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Feature: A green (and happy) recovery for hotels?

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Feature: A green (and happy) recovery for hotels?

If there’s one phrase that’s inspired equal parts optimism and frustration this year in hotel design, it’s the idea of a green recovery, writes Amrit Naru, Studio Director, ADP Architecture

ADP Third Space Concept

Last July, the UK government’s announcement of a funding boost to help with green industry was met with a mixed reception, and while the principle of green recovery has won wide support, there’s understandable skepticism about whether government and industry leaders can commit to going far enough.

And yet this looks like our best chance. It’s impossible to ignore the negative impact of the pandemic – but if we look forward, taking the new roadmap for lifting lockdown as a starting point for recovery, it’s possible that we can use it as an opportunity to build a very different kind of post-pandemic landscape.

The effects of climate change are increasing exponentially, from extreme weather events to desertification and species extinction. All industries participate in a system that’s allowed this to happen, and everyone therefore has a part to play in helping to stop it. The hospitality sector is certainly no exception: our work reaches communities all over the world, with more than 200,000 hotels generating an annual revenue of more than £400 billion, and employing people of every imaginable background. By interrogating how that money is raised, who it benefits, and what processes it drives, we can make sizeable and measurable change. And with the hospitality sector set to bounce back more dramatically than almost any other industry, we’re uniquely positioned to lead the way towards a sustainable, inclusive future for our planet and its people.

There’s another side to this story as well. Personal wellbeing has been one of the hardest-hit victims of the pandemic: the Centre for Mental Health estimates that up to 10 million people in the UK will need new or additional mental health support due to the crisis. I recently spoke on a panel addressing how hotels can support wellbeing in the future, with ideas ranging from room size and air quality to back-of-house facilities (a reminder that wellbeing is as important to staff as it is to visitors). It’s certainly my view that sustainability and wellbeing go hand-in-hand, and it’s this approach that ADP takes on many of our projects.

Image caption: Mixed-use leisure sketch scheme in Oxford. | Image credit: ADP ArchitectureIn fact, it’s precisely this idea which led to us developing a new tool that measures three key factors in the wider impact of a project: sustainability, belonging and engagement. The first is all about how a building relates to its environment. Does the project’s energy use support a zero-carbon strategy? Does the project support local wildlife, and encourage sustainable travel? The second – belonging – centres on the ways in which buildings connect people with places: a key consideration for any hotel. Thirdly, we consider whether a project is engaging, and whether it can provide that boost to wellbeing which is sorely needed in a post-pandemic world.

Answering these questions requires a degree of creativity in finding solutions, but it also demands honesty in acknowledging where we could have done better. This brings us back to that point about the green recovery – as an industry, we can be optimistic about our capabilities, but we need to be self-critical. It’s not enough simply to say that we support a green recovery, or even that we’re taking particular steps in that direction. We need to measure outcomes. We need to show that what we’re doing is actually making a difference.

This was a problem we encountered time and again when creating the SBE (“Sustainability, Belonging, Engagement”) toolkit. Identifying what needs to change is one thing; measuring it in an objective, consistent way is another. After months spent poring over research and testing our ideas against a range of our own projects, we created a toolkit which broke these “big issues” down into concise factors such as water use or connectivity to nature, and then broke each of these down further – creating a questionnaire which could output an easy-to-read score.

Questions cover every aspect of a project’s potential impact. Has the community been involved in the design? Are there measures to mitigate flood risk or the effects of climate change? What are the average floor-to-ceiling heights? The result is a robust and usable toolkit, one which ADP is now using on every single project we work on.

The SBE Toolkit is very much our own, but it reflects wider trends in the hospitality industry and beyond. One of these key trends – as I’ve already mentioned – is wellbeing. As we move out of lockdown and nationwide restrictions, hoteliers will need to think carefully about how they can balance safety measures with a sensibility that helps guests feel welcome and at ease. One approach is to use the WELL Building Standard, a certification process that takes a detailed account of the ways in which a building can promote health, safety and general wellbeing.

The advantage of using a recognised standard like WELL is that not only can you trust that the process is relevant and meaningful – your visitors and staff can, too. In fact, as tourists take a wider range of factors into account when looking for a hotel, it’s looking increasingly possible that measurements like the WELL Building Standard will become an important part of marketing. The ability to research a number of hotels quickly online has allowed people to consider factors like carbon footprint or media reputation in their search for the perfect stay – so it doesn’t seem far-fetched to expect wellbeing to play a growing role in the future.

A second key trend is flexibility. Working from home isn’t going away with the restrictions. Our experience living with Covid-19 has taught us that we can work from home more, and that doing so carries unique advantages in a society which is ever more globally connected. Hotels are going to play a special role in this “new normal” (apologies for using that phrase, but in this case it genuinely applies). As travel patterns resume, the technology which has allowed us to work from home will allow us to work from anywhere, including local coffee shops, leisure venues, and of course hotels. There will doubtless be a growing market here for co-working spaces built into the wider context of a hotel, as well as adjacent and related spaces such as serviced apartments, aparthotels, and long-stays.

Finally – and bringing us full circle – the word “sustainability” is going to be on everybody’s lips more than ever in the years to come. The pandemic has forced us to think more introspectively about the impact of our travel, and while the travel industry is predicted to come back strongly after restrictions lift, it’s surely a good thing that travellers will take that more thoughtful approach into the future with them. Thoughtful travel is bound to lead to more sustainable travel, and with sustainable travel comes a focus on sustainable hotels.

It’s therefore important that, as an industry, we’re as thoughtful as the people we serve. Hotels are currently among the most resource-intensive commercial buildings in terms of energy and water use per square foot. We need to work together to address this now, as we restructure our ways of operating for a post-pandemic world. We need to reach out to other areas of the tourism industry – from ecotourism to local workforces and communities – to form a united front against climate change. We need to be role models, even when it’s most difficult. The pandemic has presented unparalleled challenges for the hotel industry. As we emerge blinking into the light of a new world, it’s time to seize the opportunity to provide hotels which support the environment and the people they impact. If we meet this opportunity head-on, others are sure to follow us on the road to a green (and happy) recovery.

ADP Architecture is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here.

Main image caption: ADP Third Space concept. | Image credit: ADP Architecture

5 minutes with: Paul Zway on ‘The Private Collection’

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
5 minutes with: Paul Zway on ‘The Private Collection’

To understand The Private Collection by Exclusive Tents, editor Hamish Kilburn sits down with the brand’s founder, Paul Zway…

Built with couples, families or small groups in mind – as well as for poolside, day beds and beach use – The Private Collection of innovative tents by Exclusive Tents are designed for tomorrows travellers.

Uniquely, these small-scale tents are created to be placed close to each other and still be able to maintain the social barrier that will allow for safety and luxurious comfort.

To understand more about the collection – and the man behind the Exclusive Tents brand – I caught with Paul Zway.

“In this Post-Covid world, only glamping offers the security of a natural form of social distancing.” – Paul Zway, Founder, Exclusive Tents.

Hamish Kilburn: In 16 years, why do you believe the demand for luxury tented accommodation has increased the way it has?

Paul Zway: There has been an ever-enlarging segment of people who want to get back closer to nature not only to find harmony but to also find freedom in space which Glamping naturally offers.

There is also an element of wellness and comfort that comes to those willing to experience living in a luxury tent whilst being immersed in and connected with/to nature. In this Post-Covid world, only glamping offers the security of a natural form of social distancing.

HK: What makes these new tents ideal for social distancing?

PZ: These are relatively compact tents of which the two smallest are five-sided (pentagon) and the other two are respectively rectangular and hexagonal tents. All have the luxury features of our larger Exclusive Collection of tents but they are small and private enough to be placed close to each other and still be able to maintain the social barrier.

All wall panels can be raised or lowered based on how they are spaced and placed in a grouping which will allow for privacy as well for any views where applicable. All windows have screens and roll-up canvas flaps as well as clear PVC window overlays which creates privacy and security and allows natural light to flow in.

Image credit: Exclusive Tents

Provision is also made for a ceiling fan/light mount and the curtains and inner ceiling liner finish the interior off with elegance. The two smaller five-side pentagon tents and also be arranged side by side or back to front for different views either separately or as a combination. These Private Collection Tents were designed for couples, family or small groups as well as for poolside, day beds and beach.

HK: From your vantage point over the industry, will public areas in hotels ever be the same again?

PZ: Most certainly public areas, particularly in new developments, will evolve and change with these changed times but some older establishments will have difficulties, be it budgetary or structurally, trying to evolve. This evolution, I believe, is only in its infancy but will find a more of a natural evolution in the glamping sector of hospitality.

HK: What were the design challenges when creating these new social distancing tents?

The entire idea was to create a compact tent using our existing superior frame structure along with our high-quality fabrics. Various designs and shapes were explored, but we finally settled on the pentagram because of its uneven shape and that it could be reversed to give an alternative view so it was based both on vision in and vision out.

Most of the design effort went into the two smaller tents in the Private Collection of tents, the largest being a hexagonal shape and 142 sq ft in area. The tents can be treated  with fire retardant are rated for strong winds and can be insulated and are truly four-season tents.

Image credit: Exclusive Tents

HK: How have you ensured that luxury and comfort is not scarified in the design of this product?

Every effort was made to ensure that all the luxury features from the Exclusive Collection was included into these new tents with the only difference being that all sides can be rolled up to create a gazebo if required.

The Private Collection tents can also be insulated and have the same various colour options as the Exclusive Collection.

HK: Can you tell us more about the materials you use and how long they are expected to last?

PZ: We use only the best quality materials be it the steel or the fabrics and we also use the best thermal/acoustic insulation available for this kind of application. With the correct maintenance our tents have a longevity of at least 15-20 years.

HK: How do these tents challenge conventional tented accommodation in their design?

PZ: Our tents are fully “All Season” tents with a 4-layer roof and can be used in extreme heat down to bitterly cold conditions. Our roof framing system is very unique and robust making our tents do extremely well in very strong winds and heavy snow. The load bearing capabilities from the interior roof is also incredibly good for heavy fittings. We also have a range of insulation options and all tents can me made with fire retardant. We also offer a rainwater collection system along with a solution for fire suppression sprinklers.

HK: We loved your ‘biography through tents’ piece that we published recently. What advice would you give your younger self if you could?

PZ: I have always had to reinvent myself and have battled the odds on many occasions without any formal business education but always prevailed. I don’t regret much because I seldom look back and am always looking and moving forward. That being said, the only advise I would have given myself back then in the day was to tread way more carefully when stepping through the bush with snakes around it.

HK: Some would argue that your products are limited to safari regions. What would you say to that?  

“Our Exclusive Collection of tents are not typical safari tents.” – Paul Zway, Founder, Exclusive Tents.

PZ: Granted, our Safari Collection which includes the Serengeti, Savanna and Livingston tents are all typical traditional Safari tents however we have these style tents standing in regions all over the world.

Our Exclusive Collection of tents are not typical safari tents but they too crossover well into typical safari regions. Our tents are built to specific requirements and this is most commonly related to climate. We are working currently on a tent that must weather cold conditions down to -45C which is the type of challenge that we excel in. Our tents are designed to be functional all year round and do not need to be winterised.

Exclusive Tents International is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here

Main image credit: Exclusive Tents

Reasons why you might sleep better in a hotel room

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Reasons why you might sleep better in a hotel room

With new research showing that 34 per cent of Britons admitted booking trips or holidays just to catch up on sleep, Silentnight Group’s sleep expert Dr Nerina explains why this might be…

When we’re checking out of a hotel, we often feel rested, refreshed and ready to return to our normal lifestyle.

This is usually down to the fact we’ve had better quality sleep than we would have had in our own beds at home. According to new research, 34 per cent of Britons admit booking trips or holidays just to catch up on sleep, so guaranteeing a great night’s sleep for guests is a top priority for the hotel industry. But what exactly is it about a hotel environment that leads guests to enjoy better sleep? As the UK most trusted bed brand, Silentnight know what matters when it comes to changing how people sleep for the better.

The perfect escape

As a hotel guest, you’d never walk into your room and find toys, dirty washing and a cold mug of tea on the side. Hotel rooms are clean, calming and clutter-free environments that are designed for relaxation and a great night’s sleep without the constant reminders of your busy life.

Silentnight’s Sleep Expert, Dr Nerina says “Bedrooms should equal rest and relaxation so it’s important to declutter and tidy up. When traces of work, the laundry basket or children’s toys are out of sight, you’re able to leave the day behind and enter into a deep sleep.”

During a hotel stay, guests can fall asleep and wake up without a to-do list on their minds, allowing them to truly rest, unwind and enjoy their stay.

Image credit: Silentnight Group

The perfect environment for sleep

Hotel rooms are well equipped for quality sleep. Many hotel rooms are fitted with air conditioning, and it’s been proven that rooms at a cooler temperature can help you fall asleep quicker and wake up feeling more refreshed. Lighting can also have a significant impact on sleep so many hotel rooms have black out curtains or blinds to help you drift off easily.

“There’s an optimum temperature for good sleep and it’s around 19°C. Remember; this is all about how you feel and what you need. The same can go for darkness in the room: it’s important to be able to create a level of darkness that feels right for you.” Dr Nerina says.

Providing these options for your guests is a great way to ensure the best possible night’s sleep away from their home environment.

Options to rest your head

Not only do hotels allow guests to personalise the temperature and lighting, they often provide many options for guests to rest their heads, too.

Most hotels provide guests with a variety of pillow firmness choices so they can find the perfect solution for their sleep. Having the correct firmness rating for a pillow can help ease any aches and pains and promotes healthy spinal alignment. Replacing pillows at home when they’ve become tired and flat is often overlooked, whereas in the hotel industry, pillows are upgraded regularly which can ensure guests always have the best quality slumber.

That fresh sheet feeling

Everyone knows how good it feels to sleep on fresh bedding. Hotels have stringent cleaning policies, which have become increasingly important in light of the recent pandemic which means bedding is washed very regularly. That means a hotel guest will probably experience fresh sheets much more in a hotel than they might do at home.

Replacing bedding is another task that can be easily neglected at home, and it can sometimes be the cause of a troublesome night’s sleep. Dr Nerina advises, “if you wake up feeling unrested and uncomfortable, it could be time for some new bedding. Bedding plays a massive role in the quality of sleep by providing all-important comfort.”

Hotels should replace and clean bedding including duvets and sheets often to keep them in the best condition for their guests.

Mattresses made for the best sleep

People and sleep come in many forms and too many people are compromising on their sleep. Inspired by a nation of unique sleepers, Silentnight make it their mission to change how you sleep for the better. A hotel’s priority is the comfort of their guests. The best hotels will invest in top quality mattresses to form the basis of a great night’s sleep.

Mattresses should provide both comfort and support, so guests can sink-in and drift off easily. With over 70 years of experience, Silentnight Group’s range of hospitality mattresses from the UK’s most trusted bed brands are the perfect solution for a great night’s sleep. They tick every box for quality and safety with all of our products are tested to the highest of UK standards, for complete peace of mind.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Surely the best part about a hotel stay is breakfast the next morning? Eating breakfast isn’t just important to stop you going hungry and giving you energy for the day ahead, it also improves the quality and quantity of your sleep.

“Breakfast is really important because eating breakfast activates your circadian clock and allows your body to produce the sleep hormone melatonin,” Dr Nerina says. “People who eat a proper breakfast find it less difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, wake up with more energy and are less inclined to hit the snooze button.”

Whether it’s for a fleeting visit or a longer break, work trips or family fun, a hotel stay can be a haven in the midst of busy living for guests. A good night’s sleep is crucial so hospitality providers should pay extra attention to guaranteeing five-star sleep for their guests.

Main image credit: Silentnight Group

Editor Checks In: The hospitality industry fights back

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Editor Checks In: The hospitality industry fights back

In his monthly column, editor Hamish Kilburn, like others, is self-isolating. He is reflecting on where it all went wrong – and, crucially, how we can make it right again for the hospitality industry. In the eye of the COVID–19 storm, which will pass, he finds himself praising the hospitality industry for showing compassion and versatility in uncertain times…

It’s amazing – and equally devastating – to witness just how quickly things can change on the international hospitality scene. Just a few weeks ago, I was on stage at HRC in London presenting to a crowded audience how, because of new technology and the evolutions of social media, competition is no longer just on a hotel’s doorstep. And here I am, writing my monthly Editor’s Letter, as the United Kingdom, like other countries around the world, is in lockdown following the Pandemic outbreak of COVID-19. The doors into nations are firmly closed, social distancing guidelines have been set and new measures are being put into action in order to slow down the spread of the virus.

“Mother nature has simply had enough – she has sent us all to our rooms to think about what we have done.”

Meanwhile, face-to-face interactions, which have been a key element for our socially driven industry since the dawn of time, are restricted, and we are all well and truly on our knees. Major events such as Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam, Clerkenwell Design Week, Salone del Mobile in Milan and Hotel Summit were all compelled to postpone when the outbreak became a pandemic. Even the Olympics, the largest sporting event on the planet, is stuck in the traffic jam of uncertainty and will not make it time for 2020.

Mother nature has simply had enough – she has sent us all to our rooms to think about what we have done ­– and it’s time to reflect on how we can respond to the global catastrophe.

Lessons for the wellbeing of earth can surely be learned from this. In just days of the countries closing their borders and going into lockdown, both China and Italy recorded major declines in nitrogen dioxide – a serious air pollutant and powerful warming chemical – as a direct result of reducing industrial activity and car journeys.

Elsewhere, locals in Venice noticed a significant improvement in the water quality of the iconic canals that flow through through the city as the area was cleared of tourists.

With millions of people now in isolation around the world, social media and technology is playing a leading role in order to help people interact, entertain and be kept informed of news as well as vital government instructions.

“In times of crisis, we become stronger than we thought we were.”

Neighbours have united once more, with residents seen singing and applauding health workers from balconies. As I type, my best friend, who owns her own tattoo studio, is currently delivering vital medicine to the sick and elderly in and around her community in the wake of having to temporarily close down her local business. In times of crisis, we become stronger than we thought we were.

The selfless acts of kindness don’t end there. The hospitality industry, despite being one of the most affected in this crisis, is fighting hard to prevent the spread of COVID–19, and I am totally overwhelmed with pride to see how adaptable our market is. One by one, hotel chains, brands and boutique independents are unveiling how they innovatively plan to help fight the invisible enemy of COVID-19.

The last few weeks have raised a lot of questions about the future design of hotels: should we encourage guests to gather in public spaces, should we introduce working-from-home measures and is touchless technology the way forward? As things are changing day-by-day as we are all told to #stayhome, this will no-doubt make us think deeper about how we can meaningfully design and open better social spaces for all.

To be honest, I am at a loss for words, which, for anyone who knows me, is really saying something. I cannot predict what happens next, but from all of us at Hotel Designs HQ, we wish for you all to remain safe during this unpredictable period. And remember, storms don’t last forever. If it’s any consolation, the whole world is going to need a holiday when all this is over.

Feel free to keep in touch with our team on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, and let us all distribute the weight of this disruption evenly, because we are all in this fight together.

Editor, Hotel Designs

New hotel opens to put Germany’s answer to the Hamptons firmly on the map

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
New hotel opens to put Germany’s answer to the Hamptons firmly on the map

Holistic architect and designer Yasmine Mahmoudieh has injected new life into a building in Usedom, Germany, by completing the restored Strandhotel Atlantic & Villa Meeresstrand. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes…

Germany is not known for its islands, nor is it famous for its sugar-white sandy beaches.

However, on the northern tip of the country sits the island of Usedom. The coastal escape is blessed with untouched coastline, a royal history and recently a new boutique design-led all-suite hotel.

As the modern traveller seeks adventure to untapped new locations, the island’s secret has been unveiled, drawing in more crowds than ever before. The increase in visitors has been the driving influence to restore a building on the Bansin stretch to become a luxury boutique hotel, known today as Villa Meeresstrand.

Barely adrift on the Baltic Sea, where Germany meets Poland, Usedom stretches about 30 miles from end to end and has been a popular summer resort since the late 19th century. Nicknamed Berlin’s Bathtub, its connection with Germany’s capital is as legendary as that of Brighton to London, and the Hamptons to New York City.

Yasmine Mahmoudieh, a well known designer on the international hotel design scene, was tasked to work on the project that became a labour of love following extensive research. The designer and architect delved into the lives of people of its past to add just the right amount of sense of place, while merge the impressive history between the current and modern time. “I took portraits of famous writers such as Maxim Gorky and Leo Tolstoi and imprinted them in a pixel like fashion on wallpaper in the rooms and their positive quotes are printed on suspended ceilings above the hotel beds.” The result of this adds a deeper nod to the building – and island’s – past becoming, which has become the motif of the overall design concept.

In order to mindfully design areas to retain the location’s charm, while also blending in one-off experiences, Mahmoudieh has played on more than just the sense of two-dimensional sight to explain the building’s past. “Once you enter the hotel there is a projection of a video artist,” she says, “commissioned to tell the story about the rich past and this is projected against a three dimensional entrance wall, that distorts the viewing and melts past and present once more.”

Subtle hints of bringing nature indoors run throughout the hotel. For example, the lighting above the bar is imitating the seagulls seen all over outside which are part of the natural landscape to be found everywhere on the island.

Meanwhile, a three dimensional wall of bottles from the French company Elitis defines the fine dining area and seating benches are diving the restaurant between the a la caret and general restaurant.

The lounge area, which also includes a magnitude of books from other celebrated Russian writers, also picks up on the spectacular sunsets outside, by a touch of violet to be found in fabrics, melted with the rather natural colour scheme that depicts all hues directly from nature.

Going forward, the hotel owner, which currently owns 16 hotels on this island, in reaction to the crisp design scheme. “We are going to redesign three more hotel buildings for the same owner and like to give this area a sense of a new identity that will attract once more an international crowd of hotel guests,” explains Mahmoudieh.

Villa Meeresstrand is located on the beach promenade, and is regarded among those who stay there as ‘a real gem on the Baltic Sea’.

Main image credit: Strandhotel Atlantic & Villa Meeresstrand/Yasmine Mahmoudieh

EXCLUSIVE: Pre-show interview with designer of The Conscious Bedroom

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
EXCLUSIVE: Pre-show interview with designer of The Conscious Bedroom

The Founder and Creative Director of Harris & Harris London, Alex Harris, gives Hotel Designs‘ editor, Hamish Kilburn, a sneak peek of The Conscious Bedroom that he and his team are designing for The Independent Hotel Show London 2019… 

It was at the beginning of 2019 when Harris & Harris, the London based multidisciplinary design studio, were first approached by the organisers of Independent Hotel Show to work on this year’s concept room set.

The brief was simple (and came in after the show had viewed the studio’s interior design portfolio online): to design The Conscious Hotel Room for the Independent Hotel Show 2019. The design studio leaped at the opportunity to design the concept room. “It was a seamless fit for the studio and their ethos of looking at the most environmentally and socially conscious way of producing luxury interiors and products,” Alex Harris, the studio’s Founder and Creative Director, explains. Arguably most importantly, though, the space at the show would give Harris & Harris the opportunity to showcase this mentality through the design and curation of brand partners who have similar ethics.

When designing the skeleton of the room, Harris was keen to explore creating a heritage feel. “We wanted it to feel as if the room was located within a historic building instead of a new build,” he explains. “This was to prove that sustainable design practices can also be applied to older buildings, which are more prominent in the UK. This was achieved through introducing Georgian style wall panelling throughout the bedroom and including some historic design references in the interior design but with a modern twist.” 

Parallel to curating sustainable focussed products and brands in the concept room – including factoring in elements like using local suppliers to reduce milage – the studio was also focussed on ensuring the overall design felt fresh, inviting and luxurious, all of which could be achieved whilst minimising the impact on the environment.

Ahead of the official unveiling of the finished room on October 15, we caught up with Harris to understand more about the concept and his drive to design with purpose.

Hamish Kilburn: What sparked your passion for sustainability, both at university and beyond?
Alex Harris: I had the opportunity to gain work experience in 2005, prior to graduating from Bournemouth University, with the award winning furniture designer Russell Pinch (we grew up in the same tiny village in Gloucestershire). One day we traveled down to Benchmark Furniture in Berkshire as Russell was working on a new collection with them and I had the chance to see Benchmark’s incredible workshops, showroom and design office.

They are very focused on sustainability throughout their manufacturing process and the products themselves. Together with their passion for craftsmanship, this definitely resonated with me as a student and I knew that my final year project must represent this ethos that I witnessed with Pinch and Benchmark’s work.

I designed a (fully functioning) wooden wind-up LED lamp for my final year project, which I won an award for sustainability from my university. At the same time I approached the eco-design collective [RE] Design and had the opportunity to exhibit my lamp with them at the London Design Festival in 2006. Then in 2009 (after a stint living and working in Melbourne, Australia) I joined the Benchmark design team, four years after I had previously visited with Russell Pinch, so I had come full circle!

I then went to work for several interior designers in London who were focussed on luxury and not really concerned about sustainability, which was always difficult for me. I vowed that whenever I start my own design studio that we must bring together both ‘luxury’ and ‘sustainability’  to prove that they can work harmoniously.

HK: How will your concept The Conscious Hotel Room showcase environmental and social factors?
AH: We have thought about the design in terms of impact on the environment from floor to ceiling. It was very important to us that every element was considered, so we researched and approached companies that we knew could help us with this vision.

So we have organic and natural wool and linen fabrics, FSC certified timber flooring from Domus, bespoke 100 per cent recycled cardboard and plastic joinery pieces, many products that are made in the UK (to reduce ‘mileage’) such as our Harris & Harris furniture & lighting and the beautifully natural bed from Naturalmat, 100 per cent wool carpets from Axminster with their recycled car-tyres underlay (both also made in the UK). Handmade natural terracotta tiles, also from Domus, feature in the bathroom with Crosswater WC, basin mixers and showers with low water use. Edward Bulmer paint features on the bedroom walls that only uses natural ingredients. We have a boiling and chilled water tap from Quooker together with reusable water bottles at the mini bar, omitting the need for a kettle (as you only use the exact boiling water you need for a cup of tea) and of course no need for single-use plastic water bottles. Even the artwork we have curated with the art consultants ARTIQ has been chosen to minimise impact on the environment, with artists that use recycled materials and natural materials & processes.

“Natural materials are used wherever possible but in particular with the Naturalmat bed and linens from The Fine Cotton Company.” – Alex Harris, Founder and Creative Director, Harris & Harris

The social factors that we have considered include making the space as wheelchair friendly as we can, with clear space around the bed, sofa, desk and bathroom vanity and a wide doorless opening into the bathroom with no change in floor level into the shower. Plants throughout provide better air quality and general well being. Natural materials are used wherever possible but in particular with the Naturalmat bed and linens from The Fine Cotton Company, to provide the best night’s sleep possible. Snacks and beverages will be sourced as locally as possible and that contain healthy ingredients.

HK: What are the challenges of creating a heritage feel from scratch?
AH: Our first approach was to introduce wall panelling and decorative mouldings throughout, this gave the feeling of a Georgian style property which also helped it feel warm, welcoming and luxurious. Materials, colours and patterns were also chosen to be simple and classic throughout and the furniture and joinery designs are pared back to give a timeless feel.

Image caption: Independent Hotel Show Conscious Hotel Room sketch

HK: What are the historic design references that are mentioned in the brief?
AH: As discussed above, the wall panelling and decorative mouldings, gave the feeling of a Georgian style interior. Our Harris & Harris furniture we have specified for the project; ‘Totterdown’ sofa, ‘Orchard’ Bench and ‘Clarke’ dining chair all have subtle references in their designs to 1920s/1930s Art Deco era and our Harris & Harris ‘Wharf’ lights (both table and pendants will be showcased) feature classic reeded glass. Cole & Son’s wallpaper ‘Flamingos’ that feature in the bathroom are a take on their archived designs from the 1960s as do the ‘Palm Jungle’ fabric on the scatter cushions. The herringbone pattern in the Axminster carpet is another classic design feature and the recycled cardboard tubing, used in the joinery and bed backdrop, gives a feeling of fluted columns that were used in Greek and Roman architecture.

“There are so many ways in which hotels can embrace the three ‘R’s (reduce, recycle and reuse).” – Alex Harris, Founder and Creative Director, Harris & Harris

HK: Can a hotel be 100 per cent fully sustainable?
AH: Unfortunately I don’t believe we as human beings can ever be 100 per cent fully sustainable unless we go back to living in a cave! We can all do our bit to help minimise our impact, but we all consume and we all produce waste. There are so many ways in which hotels can embrace the three ‘R’s (reduce, recycle and reuse) and we are excited to showcase just a selection of examples of how this can be employed in the design of The Conscious Hotel Bedroom which we hope will inspire hoteliers for their current and future projects.

HK: Let’s talk about water consumption. So many hotel groups are pledging to reduce their water consumption by ‘X’ amount.. Which suppliers would you say are allowing this to be a reality?
AH: We are working closely with the British bathroom brand Crosswater who are supplying The Conscious Hotel Bedroom with their M Pro range which have WRAS and TMV2 certification. The WC has two flush types to encourage water management and the mixer tap features a Neoperl aerator that has a flow rate of only five litres per minute.

When I lived in Australia we received an egg timer from the local water company to encourage showers of under four minutes. This was such simple idea and gave a fun challenge to try and ‘beat the clock’ whilst saving water. We will be featuring an egg timer in the bathroom of The Conscious Hotel Bedroom.

“There will be many UK produced products that will feature in The Conscious Hotel Bedroom and will be noted in our literature at the show.” – Alex Harris, Founder and Creative Director, Harris & Harris

HK: What is the value of products that have been manufactured in the UK?
AH: We have many great craftsmanship skills and traditions that are hard to find abroad. Harris & Harris are passionate about producing the UK whenever possible and keeping these skills alive. There will be many UK produced products that will feature in The Conscious Hotel Bedroom and will be noted in our literature at the show.

HK: What can designers do to ensure an eco-hotel is still a trendy and fresh hotel?
AH: I think there is no reason why an eco-hotel cannot not still be trendy and fresh. Curating the products and materials specifically for The Conscious Hotel Bedroom galvanised this idea for us. Many brands now offer products which have less impact on the environment but still look fab. It is up to the designer to track these down and encourage their client to use in place of products that could be damaging to the environment.

HK: Can you explain the benefits of Smile Plastics?
AH: Smile plastics have kindly donated their ‘Dapple’ plastic sheets to us for the joinery pieces at The Conscious Hotel Bedroom. Dapple is made from recycled chopping boards and plastic packaging and with all of their ranges, Smile Plastics are produced from waste which would otherwise end up in land fill. With Dapple we felt it had the look of a natural material such as marble, to give a touch of luxury, particularly important in the bathroom where it features on the vanity joinery. Dapple is hard, dense and rigid, 100 per cent waterproof, rot-proof and strong weather resistance. It is solid and consistent, allowing for a decorative edge. It is also UV resistance and is food-grade and can be used for preparation of wet foods.

Harris & Harris will showcase The Conscious Hotel Room at the Independent Hotel Show 2019. In addition to this, Harris will also join editor Hamish Kilburn on stage to discuss this year’s major topic in a live talk entitled The Conscious Bedroom Report, which takes place at 11:30am on October 15, 2019.

Brand Partners (as of August 2019)
ARTIQ– art consultants and rental agency, Axminster- carpets, Cole & Son– wallpaper and fabrics, Crosswater- bathroom items including shower, basin, toilet and tapsCurran Packaging– recycled cardboard tubing, Domus – bathroom floor and wall tiles, timber flooring, Edward Bulmer – paint, The Fine Cotton Company – towels, gowns, slippers and bed linens, Harris & Harris London– furniture and decorative lighting, Naturalmat – bed, mattress and bed linens, Plant Plan – plants and moss/living wall, Quooker – boiling, filtered & chilled water mixer tap, Samsung– television and soundbarSmile Plastics– recycled plastic sheet material, Wandsworth Group – power, lighting sockets and faceplates

SPOTLIGHT ON: June’s features announced

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SPOTLIGHT ON: June’s features announced

Hotel Designs has officially dropped its May editorial features, which are Hotel Groups and Software & Controls…

Throughout June, Hotel Designs’ Spotlight On features will look at two highly topical features, namely Hotel Groups and Software & Controls – both areas working hand-in-hand to help create the hotel experience of the future.

Hotel groups

As the modern traveller continues to seek for experiences in all corners of the globe, hotel groups must arguably work harder than ever before in order to satisfy all guests. We will spend the month investigating just how hotel groups plan to do this.

Software and controls

For hoteliers and operators, technology is opening up a number of possibilities in hotel room technology. Technology is now being injected into work seamlessly with the interiors, to be hidden and totally user friendly.

If you wish to find out more, or know of a product that we should be talking about, please contact Zoe Guerrier on 01992 374059 or z.guerrier@forumevents.co.uk

Statement solutions for the hotel bathroom

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Statement solutions for the hotel bathroom

Continuing this month’s theme putting bathrooms under the spotlight, Bisque Radiator’s brand leader, Ellie Sawdy, explains how hotel designers can add statement and personality in the bathroom… 

A stylish bathroom is at the heart of every chic hotel room. There are a number of elements which have become so synonymous with hotel bathroom design – a freestanding tub, a waterfall shower, marble surfaces and, of course, a gorgeous bathroom towel rail. After all, where else do you plan to dry your towels after a long day in the spa?

Often overlooked in interior design, towel radiators are a key element of glamorous bathrooms. If you have the space, try placing two either side of the bath or basin to create an uber-luxurious effect. For smaller bathrooms, try a tall, slim towel rad that will save valuable wall space.

Here at Bisque we offer a wide selection of towel rails to suit all bathroom styles. There’s the Chime – always a crowd pleaser – which offers a modern take on the traditional towel rail. With a highly polished finish, it’s perfect for providing that extra-special finishing touch – while its chunky rails make it practical, too. For more traditional hotels, there’s the Classic or Tetro radiators, both available for bathrooms with an additional towel rail attached. We’ve recently introduced our first ever traditional collection, too, comprising three timeless designs – the Buckingham, Balmoral and Osborne – for use in these spaces. Finally there’s the Archibald too – a real design statement for contemporary hotels.

Image credit: Bique Radiators

Colour plays an important part, too. Chrome and brass finishes will never go out of style, but it may be worth considering something a little different, such as a sophisticated matt black, dove grey or anthracite. A monochrome scheme has long been favoured by designers and architects for its ability provide balance in a space – plus the opportunity to add a pop of colour through accessories and brighter accents.

Another consideration may be a bathroom-come-bedroom design. Fast becoming more and more popular, many of the most luxurious hotels are merging these two rooms to create one super open-plan suite. Finally, it’s always worth investing in luxe accessories. Whether it’s the finest Egyptian cotton bedding, gold brassware or miniature toiletries, it’s these little touches which make a big difference.

Ellie Sawdy recently sat down with Hotel Designs’ editor, Hamish Kilburn, to discuss key bathroom trends. Bisque Radiators 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, click here.

Main image credit: Bisque Radiators

Al Faya Lodge: A boutique hotel made from stone and steel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Al Faya Lodge: A boutique hotel made from stone and steel

Architecture firm Anarchitect was inspired by the desert location and opted to use raw materials to design the five-key boutique hotel…

Located in Sharjah, the third largest emeritus that make up the UAE, Al Faya Lodge is a striking architectural gem that was developed by SHEROOT. The lodge-like boutique hotel sits on undisturbed desert, of which architecture firm Anarchitect used as inspiration when crafting it out of raw materials and earthy colours, resulting in a camouflaged hotel within the red sands and baron landscape.

Embracing its heritage, the location of the lodge was formerly occupied by a clinic and grocery store in the 1960s, which were located next to one of the UAE’s first petroleum pumps.

Now the three single-story stone constructions have been transformed, including the addition of a luxury spa and salt-water swimming pool. Featuring just five guestrooms, its contemporary feel combines aspects of its original features, blended together with luxe, minimalist modernity.

image of seats by pool

Image credit: Sharjah Collection

Featuring a dining room, reception room, library and viewing deck, every aspect of the design looks to emphasise its surroundings. The guestrooms feature a skylight for star-gazing at night with a fire pit primed for recapping adventures.

The boutique hotel, steeped in authenticity, becomes one of of the main components of the Sharjah Collection, a unique group of luxury lodges and boutique hotels.

Main image credit: Sharjah Collection

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SPOTLIGHT ON: Hotel Openings and Spas (January 2019)

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Kick-starting 2019 with a bang, throughout January Hotel Designs’ Spotlight On will look ahead to the most anticipated hotel openings for 2019 as well as relaxing you back into the year by shining the spotlight on Spas… 

Creating a sense of balance between anticipation and relaxation, Hotel Designs is starting next year by shining the spotlight on both hotel openings and spas.

Hotel openings

Image credit: Savoy Palace

Starting in January, we will be looking ahead to all the hottest and most-anticipated hotel openings that we should expect over the next 12 months. From modern metropolis’ to far-flung destinations that exude luxury, we will discover all the latest hotel design hotspots and all the unassuming gems that should be on your hotel design radar.

Spas

Image credit: The Gainsborough Bath & Spa

With the wellness trend showing no time of stopping any time soon, there is now arguably more attention as a consumer towards the hotel spa than there is on the guestroom. Throughout January we will be checking out the best spas from around the world and understanding what is it that makes a spa experience spectacular.

If you wish to find out more, or know of a product that we should be talking about, please contact Zoe Guerrier on 01992 374059 or z.guerrier@forumevents.co.uk

Main image credit: Gleneagles, Scotland