Written by DLX contributor Lauren deLisa Coleman in reference to AKA university city.
Lauren is a contributor to leading media outlets such as Forbes, CNBC.com, and Inc. She tracks the convergence of cultural trends with that of emerging tech and the impact of that on business and politics. When she’s not on-air or speaking at events, she is all about listening to the best in hip-hop.
AKA University City, Philadelphia’s most anticipated, new ultra-luxury multi-tiered property, just recently celebrated its official grand opening. The 11th property of the AKA empire is located on the top 18 floors of the vertical neighborhood known as FMC Tower. It offers a total of 268 luxury hotel and apartment residences that tower 730 feet above the Philadelphia skyline and boasts expansive 360-degree views of the city. Under the sophisticated eye of Larry Korman, president of AKA, this offering is the current crown jewel of the company and is intended to create a very special experience for all customers through his specific and elevated vision for the brand.
Destination Luxury: AKA is quite a unique offering. Would you describe the various levels and the brand’s main differentiator in the luxury market today?
Larry Korman: We are truly the only accommodations in our class. This particular location has hotel residences that are fully furnished luxury property like hotel suites with full kitchens and personalized luxury services. We also offer serviced residences for longer stays, designer furnished residences featuring distinct design elements, and, finally, standard long-term apartment residences without furnishings.
DLX: What has the response been like?
Korman: We had record-breaking rentals and, like many of our properties, AKA university city is a favorite among A-list celebrities and athletes. But the most raved-about is our Level 28, Philadelphia’s first-ever exclusive, affluent lifestyle club. This sets a new standard for luxury property in Philadelphia through exclusive offerings that were not previously available such as an elevated outdoor garden, a full lounge with floor to ceiling windows, cinema, golf, state-of-art Technogym fitness center, and private locker rooms. There is also a 72-foot stainless steel aerial ‘pool in the sky.’
DLX: What are additional details that attract customers to the AKA brand?
Korman: We maintain a very high-standard and keep wellness in mind. For example, in luxury property, we offer a full kitchen with a mini-bar. Many elements, down to the coffee we provide, are local and organic. People are looking for that today. We support our clients’ health by providing not only an aesthetically pleasing but state-of-the-art offering in our gym provided exclusively by equipment from TechnoGym. The curation of furnishings, for example, all of which are from Italy, at AKA is key. This is vital because our clientele is global-minded. They care about others, the environment, and their sensibilities regarding luxury are about anonymity, space, peace, and privacy. You will never find a bar in our lobbies such as that of other luxury hotels such as the Four Seasons bar.
DLX: This tone seems to be set upon arrival via the enchanting fragrance.
Korman: We have my wife to thank for that. She was the first aromatherapist in Philadelphia. This is our 25th year offering special synergy blends in our hotels. We make sure that we change them each season, and they are created with pure essential oil and designed to calm and uplift. All of our clientele is going through some form of chaos from receiving longer-term medical treatment, to relocating for a new job, to shooting a film so we ensure a multi-tiered experience of calm. This includes low-level lighting that you’ll find throughout the building. Even the architectural design is calming. There is no real hanging out in the lobby. What we offer is an exclusive pied-à-Terre on-demand. It’s truly very unique.
DLX: What is the biggest challenge in running the AKA brand?
Korman: Honestly, Airbnb created a challenge at first, but now there are customers on Airbnb who truly want a more elevated experience so we are actually going to be one of the first properties via their upcoming “Airbnb Select” level soon. This is very exciting.
DLX: Your brand is also known for housing A-List celebrities while shooting films, is that right?
Korman: Yes it is. Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman are just a few of our recent clients. But we believe we are attracting the innovators and leaders of today and tomorrow, in general.
DLX: As the person at the helm of AKA, what is your favorite part of the business?
Korman: Definitely the architectural aspect. I am a true architectural historian, so I love the challenge of working to maintain the integrity and grandeur of a building we purchase while creating synergy with what is the AKA university city standard. This was particularly gratifying with our Times Square because the building was constructed in 1893. At AKA university city, we are about attention to detail in every single way.
For more information visit stayaka.com.
All mages courtesy of Jeffrey Totaro and Hope Helmuth.