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Hotel Design

Part 50: How to design for social distancing

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 50:
HOW TO DESIGN FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING

The hospitality sector has been deeply impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. As lockdown eases, hotels are navigating the effects of social distancing and new safety guidelines for their design and guest experience. Giles Fuchs, owner of Burgh Island Hotel, safely guides us through what to consider when designing for social distancing…

Although such social distancing measures clearly pose challenges for hotels, there are steps they can and should be taking to create a positive, unrestrictive and reassuring stay for guests. From enhancing the intimacy of the guest experience, showcasing a hotel’s assets, investing in the outdoors and leveraging the latest technology, hotels post-pandemic can keep staff and guests safe – all without compromising on experience.

Image credit: Burgh Island Hotel

Enhance intimacy

Covid-19 health and safety precautions have necessitated the introduction of more restrictive measures across the hospitality industry, which undoubtedly risk compromising the sense of luxury and relaxation that hotels seek to deliver. As guests grasp for escapism in the ‘new normal’ of the pandemic, social distancing can feel like a rude reminder of the world waiting beyond the walls of the hotel.

But, if executed properly, there are ways to enforce and promote safety measures that actually enhance the intimacy of a guest’s stay, rather than imposing a sense of restriction. In fact, social distancing can empower hotels to provide a quieter, more private and intimate experience, for example by extending restaurant sittings so that guests can dine later and in smaller groups. Hotels can also look to open up alternative areas, such as lounges or libraries for private use and dining. In many ways this can be a liberating opportunity to celebrate the spaces, design and identity of a hotel without compromising on safety to meet expectations.

Image credit: Burgh Island Hotel

Showcase design assets

If not managed effectively, footfall routing to manage movement flow through the hotel can naturally detract from the ambience and sense of freedom synonymous with a peaceful getaway. However, repositioning these measures can again serve to enhance, rather than undermine, the luxury and quality of an experience.

For boutique and luxury hotels, this is an ideal opportunity to showcase special features, including interiors, décor and public spaces that make the stay unique. For example, by reframing diversions as a tour rather than an imposition, footfall routing can be used to emphasise a hotel’s best features and services, such as art displays, bars or lounge areas.

At Burgh Island, for example, our authentic art-deco design features, which have been carefully preserved for 90 years and complimented by elegant editions throughout the hotel, are a central pillar of its attraction for guests. By ensuring staff are briefed on the design, in addition to the history of the hotel, and showcasing these features to guests as part of safety measures, we can continue to convey all of Burgh Island’s charm and appeal without affecting safety.

Invest in outside spaces

Making outdoor space part of the hotel’s experience and identity is increasingly important in a time of social distancing, as well as offering crucial space for mental health relief and healthy, peaceful relaxation following the UK lockdown.

So, with constraints on capacity and space use remaining in place in some form for the immediate future, outdoor spaces are an ever more important asset. Especially for smaller boutique hotels, where pressures on interior space use may be even greater, investing in increased alfresco seating and dining areas can ensure both that guests feel safe and that their experience of social distancing is not overtly intrusive. Offering teas or lunches outside not only helps to showcase spaces that guests might not otherwise have benefitted from to the same extent, but also helps people to relax more confidently.

Furthermore, introducing a greater variety of outdoor activities can ensure guests can experience the charm of a hotel and its assets safely. For instance, at Burgh Island, tours of the grounds and the naturalistic gardening style with a strong focus on wild plant varieties across our 23-acre island helps to create a sense of freedom and vitality — the perfect setting for relaxation or exploration.

Leverage technology

When hospitality and guest experience are at the centre of a hotels identity, especially for a boutique, independent or luxury outfit, contact with guests plays a pivotal part. Every detail from pre-arrival communication to in-person greetings, check in and concierge services are designed to create a highly personalised experience.

Although digitalisation has already become increasingly important for guests when planning and booking their stay, it is easy to think that the in-person experience must, to its detriment, be all change in a time of Covid-19. In fact, by leveraging technology hotels can continue to provide an attentive, smooth and reassuring operation for guests. From check-in to room access, contactless alternatives to high touch interfaces, such as elevator buttons and door handles, powered by movement sensors, tracking apps and even voice control can help guests to feel confident in their own safety, as well as providing an even more seamless experience.

“Hotels have a unique opportunity in how they adapt and evolve their design for social distancing, leveraging outdoor spaces to enhance guest experience and creating even more intimate experiences.” – Giles Fuchs, owner of Burgh Island Hotel

Think to the future

Many are understandably anxious about what social distancing and new Covid-appropriate health and safety measures mean for the guest experience, especially for boutique hotels for which luxury, peacefulness and freedom form part of their identity.

However, hotels have a unique opportunity in how they adapt and evolve their design for social distancing, leveraging outdoor spaces to enhance guest experience and creating even more intimate experiences. By ensuring that safety measures such as social distancing, footfall routing and contactless tech are in place, guests will feel more confident in their stay. And by rediscovering new ways of best showcasing a hotel’s features and design, this could well enhance guest experience for the long term.

Main image credit: Burgh Island Hotel

Part 48: Creating meaningful signage & surfaces

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT 48:
CREATING MEANINGFUL SIGNAGE & SURFACES

Signbox explores how designers and hoteliers can cc cover all bases when it comes to signage and surfaces in order to help create the perfect guest experience…

It may start with the ease of reservation, the first impression or the receptionists’ welcome, but there’s no doubt what happens next is critical when it comes to creating a hotel guest experience that’s memorable for all the right reasons.

First and foremost, interaction is everything – not just the meet and greet and relationship with the concierge, but the way guests connect with and relate to their surroundings. It has to go deeper than décor – it has to be functional, informative, exciting, versatile and carry a consistent corporate identity.

Signbox has all these bases covered with an incredible range of digitally printed hotel wallcovering solutions and environmental graphics solutions that embrace a wide range of materials, from glass and metallics to printed vinyl and tick all the boxes when it comes to giving the guest the experience they’ll be writing home about.

Exciting digitally printed wallpaper

This is where digital hotel wallcoverings really get exciting! Digitally printed wallcoverings are an innovative display solution that combine eye-catching scenes with inspired mood setting and practical hotel signage and messaging. Regardless of the size of the space or its function, Signbox digitally printed wallpapers offer a uniquely ingenious twist for traditional hotel interiors.

Signbox’s digitally printed wallpaper and wallcoverings incorporate photographs, logos, typography, symbols, corporate imagery and logos to create fresh and exciting hotel areas that make every space work harder for its guests and breathe new life into areas that might otherwise have been underutilised or tired.

The applications for digitally printed wallpaper are as endless as the designs themselves. Within corporate guest areas, bold, dynamic digitally printed, large format supergraphics serve to motivate and inspire performance while, back in the heart of the hotel, they create powerful aesthetic backdrops that can be as easy on the eye as they are conceptually groundbreaking, depending on the purpose of the space.

Each digitally printed wallcovering is digitally inkjet printed at Signbox’s vast Egham manufacturing base onto Digimura 2.1 material, which is fire rated to EN13501 and is EN15102 wallcovering compliant. All conform to Signbox’s award-winning benchmarked standards of quality and best practice and all offer remarkable customised wallcovering options.

Go interactive with digital signage surfaces

Hotel guests who feel able and compelled to interact with their environments are likely to score their experience more highly if they can access personalised hotel messaging intuitively.

Signbox has a range of digital signage solutions for hotel environments that make light work of displaying announcements, wayfinding messages, alerts and live data and media streams to keep everyone informed and interacting. Corporate hotel guests will love this real-time multimedia content platform of choice with its seamless presentation and communications tools that work effortlessly across business centres, meeting rooms, conference areas and lounges.

Other guests will enjoy interacting with touch screen display technologies that help speed up the check in process, find their way around the hotel, select dining menus, discover events and on-site facilities as well as serving as invaluable emergency alert systems.

Signbox’s digital signage surfaces include its stunning Displayhub display solution that incorporates interactive HD LED touchscreen displays within a full-length glass fascia with NFC (near field communication) options. At the other end of the interactive digital signage scale you’ll find vast video walls with tiled LCD panels, LED tiles or laser rear projection cube systems. These offer unrivalled bespoke digital display options that not only transform the hotel interior space, but demand attention for guests keen to stay in touch with customised content and information, hotel branded advertisements and broadcast media.

Wallcoverings with a touch of glass 

For areas that demand privacy, safety or security screening or a more customised, bespoke branded wallcovering solution, glass manifestation answers the call. With the capability to transform the look and feel of a hotel area, from receptions and lobbies to corporate hotel spaces, Signbox’s 3M glass manifestation films can be customised to suit a hotel brand identity scheme at a fraction of the cost of tradition bespoke digital printed glazing film and wallcovering methods.

Flexible hotel display wallcoverings  

When it comes to hotel promotions, corporate events or simply when the message or theme needs to change to keep the look fresh, it’s time to think outside the box. Signbox’s Teslaflex system is an ingenious printed ferrous film with a high-grade magnetic base and self-adhesive backing to display photographic-quality graphics. This superb hotel display wallcovering solution is ultra-lightweight and quick and easy to apply and is perfect for short-term guest messages or hotel campaigns.

a colourful abstract art wallcovering

Image caption: Digitally printed wallcovering combination | Image credit: Signbox

Other display wallcoverings include digital canvas art – digital canvas prints that can be inkjet printed to cover any space or environment with a bespoke wallcovering approach for spaces that take account of hotel branding and the physical and practical form of each area. Then there’s Signbox’s engineered Kube framing display solution. It’s a lightweight frame and tension fabric system that can be printed in sizes from 25cm2 to 3m x 10m supersize and is designed to add an ultra-cool touch to a hotel interior.

Never underestimate the power of environmental graphics

This is just a collection of Signbox’s wider bespoke wallcovering solutions that fall under the signage category of ‘environmental graphics’. Indeed, so vital is this concept that EG, the name behind Signbox’s renowned digital print division, is today the most popular choice when hotel and hospitality, corporate workplace and retail sector signage strategy.

You can explore the entire EG collection of groundbreaking digitally printed wallcoverings, digital wallpaper graphics, supergraphics and bespoke digitally printed wallcovering solutions by viewing the EG brochure.

Why all the signs should point to a perfect guest experience

It’s easy to see how next generation digitally printed wallcoverings, digitally printed supergraphics, customised digital wallcoverings and bespoke wallcovering solutions can quite literally transform the hotel space. But more than that is the power of a custom digital wallcovering – whether digitally printed wallpaper or bespoke display wallcovering, digitally printed supergraphic or large format video wall – to transform the hotel guest experience into a personal, interactive and enriching journey that inspires repeat bookings and loyalty to the hotel brand.

Signbox 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.

Main image caption: Large format digitally printed display for reception space | Image credit: Signbox

Part 45: The role bespoke lighting plays in modern hotels

727 524 Hamish Kilburn

GTHD

A GUIDE TO HOTEL DESIGN PT45:
THE ROLE BESPOKE LIGHTING PLAYS IN MODERN HOTELS

The almost all pervasive use of a standardised approach to the construction of medium height and tall buildings does not help with differentiation; a key attribute for any hotel as first impressions are vital. The skilful application of façade lighting can help a great deal, as the LED lighting specialists at Illumination Physics explain…

The use of glass and aluminium in unitised or non-unitised curtain wall construction is pervasive in most modern facades for reasons of cost, performance, and speed of construction: The advantages are irrefutable. However, the facades all look inevitably similar.

Older or more classical hotel designs that do not use all glass facades and use stone and other non-reflective surfaces present an entirely different challenge.

The properties of a double glazed glass panel is determined by factors such as wind load and these dictate the width of the vision glass. There is a magic number of approximately 1500mm between the vertical metal mullions and varies only a little around the world. Any wider; the glass has to be thicker and stronger (and more expensive). Any narrower and the windows seem claustrophobic and the amount of metalwork increases (and is more expensive).

The vertical distance between floors (slab to slab), is also driven by a magic number. High ceilings may be spacious but they cost more because less floors can be built in a certain rise. As a consequence the height of a floor, and hence the height of a curtain wall panel will be somewhere between 3.5 and 3.8 metres. Part of the panel will been to be a window and part will need to be opaque to hide the edge of the slab (the spandrel panel).

Architects and façade consultants strive to achieve any elaboration that is possible with all types of glass and metal structures, but to casual observers, there is a strong resemblance between edifices of many types because the texture is the same.

Hotels, perhaps more than any other genre of building, need to exude a personality and should differentiate themselves from each other and other similar modern structures in the vicinity. The curtain wall system can make it difficult to discern a building as a hotel or an office sometimes.

The one great tool available to distinguish a building and lend it personality, and make a statement, is integrated façade lighting. The curtain wall business has been highly developed over decades but the addition of integrated façade lighting is still immature and hence there are great opportunities for innovation.

To illustrate this potential, the following examples demonstrate projects in which façade lighting has helped to develop and articulate the personality of four very different hotels. All of the projects are constructed with modern façade technology and each of them have developed their character through lighting.

The DoubleTree Hilton in Zagreb, Croatia

Wooden fins on a modern glass building is novel, but provided a striking visual element in daylight, adding interest to the facade. At night the effect was lost, unlit the fins became just shadows. The night time interest was restored by integrating a small custom LED light fixture into the base of each fin. The same width as the fin, the light fixture goes unnoticed by day. After dusk however, it provides an eye catching display that uses subtle warm white and cool white light in a dynamic display, without resorting to coloured light. This was suitable artistic restraint that suited this location.

Image caption: The integrated façade lighting clearly distinguishes the Double Tree Hilton from the similarly proportioned rectangular commercial buildings the surround it. Custom design and manufacture by illumination Physics.

The building is now clearly not an office tower. The lighting display is playful but sophisticated. An ideal message for the positioning of this hotel.

Technically simple, cost effective and totally reliable. The equipment was installed by the electrical contractor with guidance from illumination Physics.

City of Dreams, Macau – Retail Expansion

The retail expansion of the podium in 2015 produced a new 250m wide curved façade, 20 metres high, constructed of glass and aluminium. City of Dreams contained four hotels at that time and a casino. The expansion was a major development of the Cotai Strip and a statement needed to be made. Lighting would be the key for that message.

Image caption: The new retail façade of City of Dreams now dominates the start of the Cotai Strip in Macau. The use of very warm white light and cool white light are used as a metaphor for gold and silver in a display that is constantly evolving. Design and build by illumination Physics.

The signature use of highly coloured neon and now LED have been all pervasive in Macau since the 60s.  Those hotel personality messages are unmistakeable.

The new podium at City of Dreams should be treated differently. It would need to demand attention, overt; but not in red, green and blue colour mixing. There is already too much of that. The image of the retail expansion also needed to be distinctly up-market and for once, primary colours would not help.

A different approach would be the one to stand out. The 90 tall light boxes would be illuminated by washing the back panel with two offset focuses, one in very warm white (gold) and one in very cool white (silver) as a metaphor. A custom linear light fixture was specially created. The display is animated and demands attention but the dynamic changes are neither fast nor slow, creating an image of class in deference to the high-end retail brands contained within. The building demands attention and yet clearly communicates its personality.

The Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Designed by Moshe Safdie Architects, the three iconic towers joined at the summits by the Skypark have become the contemporary image of Singapore. These were not the only opportunity to create a personality, or many personalities as it turned out. The hotel towers needed little help.

However, at the base of the towers sit three wide low buildings; The Theater, The Exhibition Hall and the MICE centre. The creative company Laservision had identified that the acres of grey convex Clip-Loc aluminium roofing, whist not an asset in day time, might be exploited at night.

illumination Physics developed a luminaire design that was able to evenly illuminate the compound curved surfaces. The overall display utilised more than 1000 custom light fixtures that were among the first to adopt RGBA (red, green, blue & amber) LEDs rather than the more prevalent RGB or RGBW (red, green, blue & white). The inclusion of amber allowed the creation of a true warm white – a specific requirement of the architect, as well as a palate of colours previously unseen. Dynamic control grants the Sands the ability to adopt many personalities and moods according to the time of day and special events such as Singapore’s National Day when the red and white colours of the flag are used.

The Kempinski Hotel Clubhouse, Yinchuan, China

It gets very cold in this part of the world (the average annual daily temperature is 8.9℃) and hence the sporting, spa and pool facilities must be indoors and yet feel spacious and open. It was logical that Novum structures would provide two organically shaped self-supporting glass and steel geodetic domes. This magnificent engineering would be lost at night unless it was celebrated with lighting, which is what illumination Physics did. Each node in the dome was equipped with a direct view LED pixel, a custom designed luminaire that was integrated into the structure at each node. In addition, linear indirect wash lights were installed, hidden around the perimeter of each dome.

The combination of these two light sources creates two views of the domes. From the inside a sky can be created complete with stars. From the outside the glowing domes arouse curiosity and attract attention in a way that invites people in to places of warmth and relaxation. Ideal for this hotel.

The square peg and round hole issue

illumination Physics was founded on a specific philosophy. illumination Physics would focus on the exact needs of the project above all else. Integrated architectural lighting requires that the design of lighting equipment must be perfectly adapted for fit and function and also maintainability. Custom design played a key role in the success of all of these hotel based projects. Our manufacturing facilities are organised for agility and flexibility so that a particular type of light fixture can be designed, proven and produced as, if not more quickly than an off-the- shelf product. The support for illumination Physics’ products has extended for a decade and the company have debunked the popular myth that custom products are more expensive. Illumination Physics apply the same level of care to projects large and small.

Illumination Physics is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here. And, if you are interested in also benefitting from this  three-month editorial package, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Main image credit: Marina Bay Sands