Design

Part 43: Installing EV charging points in your hotel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 43:
INSTALLING EV CHARGING POINTS IN YOUR HOTEL

As businesses are changing, and demand for electric cars on the rise, hotels are installing EV charging points into car parks. Utility Team explains what hoteliers should consider when modernising to cater for the eco demand…

It is clear that the future of automotive is electric and if you’re not already, maybe you should be considering installing EV charging points at your business premises.

The number of all electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles is forecast to increase exponentially over the coming years, this is something even the most ardent fan of the combustion engine and petrol head would find difficult to dispute. With this, the need for EV charging points will similarly need to grow with some degree of correlation.

The Government has declared a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars to begin in 2035, this is to work towards the overall net-zero target put on the UK of 2050. The BBC clarify the point “When will petrol and diesel cars be banned? The ban is being introduced in 2035 – five years earlier than previously planned. Experts said the original target of 2040 would be too late if the UK wanted to achieve its target of emitting virtually zero carbon by 2050. The ban is also being expanded to hybrid cars and plug-in hybrids, which had not been included under the original proposals. As a result, people will be able to buy only electric or hydrogen cars and vans.”

This may lead many occupiers of business premises to consider installing EV charging points. There are of course many different options and providers. Should you opt for rapid charging points? How will these be supplied? Do you have enough capacity? These are just a few of the questions you will likely ponder.

In order to make an informed decision, it is important to understand what you are trying to achieve; this will very much depend upon the type of premises you occupy and what type of business you operate.

For example, the owner/operator of a retail park/shopping centre will want to attract visitors but will also want them to remain on-site for a while. So a rapid charging point where the user may sit in their car for 15 minutes and then drive off may not be the best option. Similarly, a slow charging point that would mean a space is occupied for hours by the same vehicle would not be suitable.

Occupiers of office buildings may want to provide charging points for staff and visitors, again which type of devices are best? How do you decide who can use them? How do you determine if there is any ‘benefit in kind’ that needs to be considered? How do you stop disruption to work with people moving vehicles around the car park to allow others to use the devices?

These again are all questions that should be considered before any installation takes place.

Currently, demand for charging points in comparison to the traditional petrol station is low, you will rarely see a queue at locations that are available to the public, however, this will change. The Guardian highlighted an interesting point ‘Electric vehicle (EV) sales are accelerating rapidly, with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures for September 2019 showing a 236.4% rise year-on-year.’  Whether you are considering installing these devices to attract customers or to benefit employees there are many factors to consider in order to avoid the project becoming a token gesture or something that causes more problems than it solves.

Taking independent advice is key to ensure your installation caters for your current and future demand scenarios as well as providing a system that manages the use of the devices throughout your organisation.

Utility Team can advise on a variety of green energy initiatives, managing the project from start to finish (if required) as well as providing interest-free funding opportunities for energy-efficient equipment or initiatives. In particular, we can help you with any EV charging point project from trickle to rapid chargers and self-owned to leased charging points.

Main image credit: Utility Team

Part 42: Using a 360-degree approach in bathroom design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 42:
USING A 360-DEGREE APPROACH IN BATHROOM DESIGN

Aiming to reduce the number of out-of-service rooms when a bathroom product malfunctions, bathroom specifier Utopia Projects explains why their 360-degree approach is vital when designing bathrooms and wet rooms for the modern traveller…

Imagine this all-too-common scenario in a hotel: the guest calls down to reception to complain that the shower is not working.

For the individual checked in, a swift upgrade to a junior suite and a few drinks vouchers will suffice. For the hotel, though, which now shelters an unoccupied and therefore unsellable room, it’s a race against time to rectify the problem. If corners were cut during the design of the bathrooms, it will usually be exposed here, and the property will most likely have to contact the manufacturers to order a new part after the maintenance staff has finally identified the broken element, causing unnecessary delays. Sound familiar?

On the other hand, hotel bathrooms that have been designed sensitively will have pre-empted the inevitable of malfunctioning equipment. Needless to say, services that specify quality branded products and that have access to all spare parts help to eliminate long-lead times for new product parts.

A recent UK study, commissioned by Ideal Standard, found that “73 per cent of designers agreed that washrooms are the most difficult rooms to design and plan in commercial projects.” As the rise in wellness and wellbeing points a critical lens on the hotel bathroom, designers are working harder than ever to evolve purposefully designed bathrooms and washrooms, all within the often-tight budgets from the client.

Utopia Projects is a unique service that works with designers after the layout of a bathroom has been established. Helping to create statement bathrooms for the likes of University Arms Cambridge, Oddfellows on the Park and most recently the Stock Exchange Hotel Manchester, the team have a solid relationship with some of the UK’s leading designers.

How the 360-degree approach works

The designer focuses on capturing the theme and overall concept while Utopia Projects suggests an appropriate specification. “Some designers will ask for entry- as well as mid-spec in order to get the difference between both,” explains Richard Goodier, Director at Utopia Projects. “Once we have provided these free of charge, they will then present these specs to the client for approval.”

Having a second pair of eyes in the bathroom from early stages right through until completion allows designers to concentrate on other areas of the design process. “We stock the products and supply to schedules, which we break it down to first fit and second fit,” adds Goodier. “After the job is complete, we have easy access to all the spare parts to all of the products we have specified.” The company goes as far to give the maintenance staff on site access to www.hotelspares.co.uk and an easy to use  booklet that is made up of all the products specified in the hotel, so that if a problem were to surface, they would be able to identify the issue swiftly.

Times are changing

The conventional hotel bathroom as we know it has become a thing of the past. An example of an hotel bathroom breaking design barriers is The South Place Hotel, London which was chosen as the setting of BBC’s award-winning drama series, The Bodyguard. The ultra-contemporary hotel required a specific brief, and was the first new-build hotel to open within London’s city walls. “When designing hotel bathrooms, there is a lot more to consider than just the products,” says Goodier. “The South Place Hotel was an exciting project for us to be involved in, Conran & Partners who were the interior designers had a very clear image of the design brief they were trying to achieve. The products used within this set-up had to be stylish & modern yet with functionality. Always up for a challenge, we were tasked with sourcing a glass bath for the hotel suits which we had handmade in Italy, as well as having bespoke flush plates made with the hotel logo to reflect the level of detail given to this project.

“Utopia Projects prides itself on keeping its clients up to date on regulation changes as well as only working with WRAS-approved products and brands.”

Technology has opened the door for new software to creep in.. Online ‘shops’ are becoming more sophisticated, going as far as allowing designers to use virtual tools to create specifications with just a few clicks. The danger of this, however, is that cutting corners could lead to missed or unsuitable products being specified. Specialists, such as the workforce at Utopia Projects, cast experienced eyes over all specifications and sense-check everything as part of the 360-degree approach.

In addition, the new wave of tech-driven products is being introduced into the market at a rapid pace and more emphasis is being put on sustainability and quality. Utopia Projects prides itself on keeping its clients up to date on regulation changes as well as only working with WRAS-approved products and brands. Taking on the 360-degree approach to bathroom design, bathroom experts at Utopia Projects are determined to help designers meet ambitious hotel briefs with the knowledge, experience and the skill required to meet the growing demands of consumers who arguably see the bath, shower and WC as important as the bed.

Main image credit: The Biltmore Hotel, designed by Goddard Littlefair

Part 41: Designing meaningful co-working spaces

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 41:
DESIGNING MEANINGFUL CO-WORKING SPACES

Art and FF&E logistics company Momentous explains why we must react to consumer demands for a flexible hotel public areas. The company’s Mike Brazier has explains what designers should consider when creating flexible working spaces… 

I’ve just finished a consultation regarding a workplace project in central London where we are hoping to support, and now I’m on my way to join a work colleague for a meeting to discuss logistics support with an interior design and hotels projects contact of ours.

The destination is the beautiful five-star St Martins Lane Hotel. It’s centrally based and extremely convenient when you’re buzzing around the city looking for a relaxed space to meet clients.

I arrive following an eventful tube journey (not an uncommon situation in the capital) but the large and open hotel lobby instantly creates a strong sense of calm.

As well as bar, a lobby and a restaurant, there is also a snug (AKA- The Den); a peaceful retreat from the metropolis outside, ideal for checking emails as well as providing a good base for meetings in the city. As I set myself down and open my laptop, I take a look around and notice that I’m not alone. In fact, I realise there are quite a few other business people nestled around the room, all checking their emails, holding meetings and working pretty effectively. My colleague arrives shortly after me and it gives us some time to catch up, it all feels very constructive.

Masculine furniture inside a den-like snug

Image caption: The Den inside St Martin Lane Hotel, London

A fortunate appeal to the agile worker

When our contact arrives, the discussion instantly turns to the unique attributes of ‘bleisure’ hotels and the benefits they offer to agile workers. With hotel groups such as Hoxton Hotels and Citizen M leading a movement to create design-led, practical public areas, could the possibility of exchanging our offices for hotels as co-working locations be a reality?

Image credit: Hoxton Hotels

Of course, what we are talking about is nothing new. Business men and women have been holding meetings in coffee shops and hotels since commerce began. And co-working has been shaping the workplace market for years with companies such as WeWork, its many contemporaries and HubbleHQ creating flexible and funky workspace options for the next generation of businesses. Yet, hotel co-working offers something deeper.

In fact, when you look at hotels as another new option for co-working spaces, it starts to make a lot of sense. Many of them have the basic demands that consumers require. They are often located exactly where you need them to be with amazing travel links. They have Wi-Fi, power sockets, chairs, tables, informal meeting areas, boardroom-style rooms, refreshments and they are not dull spaces.

It is hardly any surprise to see that many of the large hotel chains such as AccorHotels X WOJO, Marriott International and their Sheraton brand are redesigning their lobbies are following quirky hotel brands to create co-working spaces and rethinking the type of services and resources that would convert the casual agile working visitor into adopting them as a patron willing to pay more for their services.

What hotel designs can be implemented do to capitalise on this opportunity for coworking?

Based on the collective experience of interior design, hotels and workplace in the room you can imagine that we had plenty of ideas flashing around. One of the key challenges would be that workplaces can get quite noisy with phone calls and the general level of communication, so hotels would need to work on a way around this.

Data security, networks and call handling, are all factors that need to be taken into consideration. In reality, these are all challenges that a designer and workplace specialist would have no problem overcoming. There are also some ready and off the shelf options that can be easily incorporated. Work pods can solve many of the challenges listed above and we have access to those today. The trick would be, how do hotels get this to flow into their existing core hotel proposition.

For hotels that are restricted with space, usually urban hotels, the hotel lobby has to work harder. For it to be able to transformed into different atmospheres throughout the day, the lobby has to be flexible in its design. Using a neutral coloured surface, with art pieces injecting personality, the lobby will become a blank canvas of ideas. Modular furniture will adapt with your guests’ needs and can allow the space to transform quickly without fuss.

There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution for designing co-working spaces in hotels. One thing is for certain, the hotels that are at the curve of this movement are using innovation, new technology and clever design to to create meaningful functional spaces that are appealing to work and hold meetings in.

Main image credit: St Martins Lane Hotel

Part 40: How to design luxury accommodation in pub hotels

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 40:
HOW TO DESIGN LUXURY ACCOMMODATION IN PUB HOTELS

Following a rise in smaller and boutique design projects emerging on the hotel design scene, interior designer Sarah Ward offers tips and tricks for designing bespoke luxury accommodation in pubs…

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is glad that pubs have transformed from dark smoky dens into welcoming meeting places for everyone – serving fantastic food, and often with a few luxury rooms to stay in, too.

For weekend mini-breaks, a pub hotel can offer the most characterful place to stay in a rural village. I’m thinking of somewhere where walks finish with a pint or a glass of good wine beside a roaring fire.

The appeal of a pub over a hotel is often friendliness. For single travellers they can be more tempting than a corporate-style hotel, even if it means a little extra travel. The likelihood is that a pub will attract locals as well as travellers, signalling a convivial atmosphere.

My top tips for designing luxury accommodation in pubs aren’t that different from what I’d suggest in a hotel. Sometimes the only distinction between the two is the atmosphere. What every pub needs is an element of cosiness and comfort. The best pub accommodation is warm, comfortable and homely with a dash of luxury: great toiletries, top-quality beds and bedding, some special wool-covered cushions, for example. As Coco Chanel said, ‘Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.’ Pub accommodation should never be soulless and should always offer a hospitable atmosphere.

Here are a few key points for designing luxury accommodation in pub hotels.

Continuity– The style of the whole pub should be harmonious. Pub hotel design never works when it’s obvious that all the attention has gone into creating a cosy eating and drinking area, with the rooms clearly an afterthought with basic furniture, fixtures and linens. Both communal and sleeping areas need to feel part of a whole, with themes carried through. Though overly themed pubs are a no-no – you don’t want a too-often repeated fabric, for example. The design has to be subtle, with a similar colour palette throughout.

Image credit: Interiors by Sarah Ward

Family feel– Many pubs are traditionally family-run businesses. It’s the friendly atmosphere of being in a homely environment that should be brought to the fore when decorating a pub. And that should be created even if it isn’t family-run. For the rooms, this means adding a few individual touches. Pub accommodation shouldn’t all be identical. Interesting materials, cushions, rugs, and lamps come to mind, as well as the odd attractive ornament, or books on a bookshelf. But don’t go for a cluttered look: it’s too Marmite – some love it, many don’t, and it’s hard to get right. That’s where a good interior designer can really add value. We have contacts and connections all over the industry, and can source high-quality interesting bespoke pieces for projects, from artworks to armchairs. We can arrange things in the best way so that there’s still a feeling of space and flow in each area.

Original features– Lovely old pubs often have a wealth of original features, from fireplaces to wonky exposed beams and braces. Don’t cover these up. People want an authentic feel. It’s good to integrate some of the old features, referencing them in your theme. So, an old station pub should have pieces relevant to its original use – a station clock, perhaps, or artwork made from old timetables or posters. Again, a good interior designer will help make sure this works and isn’t kitsch. And for original features that you do want to cover – Victorian plumbing pipes, for example – then an interior design specialist will offer solutions, maybe boxing them in in a way that creates a storage solution.

Bedding– Crisp sheets are a must. And go for comfortable beds that are as large as the room allows. I would recommend a selection of cushions and a choice of soft pillows, and maybe a luxury throw in a contrasting colour to add interest. If the pub doesn’t have a turn-down service as a hotel would, then make sure there’s somewhere for guests to stash bed cushions at night.

Storage– Storage can often be an issue in pub rooms, some of which can be small if you’re working with an old building. If you’re having to create somewhere for guests to place and hang clothes or coats, an interior designer will be able to design something that fits cleverly into a small space. This is better than just offering hooks with hangers.

Materials– Go as luxury and as cosy as your budget affords. I associate British pubs with winter cosiness and rural bliss, and therefore I’d use natural wools and a palette of colours that matches the great outdoors. These are warm earthy tones, against a fairly neutral base. I’d include a comfortable and stylish chair in an attractive material in a pub hotel room. I’d always use heavy curtains and make sure they black out all the light, too.

Sustainability– Make sure you’re offering good quality toiletries in recyclable materials. Also, the better the quality the better the sustainability with things like fabrics. Consumers are concerned about the planet, and you need to show in your offering (food and accommodation) that you are, too. Use local products from small producers if possible. This always adds a welcome touch to a room, and shows the owners have thought about what they’re doing. No-one wants little capsules of milk with their coffee, for example – so offering fresh in a pretty jug (or mini flask) is always better. Likewise, a packet of generic shortbread is boring, but a handmade biscuit is delicious and special. The same goes for a cushion, or a piece of art. According to a 2019 survey by Taxi2Airport, 76% of holidaymakers want hotels to do more to be greener. So, inform your guests about green credentials, whether that’s using eco-friendly cleaning materials or not using single-use plastics.

Bathrooms– Bathrooms don’t necessarily need to be totally luxe in a pub – but make sure the basics are covered: good lighting and mirrors, soft towels with somewhere to hang them, and a heated towel rail if possible. Everyone loves a roll-top bath, and pub-hotels suit them well, often with a Victorian-style feel. Local toiletries, as mentioned in the sustainability section, are always a good addition. Go for large, refillable luxury shampoos, conditioners and soaps. They hit the eco-button and there are lots of great ones available now. Even in a bathroom, bespoke pieces, such as mirrors, soap dishes and glasses to put your toothbrush in can make the difference between dull and stylish.

Noise– Noise can be a problem in pubs. Spend money on good insulation, glazing, and close-fitting doors to aid sound-proofing. If you have wooden floorboards, you need a large thick rug to muffle sound.

Welcome– As we all know, as well as a lovely environment and good food and accommodation, it’s people who make pubs. Make sure all staff are well trained, not just in serving at the bar, but in customer service for overnight guests, too.

Sarah Ward – Interiors by Sarah Ward www.interiorsbysarahward.com

Part 39: Sustainability in hotels – are you doing your part?

1024 683 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 39:
Sustainability in hotels – are you doing your part?

Sustainable tourism is not just a rising travel trend. Sustainability also quickly becoming a priority – if not a moral imperative – for hospitality leaders and hotel businesses around the world. Hotel Bookings resource STAAH explains…

Guide to Hotel Design
Image credit Inhabit Hotels

Over the past several decades, hoteliers have turned their focus to the importance of sustainability in the hospitality industry as it relates to hotel development and operations, including the environmental, economic and social impact.

Sustainability is one of the most important issues currently facing our world. Here are some ways that you can put your best green foot forward and get amongst the initiatives used by other hotels around the world:

Cutting down on food waste.
For example, by growing food onsite, sourcing food locally, and shifting social norms to ensure that “plate waste” is no longer considered acceptable.

Eliminating plastic.
A step beyond recycling, doing away with single-use plastic products can help limit the huge amount of waste stemming from creating and discarding these items. Getting rid of plastic water bottles and plastic bags is a good place to start.

Creating a paperless hotel.
A task made easy by a modern property management system, which will simplify operations and streamline the guest experience while reducing carbon emissions.

Minimising water usage beyond the hotel room.
In addition to encouraging guests to be mindful of their water and towel usage, some properties are turning to innovations such as showers that filter their own water.

Integrating sustainability into the hotel architecture.
In building new properties, there is a “three-zero-concept” approach: using local construction materials and skills (zero kilometers), prioritizing energy management and lower emissions (zero carbon dioxide), and introducing life-cycle management into the building process (zero waste).
These are just a few steps that your property can take to minimise its environmental impact. Many hospitality businesses have made a useful commitment to sustainability by making simple changes to their usual practice.

For example, in the accommodation sector, some properties have had success with encouraging guests to reuse towels and to request a change of linen, rather than making it a daily norm. This small gesture can save a hotel a great deal in costs, while also reducing the hotel’s impact on the environment.

The key to making these changes successfully is educating guests and customers on why you are asking them to make these changes with you.

STAAH is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Tap with water

Part 37: Putting sustainability front and centre in the bathroom

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

PART 37: PUTTING SUSTAINABILITY FRONT AND CENTRE IN THE BATHROOM

Recommended Supplier Roca discusses sustainability in order to highlight how the international hotel design industry can save water and reduce wastage… 

Water consumption varies in hotels depending on the presence of swimming pools, saunas, laundry and catering facilities. However, water accounts for 10 per cent of utility bills in many hotels, with taps, toilets and showers comprising around 40 per cent of this total.

Any way we can reduce water consumption is going to be good for the hotel and good for the environment.

Bathroom manufacturing has become more sustainable in recent years and Roca has remained at the forefront of sustainable design by creating products that conserve water and protect the environment. For example, the bathroom manufacturer has reduced the capacity of its WC cisterns to optimise water consumption and developed plumbing products that shrink energy usage.

Guests are also being far more aware of the need to reduce water and energy consumption. In-roads have already been made in this regard, with a growing number of bathrooms now having a dual-flush cistern.

The objective is to stop unnecessary waste of water, without negatively impacting the perception of the user.

The right choice of products plays an important part in the management of water usage. And we deliberately say ‘management’ of water usage, because, although the overall aim is to reduce water usage, each of the products still has to work effectively. The objective is to stop unnecessary waste of water, without negatively impacting the perception of the user.

Water saving developments

Firstly, let’s look at some products that have been designed to reduce water-usage.

One of the latest innovations to hit the market are rimless toilets. The box rim has been eliminated, making the pan much easier to clean and eliminating areas in which bacteria can accumulate. The shape of the pan has also been redesigned, allowing us to flush very efficiently with as little as a 4/2L dual flush cistern. Considering that the average flush for new WCs is between 4L and 6L, a product like this can help to save considerable amounts of water.

Water saving technology can also be found in many brassware solutions. For example, Cold Start technology ensures water is only heated when it is required. Traditionally, when you turn on a tap, the water will be warm. This will automatically trigger the boiler, which can be expensive and wasteful, especially in a home where multigenerational families use water at different times.

Roca also has an exclusive piece of technology in its ECO disc cartridge, which helps to save water and energy. As the tap handle is raised, a slight resistance is reached at 50 per cent of the water flow and lifting beyond this bite point produces a full flow. The cartridge includes a temperature limiter which can be set at installation to eliminate the risk of scalding.

Innovation and product development are making significant headway in delivering greater water savings. For instance, the ground-breaking W+W from Roca uses waste water from the basin to fill the WC cistern, thereby reducing water usage by up to 25 per cent compared to a standard 6/3 litre dual-flush WC. The W+W basin has two wastes – the basin waste and one further down the waste pipe. The user has the option of either diverting it to the mains or recycling it by storing it in the cistern ready for the next flush.

Our Responsibility

As well as delivering bathroom solutions that save water and reduce wastage, Roca actively works to improve sanitation and increase access to water across the world. 

Created in 2010, the We Are Water Foundation is a Roca initiative which reinforces the brand’s historic engagement with society. On a planet with about 768 million people without access to drinking water and 2.7 billion without basic sanitation infrastructure, the Foundation aims to achieve two main objectives. First, to contribute to the spread of a new culture of water which is more caring, just and sustainable, and second, to help the world’s poorest and those with major water and sanitation problems.

The vision of the We Are Water Foundation is to continue growing worldwide, especially in countries where the Roca Group can, through its activities, participate more intensively to identify collaboration projects and contribute to the solution for water and sanitation problems.

Sustainable manufacturing

Roca also knows that how its products are produced is important so has created the Eco-Roca project, which looks at the production processes at its factory, as well as the development of its products and the social activities of the company. The project has two core goals, to cut CO2 emissions and to manage waste-free industrial processes via its Zero Waste Programme.

We have a greater understanding of the value of water and its wastage than ever before. Hoteliers and guests are mindful about the amount of water they are using and want ways to reduce it. It’s time to think seriously about water conservation.

Main image credit: Roca