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Guest Blog: ‘Building a great hotel from inside out’

900 375 Guest Blog

http://nhghotels.com/images/made/images/uploads/general/WW3_-_small_166_210_s_c1.jpgWayne West, COO of Newport Hospitality shares his views on creating a ‘great’ hotel…

Fortune has shined brightly on my career in hospitality as I’ve had the pleasure of working for several excellent management companies as well as some truly great owners. Direct mentorship from these industry leaders has each in their own way made me a better hotelier and a better person overall. My current benefactor, Newport Hospitality Group, enjoys the strong leadership of our company president, Mike Pleninger, who recognized a critical trait of successful hotels over 25 years ago.

The one common characteristic of ‘great’ hotels is that guests reward them by spending significantly more than average and returning frequently. Distinctive from other ‘good’ hotels in the comp set, these ‘great’ hotels become guests’ hotel of choice, often regardless of price, condition and brand.

Years ago, a bunch of us at Newport Hospitality Group wanted to specifically document the attributes of a purportedly great hotel. Over several months, a few seasoned general managers and senior leadership team members worked closely to develop a strategic list of those attributes. Next, we wanted to make sure the list was quantifiable with metrics that could be brought to life tactically with every team member at every hotel.

The following is a list of these key and wholly distilled attributes which happen to be internal actions you can start at any time. Keep in mind that too much of one and too little or none of another may result in short-term success, but will not stand the test of time. It is all in managing the balance of the following four attributes that are the heart of great hotels.

Associate engagement
When I think of associate engagement, words like ‘passion’ and ‘commitment’ come to mind. On an individual level, engagement is the illusive force that motivates you, as a hotelier, to be more productive and to provide higher levels of service to our guests and value for our company.

But what does engagement actually look like for a manager reviewing the performance of his or her staff? In my experience, it presents itself in associates with a genuine zeal and eagerness to assist guests while showing loyalty and dedication to the hotel and its brand. Curiosity is also a bona fide marker of a team member who is ready for mentorship and heightened responsibilities. With this in mind, engaged associates are a fantastic core benefit, and they will surely make the competition sit up and take notice.

Guest loyalty
Engaged associates ultimately make for loyal guests. Happy, motivated associates look forward to coming to work, and not just doing their job but going above and beyond. They realise that a satisfied guest is simply a guest looking for the next best place, whereas a loyal guest is our goal and the reason for our success. We cannot have one without the other.

These engaged associates will naturally build rapport, form relationships and cater to the specific needs of every guest – the personal touch – so that the onsite experience transforms into something remarkable. If we look at our guest scores, whether it is in TripAdvisor, Medallia or SALT, and they are above the brand, we can be assured that we have an engaged and happy workforce in place. In this sense, a hotel’s guest scores are a direct reflection of the staff serving them.

Community involvement and social responsibility
A reputation for honesty, transparency and fair play is critical to building long-term value for our associates and owners. We must recognize that consistently outstanding performance in the communities in which we operate is based not only on our financial results but also on our conduct beyond the bottom line. Developing and protecting your reputation as an engaged and responsible corporate partner is a priority that will distinguish your company as one that is genuinely committed to enhancing the communities in which we conduct business.

As a need arises in your community, your desire is thus to be the first business someone looks for assistance. It is a well-known fact that organizations that encourage community involvement distinguish themselves from their competitors and reap the benefits. From happier associates to guest loyalty and additional sales opportunities, the benefits are many. All associates, especially among the millennials who will soon dominate the labor force and who want to make the world a better place, will want to work in a place that inspires them.

Financial performance
While hospitality is essentially a ‘people business’, it is still a business. We are here to provide growth and financial security for our associates, provide excellent service and facilities to our guests, and give back to our communities. Above all, we must provide strong financial results for our owners who have deployed their own capital and entrusted the management team with their business.

This attribute of a great hotel cannot exist in a vacuum, though. Without the previous three characteristics, a positive financial performance and the makings of a great hotel are not possible. The leadership at Newport Hospitality Group, myself included, is responsible to each location and every employee to grow these four principals within all hotels that we operate. Every decision we make begins with considering all four and finding the right balance to help every property be successful.

Wayne West III is the Chief Operating Officer of Newport Hospitality Group,  guiding the company’s portfolio to ensure each hotel performs at its full potential. Over his 35 years in the industry, Wayne has operated, supervised and owned assets in IHG, Marriott and Hilton systems as well as non-branded properties. He has been a part of the Owners Council with Marriott and served as a Committee Member with IHG on their Food and Beverage Committee, Operations Committee and Standards Committee. Wayne attended East Carolina University and has been named a certified hotel administrator by the American Hotel & lodging Association.

Guest Blog: ‘Suppliers must act as experts within their sectors’

1000 603 Guest Blog

I never cease to be amazed by the vast breadth of knowledge interior designers need in order to cope with all the different strands that need bringing together to create a successful interior design scheme.

They need to realise a harmonised interior which is above all a desirable destination, uses a refined colour palette, incorporates good proportions, is high on attention to detail and quality, has great style and is entirely practical in terms of the use for which the space is intended. The aim is always to give guests a great experience and ensure they look forward to returning.

But that is just the basics. Beyond that the interior designer has to have all the technical knowledge that goes in to the choice process when selecting individual components which go in to the room. Does the upholstery fabric meet relevant flammability regulations? Will the curtains fade through UV exposure? Will the wallpaper pattern repeat match the wall space available? Is the durability of the carpet suitable for contract use? Is all the electrical equipment suitably certified?

Chelsom - Esprit Cove Lounge

These and many other pieces of expert knowledge need to be at the designer’s fingertips to ensure they design a successful project.

That is where added value can come from the product supply chain who should undoubtedly be experts from within their own fields. At Chelsom, there was a time when our mantra of ‘give the client what they want’ meant exactly that, even if we felt the product designed and selected might not give the long term function or desired effect that was expected. Today we are proud that designers appreciate our expert knowledge and do ask us for advice with lighting issues.

Sometimes saying no is a real positive rather than a negative response because we are anticipating lighting problems which may not be immediately apparent.


For example, an aesthetic design may show a small diameter base on a table lamp to which we will say no as our software confirms it will not pass safety regulations for stability. We will advise that we cannot fit the requested dimmer switch because it is not compatible with the hotel’s existing dimming system. Sorry but we don’t recommend the touch switch you have requested because hotel guests will constantly be phoning the concierge to ask how to switch the lights on.

No you cannot have a one-piece ceiling plate on that chandelier because it needs access panels for maintenance and ventilation for the electronics inside. Rather than the crystals hanging on chains in your lobby visual, we would use delicate fixed rods to prevent the glass work swinging when open doors create a gust of wind.

Of course it is essential that if a manufacturer says something isn’t feasible, they have to propose an acceptable alternative based on their own expert knowledge. The interior designer therefore should always consider that he or she is consistently supported by a massive team of experts who can be trusted to give advice and opinions on the suitability of standard product or custom designs from within their own particular specialised area. Those manufacturers may not understand the whole story but they can certainly give added value in their own field.

For further information or to request a catalogue please contact 01253 831400 or email sales@chelsom.co.uk.

Guest Blog: Looking after your designers…

1000 663 Guest Blog

Former hotel designer Patrick Goff shares his thoughts on the relationship between commissioners of design and their designers…

Recently I had dinner with a designer becoming exhausted with the stress of running a large (and very successful) practice. Disillusioned with client relations they were coming to terms with the designer as the elite of the servant classes, rather than being a member of ‘der management’. It is not the first time I have talked with colleagues (sometimes once competitors) with these reactions of feeling devalued by the avaricious money people who often claim credit for designers work. It seems to be the nature of society that those who are the creative drivers are rarely those who get the recognition – until they are dead of course…

The stress of building a design practice, then protecting and nurturing it at often great personal cost through recession to rebuild it again takes its toll. The creativity that the designers are known for is compressed and is then, like a lemon, squeezed by clients until the juice runs dry.


Some back off running practices and retreat to being sole practitioners, choosing to work less so that they feel they have a personal relationship with the creative problem solving. Others sell their businesses and go sailing, play golf or grow flowers. Most do this mentally bruised and stressed by client expectations and client demands that they deal only with the principals, disallowing delegation . They want ‘the engine driver, not the oily rag’. This persistent demand for personal service can kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

The roll call of designers retreating from the high profile leadership of the profession is great, maybe because of a basic humility, maybe because of a fragile sense of self, maybe because they despair seeing others claiming credit for their creative ability. Often press releases name the architect when it is the work of the interior designer that has created the spaces being written about. So great designers are left as the walking wounded of the creative industries.

Over the last three years I have experienced a number of health problems culminating in being treated over the last year for cancer. I am pleased that I have been told it is ‘cured’ but I still have to be tested every 3 months against recurrence. It is a brutal shock to hear the word ‘cancer’ in diagnosis, and does bring about a reappraisal of purpose. Life can be cut short abruptly and 50% is now reckoned the proportion of us who will suffer cancer. I have been lucky that mine has responded to treatment, maybe yours will too?

The resurrection of an old project is typical of what is processing within me at the moment. Over 20 years in design has it seems created a huge reservoir of images and ideas that are determined to be realised through painting, drawing and, right now, photography. I feel like a stick on a flood, being pushed and tossed around at the mercy of these ideas, trying to go with the flow.


For many designers their sense of being wounded by the processes they go through, of having their creative muse squeezed dry, could be helped by a sabbatical return to their creative roots. Our society and the clients are great at demanding projects be completed faster – a new hotel now may be built in less than 12 months compared to the nearly 4 years of the first new build I did in 1983.

But the time for design needs to be protected if designers aren’t to feel like that squeezed lemon left after the pancake party. Creative thinkers need space for their unconscious to work as well as the conscious realisation of the ideas. Pressure for speedy results can produce banal realisations.

Without physical and emotional well-being it is difficult to realise ideas properly. I know I am storing pressure for future creative outpourings as I follow instructions to sit still and give healing a chance. It is impossible now to learn patience, I just have to drive on to realise as many of the ideas as I can over the coming years.

Meanwhile the current months of being walking wounded present different challenges for me. I now have time to think and space to create free of pressure. I pray for the years I need to tackle the ideas and hope the answers are visually strong, interesting and involving for others.

I hope that those design leaders who I see as walking wounded will not wait until their health breaks too, before taking the time out for themselves.

Words and photos: Patrick Goff

Premier Inn Germany - Jeremy Scarlett Blog

Guest Blog – JSJ Design’s Jeremy Scarlett: Germany’s first Premier Inn

1000 591 Guest Blog

Following the news Germany’s first Premier Inn officially opened its doors to the public last month, interior designer and Partner at JSJ Design Jeremy Scarlett gives us the inside track on the project…

The project originally came about after I was approached by Patrick Dempsey; at the time he was MD of Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants (WHR) and the company had just acquired a property in Germany.

Premier Inn Germany - Jeremy Scarlett JSJ Design

It was a big step forward in expanding Premier Inn throughout Europe and represented a brand new market. Premier Inn always had a view to bring a local designer on board; having a source of local knowledge and supplier contacts was a no-brainer. The challenge was striking the balance between what was right for the local market while communicating the existing brand.

Premier Inn Germany - Jeremy Scarlett JSJ Design

At this point I was asked to come on board as a consultant, tasked with overseeing the German designers. I’ve worked on several Premier Inn projects over the years and have a pretty in-depth understanding of the brand. The thought was if JSJ Design were involved alongside the local designers, Premier Inn would get the best of both worlds.

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That’s how it started and soon evolved into collaboration with the German designers JOI Design. We worked together to form a concept that was right for Frankfurt and the wider German market, while also representing the best elements of Premier Inn.

Premier Inn Germany - Jeremy Scarlett JSJ Design

We also developed some elements of the brand that didn’t really exist before; in the UK Premier Inn isn’t concerned about appearing British as it’s on home turf, but in Germany it became the point of difference. For us as the designers, it was a question of how to bring across the ‘Britishness’ of the brand without being too obvious or cheesy.

Premier Inn Germany - Jeremy Scarlett JSJ Design

The overall look and feel has been loosely described as a ‘contemporary British library’ theme, which came from an exploration of what it means to be British. Literature plays a big part in our history, from Shakespeare to Lewis Carroll, and we played with the illustratable and quotable elements of several classic texts in the design. We also incorporated traditional furniture styles such as the Chesterfield sofas, alongside accessories such as colourful porcelain versions of the iconic British Bulldog.

Premier Inn Germany - Jeremy Scarlett JSJ Design

The reaction so far has been really good. I’ve heard some comments from German members of the Premier Inn team who say while the British elements are very subtle they are also very distinct. While its not overwhelming, people realize it’s a British hotel and the fact that is understated is what makes it work.


HiB - staying ahead of the curve in 2016

Guest Blog – HiB: Stay ahead of the ‘curve’ in 2016

938 511 Guest Blog

Moving on from last year’s trend for angular, minimalist bathrooms, HiB has predicted that the next 12 months will see a distinguishable shift towards soft, organic curves.

Steve Kaye, marketing director at HiB said: “Bathrooms are continuing to move away from a conventional angular feel, with consumers abandoning flat doors and sharp square corners in favour of natural curves.”

“With the right design and planning, curves can create a feeling of space by softening the edges of the bathroom. Plus, by mixing and matching the rounded corners of their bathroom furniture, consumers can create a look that is truly unique.”

Most recently HiB introduced a variation on its best-selling flagship Globe mirror – the Orb. Simple yet striking in design, the Orb mirror features a contemporary, curved form and elegant backlit glow, adding a soft yet dramatic impact making the bathroom beautiful.

HiB's best-selling flagship Globe mirror – the Orb

HiB’s best-selling flagship Globe mirror – the Orb

Steve adds: “As with all HiB mirrors, the Orb range is fitted with a heated pad to keep it steam free and crystal clear at all times. Also, each mirror includes the latest in LED technology resulting in not only a brilliant illumination but optimal energy saving and is sensor activated – for ultimate ease of use.”

The Orb mirror is available in two sizes (H70 x W50cm) and (H80 x W60cm) and can be hung landscape or portrait.

For further information please visit www.hib.co.uk

Little Roman Blind Shop - interiors trends 2016

Guest Blog – Little Roman Blind Shop: Hotel interiors trends 2016

966 525 Guest Blog

Deciding on the interior of your hotel rooms can be a tricky decision. You need something on trend, but something that also has lasting power for cost efficiency.

Finding trends that work through the seasons and reflect your brand identity doesn’t have to take months of forecasting. As part of this week’s guest blog, the Little Roman Blind Shop has released their trend guide for 2016, which features a selection of gorgeous trends for you to work with and a preview of which can be viewed below…

Marble majesty
When you think of marble, it’s hard not to imagine a grandiose five star hotel reception area. Traditionally, marble flooring and furnishings have been a symbol of luxury. However in small doses, marble can be used in more modern interiors to combine minimalist looks with a slight twist of opulence. Light and airy, marble adds a well needed touch of texture to chic monochrome rooms. A great way to break up the interior in your hotel, marble pattern instantly catches the eye. It’s not just the natural material that can liven up your interior, try finding bedding, blinds and furnishings that simply use the same colours or are printed with the distinct marble effect pattern.

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Living terrarium
Forget the outdoor/indoor trend. Instead of taking inspiration from the exotic tropics, take a small snap shot of the outdoors with tiny terrariums. To use this trend you’ll have to swerve the typical floral patterns that perk up throughout the summer season. Use green elements and blend a variety of shades to add depth and focus on the structure of plants, rather than their blooms.

Little Roman Blind Shop - interiors trends 2016

Go for a combination of ditsy patterns and large scale motifs, just like the changing scales you’d see in an actual terrarium. A little landscape of prickly cactus and succulents, your rooms can take inspiration from the small world captured in a terrarium. For an extra nod to the trend, experiment with clashing textures that reflect the little life you find in your terrarium. With silky soft sheets, try chunky knitted cushions or embellished throw cushions that spark textural conflict.

Copper calling
In comparison to the first trend, copper may not seem as majestic. However, copper has become the go-to metallic for trend-setters this season. Understated and less opulent than its gold and silver siblings, copper offers a more downplayed sense of glamour. It doesn’t shout, it shimmers and dances in the light to offer a warm hue to your hotel bedrooms.

Little Roman Blind Shop - interiors trends 2016

These three trends are perfect for all year round wonder. They liven up hotel interior and bring it into the new season, with a few traditional touches thrown in for good measure! Use these trends sparingly to add a subtle twist to your current interior, or go all out for a new look that guests are sure to love.