The Victor, Miami. Using his experience in Paris and the teachings of a boutique hotel legend, Annecca left for New York. It was in his newly adopted home in 2010, that he used his creativity and vision to challenge the status quo and create a new business model for the hospitality sector. Now operating 14 suite-apartments, Annecca also works with clients through his studio Design & Co, creating designs for hospitality, living spaces and lifestyle projects.

Can you explain how the MySuite concept works?
MySuites has a simple design approach to make guests feel connected to the time and space that they are living in. Using different layouts, we aim to wrap our guests with a story that is connected to the three key elements – the building, the neighbourhood, and the city. Rather than making a global homogenous design, which we realised was not interesting anymore; we flipped it around and created every suite with different local designers, who were able to foster a sense of culture and express ideas in an inspiring way that represented New York lifestyle. I would say that MySuites is the only operator that bridges the gap between a boutique hotel and a serviced apartment, because we provide a unique sense of style and combine it with hotel services, such as room service and concierge.

At what point did you realise that MySuites had great potential to succeed?
When I first started out in 2010, the website at the time was very much a prototype.  Nevertheless, I received two purchase offers from a well-known Italian tour operator and an owner of an established boutique hotel brand. At that point it occurred to me that MySuites had great potential, so I decided to dedicate all my resources in developing further the concept. Within four years, I bought it to the level of how it is seen today. We just recently launched our 14th suite called the Pop Loft 2 in Chelsea.

What type of travellers has MySuites been attracting and what feedback have you been receiving?
70% of our bookings derive from female bookers below the age of 45 years; so clearly they have good taste. Many guests come comes to stay purely for the lifestyle that we offer and we receive 95% positive reviews. The 5% of complaints are actually not because of the service, but due to how the business model works, we may need to change suites to a different location. The majority of our repeat guests always want to stay in a particular suite, although our goal is to work further in attracting guests through the appeal of the MySuites experience, rather than just the design of a particular suite.

Can you describe in your own words how you see the serviced apartment model evolving? Where do you see MySuites as part of this evolution?
I believe that the serviced apartment sector has great long-term prospects, because it fits in well with how the world is evolving in terms of living, working and travelling. I have seen many serviced apartments that are impersonal and boring, even if advertised as “impeccably designed”. Yet the contemporary traveller is searching for something that is totally the opposite of homogeneity, so this is where MySuites fills this gap. This however doesn’t block the way for the large hotel operators to try to dominate the market. But as Chris Penn, general manager from the ACE Hotel London, interestingly pointed out at the recent Boutique and Lifestyle Hotel Summit, the large corporate brands attempting to enter the niche with different concepts of boutique will still smell corporate, and in the end, attentive customers won’t buy it.

Are you looking to expand the MySuites brand to other locations?
Absolutely. We are currently looking in other urban locations where we think the brand would fit, in terms of character and traveller appeal. For the moment London and Los Angeles seem to be the most attractive and we have already begun our research into those markets.

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