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Search for curated experiences helps drive hotel design.

Byline: Jennifer Sharpe

As hotel stays are becoming more curated experiences, trends in hotel architecture design are adapting to follow suit.

"Guests are focused on having fun and experiencing something new," said Cara Shimkus Hall, a principal and architect with GH2 Architects. "Twenty years ago, travelers were happy with the same look and level of service in every city. Now it's about placemaking."

GSB Principal and Design Architect Ryan Eshelman said a great hotel has a neighborhood with lots to explore.

"There's been a hyper-focus on market segments," he said. "All of the hotel brands are targeting what they see as underserved or growing segments of the market."

In addition, social media have become a critical consideration.

"The Instagrammable moment is leading how trends are hitting the market," said Hall. "Social media is now word of mouth. We've got to provide great design that can go in a photograph to be sent instantly around the world."

Overall concepts

Hall's experience has been that the overall trend is a residential feel, with taller ceilings and warmer finishes, with local elements taken into consideration, applied and overlaid in the design.

"We're seeing lots of local art and local design elements. We are also seeing more opulent finishes," she said. "There's a real focus towards the high-end look."

Other features include printed carpet, coffee table books about the location, task lighting and technology-driven community guides.

"The trend today is lighter-colored neutrals with a few dark tones thrown in, very natural colors, and then there will be surprising pops of color," Hall said.

Most often these color bursts will be with elements that can be easily changed, such as throw pillows.

Neutral colors promote a modern, clean look.

"People appreciate visible cleanliness, so you really can see that the hotel is well-maintained, clean and fresh," Eshelman said. "It also works with the modern aesthetic that hotel guests are expecting."

Lobby and common space

"The modern lobby is intended to be free of boundaries," Eshelman said. "You may not know where the seating area ends and the bar or restaurant begins because they all blend together. We want the lobby to be a very welcoming, energetic environment."

Lobbies are being designed to encourage togetherness, but not necessarily interaction.

"A lot of us want to be alone together," Eshelman said. "We may be plugged into our headphones, working on our laptop, watching something on our phone, but we want to be around other people."

The front desk is evolving as well to no longer be a barrier. "The front desk is much more friendly and in tune with the experience of the guest and curating that experience," Hall said.

Guest rooms

Technology can even be part of the design trend, including how the guests use their room, including television, lighting and other controls in the room.

"Some of those features are automated now and are accessible from your cellphone," Hall said.

Flooring is also changing.

"Resilient flooring in guest rooms is becoming common as opposed to carpet. The perception is that the resilient flooring is cleaner," Hall said. "When we do resilient flooring, we place an area rug under the bed that is replaceable. The look is very high end and very clean."

Guests want to see more attention given to bathrooms.

"We are seeing an uptick in the quality of the tile or hard surfaces in the bathrooms, which are now more spa-like," Hall said. "You will see detailing in the tile, whether that's on the floor, backsplash or in the shower. It's less often that we are seeing the monolithic look; there's always that surprise detail now that gives a feeling of something not anticipated."

Another touch is replacing traditional draperies with a roller or blackout shade, especially if in an urban location where there are parking lots or glare, Eshelman said.

"Guest room design is recognizing the multitasking nature of guests, accommodating the way people live, the way they want to interact with the furniture and the technology," Eshelman said. "Guests are also demanding quality over square footage."

Guest room corridors

Guest room corridors are becoming more focused on guest safety.

"The corridors are not necessarily getting wider, but the approach to each door is more visible, and the trend is moving towards a lighter corridor that is much more residential feeling," Hall said.

Additionally, security cameras are much more capable of being discreetly placed than in the past, which enhances security without affecting ambience.

Food and beverage

Hotels can thrive on a solid food and beverage business.

"The most successful boutique hotels drive a lot of traffic through their restaurant and bar," Eshelman said. "Lots of people who are not staying in the hotel take advantage of those locations."

It is also important, he said, that food and beverage elements be adaptable to the time of day.

"In the morning, you don't want to see a dark bar that was hopping the night before. It needs to convert to a coffee operation that is active throughout the day. Alcohol may come out later in the day, but it's all happening out of one dynamic, flexible element."

Fitness

"We're seeing an increased effort to create real fitness centers," Eshelman said. Improvements are usually to equipment and flooring, without necessarily adding to square footage of the space.

Guest rooms are also becoming more fitness-focused.

"We are seeing more wellness amenities in the guest room," Hall said, citing examples of hand weights, yoga mats and resistance bands. There is also an emphasis on giving guests access to fitness resources in the community. "Hotels make sure that their guests have knowledge of and access to fitness classes around town," she said.

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Publication:Journal Record (Oklahoma City, OK)
Date:May 23, 2019
Words:953
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