WhyHotel Announces Three New Pop-Up Hotels in Northern Virginia

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WhyHotel has secured $10 million to launch three pop-up hotels in Northern Virginia, according to a press release from the alternative lodging service that operates in yet-to-be-leased apartment buildings. The new iterations are at the Ballston Quarter and Centro Arlington developments in Arlington and The Boro in Tysons.

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Vornado Realty Trust piloted WhyHotel in 2017 as a way to generate money from empty units at The Bartlett apartment building in Arlington’s Pentagon City neighborhood. WhyHotel has expanded to become an alternative to traditional hotels and companies like Airbnb by partnering with developers of new residential buildings to offer short-term overnight accommodations for guests until the buildings’ units are occupied by long-term tenants.

The Series-A funding round was led by Highland Capital Partners, per the release. Camber Creek, the Rest Seed Fund, Mendacre, MetaProp and Geolo Capital also contributed.

“WhyHotel provides a better product and a better customer experience to business and leisure travelers for their short-term housing needs,” Craig Driscoll, a partner at Highland, said in a prepared statement. “The WhyHotel team has taken a leadership position in helping modern cities and leading property developers provide visitors with a more flexible and cost-effective housing option. We are proud to be partnered with the WhyHotel team on this journey.”

The company, which also has locations in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, will house up to 175 WhyHotel units at 700 N Randolph Street in Arlington and up to 150 units at 950 South George Mason Drive in Arlington and 8305 Greensboro Drive in Tysons. Guests will stay in furnished apartments and have access to the buildings’ amenities and WhyHotel’s 24/7 onsite hospitality and security staff. Residents of the apartment buildings will receive discounted WhyHotel room rates for friends and family and access to the company’s cleaning staff.

The properties are accepting bookings for guests to begin staying in early 2019, according to a WhyHotel spokeswoman, who said that room rates are comparable to other hotels in the area—with nightly rates between $150 to $200 for a one-bedroom unit.

Greg Meyer, an executive vice president at Brookfield Properties, which is developing Ballston Quarter, said that WhyHotel will allow it to differentiate the area “by offering a unique hospitality amenity for residents, prospective residents and visitors, while also generating additional income for the property during our lease-up phase.”

The WhyHotel spokeswoman said that the company leases rooms until property owners fill them with long-term residents, which takes about 18 months to two years.

The Bartlett pop-up in Pentagon City saw “great success with consumers” in Arlington, Va., said Bao Vuong, a WhyHotel co-founder. The company is currently planning to open more locations in places where it already operates, including D.C. and Maryland, while expanding to new markets beyond the East Coast in 2019. It will also use the Series-A funding to hire people in technology, brand, sales and human capital positions.