As the demand for travel increases, Hotel Designs editor Hamish Kilburn investigates why modern design-led airport hotels are seriously taking off…
LGH Hotels Management Ltd has just announced in a press release a multi-million pound refurbishment plan across its portfolio of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels throughout the UK, starting with the Holiday Inn Heathrow M4,Jct.4. The new design concept in the airport hotel is said to make the most of the hotel lobby by opening up the space in order to ‘revolutionise how guests eat, drink, work, meet, relax and socialise’.
Omar Nicholls, Development Director for LGH Hotels Management Ltd, has been tasked to oversee and execute the refurbishment plans for each hotel and has worked closely with external design agency Design Coalition to achieve the new Holiday Inn open lobby concept. “Our main goal with the new open lobby design is to create a space in each property that feels familiar, like an extension of home, and has a logical flow so guests can truly relax and utilise each corner in a way that makes sense to them and accommodates all of their work and relaxation needs,” he said.
Considering that more and more people are spending their money on experiences over products, as evidenced in a previous interview with co-founder and CEO of Utopian Hotels, the look – and more importantly the feel – of a hotel is paramount, especially in airport hotels. The lobby as we used to knew it (as a check in desk and a place to wait for a taxi) is ‘old hat’. Replacing the functional first impressions, as previously discussed with Richmond International’s Principal Fiona Thompson, are funky and quirky interiors, designed to invite guests to mingle, work, relax and enjoy.
The press release announcing the new interiors of the Holiday Inn lobby concept suggests that the “open lobby concept is unique to the Holiday Inn brand and will be extended to properties across Europe,” but we have seen references to this concept before. Ever since there have been airports, there have been airport hotels. 2014, however, was an impressive year that really took airport hotels into a new era. HBA London unveiled the striking Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, which put airport design hotels were about to be firmly on the map. Following that was the launch of Naumi Auckland Airport, which has recently launched new rooms specifically for female guests.
One thing is certain, the new open lobby concept in the Holiday Inn London Heathrow will provide one cohesive space to fit their individual lifestyles. The open area will merge the traditionally separate zones of a reception, lounge, bar and restaurant to create one relaxed and multi-faceted area with no barriers, so that guests can blend work and leisure instinctively.
The new public spaces will include a media lounge, replacing the traditional bar area, for guests to make themselves at home during their stay. Designed like a laid-back living room, guests will find comfy seating, games, TV and magazines to enjoy at their leisure. For those who need to prep for a meeting, work remotely or make a long-distance Skype call, the new E-Bar will offer a great space to plug in and get connected with lots of power points and a wireless printer – another growing demand for the modern traveller.