Industry Update
Press Release15 May 2019

AC Hotels Takes Signature Thought Leadership Series Global for the First Time, Inviting Hotel Guests to Unpack Fresh Perspectives While on the Road

The AC Unpacked: A Conversation Series from AC Hotels by Marriott® Had Its European Debut in Manchester, UK Future Iterations of the Global Series are Planned For South Africa, California and Peru

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Marriott International, Inc.

AC Hotels, the carefully-curated lifestyle brand from Marriott International, marked the European debut of the global thought leadership series, AC Unpacked: A Conversation at AC Hotel Manchester City Centre. The program, which launched in New York City last year, brings together a creative class from around the world to unpack their global perspective on ideas relating to Travel, Experience, Vision and Design—founding principles of the AC Hotels brand.


The inaugural event outside of the U.S. focused on the theme of 'Vision'. Esme Ward, the first female Director of the Manchester Museum and Suzanne Noble, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of social enterprise Advantages of Age, discussed how they had used vision to see the world from different perspectives. The discussion, which also touched on how design, travel and global thinking had influenced the panelists' work and personal lives, was moderated by Charlotte Japp, Founder of New York City-based intergenerational networking company, CIRKEL.

"The AC guest approaches life with curiosity, seeing travel as a way to create and curate genuine connections to people, experiences, and ideas that galvanize them," said John Licence, VP Premium and Select Brands Europe. "The AC Unpacked: A Conversation series speaks to that mindset, allowing guests to mingle with locals and hear interesting new perspectives while enjoying one of AC's signature Gin Tonics at the end of the day. We're so excited to have launched the programme in Europe after its successful global debut last year in New York City, and look forward to seeing it roll out across the world later this year."

As a truly global brand with almost 150 properties in 19 countries and territories, further iterations of the AC Unpacked: A Conversation series are planned for locations all around the world this year, including:

  • Cape Town, South Africa, with a focus on 'Design' (Summer 2019)
  • Sunnyvale Cupertino, California, with a focus on 'Experience' (Summer 2019)
  • Lima, Peru, with a focus on 'Travel' (Fall 2019)

All the events are followed by an 'Ideas Exchange' cocktail hour where guests can foster connections with a global network of like-minded individuals.

Esme Ward was appointed as Director of the Manchester Museum in April 2018. She is the first woman to hold the role in its 125-year history. Prior to this, she was Head of Learning Engagement at Manchester Museum and the Whitworth, where she led the growth of audiences and programs, to include award-winning early years, health and culture and age-friendly work. Her career has been driven by learning and social purpose with a longstanding commitment to make museums more inclusive and relevant to a wider audience and design has played a fundamental role in this. Esme is the Culture Strategic Lead for Age Friendly Manchester and the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, which heavily influences her work at the museum, ensuring culture in the city is accessible to all generations, from comfortable viewing benches to lifts with wheelchair access. Esme has a passion for travel and recently spent time in India as part of her plans to bring global exhibitions to the city of Manchester.

Suzanne Noble is a seasoned entrepreneur and traveler, with experience in the Entertainment, Music and Technology sectors. Suzanne is also the co-founder of social enterprise, Advantages of Age, whose mission it is to spread the word that groundbreaking new ideas can - and do - come from 50-and-overs, as much as they do from millennials. The objective of Advantages of Age is to challenge the media narrative around ageing.

Charlotte Japp is a New York City creative director and founder of CIRKEL. Early in her career, Charlotte noticed a huge gap between the 20-somethings she worked with and baby boomers like her parents, who had decades of experience, but were forced to retire or start secondary careers due to biased hiring trends with respect to age. Her friends and colleagues wanted career mentorship and life advice, while her parents and their friends were looking for new skills and trend reports to stay relevant in their careers. Enter CIRKEL, an intergenerational platform to close that loop through speaker-led storytelling, networking, and co-mentorships. Charlotte is passionate about connecting people and believes there's a big opportunity for doing so across generations.

Previous panelists in the AC Unpacked: A Conversation series of events have included:

  • Nigel Barker, renowned fashion photographer
  • Rehan Choudhry, Founder of A Beautiful Perspective and the Life is Beautiful Festival
  • Dan Barasch, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Lowline
  • Mayur Bhatnagar, CEO of design-focused luggage company ARLO SKYE
  • Lisa Sun, Founder and CEO of fashion lifestyle brand GRAVITAS
  • Catherine Smith, e-commerce Entrepreneur, Plan de Ville
  • Casey Fremont, Executive Director, Art Production Fund
  • Lillian Rafson, Founder, Pack Up + Go
  • Jeff Gordinier, Food & Drinks Editor, Esquire

For more information about AC Hotels and the AC Unpacked: A Conversation series, visit:

Related Brand

AC Hotels by Marriott

AC Hotels was borne from the vision of Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalan, who created a new kind of stay for a new kind of traveler – a creative, entrepreneurial and modern global traveler – who prefers to have fewer things, but expect them to be better than good.
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Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,300 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 134 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott Bonvoy™, its highly-awarded travel program. For more information, please visit our website at, and for the latest company news, visit In addition, connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.

Charlotte Henley
Global Manager, Public Relations Marriott International
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