Right Place, Right Time, Right City

With Silicon Valley serving as a bedrock of innovation, the timing was more than ideal for the state-of-the-art, LEED Gold-certified AC Hotel to open its doors in San Jose

Silicon Valley is often regarded as the epicenter for technological innovation. As start-ups and visionaries continue to venture into the San Francisco Bay Area, the growing technology hub is giving rise to some of the world’s largest corporations and Fortune 1000 businesses. To this day, some of the most notable headquarters include eBay, Google, Netflix, and Tesla.

But while the region has given rise to these technology hubs in recent years, it has lagged in accommodating tourists visiting the now bustling California sector. To the surprise of many, a new hotel had not been constructed in downtown San Jose in more than a decade, since the Marriott opened in 2003 and the Montgomery debuted in 2004. This had left the downtown with a severe drought for new hospitality construction. That is, until the AC Hotel San Jose opened its doors in January 2017.

“This is an amazing product, and it’s the right time, right place, and in the right city,” Matthew Mahood, CEO of the Silicon Valley Organization, told SJ Economy News (SJEN). “We continue to hear, over and over, ‘I can’t find a hotel room.’ Guess where I can send them now?”

Sleek and minimalist with a European décor, the 210-room, seven-story hotel, came to fruition after first being proposed in 2013. Designed by Marriott, the AC Hotel is an upscale, boutique-style, limited-service hotel brand geared toward younger business professionals. Located at 350 W. Santa Clara St., the hotel features a bar and lounge, fitness center, and swimming pool. It is the first LEED Gold-certified hotel in San Jose, which includes onsite fuel-cell power generators and variable refrigerant flow cooling and heating.

One of the key features the AC Hotel uses is a passive optical network system. This system brings optical fiber cabling and signals to the end user, allowing AC Hotel to distribute Internet in a highly efficient manner. The hotel also has a cloud-based phone system.

As Mahood says, the opening of the AC Hotel came at a perfect time for the city. According to SJEN, the city’s hotel market had experienced average daily rates of $215 as of October 2016. That’s up from $190 the year prior. Location is also in the AC Hotel’s favor. Positioned just a few steps from SAP Center, the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, and cultural venues such as the City National Civic and the Center for the Performing Arts, the hotel also provides convenient access to several Fortune 100 offices and is a short distance from the Mineta San Jose Airport.

Officials are also optimistic that the hotel will bring more vibrancy to the community, as its downtown location better connects with the emerging Diridon neighborhood on the opposite side of Highway 87, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal (SVBJ).

“It really brings a new product offering to our portfolio,” Karolyn Kirchgesler, CEO of Team San Jose, the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau, told SJEN.

In an echo of Mahood’s earlier statement, she observes that, “This is the perfect time to be opening in San Jose.”

The sleek and minimalistic look is also evident the minute guests walk through the doors of the AC Hotel. Social and lounge spaces in the lobby allow visitors to gaze out to the downtown’s street scene thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows on the ground floor. Food options are also in a European style.

Of course, that’s the purpose for every AC Hotel, as the design concept was first launched in Spain in 1998. The brand currently offers a portfolio of more than 80 hotels in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, France, and the United States, according to SVBJ. Founder Antonio Catalan partnered with Marriott in 2011 to embark on the global expansion, and AC Hotels by Marriott debuted its first US location in 2014 in New Orleans.

Catalan says that building AC Hotels has been a passion of his for the past 15 years. It’s also a dream rooted in his childhood, where he spent time helping his parents in their family hotel in Navarre, Spain.

“My years spent wandering the kitchens, service corridors, and common rooms of our family inn inspired me to dream of what hotels could be,” Catalan says in a letter on the company’s website. “I came to believe that hotels should be so much more than just lodging. They should serve as an escape, an oasis from the mundane. They have the opportunity to be something better than home, a place that removes the friction of normal life.”