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Guest Blog: Youri Sawerschel – is Zoku the next Citizen M?

999 628 Guest Blog

Solicited for his creative thinking skills, Youri Sawerschel has been involved with projects focused on creating, launching and managing brands in Europe, China and the Middle-East. He has worked with brands as diverse as Kempinski Hotels, UBS, EPFL and Mondelez. He discusses below what we can expect from the brand Zoku…

The success of Citizen M, Mama Shelter or Ace Hotel has been watched by the entire industry. As hoteliers around the world are raising their game, we ask ourselves – who will set the new benchmark? We picked the hotel brands that, we believe, have the potential to become the next hits. Discover Zoku.

Located in the Eastern Canal District of Amsterdam, Zoku is a new brand that blurs the lines between hotel, apartment and office. We spoke to Zoku co-founders Hans Meyer and Marc Jongerius to understand their vision. To stand out in the dynamic Amsterdam market, the two co-founders knew they needed a good story.

“Hotels don’t sell a bed anymore but an emotion,” says Hans Meyer. That’s why the brand launched in 2016 with the mission to “connect people and ideas.” To make this position clear from its opening, Zoku partnered with Startup Fest Europe to host the conference attendees and to organise learning and networking events.

The hotel’s name meaning “family, tribe or clan” in Japanese, Zoku places great emphasis on the common spaces. Everything within the hotel is designed to foster social interactions – From a giant kitchen to communal working spaces and a rooftop garden. The room design is inspired by a functional Asian micro-apartment.

It combines a living and a working area in just 25m2 – perfect for long-stay customers. To open 50 new properties in the next 10 years, Zoku relies on a copy-paste approach.

Yet, “finding the right balance between standardisation and personalisation is a key concern,” explain Meyer and Jongerius. They are now working on a prototype for the next generation of Zoku rooms. “Beta is our most important value,” says Meyer.

Indeed, that sounds more like a tech startup than a hotel company.

Originally published on Youri Sawerschel is a Branding Expert and Founder of Creative Supply, a strategic branding agency based in Zurich.

Perfect Hotel Room

IHS 2017: ‘Perfect Hotel Bedroom’ survey launches

750 500 Daniel Fountain

The luxury and boutique hotel sector’s most comprehensive and inspirational business event, the Independent Hotel Show has launched a survey to reveal the consumer’s perfect hotel bedroom in partnership with Chic Retreats, an online marketplace to book independent boutique villas and hotels from round the globe.

The Perfect Hotel Bedroom will be featured at the Independent Hotel Show, 17-18 October, Olympia, in a dedicated space on the show floor. Show exhibitors’ products will furnish the room and visiting hoteliers, journalists and industry thought-leaders will be invited to get “in bed” to share opinions about the room.

Designed to provide independent hoteliers with an understanding of the modern consumer’s wants and needs for a UK luxury hotel stay, the survey will capture lighting system preferences, soft furnishings desires, technology needs, storage requirements and much more. Additional research and industry comment will be included in a final report to be available for hoteliers to take away at the show.

Independent Hotel Show Event Director Miranda Martin says: “We are excited to be presenting such an insightful and potentially controversial feature at this year’s Independent Hotel Show. The Perfect Hotel Bedroom is a collaborative venture that will provide the UK’s best hoteliers with invaluable observations. It will also encourage conversation about design and functionality and bring together our visitors and exhibitors. We are delighted to be partnering with Chic Retreats whose expertise in boutique hotel stays for the discerning traveller will be integral to the success of the project and another successful Independent Hotel Show.”

Amanda Dyjecinski, Chic Retreats, CMO, says: “We are always on the look out for beautiful charming independent boutique hotels to add to our growing marketplace. The Perfect Hotel Bedroom survey results will highlight the features and little details that our ever evolving, modern discerning guests love, so we ensure we partner with hotels that deliver on this.”

On completing the survey, consumers will be entered into a prize draw to win an incredible two-night stay shopping package at boutique The Portobello Hotel, London. Follow @IndHotelShow for up-to-date information on the show and the exhibitors.

Skye Hotels

Australia’s newest hotel brand – Skye – to debut in Sydney

940 458 Daniel Fountain

The Crown Group, the award-winning developer of distinctive residential and commercial properties across Australia, is putting the finishing touches on its new hotel brand, Skye Hotel Suites in Parramatta.

Set to open in early 2017, Skye Hotel Suites offers 72 luxury suites overlooking Sydney within the new V by Crown Group, a 28-storey luxury residential and commercial development known as Parramatta’s “Vertical Village.”

Skye Hotels

“We can’t wait to welcome our first guests to the new Skye Hotel Suites,” said Iwan Sunito, co-founder and CEO of Crown Group. “As we did with our innovative residential offerings, we are creating a distinctive hotel experience, delivering a new style of urban luxury that meaningfully connects world travelers with personalised, memorable experiences.”

Skye Hotels

Offering unrivaled urban luxury for discerning guests, Skye Hotel Suites brings together the best elements of hospitality: the warmth and personalised service of a boutique hotel; the grandeur and amenities of a luxury hotel; the spaciousness and familiarity of a local apartment; and the relaxing escape of a resort. The hotel is located within V by Crown Group, a distinctive new Sydney landmark designed by Allen Jack + Cottier and Koichi Takada Architects. The tower houses a diverse mix of 590 residence apartments and hotel suites along with an outdoor, 25m swimming pool, fitness centre, entertainment rooms and outdoor spaces.

Skye Hotels
Skye Hotel Suites features just 72 luxury studio, one-and-two-bedroom suites overlooking Sydney. Guests will enjoy access to V by Crown Group’s resort-style pool and sauna, state-of-the-art fitness centre, business centre and conference room facilities, along with an alfresco dining and retail piazza. The stylish bar on level 26 is Parramatta’s highest bar, offering a spacious open-air terrace and spectacular 270-degree views of Sydney’s skyline, the Harbour Bridge and the Blue Mountains. In addition, famed chef Neil Perry is opening one of his popular Burger Project restaurants in the tower.

Skye Hotels

Parramatta, in Western Sydney, is enjoying rapid growth fueled by private and government investment. Skye Hotel Suites, located in the heart of Parramatta, is ideally suited for business travelers. The tower is conveniently situated at the corner of Macquarie and Marsden streets, less than 300m from Parramatta Square and a short walk from the train station, Westfield Parramatta and the Heritage Parklands.

Sleep 2016: Gensler wins competition for new hotel room concept

Sleep 2016: Gensler wins competition for new hotel room concept

999 687 Daniel Fountain

International architecture, design and planning firm Gensler has won the annual Sleep Set competition to design a new guest room concept for the future at Sleep 2016 – the annual hotel design event.

Designed to fulfil the demands of a new demographic of hotel guest – termed as the Digital Avant-Garde by research association Sinus-Institut, the vision explores how the space will be occupied, anticipating and exceeding the needs of its inhabitants, while shifting the focus away from the space and even its design.

The Digital Avant-Garde are demarcated by a set of shared values that have superseded traditional socio-demographic features and social class. As globalised, non-conformist travellers in constant search of new, enriching encounters, cultural engagement, knowledge and inspiration; the Digital Avant-Gardes are creative expeditionists.

Sleep 2016: Gensler wins competition for new hotel room concept

As an experience-driven tribe, Gensler has designed a guest-room and communal areas for a community focused hotel, in a hypothetical south-east London location. Underpinned by the fundamental tenets of socialisation and an authentic immersion into the local culture that encourages creativity and craftsmanship, the concept is divided into five overlapping spaces.

The primary concept centres around a ‘social core’ – an ever-changing, dynamic space that reimagines shared areas such as hotel lobbies, lounges and bars. Inviting the vibrant cultural capital from outside the hotel in, the space reinvigorates the communal areas and signifies a departure from the isolation often perpetuated in hotels, acting as core infrastructure that fosters the socio-cultural exchange of ideas, skills and experiences between guests and locals.

Operating around a high bench, the social core has the capacity to transform into a sturdy, resilient work space for local creatives and artists; a workshop in which to learn new skills and share inspiration, and a communal kitchen through integrated induction heating within the tile top. The communal kitchen encourages guests to cook with local produce from nearby street markets, share a meal and recipes, as well as a flexibility that allows the space to become a lounge or bar depending on need. It is a space for exchange.

Sleep 2016: Gensler wins competition for new hotel room concept

Within the guestroom, Gensler has continued the theme of flexibility. The bedroom space is adaptable; in one iteration, two single bed frames can be joined together to create a double bed for sleeping; as a second alternative, the two beds can be separated to create twin beds or one single bed; thirdly, the two frames can be stacked on top of each other to create a sofa for socialising or working. In all arrangements, guests can adjust the space to satisfy their living styles, reflecting a desire amongst guests to participate in their changing environment.

Crucially, Gensler has jettisoned the inclusion of a TV screen in the guest-room, instead installing sockets and charge points to ensure guests can access the personal technology that they carry with them.

Sleep 2016: Gensler wins competition for new hotel room concept

Catering to the Digital Avant-Garde’s preference for ethically sourced produce and products, Gensler has incorporated Salvatori Lithoverde tiles in the bathroom – the world’s first recycled stone texture made from 99% of stone offcuts, as well as felt for the walls and ceiling of the bedroom, that is made from sliced BuzziSpace panels, upcycled to make a new material. Independent designers also feature throughout the specification to promote craftsmanship and entrepreneurship in London, evident in the moulded leather stools by Tortie Hoare, organic amplifiers by Camilla Lee, timber crafted side-tables by Dunia Tigris, glass-blown vessels by Pia Wustenberg and Surface Tiles & Condiment Set by Jennifer Gray.

Claire Richmond, senior associate at Gensler, comments: “As the preeminent hotel design competition, Sleep Set is a fantastic accolade for Gensler.

“Designing for the Digital Avant-Garde, or as we term it, the Expeditionist, provided the opportunity to consider how to ‘socialise’ the hotel experience. Our analysis indicated that our tribe is often averse to staying in luxury hotels because, while they have a level of disposable income, they aren’t able to impact their environment and engage with local cultures as successfully within a five-star, service-driven hotel.

Sleep 2016: Gensler wins competition for new hotel room concept

“Our concept is a re-imagination of the traditional hotel lobby, lounge and bar. These spaces are transformed into a platform for the community itself; for local illustrators, weavers, potters, joiners, jewellers, makers, leather workers, writers, graphic designers and numerous other creatives. Therefore, it is essential that this is based in a creative part of a city. This is not a static environment. By sharing ideas, experimenting and working together, the hotel will develop with the community.

“Our tribe forages for compelling experiences and rich encounters, so we have created a setting that actively encourages the collision of guests, locals, skills, crafts and ideas. We want the guests, staff and community to feel encouraged and empowered so they can learn from each other, to learn from the cities they visit and live in; to absorb the energy they exude.”

Modulex to present 'Sleep Walking' at Sleep 2016

‘Sleep Walking’ with Modulex signage at Sleep 2016

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Drawing on thoughtful analogies between the psychologies of how people navigate around hotels and trade shows, Modulex is designing an entirely new concept for Sleep entitled ‘Sleep Walking’.

Embracing the use of landmarks, icons and other signage, Modulex will be disrupting unconscious behaviours and sparking curiosity to entice and reassure visitors as they wend their way through Sleep’s myriad experiences.

'Sleep Walking with Modulex' at Sleep 2016

Research tells us that on average 15% of the population experience sleepwalking or parasomnia. That’s a lot of people, but how many more spend some of their waking moments ‘metaphorically’ sleepwalking? Moving through environments whilst drifting from being consciously aware of surroundings to unconsciously passing through spaces, hotels or even trade shows oblivious to what is happening around them?

'Sleep Walking with Modulex' at Sleep 2016

It is this state of dreaminess which inspired ‘Sleepwalking with Modulex’ with the goal to help Sleep 2016 attendees make the most of their visit through intelligent wayfinding. After all hotels and trade shows have a lot in common – visitors who return year after year, following the same routes and visiting the same areas alongside first timers with no previous knowledge and keen to experience all a hotel or show has to offer, whilst optimising revenue generators.

'Sleep Walking with Modulex' at Sleep 2016

Good wayfinding is intuitive. Seamlessly integrating with the architecture and interiors. To deliver it means firstly understanding the users of the space – frequent or first time visitors, demographics, their needs and wants, their state of mind and their level of concentration or distraction.

Next comes the physical understanding of the built environment. Primary and secondary routes need to be established, decision making or ‘dither’ points noted as this is where it may be necessary to ‘wake people up’ so as not to miss an important turn or event. Are there any landmarks which can aid wayfinding? Has lighting been considered and reading distance and sightlines calculated?

Only then can you begin to design. Selecting materials, colours, graphics and typefaces which ‘blend’ and where necessary contrast with the environment.
Sleepwalking with Modulex will bring the science of wayfinding into focus, informing and guiding visitors to Sleep 2016 so that you don’t miss anything – whatever your conscious state.
+44 (0) 1604 684020

Null Stern - open-air hotel Switzerland

Opinion: One-room, open-air hotel – gimmick or the future?

749 447 Daniel Fountain

Having stayed in countless hotels, I am aware that the quality of a guest’s sleeping experience is one of the most important aspects of a stay – if not the most important.

So getting the choice of bed, mattress and linens right takes thought and time. But if that’s the hotel’s only offering, you might think the hotelier’s job has been made considerably easier.

For ‘conceptual artists’ Frank and Patrik Riklin, that’s exactly what’s happened. With the help of hospitality professional Daniel Charbonnier, their latest brainchild is the one-room, open-air Null Stern ‘hotel’ on a Swiss mountainside. The room has no walls, no ceiling and – aside from a few side-tables and lamps – no amenities. Guests must use a public toilet some 10 minutes’ walk away…

It’s the second accommodation offering from the pair after they launched a similar, ‘zero-star’ project in an underground, former nuclear bunker. And this one is going for an eye-watering £154 per night – which does include a butler service.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Charbonnier said: “Even though this version is radically different from the first one in the nuclear bunker, the essence and the spirit of the concept remains the same.

“To put the guest at the centre of the experience and to focus on the intangible by reducing everything else to the minimum.”

Concepts come and unsuccessful ones go, but several have stuck around through the years – think boutiques or technologically-focussed properties. Personally, however, I do think this is one ambitious project too far. The unpredictably of European weather aside (you can cancel with short notice dependant on weather), a hotel is the sum of several smaller parts that go to make an experience for the guest.

Strip away amenities, décor, structures and staff – you can’t really call this a hotel. More a glorified and over-priced camping spot in a Swiss field. I’m all for innovation in hotel design and architecture, but call me old-fashioned I do feel that should include walls and ceilings…