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biophilic interior reducing carbon footprint

How the design scene is embracing Net Zero initiatives

730 565 Pauline Brettell
How the design scene is embracing Net Zero initiatives

With Net Zero fast becoming the buzzword of 2022, along with conversations around sustainability and the importance of working towards a circular economy, and brands such as GROHE, Harrison Spinks and Room2 pledging to become Net Zero, design studio Perkins&Will has published a report which identifies the steps it is taking – and what other design studios could be doing – to create Net Zero projects by 2030…

biophilic interior reducing carbon footprint

Before we start, all buzzwords in the design sphere need content if they are going to impact meaningfully. So, what exactly is Net Zero and how do we design in a net-zero era? It is a nuanced and, like most things, often subjective topic but, simply put, everything we do generates carbon. For a design brand to achieve Net Zero, it must reach a point of balance between what it uses and what it puts back. To do this we need to first measure how much carbon a company/project is putting into the atmosphere. We then need to reduce these emissions where possible. And finally, the crucial part of process is to then offset the reduced emissions by doing things, such as planting trees, that absorb carbon. If done accurately a net zero balance is achieved and the design is therefore more ethical – but clearly the starting point of measuring a carbon footprint is not only the key, but also the area most open to interpretation – there is no such thing as a perfect science!

To challenge both itself and the industry, interior design firm Perkins&Will has produced a report Net Zero Now. Hospitality. This document is a zero-carbon interiors pledge for its growing portfolio of hospitality projects and is spearheaded by the studio’s director of hospitality and regular Hotel Designs contributor Neil Andrew, who has designed projects for top international hotel brands like Marriott, Hilton, and IHG, he has also created pop-up bars for brands like Heineken and designed a pavilion for New York University.

“We have an obligation to ingrain sustainability into our design process, not only for the betterment of the planet, but also to educate others,” said Andrew. “This does not mean we have to compromise aesthetics. In fact, through applying this rationale to creativity we can produce our best work.”

coastal bedroom designed using net zero principles and sutainable materials

Image credit: Perkins&Will

The document is a detailed discussion that not only looks at the principles of zero-carbon design, but also outlines practical ways for these goals to be put in place across the board in the hospitality design sector. It is about collaboration and concern, imagination and implementation, and in many ways, is a call to arms for designers in the hospitality industry as the company invites designers to  ‘join us on our journey to Net Zero, now’.

Laying its ambition bare, the company boldly pledges that: “By 2030 all of our projects will be net-zero embodied carbon as demonstrated through a Whole Life Carbon Assessment”. The report goes on to say: “The desire to experience new places is deeply ingrained within human nature, but with the alarming acceleration in climate change we must question the impact that travel has on the environment. The hospitality sector needs to urgently adopt a Net Zero, or net-positive approach. Environmentally conscious tourists already seek out eco-friendly holidays, but, as we collectively become more aware of the critical importance of sustainability, all future travellers are going to possess a greater knowledge of their carbon footprint and expect carbon neutral hotels as standard.”

Although there is no hard and fast rule, hotels currently experience soft refurbishments around every five to seven years. This regular cycle of change means that we as an industry must look at how items can be reused, or recycled, and avoid throwing them into a landfill. When refurbishing a hospitality space that has not been designed with the whole life cycle of materials and FF&E in mind, it becomes more of a challenge to repurpose items. At the same time, as designers we must consider the constitution of man-made materials, if natural whether they are sourced sustainably, and the ultimate distance that they are transported over in order to reduce the project’s carbon footprint.

sustainable materials for net zero interior design

Image credit: Perkins&Will

Having launched the Net Zero Now pledge for interiors in October 2020, Perkins&Will has now set targets for hospitality projects which align with the interiors pledge. In practical terms the commitments are as follows. The studio will pledge that:

  • In Q3 2021, it will launch a consultation process with our key contractors, sub-contractors and supplier partners to ensure that its supply chain will meet our net-zero targets.
  • By September 2022, half of its projects will be designed to be 100 per cent circular. By 2025 all of its projects will be designed to be 100 per cent circular.
  • By 2030, all of its projects will be Net Zero embodied carbon as demonstrated through a Whole Life Carbon Assessment.”

These bold statements are inspiring, but we need to look at what practical steps can be taken to set the hospitality industry on this path. The report goes on to list some of the ideas and approaches designers can use to start this journey. “[Perkins&Will] will advise clients to adopt our net-zero approach and inform them about the benefits to the environment. We will reduce the occurrence of required refurbishments. We will design in adaptability of buildings and repurpose existing buildings when possible, rather than building brand new ones. In addition, we will request that clients appoint consultants who also adhere to net-zero practices. Imperative to this initiative, we will work with suppliers for materials on our ‘Now Database’ who meet our sustainability requirements and follow circular design principles and consider dismantling and modularity in our design so that buildings can act as material banks. And finally, we will minimise finishes and source locally when possible.”

sustainable materials moodboard working towards a net zero interior

Image credit: Perkins&Will

“Perkins&Will make it clear throughout this report that this is – or should be – an industry commitment rather than an individual pledge.”

The lifecycle or durability of a product is an area that is often overlooked – it is not only the material and design process that needs to be considered, but what happens after that – can the materials be re-used or re-purposed once the initial service life is over? Not only which materials are used, but how they are used and fixed in place. Operational carbon (the reduction of energy and water used in the running of a building, sourcing of food and beverage produce and OS&E items) is also key. “It is our responsibility to challenge our clients, hotel brands and partner consultants to do better in this area,” states the report. “We will consult with hotel brands to review their brand standards with respect to base build performance.”

Perkins&Will make it clear throughout this report that this is – or should be – an industry commitment rather than an individual pledge, and have added to their list of commitments the promise of a Now Database of approved suppliers to share with other designers. This database will list suppliers that have provided environmental credentials that meet with the goals and ambitions of Net Zero. The Now Database will be an open-source platform for environmentally conscious products.

a conscious use of materials is required when working towards net zero design

Image credit: Perkins&Will

“For real change to happen we need an institutional focus on making improvements throughout the construction industry,” Andrew states in the report. “We need small changes and big changes, from those making large new development plans through to those installing the carpet tiles.”

The report goes on to discuss the ‘four R’s’ – Resell, Repurpose, Recycle and Recover – and how to implement them in a practical way. “With the average renovation of a hospitality property currently being between three to five years, it is clear that designers need to find ways to increase that number, with the obvious solution being the use of high quality and durable finishes,” adds Andrew. “Sweeping into a new project with shiny new ideas and equally shiny new furniture might be a designer’s dream, but renovation and refurbishment are now becoming key to the design process.”

Having read through the report, it is clear that there is no simple design roadmap for a Net Zero journey, interior designers, architecture firms and brands need to consider and cover all eventualities in order to prepare for surprises along the way. Fundamentally, Perkins&Will is not being prescriptive, nor is it setting out definitive answers, in this new document. Instead, it has laid out a clear starting point with some practical solutions from design to operational choices that can be implemented on all stages of the hospitality design journey, in all corners of the industry’s arena.

Main image credit: Perkins&Will

Harrison Spinks farm (4)

A night on the farm with Harrison Spinks

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
A night on the farm with Harrison Spinks

In the heart of the Yorkshire countryside – slap-bang between Leeds and York – editor Hamish Kilburn arrived on the 300-acre farm where the Harrison Spinks journey evolved into one that was centred around sustainable and innovative initiatives. From understanding the benefits of hemp to seeing how the bed manufacturer is keeping British manufacturing alive, Hotel Designs was given full access for 48 hours to understand why the bed and mattress manufacturer is commonly referred to as ‘the true bedmakers’…

Harrison Spinks farm (4)

If Christmas movies have taught me anything, it’s to never underestimate – or turn down – the opportunity to swap city life for a quieter pace in the winter months. The Harrison Spinks farm, for me this year, was that secret escape; a peaceful staycation in the tranquil setting of the Yorkshire countryside – as far removed from metropolis madness as it gets.

But I was not there to kick back and relax. Instead, I was on a mission to explore how the Harrison Spinks brand developed from a family-owned, small-scale business to one of the leading bed manufacturers in the world, sheltering gamechanging technology, fuelled by innovative methods designed with a conscious mindset towards the local community as well as the environment – there’s no greenwashing here. And, luckily for me, to really understand the brand’s unique ethos, you first have to stay one or two nights on the farm, which the bed manufacturer acquired on its mission to become Net Zero.

After arriving late at night, I was kindly shown to my digs – a newly renovated hut in the middle of, well, nowhere – and, once locked away safely in the cosy confines of my quirky cabin, it didn’t take long for my head to hit the pillow.

Following a much-needed comfortable night’s sleep, I awoke to the soothing harmony of birds chirping and sheep bleating (I’ve had worse wake-up calls). Peeking my head through the curtains, I meet the locals – flocks of them – and, while doing so, captured the most spectacular site of the Yorkshire countryside. As far as the eyes would focus, there was nothing but untouched meadows, which, I am told, is where the story of Harrison Spinks began.

Image caption: The huts frame spectacular views of the Yorkshire countryside. | Image credit: Harrison Spinks

Image caption: The huts frame spectacular views of the Yorkshire countryside. | Image credit: Harrison Spinks

As well as providing a five-star home for the sheep and goats, the venue itself is utilised throughout the year for weddings and events with a total of 42 rooms (from shepherd huts to suites inside the main house). 182 years ago, though, the farm was the bed and mattress brand’s base, where it first operated from.

“The brand’s farmer Liam and  Processing Supervisor John are growing 382 acres of hemp this year.”

Despite consumer demand requiring the brand to modernise and expand– its headquarters moved into a large-scale factory in 1979, just a few miles down the road in Leeds where its premises has been swelling ever since. The farm, meanwhile, is used to house the sheep, goats, lamas (for wool), and hemp plants scattered around the 300-acre plot on the farm that are used for the inner fillings that are used in the manufacturing process.

From farm to factory

The brand’s 360-degree approach and sustainable purchasing process can be seen throughout the manufacturing process, but it is arguably most evident on the farm, where pioneering innovations, such as the harvesting of hemp – a material that the design industry is only scratching the surface of its groundbreaking properties. The brand’s farmer Liam and  Processing Supervisor John are growing 382 acres of hemp this year, which ties up approximately 1,390 tonnes of Co2. The hemp and flax grown is pesticide-free, creating a clean, natural and chemical-treatment-free product. And this, along with many other eco-conscious initiatives, is helping the brand hit a major milestone in 2023, when it will go Net Carbon Zero.

The manufacturing process

When the natural fillings from the farm arrive at the factory in Leeds, they are cleaned in a process that resembles a candyfloss machine and are pressed together and made into sumptuous layers. Bringing weaving back to Yorkshire, the top, bottom and side panels of the beds are cut into size and sewn.

What sets Harrison Spinks aside from other bed manufacturers – as well as being one of the first to grow natural fibres for fillings – is that the brand creates its own springs by taking steel rod to the wire drawing line. The steel is drawn through a series of dies to form an ultra-fine wire which can then be bent and manipulated, by in-house engineers, into robust springs.

Pocket springs form the mattress core. Once these pockets have been cut, a metal frame is then attached to the core before sliding down (literally down a chute) into a different production line, where the mattress continues its manufacturing journey to meet the trained eyes of those who stitch the product together (by hand). Mini springs and natural fillings are then added for comfort and support and tufts are pushed through to keep everything in one place. Tape edging – a process that requires skill and finesse by operating the machine with a knee and guiding it by hand – joins the fabric to the board of the mattress, and this process is the finishing touch.

Following this, each mattress is sent to the brand’s in-house lab where tests on the fillings and mattresses are carried out before being sent out to the customer.

From one night on the farm and a day exploring the factory, stepping inside the world of Harrison Spinks has been an eye-opening experience. Seeing how far brand will go to keep manufacturing local, while also understanding how it plans to go Net Carbon Zero by 2023, has been insightful and inspirational. With unrivalled sustainability credentials, more than 180 years of manufacturing excellence and multiple Queens Awards, Harrison Spinks is living up to its name as ‘the true bedmakers’ by helping the world sleep more comfortably.

Harrison Spinks is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our Recommended Suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image: Harrison Spinks

Render of lady in nest-like space in front of an outdoor pool and modern villa

7 hotel trends shaping hospitality in 2022

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
7 hotel trends shaping hospitality in 2022

As we start look past the crisis period of Covid-19, and start to settle into a ‘new normal’, the definition of hospitality has a new meaning – one of comfort, security and escape. International architecture firm SB Architects has identified which key hotel trends are shaping hospitality design in 2022 and beyond…

Render of lady in nest-like space in front of an outdoor pool and modern villa

SB Architects has released insights into the most significant influences that informed design in 2021, and what trends will pick up even more momentum this year.

“During 2021, when the concept of ‘home’ became synonymous with home office, gym, entertainment centre, and space to retreat and relax, we saw the growing importance of incorporating flexibility in residential design,” explained Scott Lee, President and Principal of SB Architects. “Flexibility also became paramount for hotels and creating a less-defined program – such as multi-purpose public space and reimagined spaces for F&B, lounge, and lobby – will continue to be advantageous in the future. Overarchingly, creating opportunities for people to decompress in urban environments, enhancing physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social wellness, and quenching a thirst for the outdoors will be key drivers for architects and designers in 2022.”

Here are seven solid trends that are steering hospitality and hotel design, globally, on a new path:

‘Home officing’ 2.0

A hotel lobby/lounge area with armchairs and independent co-working spaces

Image credit: Telegraph Arts/SB Architects

The pandemic and ensuing work-from-home phenomenon sparked new desires for residential design. Dens are no longer to be relegated to the back of units with little or no access to natural light. Instead, residents want these spaces connected to living rooms and acting as integrated offices or flex spaces. Working from home is also changing multifamily design, where a new kind of amenity is taking shape in the form of reservable rooms for work and study, connected to communal meeting spaces where residents can both host team meetings and socialise. The ‘business centre’ model of multifamily residential projects is evolving and will be more marketable if versatile and engaging.

Here to stay: ‘Bleisure’ travel

Render of busy hotel F&B space with block of residential flats next to it

Image credit: Grand Hyatt Limassol/SB Architects

With more employees working remotely, hotels need to cater to a new segment of ‘bleisure’ travellers who are taking advantage of their newfound workplace flexibility by extending vacations that blend work, exploration, and leisure. With guests looking to spend more time in destinations, design that is experiential and deepens connections to the location and its underlying character will be key. Developers and operators will be searching for ways to differentiate their offerings from the many repositioning’s or new openings that are coming online in 2022, and hyper-local environments where guests can immerse themselves authentically into the surrounding locale and have experiences creatively tailored to a specific ethos and set of interests will be the most competitive.

Integrating experiential programming for children and configurations such as two-bedroom suites with kitchens will also help hotels cater to guests booking longer stays and traveling with their families.

Alternative stays/glamping woven into resort destinations

Image caption: A render of a resort in the Middle East, in the desert.

Image caption: A render of a resort in the Middle East. | Image credit: SB Architects

The alternative holiday/travel experience – via treehouse stays, yurts, and glamping – is becoming more and more ingrained into hospitality, and resorts are embracing glamping as an experiential element that can be integrated into the overall offering. Adding these unconventional components to a traditional resort development can deliver the connection to nature that gives guests a sense of emotional and mental well-being, while creating the kind of authentic experience and immersive atmosphere that today’s discerning travellers are craving.

Getting outside

With pandemic-era concerns about indoor air quality and social distancing deeply embedded in our psyches, the outdoors represents an escape and safe haven, and is a key element to mental health. Travellers will seek uninterrupted sightlines to the outdoors, access to fresh air and open space in 2022. Integrating outdoor spaces in urban environments, such as rooftop amenities, will be a big driver for both hotels and residential developments in the future. Rooftop amenities create a sense of escapism in which residents or guests are nestled in an outdoor environment, perhaps with natural elements, but views to a city skyline are within reach.

The rise of the urban resort

Render of busy dining space at Innovation Station

Image credit: Rivana at Innovation Station/SB Architects

Prior to the pandemic, the urban resort concept was on the rise, with brands like Aman Hotels and Six Senses Hotels and Resorts embracing the model as part of their growth strategy, and the trend will continue to grow in 2022, as lines between work and leisure continue to blur and more guests want to experience the decompression and escapism of a resort even when in an urban environment.

By tapping into sensibilities that one might leverage in a horizontal resort environment, and applying them to an urban context, designers can create spaces where people can ‘get away from it all’ while remaining in the middle of it.  Urban resorts deliver immersive experiences through rooftop experiences and iconic, place-defining food and beverage, and although in urban settings, they prioritise connections to nature, seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces, natural light, and, of course, guests’ health and wellness. Special landscaped zones sprinkled throughout sites as places to host events and celebrations, and enhanced wellness experiences where spa and fitness components are sized after those of a destination resort are among the design features trending for urban resorts.

Rethinking the all-day dining concept

The pandemic pushed many (if not all) hotels to adapt their F&B offerings, as under-utilised space in an all-day dining outlet became more apparent during periods of low occupancy. Many new hotels have been breaking down the all-day dining restaurant into multiple ‘micro’ restaurants that can be sectioned or closed off depending on the time of day, to prevent the all-day dining space from being underutilised or only used during breakfast. The traditional buffet style dining that is standard in all-day dining outlets became prohibited due to Covid-19 regulations in many areas, giving rise to alternative strategies such as customised room service for breakfast. Many hotels are leveraging the specialty restaurant or lobby lounge for those seeking a more traditional hotel breakfast experience.

In the future, instead of just serving as a convenient dining outlet for internal guests, more hotel dining outlets will be regarded as valuable revenue-generating spaces independent of the hotel, with unique concepts, menus, and designs that will entice both hotel guests and locals in the community.

Capturing the baby boomer audience 

The Baby Boomer generation is mindful of how precious meaningful life experiences are and have a pent-up desire to reconnect with loved ones since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hotels should take note of this affluent, educated, and active audience in 2022. With so many people aged 65 and over fully vaccinated, this group is ready for reunions with family and friends, and they have the time and resources to truly immerse in experiential travel. Boomers are more likely to travel for a week or longer, and their excitement for educational, interactive, and locally inspired experiences as well as activities with multi-generational appeal should not be overlooked.

So, it seems that the pandemic has left its coffee-mug stain on this year’s trends. However, unlike in recent years, it seems as if the industry’s robust strength is ensuring that all trends we are seeing emerge are less about recovery and more about growth, evolution and sustaining unmatched travel experiences.

> Since you’re here, why not check out our editorial series on the hottest hotels to open in 2022?

Main image credit: SB Architects

The Brit List Hoteliers of 2021

Unveiled: The Brit List Hoteliers of 2021

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Unveiled: The Brit List Hoteliers of 2021

Sticking to tradition, each year Hotel Designs publishes The Brit List, which, following a nationwide campaign, profiles the top 25 designers, the top 25 architects and the top 25 hoteliers. Following the unveilings of both the designers and architects earlier this month, please meet The Brit List Hoteliers of 2021…

The Brit List Hoteliers of 2021

Each year, The Brit List Awards 2021 climaxes in November with an energy-filled awards ceremony. Traditionally, though, the campaign does not end until all 75 designers, architects and hoteliers have been profiled on the Hotel Designs website. For 2021, that time is now. We have referenced the interior designers, given nod to the architects, and it is now time to conclude our annual search, with (in alphabetical order) The Brit List Hoteliers of 2021.

Charles Oak, Hotel Director, The Londoner

Following much anticipation, The Londoner, the 350-key luxury hotel that has the power to change the social status of Leicester Square, has opened. Designed in collaboration with Yabu Pushelberg (design) and Woods Bagot (architecture), the hotel is part Edwardian Hotels London – and has a particularly noteworthy eco design narrative that is being told by Charles Oak.

The 16-storey hotel, which opened in September, 2021, includes six varying F&B outlets, including a destination rooftop bar, and shelters ‘unparalleled level of genuine hospitality’.

With a career within the hospitality arena that spans three decades, prior to joining Edwardian Hotels’ new flagship property, Oak held several senior management positions in numerous hotels within the group’s portfolio, including its five-star flagship The May Fair Hotel. A highly established professional within the industry, Oak has an exemplary background in luxury hotel management and fine dining, which includes positions at The Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, The Savoy Hotel in London, and more recently the country haven of Heckfield Place in Hampshire.

Conor O’Leary, Managing Director, Gleneagles

Since being crowned Hotelier of the Year at The Brit List Awards 2018, Conor O’Leary has continued to perfect and expand the Gleneagles spirit that is often referred to as ‘the glorious playground’. As an effortless result of this, Gleneagles remains one of Scotland’s – if not Great Britain’s – most adventurous luxury hotel.

Set beneath the Ochil Hills, in the heart of Perthshire, the hotel has been a must-go destination for travellers for nearing a century. Beginning its life in the glamorous age of travel when guests arrived in great style at Gleneagles’ very own train station, the 850-acre estate epitomises the natural beauty for which Scotland is famed.

Now under new ownership with Ennismore, Gleneagles has enlisted the skills and expertise of some of the UK’s most acclaimed designers including David Collins Studio, Timorous Beasties, Macaulay Sinclair, Goddard Littlefair and Ennismore’s own in-house design studio – with the aim to create designs and spaces that celebrate the rich, glamorous heritage and beautiful architecture for which the hotel is famed.

Its latest venture that O’Leary is leading is opening the 33-key Gleneagles Townhouse. Designed by Ennismore’s in-house team of experts, the intimate hotel will shelter timeless charm that blends with today’s modern needs, while uniting Edinburgh’s ‘social souls’ – the people who make the city tick.

David Connell, General Manager, South Lodge

David Connell’s outstanding focus during 2019 was implementing and managing a brand-new spa and wellness facility to the already established and respected South Lodge.

Managing the spa build whilst also leading his hotel team, Connell expertly fronted the project despite delays and challenges, keeping the team motivated and on course to deliver. A huge amount of time and effort went into the £14.5 million build project over the last seven years to create The Spa at South Lodge and develop a different brand under the South Lodge name.

Outside of his main role, Connell is a very active member within the wider industry. A Master Innholder, St Julian Scholar and mentor, he never loses sight that hospitality is a ‘people business’ and loves to get out into the industry, meeting future leaders as part of the Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders Programme selection committee and acting as a St Julian Scholar ambassador.

Edward Workman, CEO, The Newt in Somerset

With a hotelier such as Edward Workman who ‘likes to have a narrative for everything’ he does, The Newt in Somerset, is a never-ending tale of hearty hospitality and thoughtful design. With magnificent gardens, indulgent guestrooms and a spa experience to match, the hotel experience is somewhat elevated by the fact that it is sheltered within a stunning set of Georgian limestone buildings.

The hotel’s ability to collaborate has allowed it to be an ever-evolving landscape that is always exiting. The gardens at The Newt, for example, have been shaped over the last 200 years by successive enthusiasts, including Margaret Hobhouse who elevated the gardens to a Victorian ideal, introducing colour, a greenhouse and many trees of beech, oak, pine, walnut and cedar. Renowned garden designer Penelope Hobhouse gave Margaret’s vision a new lease of life in the 1970s, followed by Nori and Sandra Pope, whose experiments with colour delighted and inspired thousands of visitors in the mid-1980s. The latest incarnation has been created by Italo-French architect Patrice Taravella, who believes a garden should be both beautiful and useful.

Elli Jafari, General Manager, The Standard London

Housed in the former Camden Town Hall Annex in London’s thriving King’s Cross neighbourhood, the 1974 Brutalist building was meticulously restored and set the perfect award-winning stage for The Standard’s first hotel outside America.

The Standard London shelters 266 guestrooms in 42 unique styles ranging from Cosy Core rooms to terraced suites with outdoor bathtubs overlooking St Pancras station. The lobby lounge, with a carefully curated library pays homage to the building’s original use, with a sound studio hosting weekly live music and talks.

Setting new standards, Elli Jafari was announced as the hotel’s General Manager, months before it opened. Two years on, Jafari continues to ensure that the hotel is the epicentre of energy and just the right kind of vibes – with star-studded events – to ensure the hotel is always in the spotlight.

Federico Ciampi, General Manager, The Mayfair Townhouse

Born in Italy, Federico Ciampi is a seasoned traveller having lived in Dubai, Scotland and the British Virgin Islands. He now calls London home, with his family of colleagues inside The Mayfair Townhouse, a new luxury hotel that emerged onto the scene last year.

The 172-key hotel, which joined the Iconic Luxury Hotels portfolio last year when it opened, shelters a design narrative unlike any other. Inspired by the whimsical characters of our past and present, it is is flamboyantly dressed, yet carefully understated when it comes to service.

Curious, engaging, witty and effortlessly intuitive, the hotel is part of a new generation of lifestyle hotels that deliver the unexpected in the heart of Mayfair. A stylish, imaginative home for the modern traveller, The Mayfair Townhouse redefines what it means to be a London hotel.

 Frank Arnold, Managing Director, The Savoy

 In 2020, Frank Arnold was revealed as the new Managing Director of The Savoy, one of London’s most iconic luxury hotels.

During a career in hospitality spanning more than 30 years, Arnold has also worked with IHG, Four Seasons, Rocco Forte, Ritz-Carlton and independent hotels across Europe and North America.

Having arrived from the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto, Arnold stepped into the shoes of Philip Barnes at a time when hospitality was on its knees. Despite this, he was not afraid to bring down barriers in order to make the hotel relevant for the modern, post-pandemic traveller. For example, the hotel transformed its iconic forecourt into a trendy, seasonal F&B experience. Named Solas, the pop-up married colourful floral bursts to the Art Deco elegance of the hotel in order to create this summer’s must-visit dining destination.

Gareth Banner, Managing Director, The Ned

Gareth Banner has led a team of nearly 900 members of staff to launch and establish the most ambitious hotel opening in recent decades. By repurposing an iconic 1920s grade I listed building into a multi-faceted hospitality business, this architectural landmark in the City of London has been made relevant once again under Gareth’s leadership.

Over the past year, Gareth has used the lockdown to continue refining The Ned offering, with changes to an under-utilized members’ area on the lower ground floor into The Parlour – an intimate jazz and cabaret club boasting a weekly line up of highly regarded acts from both sides of the Atlantic.

Quickly recognising that the pandemic was set to change the way in which The Ned interacted with its members, Banner worked with parent company Soho House on a digital transformation of the business. This included the launch of an app that could be used to provide virtual experiences, digital content and contactless payments for members who showed unwavering support through the payment of their annual subscription during closure.

Working to support the charity Centrepoint, Banner was very keen for The Ned to work with Fare Share and The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club to provide meals to some of London’s most vulnerable individuals throughout the lockdown. A team of 42 members of staff from The Ned volunteered to prepare the meals in the hotel’s production kitchen. Motorcyclists from The Bike Shed’s 1,000-strong nationwide community of volunteer riders delivered over 100 meals a day to homeless young people living in Centrepoint hostels across town.

Grace Leo, Managing Director, The Relais Henley

Grace Leo is an award-winning and internationally recognised hotelier who specialises in the development of luxury hotels and resorts.

Most recently, Leo’s meticulous research over the last two years for the right opportunity led to acquiring several hotels for herself and her partners in upscale market-towns in the greater London region. She has identified the former Red Lion in Henley-on-Thames as the initial asset that has the combination of criteria and potential she has deemed essential for the redevelopment of the property into a successful business venture as well as the introduction of her ‘Relais’ branding.

The Relais Henley was launched as part of the Royal Regatta in August 2021, and has already received critical acclaim both locally and nationally. Henley was followed within months by the acquisition of The Cooden Beach Hotel near Bexhill-on- Sea, which is due to start its refurbishment towards the end of 2021.

The Relais brand underpins Leo’s key strengths, which are strong leadership skills, strategic and financial oversight, creative market positioning and branding and enabling workflows in different cultures whilst energising teams for deliverables and deadlines.

Guillaume Marly, Managing Director, Hotel Café Royal

Since 2017, Guillaume Marly has been the Managing Director of Hotel Café Royal. Constantly referred to as ‘London’s modern grand hotel’, the property straddles the elegance of Mayfair and the vibrant energy of Soho – and Marly ensures that his hospitality experience amplifies the best of both neighbourhoods.

Complete with stylish and contemporary rooms and suites, the design of the hotel answers the demands of modern travellers. Meanwhile, the grand F&B areas, with a unique Afternoon Tea experience, allows the hotel to stand out with its own personality.

The Set Collection, the parent group of the hotel, has recently celebrated a ‘soft’ re-brand as it sets its sights on growing the meaningful portfolio of properties. Despite the pressures of the pandemic, Hotel Café Royal continues to be one of London’s leading hotels.

Hector Ross, Managing Partner & COO, The Mitre Hampton Court

Despite all the turmoil since 2020, Hector Ross not only set up a brand-new hospitality business, The Signet Collection, but he then raised the funds to buy and completely revamp a historic building in need of rescuing called The Mitre Hotel in Hampton Court.

Ross based himself at the hotel alongside 30-plus builders during the first lockdown to conduct an extensive, multimillion pound refurbishment. The resulting new, although over 400-year-old, hotel is astonishing and has been phenomenally received well across both media and guests. The hotel consists of two restaurants, 36 individually designed bedrooms, two outside dining terraces, the world’s first ‘whispering angel bar’, new pamper suite spa and an events spaces, all envisioned by interior designer Nicola Harding.

Ross has preserved the authenticity of the buildings, while delivering unparalleled food, drink and service, alongside unrivalled experiences for guests such as boat trips and picnics. His home-grown and hands-on approach combines stunning designs within historically significant properties. The Mitre, the first hotel from The Signet Collection, was a bold, brave and risky move during the pandemic, but it has set the tone for additional hotels yet to come.

James Clarke, General Manager, Hilton Bankside London

James Clarke’s aims, as a leading General Manager, to challenge conventional hospitality led him and his team on many routes that include sustainable approaches to hospitality while sheltering a sensory design experience unlike any other.

The hotel is, with Clarke in the driving seat, anything but a conventional hospitality experience. In 2018, the hotel partnered with Bombas & Parr to create a unique multi-sensory meeting room inside its hotel, under the name The Agora.

From flooding the room with scented air at the push of a button to specially curated objects designed to increase productivity, mood-improving lighting installations and refreshments designed to recharge physiologically, every detail is based on the science and psychology of fruitful human interactions and innovation. The room takes inspiration from its location on Bankside, with a central table featuring inlaid ley lines pointing to important sites of creativity nearby, such as The Globe, The Tate and Royal Festival Hall.

John Scanlon, General Manager, 45 Park Lane

Since his arrival at 45 Park Lane as General Manager in 2015, John Scanlon has been committed to ensuring that guests have the best possible experience, and has a proven track record of maintaining an enjoyable environment for employees also.

Following a year of uncertainty – during which time Dorchester Collection donated £25,000 to Hosptiality Action – the hotel recently opened a new luxury wellness space, The Spa at 45 Park Lane, which takes it firmly out of the shadow of its sister hotel, and neighbour, The Dorchester. The spa has been designed by world-leading design agency Jouin Manku. The wellness space has been specifically created to bring a sense of the outside in, referencing artistic flora using traditional Roman style mosaics from Venetian artisans. Natural timbers and light coloured stone bring a sense of calm and tranquillity; while timber slatted ceilings have been integrated to create better acoustics within the pool, gym and relaxation lounge. The entire space has been generously arranged to maximise the sense of spaciousness – not an easy in a neighbourhood where space comes at a premium, but one that has been executed with style.

Julian Hudson, General Manager, Fellows House Cambridge –  Curio by Hilton Collection

 Julian Hudson is a devoted and experienced hotelier with almost 25 years’ hospitality management experience in the UK. As a personable manager, his passion comes from building and developing a passionate, well-trained, and close-knit team.

Most recently, he was appointed the General Manager of Fellows House Cambridge –  Curio by Hilton Collection, a new hotel that has opened with a deep design narrative and an unavoidable connection with creative art, which meaningfully hangs in celebration of its local history.

The 131-key hotel features unique pieces of artwork and sculptures, inspired by the fellows and historic city. The room types are all named after people associated with the city and notable Cambridge fellows such as Kipling, Newton, Gormley and Attenborough.

Marie-Paule Nowlis, General Manager, Sofitel London St James

 Marie-Paule Nowlis, who brings with her 30 years’ experience with the Sofitel brand, and a career shaped by international roles, joined Sofitel London St James as General Manager in April 2019. Nowlis led an extensive multi-million-pound transformation in 2019, which extended throughout the hotel’s 183 rooms and suites, restaurant and bar. The property is a flagship hotel for the Sofitel brand and a cornerstone of London’s luxury hotel scene, with the transformation and refurbishment overseen by Pierre-Yves Rochon ensuring it remains one of the most sought-after destinations in the city.

This year, Nowlis introduced a host of new partnerships in order to propel the hotel forward and make sure that it provides the very best for all guests. One partnership was with cycling brand Pinarello, allowing guests to book a tailored two-hour bike ride, enjoy a Tour de France inspired menu at Wild Honey St James and view the Pinarello bike and jerseys displayed in the hotel lobby.

In addition, Nowlis also aimed to promote ‘Culture in the City’, which lead to a partnership between Sofitel London St James and the Design Museum. The collaboration celebrated the launch of the acclaimed exhibition, Charlotte Perriand: The Modern Life and included a suite takeover allowing guests to truly immerse themselves in the Perriand culture.

Michael Bonsor, Managing Director, Rosewood London

Michael Bonsor has more than 18 years’ experience in luxury hotel management, working for brands such as Four Seasons and Claridge’s.

Throughout the pandemic, Bonsor worked tirelessly alongside his team to successfully re-open the doors of the award-winning luxury hotel, while also spearheading a number of key initiatives and campaigns.

Once restrictions lifted, alongside his team, Bonsor transformed the iconic courtyard into an outdoor oasis bringing the Scarfes Bar terrace for Summer 2021 on one side and a partnership with Macallan to create the Macallan Manor House on the other side where guests can enjoy an immersive alfresco dining experience inspired by the beautiful Scottish Highlands.

Additionally, to show Rosewood London’s appreciation for the NHS and all their hard work during the pandemic, Bonsor led the hotel to launch a competition, giving one NHS working couple the chance to win their dream wedding held at the hotel in 2021. He also included the hotel in the Hospitalitry4Heroes Social Challenge helping to raise more than £10,000 to support the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Appeal and organised Holborn Dining Room pies and meals for the NHS staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital who the hotel has supported for many years.

Murray Ward, General Manager, Soho Farmhouse

Set against untouched English countryside – after becoming the postcard for hospitality in the Cotswolds – Soho Farmhouse is where members go to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, to instead check in to enjoy a slower pace. Combining authentic British design with warm, non-fussy hospitality, the 40-key hotel on the farm is able to provide the perfect rural scene, complete with luxurious cabins, restored houses and shack-like ‘piglet’ rooms.

Murray Ward and his exceptional team work tirelessly in order to maintain every corner guests’ turn within the 100 acres of Oxfordshire countryside, lives up to the property’s esteemed reputation. Even the ‘check-in’ experience is a personable moment that has been carefully considered. After driving through the main gates, members leave their car with the staff to check in at the ‘Gate House’ before boarding a milk float, which takes them into the village-like setting.

The heart of the ‘house’ is in the Farm Yard – the ‘public areas’, if we were being conventional. Around this space, the hotel features an expansive spa, complete with an indoor-outdoor swimming pool, a lake, a plethora of dining outlets and even a state-of-the-art cinema – all of which makes the modern, British hospitality experience totally unmatched.

Olivia Richli, General Manager, Heckfield Place

Following a loyal career with Aman Hotels, in 2017, Olivia Richli was plucked from semi-retirement at her beachfront home in Sri Lanka by Boston’s Gerald Chan, who had bought Heckfield Place almost twenty years before. Richli’s youth spent amongst the farms and gardens of the British countryside, combined with her unique career in developing and operating eclectic luxury hotels within historic precincts, stood her in perfect stead to guide Heckfield Place into a grand new era.

The Georgian family home was lovingly restored from its classic origins and rewoven into a luxury hotel, which now stands in 400 acres of secluded Hampshire landscape.

The hotel’s sense of responsibility has inspired Richli onto the next level of stewardship, one that quietly leads by example and endeavors to establish an estate that will thrive and guide all those who visit. And thrive it did, with the hotel winning The Eco Award at The Brit List Awards 2019.

Paul Bayliss, General Manager, Hotel Brooklyn, Manachester

Awarded an MBE for services to hospitality in 2006 as well as being named Independent Hotelier of the Year in 2017/18, General Manager Paul Bayliss’ wealth of experience allowed him to navigate the Hotel Brooklyn’s opening successfully during the challenges of a global pandemic to critical acclaim, reflected through the host of national awards the hotel has received so far.

The hotel stands out as a beacon of excellence worldwide, as the only UK luxury property that is truly accessible for all and has been named the most accessible hotel in Europe. The hotel’s unique design is leading the Gold Standard in accessible design, with 18 of the 189 rooms fully accessible offering both wheelchair access and ambulant accessibility and the first hotel in Manchester to offer ceiling track hoists for guests. The hotel is an industry game-changer as the first to make a step change in whole society inclusivity within luxury hospitality. Notwithstanding its remarkable recruitment process and CSR credentials.

The inspiration behind accessibility for all came from the hotel’s President Robin Sheppard, whose own disabilities helped him identify a need for positive change in the hospitality industry. Bayliss has carried out Sheppard’s wishes tremendously, leading the hotel to win three Blue Badge Style Ticks for accessibility, as well as winning the BeFactor Awards 2020 Accessibility Award.

With many more Hotel Brooklyn properties in the pipeline, Bayliss continued work with the brand will ensure ‘accessibility for all’ to luxury full scale hotels finally becomes the norm.

Paul Skinner, General Manager, DUKES LONDON

Tucked away in a private courtyard in the heart of London’s West End, the 87-key DUKES LONDON has become a British hospitality landmark, celebrated for its famous martinis and exceptional service as well as its prime location overlooking Green Park and St James’s Park.

Following Covid-19 and the various lockdowns implemented in the UK over the past year, the tourism and hospitality industry has taken a huge hit. DUKES LONDON’s management team, led by General Manager Paul Skinner, had to manage expectations of owners and investors, whilst leading and supporting its team through disruption and uncertainty.

While keeping a close eye on his staff’s mental and physical wellbeing, Skinner also ensured that DUKES remained rooted in its community during this difficult time – offering beds to key workers via the Small Luxury Hotel initiative to reach out to those in need and to help ease the strain on the NHS during the crisis. The team also participated in the “Golden Friend Scheme” designed by Hospitality Action which was created to support elderly people in the community with hourly phone calls each week to keep them entertained during the stricter parts of lockdown. Additionally, the team took part in the 5km for £5 social media campaign, where all proceeds went to the NHS.

Robin Hutson, Founder, THE PIG Hotels

There is arguably no one who has done as much as Robin Hutson in highlighting the plight of the hospitality industry in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic, through his ‘Seat at the Table’ campaign.

With 45 years’ experience, Hutson has led some of the world’s most famous hotels, including, but not limited to, Claridge’s, The Berkeley, Hotel de Crillon and Hotel de Vin, and between 1995 and 2008, he was Chairman of Soho House Group, assisting Nick Jones shape the ambitious expansion of the game-changing brand into Europe and the US.

Hutson is now Chairman and CEO of the much-applauded Lime Wood Group and Founder of another ground-breaking and some would say, ‘Britain’s best loved collection of country hotels, THE PIG.

The much-loved leader has tirelessly championed for more help for hoteliers, railed against government ineptitude, and brought together those in the hospitality industry to try and create a voice for a formally unrepresented industry – which delivers so much to the coffers of the Treasury, and so many jobs to the people of the UK. While doing that, he kept on all of his 1,000 or so staff – without making anyone redundant – and then opened a new PIG in Cornwall (in the summer of 2020), and another one year later in the West Sussex countryside.

Sérgio Leandro, Regional General Manager, Lore Group

 A passionate and experienced hotelier, Sérgio Leandro currently manages the London Region of the Lore Group portfolio. In his role, Leandro is responsible for overseeing Sea Containers London and the soon-to-launch One Hundred Shoreditch (the former Ace Hotel London).

Leandro has extensive experience within the hotel industry, having worked with the likes of Marriott (Starwood) and sbe and holding the role of General Manager of Sea Containers London since its launch as Mondrian London (the first Mondrian in Europe) in 2014. Leandro was instrumental in ensuring a successful transition, not only for the brand, but also for his team – all of whom remained in place as the hotel entered a new era and the next step in its story.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Leandro was determined to show support towards the NHS, so he spearheaded the Sea Containers London ‘NHS Nominate Your Hero’ campaign and gave away 545 overnight stays to NHS staff from around the country, as well as lighting up the building in a rainbow to show support and appreciation. This is an ongoing initiative and as the hotel has re-opened its doors, Leandro and his team continue to invite NHS staff into the hotel for their stays and other activities such as NHS movie nights.

Stuart Geddes, Managing Director, The Lanesborough

In 2019, Stuart Geddes left his position as General Manager of The Goring Hotel to join The Lanesborough as Hotel Manager, with the aim to help the Oetker Collection property ‘reinforce its position as a market leader’ on the luxury hospitality scene in London.

Two years later, Geddes has recently been promoted to Managing Director of the quintessentially British hotel (some might even say landmark). Following the most challenging 18 months the industry has perhaps ever experienced, the promotion came a time when the industry as a whole was recovering in the wake of the pandemic. The hotelier’s ‘respect for heritage’, while ‘constantly pushing for creativity and innovation’, puts him in good stead to navigate the unavoidable challenges that lie ahead.

Geddes responded the promotion by calling it ‘both a pleasure and an honour’ and is full committed as well as passionate to lead the 93-key hotel into a new chapter of hospitality.

Thomas Agius Ferrante, Hotel Director, The Grove of Narberth

Following his appointment as General Manager in early 2019, Thomas Agius Ferrante was promoted in August 2020 to become Hotel Director of The Grove of Narberth, the five-star hotel nestled in the Pembrokeshire countryside in South West Wales.

The hotel forms part of the Seren Collection which includes the one Michelin starred Beach House Restaurant on the Gower Peninsular, and the highly regarded Coast Restaurant in Saundersfoot.

Ferrante started his career as a kitchen chef before moving into senior management roles first at One Aldwych and then at The Berkeley where he spent seven years latterly as the Food & Beverage Operations Manager. Prior to joining The Grove of Narberth, the hotelier was the Hotel Manager of The Phoenicia in Malta, an iconic five-star, historic hotel that flanks the main gates of the capital Valletta and is a member of ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’ consortium.

Will Ashworth, CEO, Watergate Bay Hotel

Will Ashworth, who is no stranger to The Brit List first came onto Hotel Designs’ radar in 2004 when he became the CEO of Watergate Bay Hotel, which he took over from his parents.

Since then, the young yet established hotelier has been able to flex his design muscles to ensure that the hotel stands out as an exceptional luxury experience.

The latest design narrative at Watergate Bay Hotel is told when checking in to one of the seven new beach-front suites, designed to take the accommodation at the hotel to a ‘new level’ with a quirky interior scheme that oozes sense of place and personality, while framing some of the most spectacular coastal views. Ashworth worked with Cornish design studio Dynargh Design to create the rooms that shelter barefoot luxury with a distinct local charm.

Despite creating a new room category that will ‘pave the way’ for future projects within the Watergate Bay Hotel portfolio, Ashworth’s pioneering stance in the hospitality arena is unequivocally highlighting how independent hotels can indeed shelter innovative, eco-friendly design that doesn’t intrude on the guest experience. For example, all electricity that the now 69-key boutique hotel uses comes from 100 per cent renewable suppliers.

The application process (free of charge) for The Brit List Awards 2022 will open in Q2 of 2022. 

Main image credit: The Brit List Awards 2021

Soho House Rome bedroom

Soho House arrives in Rome with timeless style

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Soho House arrives in Rome with timeless style

Soho House opens for the first time in Italy, in Rome, in the San Lorenzo district, with spaces for members to eat, drink and meet. The 69-key house shelters all the Soho House comforts, including guestrooms, long-stay apartments, a swimming pool, rooftop bar, a Soho Health Club and a screening room. Melania Guarda Ceccoli explores…

Soho House Rome bedroom

The time has come, as part of the brand’s aggressive growth plans, Soho House has arrived in Italy, with the opening of Soho House Rome. Located in the San Lorezo district of the city, the new house is now the epicentre of a new hospitality scene in Rome that is fast, helping making it one of the hottest hotel development spots in Europe.

The entire 10-storey building was designed by the Soho House Design in-house team, including the travertine-clad façade on the ground floor and plastered for the upper floors. There are balconies on each floor, with ribbed details and crenellated ceilings. Crittall exterior windows at each level give the building an industrial look, taking inspiration from the Fondazione Pastifico Cerere building near San Lorenzo, connecting Soho House to the local area that hosts it. Italian craftsmanship was used throughout the House, including locally made chandeliers and glassware.

Inspired by an Italian market, the reception area hosts a long counter with a marble shelf that wraps around the corner that passes from the reception to the bar in Store X. The floor is in striped grit, and the travertine of the facade covers the internal wall creating a light and airy lounge space. The space is furnished with a mix of Italian-made furniture and vintage elements.

The ninth floor is the central space of the club, with a bar, the House Kitchen and the Drawing Room. Guests can access a long lounge bar overlooking the outdoor park, with a terrazzo floor and metal bars give the space an industrial look.

House Kitchen is a space where you can order food and drinks all day, with an open kitchen equipped with sofas, chairs and tables everywhere and Crittall doors that open onto the balcony. The spaces are completed by ceramic lamps made in Italy and elements in Italian leather, exposed ceilings, terrazzo floors covered with mustard yellow bespoke carpets and industrial metal shelves that protrude above locally sourced marble counters.

The Drawing Room, which runs along the other side of the building, is a lounge with green walls, light herringbone flooring, and a briar-fronted bar. The space also features a travertine fireplace and vintage furniture, including armchairs and marble tables.

The first floor of the building is dedicated to an exhibition space that can be used by members for events and is also available for private hire, which can be used as a single large room or divided into two rooms, each with its bar.

Soho House The Club Rome

Image credit: Soho House/Giulia Venanzi

The rooftop bar, restaurant and swimming pool is located on the 10th floor, and offers a 360-degree view of the Eternal City. The red-tiled pool is surrounded by patterned sun loungers, crenellated umbrellas, and a stone floor in the traditional Italian Palladian motif.

The bar and restaurant occupy the other three sides of the top floor, with sofas running along one side. A large mural is painted all over the walls with motifs of vines, trees and planters to give the space a garden feel. Inside is a terracotta bar with a glazed tile facade, furniture covered in burgundy and Italian green. The environment is completed by festooned lighting and a pizza oven. Glass railings flank the edge of the top floor, providing uninterrupted views. A canopy roof equipped with heating elements covers the dining space.

On floors seven and eight, the Soho Health Club, a new fitness, health and wellness area of the Soho House, brings together the world’s best experts in health and beauty with class-based workouts, equipment and state-of-the-art skin and beauty treatments, including infrared saunas and cryogenic chambers. The treatment rooms and the sauna feature wooden floors and corrugated walnut cladding. On the seventh floor, the gym has two-tone walls, a base inspired by Roman geometric patterns, exposed ceilings and a balcony that allows members and their guests to train outdoors.

Also on this floor is the 42-seat projection room with velvet armchairs and footrest pouffes. The space will allow the screening of the best news in the world of cinema and new releases of independent and arthouse cinema.

The house shelters 49 rooms and 20 apartments. The rooms have Italian grit floors, plastered walls, the headboards of the beds are made of wood in the shape of a wave and feature Hypnos mattresses. The hand-painted ceramic bedside lamps with a carved top and craquelé enamel finish are a unique collaboration with Soho Home and the Italian designer Bitossi who produced lights in the 1970s and recreated them specifically for the Maison. The bathrooms feature a geometric pattern in green marble with a tadelek finish. Doors, cabinets and furniture all have ribbed detail.

The one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and studios are located on the third and fourth floors and are available for short and long term stays. The apartments have wooden floors with plastered walls and bathrooms with Italian ceramic tiles. The kitchen and living area are furnished with furniture from Italian vintage markets and bespoke pieces that reflect details of classic Italian furniture.

There is also a fifth-floor suite with vintage wood floor, upholstered headboard in red velvet, briar bed made by local Italian artisans and a freestanding bathtub located by the window overlooking Rome. There is also a lounge with a large dining table, a bar area and a DJ console.

Art Soho House Rome

Image credit: Soho House/Giulia Venanzi

The art collection has a curatorial focus on the theme of Saints and Sinners. Local and international artists have been invited to create a work that addresses this concept. The idea has been interpreted in many creative ways: from football ultra-fans to Mary Magdalene, from Popes to Emperor Nero, art investigates the concepts of good and evil and the spaces in between. The works hosted by Soho House Roma include pieces by critical Italian artists such as Gianni Politi, Nico Vascellari, Silvia Gambrone, Claudio Verna, Elisa Montessori, Monica Bonvicini and Thomas Braida.

Rome continues to be a major hotspot for hotel development, with brands such as W Hotels Mama Shelter, The Student Hotel and Rosewood Hotels and Resorts all recently sharing news about recently opened or anticipated hotels in the Eternal City.

Main image credit: Soho House/Giulia Venanzi

Guestroom inside Mollie's Motel

Mollie’s Motel & Diner: 100 new sites planned for next 10 years

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Mollie’s Motel & Diner: 100 new sites planned for next 10 years

Following the successful launch of two Mollie’s, the new, affordable motel and diner concept has appointed leisure property specialist, Fleurets, to support ambitious plans to expand to 100 sites over the next 10 years through site search and acquisition, both in roadside and city centre locations…

Guestroom inside Mollie's Motel

Originally conceived by Nick Jones MBA, the Founder of Soho House, Mollie’s launched in 2019 with a Motel, Diner and Drive-Thru in Buckland, Oxfordshire, followed earlier this year by the second at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, where the group invested in excess of £15 million. The third is expected to arrive in 2022 and will shelter a larger hotel in the former Granada TV Studios in Manchester city centre, with a Soho House located above on the building’s top floors.

A further 10 locations have already been earmarked as part of the immediate expansion plan.

Exterior of Mollie's Motel & Diner

Image credit: Mollie’s Motel & Diner

Exclusively designed by the Soho House interiors team, Mollie’s mission is to forge a new ‘budget luxe’ proposition within the travel and leisure industry – focusing on stylish, affordable stays, contemporary design, excellent service, innovative tech, sustainability and destination dining inspired by the retro American roadside diner.

Mollie’s has two formats and are seeking two- to three-acre freehold sites in strategic edge-of-town or roadside locations with the opportunity for 75-plus bedrooms, 145-plus cover diner and car parking. The city centre model will focus on prime city centre locations with high prominence with an opportunity for more than 100 bedrooms, 145-plus cover diner and 125-plus cover lounge/bar.

With significant investor support, the brand’s aims to grow to 100 sites in the next 10 years. To achieve this, it has retained Fleurets to support the expansion plan through site search and acquisition, both in roadside and city centre locations.

“We are delighted to be working with Mollie’s to grow this exciting challenger concept in the hotel and leisure market,” said Paul Hardwick Head of Hotels at Fleurets and Kevin Conibear, Head of Urban Markets at Fleurets. “Mollie’s has reinvented the perception of the roadside hotel and diner, with high quality accommodation and dining, but at affordable prices. The customer response to Bristol has been hugely positive and this is a welcome addition and enhancement to the vibrancy of our city centres and edge of town, roadside locations.”

Mollie’s Motel & Diner is now backed by a new strategic shareholder cohort and led by Managing Director, Darren Sweetland (Soho House, Tesco Plc).

> Since you’re here, why not read about the latest expansion plans from Soho House?

Main image credit: Mollie’s Motel & Diner

Roundtable: The art of lighting

Live roundtable: The art of lighting

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Live roundtable: The art of lighting

In Hotel Designs’ first live roundtable since the beginning of the pandemic, in association with Dernier & Hamlyn, editor Hamish Kilburn gathered leading interior designers to discuss the art of lighting in 2021 and beyond – from downlights to pendants and pitfalls in-between. Scroll down to meet the panellists and to catch the conversation…

Roundtable: The art of lighting

To celebrate Hotel Designs putting the spotlight on lighting this month – and following the recent virtual roundtable on ethical lighting – the editorial team along with Dernier & Hamlyn invited a handful of designers together to explore where designers’ are putting their focus when decoratively lighting hotel spaces.

Meet the panel:

Hamish Kilburn: What key elements should designers focus on when lighting public areas?

Darren Orrow: Lighting is an integral part of the guest journey and experience, it helps tell a story and create the ambience. Lighting treatments should be tailored to suit each area’s function and be controllable from morning to evening. The colour temperature and warmth of light must be considered in all areas but in particular areas for relaxation, lounging and dining.

With regard to architectural lighting it is about the light effect as opposed to seeing the light fixtures, downlights are often best kept to a minimum. Many fantastic lighting schemes are created from predominantly decorative and integrated lighting treatments, with accent lighting only used to highlight specific task areas and displays where they can add highlights and drama. Decorative lighting is so important in public spaces from both the point of view of their visual aesthetic and the contribution of light to the overall ambience. Table lights and standard lamps encourage guests to sit and relax.

There are a number of hotel operators with lighting guidelines that need to be followed for areas such as reception and check in, which need to be well lit to carry out admin tasks, often overnight when the rest of the lobby lighting is at a very low level / in sleeper mode. So, local lighting to such task areas is preferred in order to not overlight the area. Stair areas also have minimum light level and uniformity requirements.

Image caption: Editor Hamish Kilburn leading the conversation with leading designers on the art of lighting. | Image credit: Dish Creative/James Munson

Image caption: Editor Hamish Kilburn leading the conversation with leading designers on the art of lighting. | Image credit: Dish Creative/James Munson

HK: When pitching to clients, how much detail do designers go into regarding lighting schemes?

DO: I would say that in the last eight years, lighting designers are being engaged in the project really early on in the process. While the interior designer has an initial vision before we are involved – establishing the overall ambiance and decorative details –the best schemes are the ones where a lighting designer is involved in the concept stages of the hotel. Any later than that, then the opportunity to get really creative with lighting becomes limited.

Mimi Shodeinde: With a supplier like Dernier & Hamlyn, I would send them a concept that I have and then the team in the factory come back with suggestions. After this, I will go into the factory and we will together go through drawings and produce models. This is when the concept really develops.

Gemma McCloskey: I think when designers start to look at interior architectural plans and spaces, when they are establishing elements such as the ceiling and wallcoverings, they innately consider where the lighting is going to be integrated. Like Darren said, we also make a conscious decision to stay away from downlights. When looking at the layers of the interior/architecture you start realising which lights would work. Once you have that finalised, and FF&E you can then start allocating where the lighting can be placed before speaking to a lighting consultant in order to qualify how much light we need and advise us on technical details.

Una Barac: From my perspective, we try to get lighting designers on board as soon as we are appointed on large hotel schemes. We do explain to the client that, yes, we have engineers ourselves, but in order to get the successful layering you need a lighting consultant on board straight away. We also recommended that they are kept on board as a guardian role, especially when a contractor can really dumb it down. And if someone is not there keeping a watchful eye on value engineering then all that work can go to waste.

HK: Guy, you have completed simply stunning projects inside iconic, heritage buildings. What have been some of the challenges you have faced – and more to the point, what were the solutions?

Guy Oliver: I think there’s a tendency to over-light spaces. Everyone demonises downlights, but in a banqueting scenario, downlights are a good thing in order to make the food pop on the table. In a beautiful restaurant, they have remote control pin spots because they want to make, for example, the flowers or the food stand out. There are always these wonderful layers of lighting in heritage buildings, such as majestic chandeliers, wall lighting and these modern spots – it creates a really nice juxtaposition.

For me as a designer, it’s all about creating an atmosphere. He is the opposite, he likes to under light a lot of space. Take the Chiltern Firehouse, for example, you’re finding your way around because it’s deliberate to create a dark, moody and sexy ambiance. For me as a designer, I am designing a mise én scene.

I think strip lighting is overused. When you are sitting in a space for a long period of time, linear lighting can burn into your retina. There are other ways you can dramatically light a space, and there’s a hotel in Paris which is a perfect example. Instead of adding that harsh strip lighting under the bar, instead they just added decorative lighting on the shelves, which just highlights certain hotspots. Lighting does not have to be complex. I was in a beautiful palazzo in Malta, where I noticed a single light bulb in the entrance hall, and it was one of the most atmospheric places I have been to because it [the light] bounces off the paintings, mirrors and silver.

“Sometimes lighting can flatten a painting, and it’s really about getting the textures and layering into place.” – Guy Oliver, Managing Director, Oliver Law.

The Wigmore at The Langham London - Dernier & Hamlyn's luxury lighting

Image credit: The Wigmore/Dernier & Hamlyn

HK: Would you say art is a key area you are looking at when injecting sensitive lighting into a space?

GO: Don’t get me started on picture lighting… you could do a whole roundtable discussion on it. I think you should work with artists in spaces. Designers need to consider the period of the space they are in as well as the period of the object that they are trying to illuminate. Sometimes lighting can flatten a painting, and it’s really about getting the textures and layering into place. Sometimes, the painting itself can become the lighting source.

DO: It also depends on whether it’s framed in glass or the size of the piece. For us, it’s a nightmare when the artwork is chosen too late. The wall light needs to be ordered to match what art is going where. Ideally, we like to ask our clients to map out what’s been supplied and the materials being used.

HK: Does this then create a challenge when hotels want to shelter an art residency instead of having fixed pieces?

GO: Sometimes a client doesn’t know what they want, or, as you say it’s a hotel that wants to start an art narrative by launching a residency. Sometimes, clients are collecting art as they go. A simple and flexible solution for this is to put a clock point on a wall where the painting is roughly going to be. From there, you can get any painting and movie it around the clock point so that the picture light is on the frame. Often, I see spaces where the lighting is highlighting the wall and not the painting, which is a classic error in my opinion.

HK: How far can we take lighting in hotel design? It’s come a long way from simply being a decorative element in a room?

MS: Art was my first calling, and this has absolutely enforced my work. As designers, our minds are our largest tool. Essentially, if you can imagine it you can create it. I love working with bespoke products – it’s very rewarding seeing your concepts come to life. We are working on a few new lighting pieces with Dernier & Hamlyn. It’s a lot of fun, seeing my sketches come to life.

Akram Fahmi: I am working with an artist at the moment who made a paint that you simply cannot purchase. We are using this in a restaurant concept with the aim to really tell a story about this paint and artwork. For this, we have inversed the concept by playing with shadows instead of ‘light’, allowing this feature to become a dynamic statement, which changes as different light is added to it.

Working with the artist from the beginning has been a really nice journey. Often, we, as designers, will design a space not knowing exactly what the art is until later on in the process. However, this way, we were able to really ensure that the art, the colour and the lighting really weaved themselves into the DNA of the interior design scheme.

“Often with bespoke lighting we have to really do the leg work to find a supplier who will be able to design the product within the time frame while also being on budget.” – Alex Holloway, Co-Founder, Holloway Li.

MH: As a bespoke manufacturer, our boundaries are set by the imaginations of interior and lighting designers. Some of the more interesting projects we have worked on have included incorporating egg whisks into a pendant for a restaurant, believe it or not.  We’ve also used branches from the trees on a golf course to wrap around large parchment shades to help bring the outside feeling into a large space. And for another project we used scent bottles filled with different coloured waters for a perfumery company. We’ve also worked with a vast range of diverse materials such as Vellum, ceramic tiles, plaster, fibre glass, resins and the notoriously challenging shagreen.

Alex Holloway: In a lot of the hotel projects I worked on, we were not given the luxury of a lighting designer in the budget. We are also quite restricted on our FF&E budgets and our time on a project. Often with bespoke lighting we have to really do the leg work to find a supplier who will be able to design the product within the time frame while also being on budget. In one project, I remember speaking to four different manufacturers who simply could not make the lead time.

UB: Even on high-end refurbishment projects, we sometimes don’t get the luxury of a lighting designer. When we work on residential schemes, clients sometimes give us 12 weeks. We need to know, straight up, what your lead times are.

Mark Harper: It all depends how quickly we are brought into the team. If it’s left until the last minute, then of course we have still got to do all the research and development because a lot of what is being specified is unique. Research and development takes time. The sooner designers can get manufacturers on board, the better it is.

AH: What is great about the projects we get to work on is that as well as picking from the mix of decorative off-the-shelf products, you can also develop your own products within your projects. We have set ourselves a task each time we work on a project to create at least one bespoke element, which creates a unique language around the project. In addition to the aesthetic benefits, it also really allows our design team to understand a lot more about lighting as a result – it’s a fantastic learning curve.

“We are being asked to promote biophilic design, which is really looking at all senses.” – Una Barac, Founder, Atellior.

UB: It’s interesting. We have used lighting manufacturers to help us with lighting calculations and lighting advice when the client has chosen not to use a lighting designer. The reason being is that otherwise, engineers will just kill it – the first thing they would say is that decorative does not come into the deluxe level calculations and if you want to pass building control you have to have a certain amount of down-lighting. So, we have used friendly suppliers to help us when faced with these situations.

Image caption: Nobu Restaurant inside Nobu London Portman Square. | Image credit: Jack Hardy

Image caption: Nobu Restaurant inside Nobu London Portman Square (lighting manufactured by Dernier & Hamlyn). | Image credit: Jack Hardy

HK: There seems to be a louder conversation happening around sensory design at the moment. What’s lighting’s role in this movement?

UB: More and more we are being asked to promote biophilic design, which is really looking at all senses. When doing so, obviously, we have to look at utilising daylight and generally creating a better, healthier environment.

DO: We are also seeing this. The challenge we are seeing is that real plants need the right quality and amount of light in order to stay alive. And sometimes the light needed is not always the light you want in a moody bar or restaurant, for example. So sometimes, we have a different light to switch on when the restaurant is closed. We are also seeing a lot of clients using real plants where you can touch them and faux plants where you can’t, which makes the whole space easier to maintain.

GM: There is a line where it becomes too gimmicky, and sometimes it’s just best to let the light do what it naturally wants to do.

“We are now looking at really simple solutions like a tuneable, soft bedside light.” Darren Orrow, Director, into Lighting.

GO: Anyone who has control over the lighting, from an operational perspective, has to firstly understand atmosphere.

GM: If it’s suitable for the hotel brand, playing on the senses through lighting design can be really interesting. However, for most hotel brands, I fear it will enter a gimmicky territory.

DO: The whole circadian rhythm conversation is really interesting. It’s colour mixing white light. Controls can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be. In a hotel room, I believe the control should be with the guest, to be able to tune their lighting how they want it. We are now looking at really simple solutions like a tuneable, soft bedside light. For other hotel clients, we are looking at integrating the real flame effect from candles into the bathroom lighting scheme, creating a spa-like look and feel in the evening.

AK: I think you need to find a balance. You can inject high-tech software with a user-friendly interface. I think guests miss having a switch, and especially in a hotel, the controls need to be simple yet intelligent.

HK: And finally, what would you say are your biggest bugbears in lighting design?

DO: For me, as a lighting designer, the wrong lightbulb being used in a beautiful fitting. The specification of the lightbulb needs to come from the lighting design and/or the interior designer.

GO: Lighting lifts. Anything that comes as standard, forget it when lighting lifts. One of the cheapest tricks is to install a light panel, which literally look like you are in an operating theatre. If you put a panel under it, it softens the lighting. Sometimes people add lighting on the skirting, but it’s a very difficult space to light.

GM: Corridor spaces where designers don’t accept darkness, if that’s suitable for the space. Forcing lighting into spaces is often a big pitfall.

Key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Most designers prefer to have a lighting designer on board if budgets allow
  • Bespoke lighting manufacturers want to be involved at the earliest stages of a project
  • The wrong type of lightbulb can be a disaster
  • Getting the right balance between over and under lighting is key
  • The Wigmore in London does great chips!

Dernier & Hamlyn 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 credit: Dernier & Hamlyn

Independent Hotel Show Awards 2021

Independent Hotel Show Awards 2021 – and the winners are…

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Independent Hotel Show Awards 2021 – and the winners are…

The winners have been announced for the 2021 Independent Hotel Show Awards, which took place on the first evening of the show that was held at Olympia London…

Independent Hotel Show Awards 2021

On October 4, the industry gathered at Olympia London to experience this year’s highly anticipated Independent Hotel Show Awards, which for many reasons, was about celebrating UK hospitality’s true leaders and visionaries.

Joanne Taylor-Stagg FIH MI, General Manager of The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences secured Independent Hotelier, while Anna Sirba, Operations Manager at Salcombe Harbour Hotel, was awarded GM of the Future, in partnership with The Master Innholders. Juris Dubrovskis, Executive Housekeeper at The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences, was additionally named ‘One to Watch’ by the judges, for his ‘tenacity, drive and passion for hospitality’.

The judges for both awards were some of the industry’s most respected hoteliers and hospitality professionals hailing from iconic independent hotels and vital industry institutions.

Taylor-Stagg has overseen multi-million-pound refurbishments, worked on acquisitions and refinancing deals and has a passion for progressing and nurturing young talent. She played a pivotal role in setting up the inaugural IHG Academy helping the young and long-term unemployed return to work and recently worked with Dr Hilary Cooke to create Master Innholders Developing Additional Skills (MIDAS) in response to the exodus of young talent from the industry due to Covid-19.

She commented: “I’m very proud, not only of our achievements but of everything that the industry has done through the most challenging of times. Thank you very much for this, but I would like to share it with all my fellow nominees.”

Sirba has successfully taken part in two luxury hotel pre-opening projects, is a Member of the Institute of Hospitality and a Certified Associate member of HOSPA, and commented: “I’m extremely honoured, I still can’t believe it, I can’t thank my team enough for supporting me. It’s been really tough but also amazing and without my team I wouldn’t be here – thank you very much!”

David Morgan-Hewitt FIH MI, awards judge and Chairman of the Master Innholders, said: “The GM of the Future Award was created by The Master Innholders to champion the next generation of hotel leaders and is designed to celebrate those who go the ‘extra mile’ to demonstrate their commitment to becoming a future leader.

“Anna and Juris both embody these qualities and share a great passion for the hotel industry. On behalf of The Master Innholders I congratulate them on their awards and extend a well done to all finalists who demonstrated such a high standard of entry.”

Elena Attanasio, Event Director for the Independent Hotel Show, presented by James Hallam, commented: “Huge congratulations to our 2021 award winners. This year’s event is a vital celebration and chance to reconnect as a hospitality community. Both Joanne and Anna have demonstrated their passion for this fantastic industry and are hugely deserving of these accolades.”

Outstanding contribution

A surprise addition to the evening’s accolades was an Outstanding Contribution award for long-standing Independent Hotel Show Ambassador and industry veteran Peter Hancock FIH MI, outgoing CEO of Pride of Britain Hotels.

David Noble, Managing Director – Hospitality and Leisure at James Hallam, announced the award, saying: “This is an award given to a person to reflect their contribution to the hotel sector. It isn’t given every year, but this year there is one person that deserves special recognition.

“Our winner was made an honorary Master Innholder in 2014, something I know he holds dear to his heart. He is also an honorary St Julian scholar, a brilliant Ronnie Corbett impersonator, a Freeman of the City of London and the list goes on.

“He is a wonderful human being, and his sparkle will leave a legacy in the hotel sector for many years to come. It is my great pleasure to introduce you to the winner of the Outstanding Contribution award. It is the one, and only, Peter Hancock.”

Hancock said: “I was absolutely thrilled and surprised to receive the Outstanding Contribution award at the Independent Hotel Show. It was such a lovely tribute. When you get to the end of your career, a little pat on the back can go a long way to making you feel good about it and to receive the award in front of such a distinguished audience at the show meant a great deal to me and I shall cherish it forever.”

Learn more about the award winners on the Independent Hotel Show website. The Independent Hotel Show will return to Olympia London on 4-5 October 2022.

Main image credit: Independent Hotel Show Awards 2021

Image of klink weights on table

How fitness brand Klink is taking on the hospitality industry

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
How fitness brand Klink is taking on the hospitality industry

With fitness, wellness and wellbeing all high up on the agenda for modern travellers, a major challenge for interior designers and brands is working out how to cater to these demands while also utilising space. Cue the arrival of Klink, a new modular fitness solution designed for the future hospitality arena. Editor Hamish Kilburn meets Nikita McCoy, the brand’s Founder, to find out more…

Image of klink weights on table

If ever there was time for people from outside the conventional parameters of the industry to emerge with new, revolutionary ideas and concepts, it is now. Post-pandemic, the industry has re-opened with a new perspective, in search for purposeful solutions to ensure brands remain at the front of the curve of new trends and behaviours around how people travel and use hotel space.

Image of detachable weight on table

Image credit: Klink

Although, we are learning (and narrating) as we go, we do know that guests checking in to hotels have spent more than 18 months locked in to the confides of their own homes – working, living and exercising within their own space – which has no doubt changed guests’ behaviour on a generic level.

So, with change whistling through the crisp Autumn, I met up with with Nikita McCoy, an NHS nurse who had the revolutionary idea to launch Klink, a new brand that is setting a new standard across the fitness scene by offering something entirely different for the premium hospitality industry.

“I felt there was a need for more compact, stylish equipment.” – Nikita McCoy, Founder, Klink.

Stacked Klink weights

Image credit: Klink

Hamish Kilburn: So, Nikita, tell us more about how Klink was born…

Nikita McCoy: Klink was born over the first lockdown; right at the beginning on the Covid-19 Pandemic. While hiring equipment from our local gym, I felt there was a need for more compact, stylish equipment. I wanted to have something simple to use, good quality while also practical. Being an engineer, my husband soon started to work on this after I brought the idea to his attention. His [engineering] flare enabled us to bring this hazy vision to life very quickly. Working on our design was a positive distraction to the reality of Covid-19 during lockdown, especially as I was working as a nurse at this time.

HK: Are the days of small, compact hotel gyms (that are constantly congested) over for the bleisure (business/leisure) traveller?

NM: Gyms will always have their place, as they are a positive space to be in. For us, it is about aiding an effective workout with high quality equipment in an environment that is suitable for the user. I believe that Klink would be a great addition for any premium wellness space, especially in a hotel suite or guestroom where a people can have easy access to their own equipment to use within their own time. In-room equipment is something more hoteliers are investing in. Exercise equipment should be as much of an essential as a mini bar!

HK: Tell us more about the technology behind Klink – how do the mechanisms work?

NM: Klink is patent pending and our modular system sets us apart from the rest. We have unique locking technology that isn’t only effective but also easy to use. The simplicity of our mechanisms is in keeping with our brand. Twist it, click it, lift it!

“All our components are manufactured and sourced from UK businesses, and this is something we are extremely proud of.” – Nikita McCoy, Founder, Klink.

HK: Why was it so important for the brand to keep all aspects of design and manufacturing local?

NM: After recently starting our own engineering business in 2018, we fully understand the importance of local manufacturing. All our components are manufactured and sourced from UK businesses, and this is something we are extremely proud of. It’s more important now than ever to support and grow our own economy. I also like building working relationships with other UK-based manufacturers and suppliers and seeing what we can do together to achieve business goals.

HK: In your opinion, what is driving the demand for wellness and wellbeing in the luxury hotel market?

NM: The pandemic has changed so many aspects of our world. Health is very much at the forefront physically and mentally. Individuals seek out exercise more so now than ever. The hotel environment is a great way to relax, recharge and wind down but that doesn’t mean exercise has no place. Hoteliers are engaging in this shift change and aiming to provide their guests with in-room personal workout spaces. A lot of individuals enjoy exercise as a way to start and boost their day. This should not be compromised and accessed easily. No hotel would want bulky fitness equipment cluttering rooms. Therefore, it’s essential that it flows with the theme of the space – the design of the products need to be sleek and functional. Klink ticks all these boxes.

“We are proud to have the only marine-grade quick-release, adjustable equipment on the market at this time.” – Nikita McCoy, Founder, Klink.

HK: Why are Klink products ideal for both the luxury hotel market and the marine industry?

NM: Klink products have their place in many different settings. Ideal for the home where space is a premium and the customer would like a large variation of weights without a rack of dumbbells. In the luxury hotel market we can provide what we enjoy the most and bespoke our equipment to brand and utilise our custom storage solutions. Klink is functional and aesthetically pleasing and can fit into any luxury interior design theme.

Regarding the marine industry, we can bespoke manufacture all of our Klink range in 316 stainless steel also known as marine grade steel. In doing so, we offer extra corrosion protection against the elements. We are proud to have the only marine-grade quick-release, adjustable equipment on the market at this time. We are a perfect fitness addition to the yacht world. Add some of quirky colourful storage cases to secure your equipment and you have an ideal space saving solution.

HK: What’s next for Klink?

NM: As a new company, we are focusing on brand awareness and guiding our product into the areas it belongs. We have some exciting collaborations to come and look forward to showcasing how versatile and fantastic our product is. There’s much more of Klink to come in the days ahead, so watch this space!

Klink is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Klink

Cheila Gibbs portrait

Women leading hospitality: An interview with Cheila Gibbs

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Women leading hospitality: An interview with Cheila Gibbs

Cheila Gibbs’ one-stop hub for hospitality concept development was built while she was working for the best hotels and restaurants in London. As part of Hotel Designs’ continued efforts to support women in hospitality and design, editor Hamish Kilburn finds out more about how Gibbs has challenged conventional approaches – in business and in hospitality…

Cheila Gibbs portrait

When meeting with Chelia Gibbs, one of London’s leading hospitality consultants, I was not so interested to follow the gender narrative. Instead, I wanted to know more about how Gibbs, despite set-backs, set new standards in hospitality and business when creating her brand.

Gibbs’ concept was built while she was working for the best hotel and restaurants in London. She identified a gap in the market for good operators in London and worldwide. Building an impressive roster, Gibbs’ first A to Z project was Terry Venables’ La Escondida Hotel in Spain, resulting in the nomination of one of the 15 best new hotels in the world within its first year of trading.

Since then, the brand has successfully opened, managed and transformed some of the most talked-about restaurants, hotels and members clubs, including Bistro du Vin, Soho House’s Dean Street Townhouse, The Laslett in Notting Hill and Daios Cove in Crete (among others).

Hamish Kilburn: Throughout your career, who were your biggest inspirations?

CG: I take inspiration from and have had the privilege of working with some incredible females in this business. From Anne Golden, Carrie wicks, and the founders of All Bright – Debbie Wosskow and Anna Jones, but my first mentor was Joyce Schneider when I opened the Marriott in Indianapolis.  They provided me with guidance on many situations based on their experience within the work environment. They understand ‘how things really get done’ within the company and have the ability and knowledge to jumpstart networking relationships, and most importantly, how to balance motherhood and work. I am extremely lucky to have several amazing people around me that inspire me daily.

My teams; they must keep my pace, wake when I do, sleep when I do, act before I think, and are always on top of their game. I have a deep appreciation and genuine love for those that surround me.

Also, my husband – he truly grounds me and provides me with the encouragement and space I need to be a pioneer in hospitality consultancy.

A modern, green and light bar and restaurant

Image credit: Allbright

HK: As a leader in your business, how do you set the tone for the team?

CG: My business style is to be a coaching leader. Someone who can quickly recognise their team members’ strengths, weaknesses, and motivations to help each individual improve. I assist team members by setting goals and providing regular feedback with challenging projects. I find it helpful to have clear expectations and create a positive, motivating environment for my team.

Unfortunately, this style of leadership is often one of the most underused styles – largely because it can be more time consuming than other types of leadership but I find it the most advantageous for both myself and my team.

HK: Over the years, have you encountered any barriers to your success or growth as a female in your field?

CG: Through the years I have learned to put myself first so that I can be better for the days that roll into weeks and months, where days off are never an option. Sadly, and like many others, I have had to deal with prejudice, discrimination, and sexism, but I have never allowed that to define me, and it is a battle I believe I overcome with grace.

Being a man or a woman is not a factor in determining your commitment, knowledge, or understanding of a business or personal success. A fail-safe strategy to get ahead is to be flexible, open, and honest to what you can commit to. You do not get to be the best without being organised, assertive, and realising that your best resource in a business is the people around you. Your teams can be your biggest threat or your greatest blessing.

In the past, people wondered if I could lead and hold my own as a woman in business. This underestimation of my abilities became a secret weapon in my arsenal for success. I remember starting on a multi-million-pound hotel & restaurant opening, sitting at the head of the table with 20 burly builders all looking perplexed; within the first five minutes of me speaking, they knew I had earned the right to sit there.

“Raised by an African mum, I grew up surrounded by assertive women.” – Cheila Gibbs.

When a woman speaks her mind and is assertive, she is likely to be labelled as ‘aggressive’ throughout her career, and I have experienced that first-hand. To be honest, initially I thought this was a positive description of my performance. I took it to mean that I was a go-getter and that my colleagues and managers appreciated that I had a mind of my own. Raised by an African mum, I grew up surrounded by assertive women whom I viewed as role models. As time went by however, it became clear to me that the term ‘aggressive’ has a negative connotation, especially in London.

I have never backed down from being ‘aggressive’ or as I prefer to call it – ‘direct’ in business.  Having ambition and speaking with authority are not aggressive acts. Yes, I have a direct communication style paired with a positive attitude and much respect for those who work with me, and I am proud of what we have achieved together.

HK: What’s helped you build confidence? 

CG: We must always remember that no one is perfect. Even the most confident people have insecurities, and there is no one alive who hasn’t made a mistake. Don’t let one wrong turn, or even a few of them, make you think you don’t have what it takes to achieve your goals and reach your desired success.

HK: What’s the greatest risk you’ve undertaken?

La Escondida with Terry Venables. It was Create Generate’s first project. We were in a different country, with a different language, different rules, and most definitely a different mentality and I was so young, but eager for the challenge. It could have gone so wrong but thanks to a lot of research, hard work and determination we created a concept and executed it in the best way possible. La Escondia was nominated as one of the 15 best new hotels in the world within its first year of trading – something I am very proud of.  As they say, with great risk often comes great rewards.

HK: Do you have any advice for those looking to be different in a congested luxury hotel market? 

Believe in yourself and in your dreams. Do not think you have less of a chance as a woman to achieve what you want, whatever the position you are aiming for. Just keep going towards your goal, never give up. Hard work and persistence pays off!

> Since you’re here, why not read about the women who are pioneering a new wave in motel hospitality and design?

Main image credit: Chelia Gibbs

Häfele UK hotel room

Industry insight: “Vital services add value to industry recovery”

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Industry insight: “Vital services add value to industry recovery”

While the hotel sector is in the midst of a defining era, Paul Smith, Head of Specification Sales at Häfele UK, believes that economic instability, pandemic recovery and tighter budgets are driving great change…

Häfele UK hotel room

Due to recent cultural shifts and strains, operators are creating lean, agile business models that ensure customers receive the same high levels of service they expect, but with more efficient processes in place.

Jobs that have been preserved during the last two years of turbulence will, inevitably, be stretched to cover different roles within a hotel. And as a result, many operators are implementing technology and using their trusted suppliers to help attract customers through their doors.

Thankfully, there is a wealth of products that work in a complementary fashion to make the experience of staying in a hotel a personal, tailor-made and technologically advanced experience.

For example, access control systems like Dialock enable a guest to check in and out at their convenience, gain access to a building’s facilities and secure items within furniture in their room, using approved third party apps such as Hotelbird. It works seamlessly in connection with lighting systems like Loox, which are triggered to come on once a user gains entry to their room and can be adapted – in both colour and intensity – to suit the guest’s mood and need.

Meanwhile, sliding doors can be tailored to open at the touch of a button on a smartphone to provide a guest access to different rooms and amenities within a space. Operators can programme their own level of access, enabling them to maintain control over spaces that are prohibited from public access. These activities require less staff intervention and therefore save teams time, which can be put to greater use.

However, bringing all these systems together under one roof requires an expert eye; the knowledge of a team that understands your building type, function and who will use it, all while ensuring you remain compliant with building and construction industry standards and regulations.

Häfele’s team of specification experts work closely with architects, contractors and hotel operators, helping to bring their ambitions to life. Whether it’s a refit of an outdated scheme, which aims to make long term time and cost savings, or a new development set across multiple locations over several years, we’ll embed ourselves to your vision and recommend the best products and services for your needs.

The 150+ years of experience in our Projects team means we know what can be put into a space to make it more functional. After listening to and understanding your brief, our specification team will provide a specification schedule, which is tailored around you and easy to follow. The functionality of your space will be prioritised; it’ll be compliant to all relevant regulations, your fire safety strategy, accessibility and egress.

We’ll supply CAD drawings, images and BIM assets where available to your design team to help them bring together each of our different systems – Dialock, Loox, sliding door gear, architectural hardware and more – to one complementary scheme. Once all parties are happy, we’ll then introduce additional, valued services to continue making the process streamlined and cost-effective. Häfele to Order, for example, was created to save time, minimise ordering errors, and improve efficiency on-site and during the installation process of lots of our products. All your components can be specified to exact size, quantity and finish, which are then cut, assembled, packaged, labelled and delivered to your specific requirements.

From minimalist design schemes to luxe fit outs, and from boutique, independent facilities to mass market settings which must be consistent in their look and feel, our service provision is built on our experience within the industry and the close relationships we hold with those working on hospitality and leisure projects every day. Our packages of assistance are designed to support every level of the supply chain, from the architect at initial consultation and design phase, to the installer delivering the fit out and, ultimately, the hotel operator who benefits from their space being a functional, effective place to work and reside. We’re here to be a part of everyone’s team, to ensure your refit or fit out achieves everything it needs to.

Häfele UK is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Häfele UK

Pool at Four Seasons Lodge

Hotel concepts: 3 hotel pools that will blow your mind

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel concepts: 3 hotel pools that will blow your mind

Editor Hamish Kilburn continues to enjoy this month’s spotlight on ‘hotel concepts’ by sharing three hotel pools that he discovered recently…

Many would argue that the sign of a quality hotel can be measured by the quality of its pool – we’re talking more style over size.

Pool at Four Seasons Lodge

With my wellness hat on – in sync, I hasten to add, with modern traveller demands as we start to emerge from the pandemic with a hunger for wellbeing – I have been on a quest to find unconventional design pools – and here’s what I found.

Villa Vedas at The Luxe Nomad

It’s not strictly a hotel (forgive me) but Villa Vedas, which is exclusively managed by The Luxe Nomad, is a prime example of a property that decided to tear up the rulebook when designing its interiors. Villa Vedas is designed and engineered to feature a breathtaking 22-metre span without any supporting columns in order to provide an unobstructed view right through the property and out to sea. The villa itself represents approximately 1,800 square metres of construction, and is a modern architecturally designed home that is unique and unequalled, with many interesting design features, most of which have been meticulously fabricated on site. The property features a large living area, dining areas, a bar, a media or snooker room, and two bedrooms downstairs, and three bedrooms upstairs. The living area can be opened to benefit from the regular breeze off the ocean, or alternatively enclosed and air conditioned by deploying the Häfele glass sliding wall system, and turning on the Daikin VRV central air-conditioning system.

“I am the Robin Hood of building. Not only do I clean Indonesia and help solve the worlds plastic problem, I feed the poor doing it.” – Designer Stuart Bevan.

But that’s not all. The designer behind this wonderful project, Stuart Bevan, has recently taken a turn towards a sustainable future with an innovative approach to pool design and management. “I was also the builder and the local designer in collaboration with an Australian architect for Mrs Sippy Bali, Bali’s premier pool club that featured Bali’s biggest saltwater pool, Bali’s first and only high dive tower with 4m deep pool and the first pool in the world to to use my new newly developed 100 per cent recycled plastic pool finish. EcoLuxe is a beadcrete made from recycled water bottles. The average pool uses 150,000 water bottles. That’s 150,000 bottles off the beach, out of the rivers and landfill. I take plastic out of the system, not just recycle it. I swap rice with local villages, kilo for kilo to collect waste plastic for my product. It is taking Bali by storm! And  I am about to start international export. Indonesia only recycles two per cent of its plastic. I have an unlimited supply of raw material, only it needs to be hand collected. Hence my rice swap program. I am the Robin Hood of building. Not only do I clean Indonesia and help solve the worlds plastic problem, I feed the poor doing it.”

The Spa at 45 Park Lane

It’s impressive all on its own that 45 Park Lane, a luxury hotel that was once mistaken for sitting in The Dorchester’s illustrious shadow, has recently unveiled a new spa that now shelters the longest pool on Park Lane – the real estate alone in that leafy corner of London usually mean that spa facilities are limited in place for large revenue-generating F&B outlets. But against the odds, 45 Park Lane, which is part of The Dorchester Collection, can now boast itself as a place that nurtures both wellness and wellbeing in style. What makes this project even more extraordinary is the fact that the new spa is located underground, which created a challenge for designer  Jouin Manku and developer Clivedale London. The answer on how to bring the outdoors in was to adorn the walls with hand-placed mosaic tiles to inject a sensitive nod to biophilic design. The result is an enchanting space that feels far removed from the hustle and bustle of London.

Four Seasons Safari Lodge

It’s all in the location for our next property, which is strategically situated next to a watering hold in the Serengeti, Africa. Perched on a series of elevated platforms and walkways, the Lodge allows guests an unparalleled view of the local safari wildlife from the comfort of the pool.

Main image credit: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Collage of interior images of inside the Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Now open: Inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Now open: Inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Following our cheeky sneak peek inside the hotel that was published earlier this year, Ace Hotel Brooklyn is open – with interior design by Roman and Williams , and architecture from Stonehill Taylor

From the brand who shook up conventional public areas and encouraged the rest of the hospitality industry to open their doors to the community as well as travellers, Ace Hotels has officially arrived in Brooklyn.

Collage of interior images of inside the Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Located in Downtown Brooklyn, the hotel stands on the cusp of Boerum Hill, above the ever-evolving intersection of everything: a geographical Venn diagram of intersecting energies, from the tree-lined streets and brownstones of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens to the art and culture clusters of Fort Greene, and all the way down to the restless East River. The property offers 287 guestrooms, an expansive in-room art programme, a public lobby with multiple bars and an art gallery, plus additional food and beverage outlets on the horizon. Designed by Roman and Williams, with architecture by Stonehill Taylor, Ace Brooklyn’s unique facade welds seamlessly with interiors inspired by the raw artist studio spaces of the European modernists — with soothing and stylish custom furnishings outfitting its every alcove.

> Since you’re here, why not read a roundtable on the new era of lifestyle hospitality, featuring Stonehill Taylor’s Sara Duffy?

“We see Brooklyn as it’s own city, filled with so much hope, possibility and excitement for the future,” said Brad Wilson, President, Ace Hotel Group. Ace Brooklyn has been a labour of love — a gorgeous building in many ways a reunion and a reinvention, and one we’re delighted to share with our guests and neighbours as the evolution of Ace Hotel. We’re proud to have filled its spaces with the talents of many collaborators across art, design and culture; it’s a testament and tribute to the irrepressible creative energy of the borough, and a firm investment in its future.”

Made up of metal, glass and precast concrete elements, the building’s rough-edged façade celebrates the natural beauty of its materials, along with the rugged handiwork of the builders who brought them together. The facade’s dramatic centrepiece is a custom ceramic mural crafted by iconic modernist Stan Bitters, coupled with a sculptural light installation designed by Roman and Williams in homage to the Hotel Okura in Tokyo — a beacon of modernist hospitality designed by Yoshiro Taniguchi, which was sadly demolished in 2015.

Inside, interiors marry exposed concrete with other naturally textural elements — surfaces of douglas fir, oak, plywoods and leathers — to form organic, open shapes throughout. The lobby features vintage and custom seating throughout, with half moon windows illuminating the lobby bar in natural light. The bar is finished with an original wall sculpture from RW Guild artist Verdan Jakšić, and a discreet, large scale drawing by Tara Geer.

“After seven years, we are proud to unveil one of our most comprehensive architectural and interior commissions to date for Ace Hotel Brooklyn, our third collaboration with Ace Hotel,” added Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, Founders and Principals, Roman and Williams. “We aimed to embrace a solid muscular design vocabulary, employing confident lasting construction methods and materials, ones with gravity and strength. A primitive modernist philosophy guided us, it is expressed in the tactile spirit of the design. From the building’s strong and unadorned facade, to the celebration of raw old growth timber in the public screens, to the honest plywood furniture collection in the bedrooms, we aspire to be as energetic and untamed as Brooklyn itself.” 

Drawing significant inspiration from Le Corbusier’s beloved workspace retreat Le Cabanon, the guest rooms at Ace Hotel Brooklyn were imagined as cabins of creative refuge: elegant and efficient, with the kind of breathing room that stirs up all sorts of possibilities. The furnishings are handcrafted from raw, understated materials — including custom sofas and chairs, classically-loomed cotton bedding and purpose-built, minimalist fixtures. Custom bed covers were crafted by Maine Heritage Weavers; bath products are from uka; in select rooms, acoustic guitars are provided by D’Angelico Guitars; turntables are made by Music Hall, with vinyl record selections courtesy of our friends at Rough Trade. Ace Brooklyn’s in-room art programme was curated by artist Niki Tsukamoto, and brings together a dream-woven assortment of original textile and fibre pieces from roughly two dozen artists, many based in the borough.

Guestroom inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Image credit: Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Throughout the rest of 2021, The Gallery at Ace Hotel Brooklyn will showcase works by artists featured in the guestrooms, starting with a show of textile works by Cynthia Alberto and Weaving Hand in July and August 2021. The hotel lobby’s Ace Shop will also be featuring custom home goods and jewellery from a number of the artists on an ongoing basis.

Main image credit: Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Hotel Designs events not to miss in August

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel Designs events not to miss in August

In just a few days time, Hotel Designs LIVE will return (on August 10) and entries for The Brit List Awards 2021 will close (on August 6). Editor Hamish Kilburn explains how you can attend and apply, free-of-charge, for both…

Following what has been the most stressful 18 months in the hospitality and hotel design industry in living history, Hotel Designs is gearing up for a jam-packed August, which will include the return of Hotel Designs LIVE – the virtual conference for all designers, architects, hoteliers and developers – and the deadline for industry professionals and brands to apply/nominate for The Brit List Awards 2021 is fast-approaching.

The Brit List Awards 2021Click here to apply/nominate free-of-charge (entries close on August 6)

The Brit List Awards is back for another year to identify the leading interiors designers, architects, hoteliers and suppliers operating in Britain. The applications/nominations process is free-of-charge – but hurry because entries close on August 6. After that, entries will be handed over to our expert panel of judges before the winners and the top 25 designers, architects and hoteliers in Britain will be unveiled at the Awards Ceremony on November 3 at PROUD Embankment, London.

Here’s a reminder of this year’s categories:

  • Interior Designer of the Year*
  • Architect of the Year*
  • Hotelier of the Year*
  • Best in Tech
  • The Eco Award
  • Best in British Product Design
  • The Rising Star Award (NEW FOR 2021)
  • International Award (NEW FOR 2021)
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry

*In addition to the individual awards that are up for grabs, the top 25 entries in the interior designarchitecture and hospitality categories will be profiled in the prestigious The Brit List, Hotel Designs’ annual publication that references the top 75 most influential individuals in British design, architecture and hospitality.

You can now purchase your tickets to attend the live awards ceremony, which takes place on November 3 at PROUD Embankment (designers, architects, hoteliers & developers, click here. Suppliers, click here).

Hotel Designs LIVE – August 10 | Click here to attend.

Exclusively open to designers, architects, hoteliers and developers, Hotel Designs LIVE was first launched in June 2020 to keep the conversation flowing and the industry connected during the pandemic.

For the fifth chapter of Hotel Designs LIVE, the event will shelter four engaging panel discussions on topics such as sensory design, sleep performance, surface trends and social areas, with world-renowned hotel design experts joining us throughout the day in order to ensure the conversations we start are meaningful and unlike any other.

Here’s a reminder of the agenda for the day:

Click here to read more about the various panel discussions and speakers who will join us at Hotel Designs LIVE. Click here to secure your space in the audience (limited places available).

Sneak peek: Inside Tembo Great Plains in Zimbabwe

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Sneak peek: Inside Tembo Great Plains in Zimbabwe

Great Plains, the iconic eco-tourism company led by wildlife filmmakers and conservationists Beverly and Dereck Joubert, is expected to open Tembo Plains Camp on August 1, 2021, which will become Relais & Châteaux’s debut property in Zimbabwe. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes…

In the heart of Africa, Great Plains is putting the finishing touches on what will become its latest luxury safari camp, which will also mark Relais & Châteaux’s debut in Zimbabwe.

As we have been following the story of Great Plains and Beverly and Dereck Joubert – and the fascinating lives they carve out for themselves and the community around their meaningful camps – it’s hard not to anticipate what the film makers-turned-hoteliers will do next. We last spoke to the couple a few months back when they teased us and our readers about two camps that were expected to arrive in the summer. Mara Toto Camp and Mara Plains Camp, both of which are now open in Kenya.

For those who know the Jouberts, though, will understand that their brand’s narrative is a never-ending, ever-evolving portfolio of authentically designed camps – after all, there is still so much of Africa to explore. The latest plot twist in what is no-doubt a difficult chapter for hospitality worldwide, is the entrance of Tembo Plains Camp, which will make its entrance in August as a proud member of Relais & Châteaux. Although, at the time of publishing, we are limited to how many images we have, you can see how the camp will, in true Great Plains style and substance, naturally blend into working around nature’s rhythm.

With four spacious guest tents, an exquisite two-bedroom family unit and a private guide tent, the camp, designed to frame African wildlife in all its majesty, will be ideal for couples, families, multi-generational travellers, and those looking for an exclusive personal safari experience.

The beautiful family unit, with interiors designed by Beverly, comprises two tents with a shared lounge and dining area and pool and will accommodate up to four adults, two adults and two children. Each guest tent offers an indoor lounge and outdoor dining area, private plunge pool and exercise bikes, in addition to expansive en-suite bathroom facilities, indoor baths, showers and double vanities. Guests have access to professional Canon cameras and Leica binoculars throughout their stay to capture the many special holiday moments.

“When I designed Tembo Plains Camp, it was with a view to reference the famous Grean Zimbabwe ruins but not lose sight of our love of canvas and exploring,” explained Dereck. “So we ended up with a unique combination of canvas and stone walls. The semi-circular walls inside each tent isolate the bath and shower from the bedroom and indoor lounge areas bringing that architectural reference inside. Outside, this pack-stone wall design continues along the back of the guest bedroom, and that really gives you a greater sense of privacy, often an issue in tents. I didn’t want a completely ‘built room’. Hence, the front has these uninterrupted views of the Zambezi flowing just meters away from the canvas ‘tented’ portion.”

‘Tembo’, meaning elephant, pays tribute to the animals frequently seen around Tembo Plains Camp along with painted dogs, buffalo, lions and leopards. The Sapi Private Reserve borders the Mana Pools National Park and is recognised as one of Africa’s finest wildlife destinations today. Twitchers will be spoiled for choice as Tembo Plains is situated in a prime bird-watching country, ideal for photographers and nature enthusiasts. Activities at Tembo Plains include day and night wildlife-viewing drives, walking safaris, canoeing and boating on the Zambezi River.

Tembo Plains will join the Réserve Collection of camps, the highest-level brand at Great Plains, alongside sister properties Zarafa Camp, Selinda Camp, Duba Plains in Botswana, and Mara Nyika, Mara Plains and ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya.

Both Beverly and Dereck will join as speakers at Hotel Designs LIVE on August 10, where the pair will discuss the role of surface design in the camps they develop and design. If you are a designer, architect, hotelier or developer, click here to secure your complimentary tickets in the audience.

Main image credit: Great Plains

Four Seasons Sicily

A legend returns in Italy: San Domenico Palace reopens as a Four Seasons hotel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
A legend returns in Italy: San Domenico Palace reopens as a Four Seasons hotel

Just in time as travellers around the globe start planning their first post-pandemic trip abroad, and as we approach the much-anticipated return of the high season in southern Italy, a landmark hotel is debuting a fresh new look and feel. San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel is now open – let’s take a look inside…

Four Seasons Sicily

Currently operating 120 hotels and resorts, and 45 residential properties in major city centres and resort destinations in 47 countries, and with more than 50 projects under planning or development, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, which recently announced new plans for a hotel in Puglia, Italy, consistently ranks among the world’s best hotels and most prestigious brands in reader polls, traveller reviews and industry awards. It is, therefore, no surprise that a storied hotel in southern Italy has reopened, with new interiors and now wearing the Four Seasons brand with pride – and it fits perfectly.

“The legendary San Domenico Palace was already very well known to us at Four Seasons,” notes Christian Clerc, President, Global Operations at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “It is an exceptional property in every way, and we are honoured to have been chosen once again by our owner-partners Gruppo Statuto to manage such an important property, and to add to our growing collection of transformed historic hotels in Italy and around the Mediterranean.”

exterior image of Four Seasons in Sicily

Image credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

With spectacular views in every direction, San Domenico Palace is uniquely situated between the majesty of Mount Etna above, the deep blue waters of the Ionian Sea below, and the beautiful south-eastern coast of Sicily as far as the eye can see.

“Everything past guests have always loved about San Domenico Palace has been restored, with familiar faces and vistas at every turn,” says General Manager Lorenzo Maraviglia, who has returned to his home country following years abroad to introduce Four Seasons to Sicily for the first time.

“It’s been a meticulous evolution that honours the site’s past while elevating every aspect to a new level of personalised service, extraordinary experiences, and the opportunity to create memories to last a lifetime. We are incredibly grateful to Gruppo Statuto for their investment and proud of the fact that it’s an Italian company that undertook this massive renovation project using only local craftspeople. This is Italy at its best.”

With just 111 guestrooms and suites, the atmosphere is intimate, as though returning to a treasured friend’s seaside home each year. The most coveted room is the Royal Suite, with principal rooms all opening onto a large terrace and plunge pool with views of Mount Etna, the ancient Greek Theatre and the Ionian Sea. Terraces are lined with glass for infinity views, and in all, there are 19 rooms with private plunge pools.

Image of guestroom at Four Seasons in Sicily

Image credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Built on the site of a 14th century Dominican convent, the San Domenico Hotel first came to life in 1896 with the addition of a new building in Italian Liberty style (today’s Grand Hotel Wing) adjacent to accommodations converted from former quarters in the Ancient Convent Wing. It soon became a highlight on the Grand Tour, favoured by royalty and nobility and increasingly, a colourful cast of artists, writers and Hollywood stars. Set amid lush gardens reimagined by acclaimed Italian landscape architect Marco Bay with sweeping sea views, the Hotel pairs contemporary art with antiquities and architectural relics throughout.

Travellers will find that most of Sicily has reopened, from the designer shops and charming outdoor trattorias in the town of Taormina to artistic venues such as the steps-away ancient Greek Theatre, where a full calendar of musical performances are planned throughout summer. Beach clubs are also open, with guests of Four Seasons receiving special access to one of the most popular clubs.

The rebirth of the San Domenico Palace also heralds the return of Principe Cerami to Sicily’s thriving culinary and viticulture scene, where Executive Chef Massimo Mantarro’s menu is inspired by the very land where he grew up on the slope of Mount Etna. True to his roots but always experimenting, Chef Massimo’s genius can be savoured best in his #FSMasterdish, pasta e seppia. This clever combination of fresh ingredients marries sea and earth in marinated cuttlefish tagliatelle perched atop homemade spaghetti with cuttlefish ink afloat courgette blossom fondue. Paired with a glass of local wine selected by Head Sommelier Alessandro Malfitana, it’s Sicily on a plate.

Additional dining experiences include Rosso, where a large terrace affords panoramic views of Mount Etna and Taormina Bay as a setting to enjoy local specialties and international classics; and the poolside Anciovi, where the menu celebrates the bounty of the sea, and where creative cocktails can be enjoyed long after the sun goes down. In the garden setting of Bar & Chiostro, drinks are best paired with light fare, including the must-try pennette served in the local “Norma” style with aubergine and ricotta cheese.

Not to be missed are the exquisite creations of Chef de Patisserie Vincenzo Abagnale, who joins Four Seasons following four years with Chef Mauro Colagreco at three Michelin-starred Mirazur in France, that was ranked #1 on the list of World’s Best Restaurants in 2019.

In the captivating setting that combines hundreds of years of history with the drama of an active volcano, events at San Domenico Palace are always memorable. Now, with the expert touch of Four Seasons event planners and the catering team, it’s a fantastic choice for inspired corporate retreats, fairy-tale weddings or simply gathering family and friends for a much-needed reunion in the sun. More than 1,700 square metres (18,300 square feet) of indoor-outdoor event spaces can be tailored for gatherings from a dozen to several hundred guests.


Main image credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

The Brit List Awards 2021

The Brit List Awards 2021: FAQs (applications/nominations close soon)

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The Brit List Awards 2021: FAQs (applications/nominations close soon)

Your chance to apply or nominate someone, free of charge, to enter The Brit List Awards 2021 is running out. Ahead of applications/nominations closing on August 6 – and to ensure that you are fully in-the-know about your opportunity to enter and join us at our largest networking event in this year’s calendar, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions…

The Brit List Awards 2021

The Brit List Awards is Hotel Designs’ annual awards campaign to identify and celebrate Britain’s best interior designers, architects, hoteliers and brands. What started as a list of the top 25 designers and architects has evolved into a full-on awards ceremony that crowns individual winners as well as profiling, in a printed publication, the top 25 designers, top 25 architects and top 25 hoteliers.

Since opening applications and nominations for this year’s campaign, we have received many emails and social media messages – so we thought we would share some of the most frequently asked questions for those who are still considering whether or not to apply/nominate someone deserving.

Click here to apply/nominate (free of charge) for The Brit List Awards 2021.

Q: What is The Brit List Awards?
A: The Brit List Awards is our nationwide campaign to find the top designers, architects, hoteliers, developers and suppliers operating in Britain. After nominations/applications have closed on August 6, the winners of the individual awards and The Brit List 2021 will be unveiled at the awards ceremony, which takes place this year on November 3 at PROUD Embankment.

Q: What are this year’s individual award categories?
A: This year’s campaign include TWO new award categories. Below are the individual awards you can apply/nominate for?

  • Interior Designer of the Year
  • Architect of the Year
  • Hotelier of the Year
  • Best in Tech
  • The Eco Award
  • Best in British Product Design
  • Rising Star of the Year (NEW CATEGORY)
  • International Award (NEW CATEGORY)
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry

Q: Aside from the Individual awards, what is The Brit List?

A: The Brit List is the annual publication that we unveil at the awards ceremony, which profiles the top 25 entries in the interior design, architecture, and hospitality categories. The aim of the publication is to celebrate the top 75 most influential people who are keeping Britain a design, architecture and hospitality hub.

Q: How much does it cost to apply?
A: Nothing!! The whole application process is completely free! What’s more, shortlisted finalists (designers, architects & hoteliers) will receive a complimentary ticket to attend the awards ceremony on November 3 at PROUD Embankment. Suppliers can purchase tickets here for £150 + VAT, or email Katy Phillips to discuss limited sponsorship opportunities.

Q: Can I apply on behalf of somebody else?
A: Yes. To ensure there are no boundaries in our search, we allow people to nomination others. In short, if you know someone who you believe is deserving, we want to hear about them!

Q: I’m a designer who is not part of a large studio, should I still apply?
A: Yes! We are looking for Britain’s best designers, architects, hoteliers and brands – and that does not mean that only the brands with deep pockets can or should apply.

Q: How are the winners selected?
A: In order to ensure that The Brit List Awards is a fair campaign, we have selected an individual judging panel. The shortlisted designers, architects and hoteliers will receive complimentary tickets to attend the awards ceremony on November 3 at PROUD Embankment.

Q: How can I attend the awards ceremony if I not want to submit an entry?
The Awards ceremony has over the years become known for being a premium networking event. If you qualify as an interior designer, architect or hotelier, you can purchase tickets here for just £20+VAT each (the price of a London cocktail). For anyone else wishing to attend, you can purchase tickets here for £150 + VAT.

Morgan seating

A look at Morgan’s latest product launches

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
A look at Morgan’s latest product launches

British contract furniture designer and manufacturer Morgan has let us in to take a look at the brand’s latest new products, which arrive to add further choices to its already successful Porto and Kyoto collections…

While the streets of Clerkenwell start to echo with life again, we are excited for the plethora of brands in the neighbourhood that have opened their showrooms to shelter the latest designs and innovations in the market. One of those brands is Morgan, which continues to unveil products that are eco-friendly, ahead of any trend and timelessly suited for the hospitality industry.

Morgan seating

Following the launch of new table tops to the Goodwood and Rakino collections, get comfortable as we share what else in new in the London showroom.

The Porto collection is light, minimal and versatile. Ergonomically designed to ensure comfort in both dining, lounge and work configurations. Customisable by design, the newest addition to our Porto collection expands its versatility even further; introducing the Swivel base. Available across the five Porto dining chair options, the light aluminium base compliments the minimal upholstery to give a modern luxurious feel to any working environment.

Image caption: Porto collection from Morgan has unveiled a swivel-based chair to the range.

Image caption: Porto collection from Morgan has unveiled a swivel-based chair to the range.

Featured at their London showroom, Morgan have now made their seat pads a standard offering within the Kyoto collection of dynamic linear intersecting benches. These simple, yet striking seat pads are highly versatile, turning window sills, steps and other surfaces into seating areas.

Morgan is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Morgan

Gif James Dilley and James Ingram

A young architect’s Q&A: Jestico + Whiles’ James Dilley

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
A young architect’s Q&A: Jestico + Whiles’ James Dilley

In collaboration with our friends at NEWH UK Chapter, we have launched an editorial series that is aimed to bring together established designers and architects with those who are at the beginning of their career. For our first Q&A in the series, we invited young architect James Ingram to interview James Dilley, Director, Jestico + Whiles

Gif James Dilley and James Ingram

Students who are graduating from university are lost like rivers running into unknown seas. The salt water is unfamiliar and the waves are turbulent and unrelenting. And all of a sudden, as Covid-19 hit the shoreline, even the most established design studios globally were drifting uncontrollably off course.

Casualties were inevitable as the industry tried to stay afloat during the treacherous storm but even we were surprised to see leading hotel design and hospitality studios such as Wilson Associates and most recently RPW Design go under.

Hotel Designs and NEWH have teamed up to cast life rafts out to the upcoming designers and architects who have struggled to place themselves into studio life as a result – a transition that should be smooth and seamless after years of education and preparing for the long journey.

In a unique collaboration, we are working together in order to connect young designers with the industry, all while producing engaging and insightful content for our readers. In this editorial series, we are calling on young designers and architects to come face-to-face with leading industry figures in hotel design and hospitality – and no question is off limit.

To kickstart our chapter, we invited James Dilley, Director, Jestico + Whiles, who has led teams on hotel projects both in the UK and internationally, including completing projects in territories, such as Malta, Marrakesh, Berlin, Amsterdam, Tbilisi and Kyiv, to be interviewed by James Ingram, a young, hungry and talented architect who won the NEWH Ideology Award in 2019. Ingram joins Dilley following his graduation from Ravensbourne University and having just returned from an internship in Prague.

James Ingram: How do you find inspiration to make unique narratives and experiences in your designs? 

James Dilley: For me, now, I find inspiration in the people I meet. It’s wonderful that in hotel design, a lot of the owners don’t have a hotelier background. They love hotels and often it’s those people who are the visionaries. We deal with people from all walks of life – and they have entered into hospitality because they have a real passion for the industry.

When I was younger, the experience of a chain hotel was special, it was a posh, upmarket experience and it was very different to today. The very uniform style of those hotels was born out of the USA, post-war, and it was a very international (with a small ‘I’) mindset.

Overtime that would become a dated hospitality concept, and hotels began to respond to their surrounding culture and climate. These days, a hotel’s design tends to be born of locality and with the aim to create a unique sense of place.

Brand books used to be incredibly specific. Thankfully, that’s not the only way to proceed any more – and more creative concepts in hospitality are being created as conventional ideas are challenged.

“I started learning once I was flipped out of the spaceship of education and parachuted into the real world.” James Dilley, Director, Jestico + Whiles.

JI: In your early career, how did you contend with adversity and coming across hurdles in the workplace that couldn’t be mimicked as a student?

JD: To be honest, I started learning once I was flipped out of the spaceship of education and parachuted into the real world. I graduated at a time when many teachers were not designers or architects , they were teachers lecturing on design and architecture. I was passionate about interesting people and travel. Call it serendipity, but that’s the route I chose, or that chose me….

“The best design comes from challenging convention and doing things that haven’t been done before.” – James Dilley, Director, Jestico + Whiles.

JI: What’s something you wish you’d known when you first started as a designer?

James Dilley: That there isn’t a right way to do something. The best designs come from challenging convention and doing things that haven’t been done before. Innovation and creativity are therefore key. Design is not an exam where you get a tick or a cross next to your answers. It just doesn’t work like that.

JI: How do you stay up to date with current trends? 

JD: By surrounding yourself with good people. You can read, you can collect as many direct experiences as you can, but the breadth of what you need to be aware is so great that you can’t cover it all as an individual. You need to surround yourself with a team who, ideally, think differently to you,the best teams are made up of different people.

JI: Is it easier or more challenging these days to specify with more options to designers?

JD: When it comes to product design, it’s exciting to see new innovations, but over time you find yourself going back to products you specified in the past and to brands that you trust. There’s always a red line running through your design Usually you are designing similar styles so the same products fit in nicely. Designers have a responsibility to ensure they are sourcing materials ethically. Stone is an excellent example. You can select stone from anywhere in the world – you can buy blue marble from Brazil or purchase limestone from Italy for the price of wallpaper. The choice is huge but we are now more conscious around sustainability, things have to be ethically sourced, and people are becoming more innovative when sourcing these items.

Image caption: James and his team at Jestico + Whiles are currently working on designing The Island Quarter, a £650m mixed-use development in Nottingham that is set to become a new landmark for the city and the Midlands.

Image caption: James and his team at Jestico + Whiles are currently working on designing The Island Quarter, a £650m mixed-use development in Nottingham that is set to become a new landmark for the city and the Midlands.

JI: Do you tend to have favourite suppliers?

JD: One of the most important thing, for me when specifying a product, is the after service – the parts of the relationship suppliers don’t get paid for. Using stone as an example again, it’s a difficult material to work with at times. And if you have a problem then you want the supplier you sourced it from to rectify it without too much discussion. After care will certainly swing things for me when we are specifying.

JI: How do you think hotel design will change as a result of the pandemic?

JD: I hope it won’t change too much – a big part of hospitality is about sociability. You’re very rarely in an environment where you want to be isolated. Social distancing, in a basic sense where you simply distance yourself socially is not for me.

Having said that, there are some exciting things that have emerged during the pandemic, and that’s around how people live. Everyone at the moment seems to be socialising outdoors – they are having a great time, and I see brands utilising every piece of outdoor space in an imaginative way as being an exciting step forward in hospitality.

“People do not necessarily expect [nor want] indulgence if sustainability is the cost.” – James Dilley, Director, Jestico + Whiles.

Image caption: Understanding sense of place, Jestico + Whiles' design for a new-build hotel on Paul Street, London, responded directly to the area’s architectural and cultural context in the heart of Shoreditch.

Image caption: Understanding sense of place, Jestico + Whiles’ design for a new-build hotel on Paul Street, London, responded directly to the area’s architectural and cultural context in the heart of Shoreditch.

JI: Many would argue that consumers, in general, are looking for more of a premium experience. How do you balance that with incentives to become more sustainable in design and architecture?

JD: The luxury experience does not always come at a premium. Affluent people choose to stay in less traditionally “luxurious” places , not because they can’t afford to go elsewhere; people are looking for authentic experiences. This is a big move, and people do not necessarily expect [nor want] indulgence if sustainability is the cost.

A few years ago, we opened Zuri Zanzibar, for example. The social attitude to that hotel, in design and operation, is extremely important. Local people are brought into the operations in order to help them live a better life. If you are bringing in a fresh water supply or power to a part of the island that previously didn’t have one, then why wouldn’t you share that with the village?

I think there are other areas that are harder to justify. In some more traditional hotels, you will see a limo going back and forth to pick up individual guests from the airport and this is just not sustainable. Going back further, a lot of hotels and hospitality models rely on travel, which largely is not sustainable either – we can plant trees to offset the carbon that’s come from the flights but it’s not quite balanced out yet. I’m a designer of hotels, but this is a fundamental issue. Travel needs to become sustainable from top to bottom.

“Sadly, there is a lack of people in the industry wanting to give young designers and architects a chance.” – James Ingram, architect.


Hamish Kilburn: Who were your design idols at university?

JI: Wassily Kindinscky and in general I was inspired by forms, shapes and expression

JD: Landscape artists, such as Richard Long, Richard Serra and Andy Goldsworthy. And of course, the maestro, Carlo Scarpa.

HK: What would you both say are the most overused words at the moment?

JD: ‘Post-covid’ and ‘technology’

JI: I would say ‘technology’ too, particularly ‘parametricism’

HK: Where’s next on your travel bucket list?

JI: Realistically, somewhere within the UK, like Cornwall. Long term, I’d like to experience India and South East Asia – I want to get of this cultural bubble.

JD: Georgia is an amazing country – and also Malta.

HK: And finally, James Ingram, what is it currently like at the moment for young designers and architects graduating?

JI: Sadly, there is a lack of people in the industry wanting to give young designers and architects a chance. The job market maybe picking up but there is a reluctance for studios to help part 1 students. For example, they are all asking for a year or two experience, which is just not realistic for freshly graduated students.

JD: That’s simply not fair on the students James and I am embarrassed that the industry is taking that position. Getting cheap labour is simply not the point for Part 1 students. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship with give and take both ways. We need to allow students to learn in a live environment and we find we also have a lot to learn from our best students.

This interview is the first in a dynamic editorial series that aims to help shelter many meaningful conversations and bridge the gap between generations in architecture, design and hospitality. Thanks to NEWH, we are able to identify talented designers and architects who are currently at a disadvantage, due to the pandemic, graduating from university with a lack of opportunities. If you would like to contribute to this series, please email the editorial desk.

Main image credit: James Ingram/James Dilley/Jestico + Whiles

Hospitality brand edyn to launch Cove

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hospitality brand edyn to launch Cove

Answering the demands of modern travellers with ‘soulful hospitality’, edyn has launched Cove, a ‘next generation’ serviced apartment brand that will embrace the new future of travel, providing fresh growth opportunities for the breakthrough hospitality brand…

From the brand that launched Locke, which recently opened its first property outside the UK, Cove launches to underscore both edyn’s resilience and optimism.

Cove embodies the notion of flexible living – combining considered design with seamless technology to enable life in all modes. The adaptability of Cove’s business model will also provide exciting new growth opportunities for edyn, which is rapidly expanding its presence throughout the UK and Europe. In the first half of 2021, the group built upon its resilient 2020 performance when it achieved an average occupancy exceeding 70 per cent – making edyn the ‘one to watch’ in the new future of travel where guests are increasingly planning to stay for longer and experience more, whatever the reason for their stay.

“Cove will embrace new ways of living, offering travellers security, comfort and sanctuary.” – Steven Haag, Managing Director of Cove.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to evolve and grow edyn at a time when flexible, thoughtfully designed accommodation has never been more in demand,” explained Stephen McCall, CEO of edyn. “Combined with the foresight of our investors behind us and a world class team leading the brand, the launch of Cove will allow us to transform the traditional serviced apartment model and bolster our portfolio.”

Cove’s thoughtfully designed apartments will continue to serve a base of corporate clients looking for extended stays, while refocusing on leisure travellers – including families – seeking self-contained, spacious, and flexible accommodation. Each versatile apartment will feature super-fast, private Wi-Fi; fully fitted kitchens and living rooms; as well as signature sofas and bespoke kitchen tables suitable for dining, working or hosting.

“Our mission is to create the next generation of serviced apartments, which cater to travellers seeking carefully designed spaces in central city locations across the UK and Europe; suitable for a business trip, city escape or family holiday,” said Steven Haag, Managing Director of Cove. “Cove will embrace new ways of living, offering travellers security, comfort and sanctuary, which is aligned with edyn’s ethos and vision.”

Image credit: Cove Paradise Street, Liverpool ONE

This month, edyn will transform eight of its existing Saco properties to Cove, with new fixtures and furnishings, branding and an innovative, digitally focused guest journey. The first full Cove opening will be a new acquisition in the Liverpool ONE development.

Cove Paradise Street will comprise 77 contemporary one- to three-bed apartments, boasting panoramic views of Liverpool city centre and a large communal courtyard. Located in the heart of the city, Cove Paradise Street is a stone’s throw from excellent transport links, as well as Liverpool ONE’s diverse retail, leisure, and dining offering.

Saco properties in Reading, Nottingham, London (Covent Garden, The Cannon, St. Martin’s Lane), Cardiff, Bristol (West India) and Manchester will all transform to Cove. Properties that are not part of the initial transformation will continue to operate under the Saco brand and be available to book alongside partner properties on the Saco website.

Main image credit: edyn

Virtual roundtable: How F&B hospitality is evolving in 2021 & beyond

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Virtual roundtable: How F&B hospitality is evolving in 2021 & beyond

For all brands working in hospitality, shutting up shop due to Covid-19 was a hard pill to swallow. But could F&B hospitality emerge from this crisis evolved and better shaped for the new demand of modern travellers and locals alike? Editor Hamish Kilburn, in association with LUQEL, gathers some of the UK’s leading figures in the industry to find out…

After months of forced closure after Covid-19 brought the UK hospitality scene to its knees more than a year ago, F&B spaces recently took on a new role as the industry showed signs of recovery. With the aim to reconnect, following a brutal recharge, hotels up and down the country re-emerged with purpose, amplifying new trends and sheltering new concepts, to ultimately confront a new chapter in the industry.

Brands of all shapes and sizes did what was necessary in order to innovatively convert their outdoor spaces into exceptional dining experiences. In this exclusive and time-appropriate roundtable, in collaboration with LUQEL, which provides hospitality businesses with state-of-the-art water solutions, we have brought together a handful of the industry’s finest in order to explore how the challenges of today are forcing brand’s to bring to the chef’s table new F&B models, which will essentially help tomorrow’s thriving F&B hospitality landscape.

Meet the panel:

Hamish Kilburn: UK hospitality has been open now for a few weeks, what’s the mood been like in your establishments?

Mario Perera: For us at The Dorchester, we didn’t stop during the pandemic– we were running the hotel with residents living here and when were able to inviting certain people to come and stay. What made the pandemic particularly challenging was that we are currently celebrating our 90th anniversary, so we wanted to make a statement. We decided to open the roof terrace – we are following all the guidelines and doing everything we can to make each guests’ experience memorable – which is something completely new for The Dorchester.

The Dorchester rooftop terrace

During the easing of lockdown measures in the UK, The Dorchester utlised its outdoor space and opened its rooftop as an F&B outlet for the first time in its nine-decade history.

Marco Palazzo: The Kingston 1 and its Solo restaurant have just opened, and it’s been undoubtedly a slow start. While government’s restrictions still in place don’t help us, we’ve been getting a great response from our first guests, which is a reassuring signal for what’s to come that keeps us optimistic for the future.

Conor O’Leary: Touch wood, we have been fortunate with very high demand here at Gleneagles. People tend to come and stay with us in order to escape the city. Over half term, we were running at 95 per cent capacity and we are looking forward to a busy summer. There are restrictions, of course, which we are managing and people are booking less impulsively, but guests do, in general, understand.

Also, this situation has allowed our team to think more creatively. We have installed pop-up bars and ice-cream shacks, for example, in order to encourage guests to be outdoors, which has allowed us to also offer something different and unique for our locals too.

“I think Covid-19 has given more of a thirst for interesting experiences, and to be more mindful as to how and where they will spend their money.” – Josed Youssef, Founder, Kitchen Theory.

James Green: You mentioned the offering increase, have there been areas where the offiering has changed?

COL: We have had to change a few things. We were very well-known for our breakfast buffet before Covid-19 and for the time being that has had to stop. Instead, we are serving 400 a la carte breakfasts a day, which as you can imagine is a challenge in itself. Strathearn restaurant, a classical Franco-Scottish fine dining restaurant, is well known for its table work and trolleys which we have had to limit somewhat but we have compensated with other offerings. With large restaurants, however, we are able to adhere to those restrictions. I have also noticed that interior designers are not just designing F&B spaces that look good anymore, but they are really designing experience concepts and developing from the ground up.

Jozef Youssef: I’d say, now more than ever, we are in this experience economy – I think Covid-19 has given more of a thirst for interesting experiences, and to be more mindful as to how and where they will spend their money. We were moving in this direction anyway, but I see more experimental themes coming out of this. Of course, this is largely driven by social media. There are a lot of hotels and restaurants in London, but I do wonder how many of them are a great once-in-a-lifetime experience – and I think consumers will be demanding that in the near future.

Ivaylo Lefterov: SVART is very unique and F&B plays a massive role in our guest journey experience. We are trying to keep this as bespoke as possible. There are certain challenges that come with that aspiration– for example, we are looking to introduce individual menus for our guests in order to monitor their nutrition from check in to check out. The menu will be based on how their nutrition is changing from a day-to-day basis.

HK: Does everyone see personalised menus being a reality in the future? 

JY: From the research we carry out, I don’t think it’s a question of reality, I think it’s going to become a demand – and kitchens will have to adapt. You can see it happening already. Small personalisations, such a allergens and dietary requirements, that didn’t really come into conversation 15 or 20 years ago, are now an unavoidable reality. Also, back then, chefs were less sympathetic to it. Operations are going to have to adapt to be more flexible to this consumer behaviour.

“The reason why hotels have evolved from simply sheltering the steakhouse or Italian restaurant is that you don’t just have that option on the high street anymore.” – Conor O’Leary, Joint Managing Director, Gleneagles.

HK: So much effort and resources go into pairing food with the best compliment such as wine – it can really enhance your experience, is this still important? Do you see a market for a healthier alternative?

COL: When we re-opened the hotel, Scotland’s regulations prevented us from offering alcohol. The sale of non-alcoholic beverages, on top of water, was vast. Nearly every table ordered non-alcoholic beers, wines or the cocktails we had created. We therefore definitely feel as if there is a need for healthier alternatives to alcohol.

HK: Also, it’s important to remember, with a rise in hotel development outside the city, more customers will be driving to these venues and therefore will be restricted on how much alcohol they consume anyway.

Mario P: For those who want an experience and education in wine, we now offer a very exclusive package for guests. We allow a select few down to the dine in the wine vault and the chef’s table. We also do masterclasses – and this is something we introduced and has been very successful.

JY: Water is the healthiest drink that you can consume and surely there is a way to make that market more premium to those who are going out and experiencing a luxury meal. There should be more of a ritual around water and water choices.

The slick water station by LUQEL is particularly suitable for the hospitality industry and offers users 30 different recipes with individual mineralisation.

The slick water station by LUQEL is particularly suitable for the hospitality industry and offers users 30 different recipes with individual mineralisation.

HK: Conor, you obviously worked in a number of establishments in London before heading up to Gleneagles. What have been the major changes since then and now?  

COL: The overall answer is that the audience is more aware – they go out more than they did before and there’s a lot more understanding around food in general. The reason why hotels have evolved from simply sheltering the steakhouse or Italian restaurant is that you don’t just have that option on the high street anymore. The dining experiences are curated and easily available. Hotels slowly caught up to this. Good businesses are offering something unique – and the dining experiences are different from other areas, such as the lobby, of the hotel. Personalisation is a tricky space, because the best dining experiences are in the hands of the restauranteur – many guests don’t want to think in order to enjoy their dining experience. And that’s before even considering that your guests are international. We have to be relevant nowadays.

Our guests are also changing. We spent a lot of time softening our reputation, and the experience is on their terms.

“Being an architect myself, we tend to be quite arrogant to the usage of the spaces.” – Ivaylo Lefterov, Development Direcotr, Miris

HK: Do you think it’s important for chefs to have exposure of the design plans before their completed?

Marco P: A restaurant represents the personality and style of a chef; I am very lucky to have started at Solo restaurant before it opened as it gave me the opportunity to have a voice in contributing to the creation of the venue’s identity, based on what my vision was. Today, we have a relaxed yet elegant dining venue which is unique in its area, and offers locals a high-quality neighbourhood restaurant with a fine-dining touch.

JY: Traditionally, chefs would work in a private space away from the guests and all the theatre would be performed on the restaurant floor. But then something interesting happened. Restaurants started to open up the kitchens, which became part of the whole aesthetic. Now, for many businesses, chefs are integral to the overall brand and concept. So, moving forward, I do think that chefs should have exposure of the design – certainly the layout of the Kitchen – because it has to be operational. I predict that there will be more collaborations between chefs and designers and other experts in order to create new experiences.

COL: I think we all bring work and life experience into our roles. I think it’s only relevant to bring in chefs into the design stages if they have experience in that area.  It’s important that the design process matches the concept.

IL: Chefs are vital. Being an architect myself, we tend to be quite arrogant to the usage of the spaces. Genius architects in the past have completely ignored functional areas, especially the kitchen and back-of-house spaces. Therefore, you do require knowledge in that area and everyone has to thinking in the same language. For SVART, I chose to bring everyone to the table before the architect in order for us to discuss exactly what we want from a functional element.

Mario P: I agree. Designers are integral but if you can’t get the food right then you have a big problem. In a branded property, everyone is important and everyone should be working together.

“Five years ago, we had signs saying ‘keep off the grass’ and now we have 100 dining tables, chairs and seafood shack on the lawn.” – Conor O’Leary, Joint Managing Director, Gleneagles.

HK: In between lockdowns one and two in the UK, there were less covers in restaurants, due to social distancing, but many reported that average spend per table increased. Could this be a solution in the future?

Mario P: People are happy to pay if their experience is matched. I think a lot has changed, and we too have softened our image. For example, I am more than happy to be out on the floor to pour wine and interact with guests and I think people love that. There’s also more of a dialogue between the consumer and the waiter/waitress. People are asking questions about the menus and just enjoying being out again.

COL: The hardship we have been in has forced that creativity. Five years ago, we had signs saying ‘keep off the grass’ and now we have 100 dining tables, chairs and seafood shack on the lawn We have also seen an increase in average spend per table. I don’t think there is a link between space and spend – I think people are just desperate to enjoy hospitality again.

HK: We have seen a big shift when it comes to sustainability and reduction of carbon emissions, there have been many changes with government legislations around single use plastics, what are your plans to meet the ongoing legislations going forward?

COL: We were sourcing locally anyway, but [during Covid] we were able to really focus heavily in this area. We are opening a small townhouse in Edinburgh later this year and huge part of that concept will be around how we engage and source locally. Everything is looking inwardly and instead of price first, it is community first.

Mario P: I have been practicing this for a while and it something I am very passionate about. It’s really important for me for us to use local farmers where we can.

IL: As you know, the concept for SVART is to offer a personalised menu for our guests around their nutrition but everything we do will be limited to what we can source locally. Part of our concept is to produce a lot of the goods ourselves. We already have a fish farm and we will also have a green farm that will be powered by the waste and energy that we will produce. This is all part of the holistic process.

Also, as we design SVART, we are looking at the source of the material of each and every product that we specify in the hotel – that is very important for this meaningful development.

HK: In other areas of hotel design, the sensory experience is being explored as a meaningful way to shelter a deeper experience. Can you see this working in F&B hospitality?

JY: Undoubtedly. A lot of research we have done over the last few years, that we published recently, the sensory touchpoints are being explored far deeper than ever before on the influence they are having. Your senses are constantly ticking away, helping you to structure your surroundings or the experience you are in. What’s interesting from our research is that there are strong correlations with how sound effects the environment. If you are in a restaurant, for example, and the sound level is above 70 – 80 decibels, the noise level physiologically suppresses your ability to taste sweetness. What we are trying to understand is how colour, shape and sound can help to enhance the experience that guests are having.

IL: With our development, we are engaging with all these senses, subconsciously, to create a meaningful hospitality experience.

HK: Are there any F&B eras you hope don’t re-emerge as trends? 

IL: All-inclusive hotels, globally!

Marco P: Rediscovering simple ingredients and flavours that are good to the soul and bring people together, which is what we try to do at Solo.

JY: It comes back to personalisation. In august of last year public health England announced an obesity crisis. Over the next 10 – 20 years, the population will become even more health aware. I’m of a generation when James Bond smoked, but you wouldn’t think of that in movies released today. Maybe in the future, James Bond will have a lighter drink – or LUQEL water even – at the bar. I think, personally, there will be much more education on healthier alternatives in regards to ingredients.

COL: I think there’s going to be a slight move back towards sophisticated dining. We would have to pay a bit more but I think customers will accept that. And the dining experience would link in to a more meaningful and thoughtful journey.

IL: In comparison to Europe, hospitality brands operating in Bulgaria already offer a vast choice of waters and brands for guests to select from. I can see there being a demand for more interesting water flavours in the future, and I do see that becoming a demand from guests.

Since you’re here, why not read our feature on personalised water for all?

Clearly, this is just the start of the conversation around how F&B will evolve in 2021 & beyond. Hotel Designs will be putting particular emphasis on this topic over the next few months, and may even make a stage appearance at a show or two with hand-picked guests in order to explore the future of F&B in more delicious detail. Stay tuned…

Morgan table tops

Product Watch: Furniture brand Morgan launches new table tops

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product Watch: Furniture brand Morgan launches new table tops

Morgan, the furniture brand perhaps most known for – but not limited to – its innovative hospitality seating designs, has announced the launch of multiple new table tops to its Goodwood and Rakino collections. Let’s take a look…

Known for its eco-sensitive DNA and its authentic and organic collaborations with the likes of Tim Rundle and Mehran Gharleghi, Morgan is a British furniture brand that believes the design and manufacture of truly original, high-quality furniture is the result of passion, care, design integrity, experience, craftsmanship and an unfaltering dedication to quality.

Morgan table tops

With this kind of commitment, the brand does not take product launches lightly – and to compliment its family of seating in the Goodwood and Rakino collections, it has recently unveiled new table tops to add texture to the already striking range of products.

From timber, glass and Carrara marble tops, to a unique geometric collaboration with artist Mark McClure, and now two further options – including a traditional cane detail and new technology recycled plastic tops, offered in both a neutral or colourful option, the new table tops launched by Morgan are both 100 per cent recycled and recyclable.

Rakino chair with table tops

Image credit: Morgan

The new cane Goodwood table sits perfectly next to our cane back Kaya lounge chair, adding a delicate, natural detail to the timber frame. But that’s not all. The brand has also added two striking terrazzo top options on our Rakino nesting tables.

Morgan is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Morgan

RPW Design: A look back on its iconic hotel design projects

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
RPW Design: A look back on its iconic hotel design projects

In case you haven’t heard, leading hospitality design firm RPW Design became the latest casualty of the pandemic recently after its Managing Director Ariane Steinbeck announced that she had put the company into administration. With Steinbeck’s blessing, editor Hamish Kilburn reflects (past and present) on some of the hospitality design studio’s most iconic projects…

Over the course of 31 years, RPW Design earned its title as one of the leading international interior design practices within the realm of hospitality. Having created unique interiors for luxury hotels, cruise ships and private members’ clubs around the world, the studio has helped steer hospitality, from many perspectives, into several new eras of luxury and lifestyle. With an impressive portfolio of projects and awards, the firm became renowned for its technical prowess and sensual alchemy. In short, each project RPW Design undertook become memorable for its coherence and elegance.

During the pandemic, the studio helped us narrate as much as navigate the ever-evolving hotel design and hospitality scene – Ariane Steinbeck herself joined us on several virtual roundtables, including discussions on hygiene, wellness and sleep.

“While we mourn the loss of RPW Design Ltd, our team will remain a [resourceful and] reliable force in our industry.” – Ariane Steinbeck, Managing Director, RPW Design.

Over the weekend, however, Steinbeck, who in 2015 was passed the reins by Jan Wilson to become Managing Director – I still remember the fabulous Octoberfest-style event she arranged to mark her arrival – took to social media to share that the company had gone into administration. “It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I must announce the closure of RPW Design Ltd after three decades of serving the hospitality industry,” she wrote. “Try as we might, we could not overcome the compounding effects of Covid-19 on our business… While we mourn the loss of RPW Design Ltd, our team will remain a [resourceful and] reliable force in our industry – some of whom have already found new ‘homes’ elsewhere.”

Our heartfelt, respectful nod (more of a bow actually) to the studio’s legacy comes as we look back to some of RPW Design’s iconic projects that added colour, texture and deep meaning to the hospitality landscape worldwide. From one of my first features I wrote as a design journalist – the unveil of London Marriott Hotel County Hall – to its most recent projects that are still in development, including working on what will be Sofia’s tallest building and the much-loved Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, here’s an edited selection of jewels that, thanks to considered interior design approaches, boldly put (and kept) RPW Design on our radar.

London Marriott Hotel County Hall
Design team: Elizabeth Lane, Heather McLellan and Alessandro Tessari

In 2014, RPW Design was tasked to take one of London’s most iconic riverside buildings, which first opened in 1933 opposite the Houses of Parliament, into its next chapter in hospitality. The studio steered the London Marriott Hotel County Hall through its multi-million pound renovation under the watchful eye of Elizabeth Lane, Heather McLellan and Alessandro Tessari.

Re-emerging and re-opening with crisp, new interiors – far removed from the maroon and green colour scheme that the hotel brand was once known for – while also appropriately making sensitive nods throughout to the building’s colourful past. In short, RPW Design helped the hotel take back its status as one of London’s finest hotels, while showcasing a modern and contemporary Marriott International brand.

Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire
Design team:
Elizabeth Lane, Poppy Lindley (now at Martin Brudnizki Design Studio), Richard Snow and Alessandro Tessari

Image credit: RPW Design/Four Seasons Hampshire

Last year, RPW Design unveiled the renovation of Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire’s conference and banqueting spaces. The refreshed interiors of the hotel’s meeting and event spaces seamlessly breathed fresh life into the historical Georgian property, adding a stylish sense of sophistication. In order to appeal to both the social and business clientele at the hotel, the design studio artistically designed different identities for each of the conference and banqueting rooms. To ensure the hotel remained quintessentially British, the team chose to specifically work with British manufacturers and suppliers.

The Capital Suite inside InterContinental London Park Lane
Design team: Ariane Steinbeck, Richard Snow and Poppy Lindley

RPW Design designed The Capital Suite

Image credit: Will Pryce

Designed to suit the needs of todays’ top executives and boasting state-of-the-art facilities, the inspiration for the design concept for The Capital Suite was drawn from the nature and history of Hyde Park, which surrounds the hotel and its storied location. Accompanying the use of natural materials, every detail has been individually designed to adhere to the leitmotif. Design touches contain tasteful homages to London’s greenery such as bespoke bronze handles evocative of tree branches for the cabinetry. Artwork and accessories draw on Hyde Park’s equine traditions and the historic location of the hotel. Bespoke stitching details of the Plane, the tree that populates and represents London’s Royal Parks, are incorporated into the headboard design. The green landscape of the park even inspired textures, patterns and themes within the carpet designs and artworks.

The suite, spanning 335sqm on the first floor, is the ultimate haven for the international business and leisure traveller a like – you feel taken away from the Capital, which is somewhat ironic considering its majestic name and non-cliché British design touchpoints and references.

Malta Marriott Hotel & Spa
Design team: Elizabeth Lane, Alessandro Tessari and Poppy Lindley

Earlier this year, RPW Design unveiled the new Presidential Suite of Malta Marriott Hotel & Spa, which, following an investment of more than €30M, epitomises the splendour and elegance of the recently renovated five-star St Julian’s property. Not only has RPW Design created a harmonious atmosphere but functionality was also at the forefront of the design process to form a space that is adaptable to modern travellers’ transition from daytime business meetings to leisurely evenings.

Situated on the 12th floor of the hotel, guests can enjoy unique panoramic views of Balluta Bay, which are visible from the entire 170 sqm suite. These vistas can be enjoyed on the expansive terrace, balconies and windows which run the whole length of the spacious room.

Sheraton Schiphol Airport (under construction)
Design team: Elizabeth Lane, Alessandro Tessari, Richard Snow and Heather McLellan

The project, which is still in motion, is a full refurbishment of the guestrooms and corridors in the airport hotel. It was integral to hit the right notes as this project is an early adopter of the new branding for Sheraton. The team were inspired by aerial views of the tulip fields and surrounding Land Art Park Buitenschot, built not only for recreations but also to reduce noise from the airfield. 

Sofia Marriott (under construction)
Design team: Ariane Steinbeck and Heather McLellan

Sofia Marriott will become the tallest tower in Sofia, Bulgaria. Unfortunately, we are unable to share much more than that at the moment – we don’t even have images to tease you with for the time being. All that we can confirm is that the talented individuals at RPW Design will be responsible for the contemporary interior design scheme that the building will eventually shelter.

Madrid Historic Apartment (expected to complete in 2022)
Design team: Ariane Steinbeck, Richard Snow and Alessandro Tessari

Image credit: RPW Design/Smallbone Kitchens

Image credit: RPW Design/Smallbone Kitchens

It may not be a hotel, but it does give you an idea of what the team are currently working on. The ‘piano nobile’ in a stately, Haussmannian-style building on one of Madrid’s most revered boulevards, is located steps from the Prado Museum and Retiro Park in the Salamanca neighbourhood. Built in 1919, and having had only a few owners in its history, the team at RPW Design are in the process of restoring and carefully re-shaping the “villa” into a spatial arrangement that makes sense for today’s lifestyles. The designed have put a large emphasis on the kitchen as a centrepiece as preparation of food and the joy of cooking and entertaining is paramount for this client. Assisted by Smallbone of Devizes, Steinbeck (who’s passion for cooking, I’m told, comes close to her love of design) and the former RPW Design team have come up with a solution that is adaptable to the family’s needs and unconventional in its approach.

Although this is a sad farewell to a company who has, for three decades, led with such poise, precision and passion, I can’t help but feel optimistic for Ariane Steinbeck, Heather McLellan, Alessandro Tessari,  Poppy Lindley, Richard Snow and Elizabeth Lane. As we close the door on this unforgettable chapter, I urge you to keep your eyes fixed on the corridor to see which other doors creep open. Behind them will no doubt be more masterpieces from the talented individuals – perhaps sheltered under different studios  – who together were RPW Design. Watch this space.

Main image credit: RPW Design

Weekly briefing: Rediscovering British hospitality & unveiling Rosewood’s plot twist

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly briefing: Rediscovering British hospitality & unveiling Rosewood’s plot twist

You’re just in time to catch today’s performance of the Weekly Briefing. My name’s Hamish Kilburn, and allow me to show you to your seat. This week’s cast of stories includes our latest podcast episode that explores creativity crafted, nhow taking unconventional design and art to a whole new level, our latest hotel review that took us on a trip down memory lane and all you need to know (and more) about Rosewood’s latest venture into the private members’ arena. “Talent to the stage, talent to the stage, please…”

If Hotel Designs was a theatre production – and what a show that would be – the main theme of the overall performance this week would be variety. The editorial team’s inbox has been flooded with vibrancy, colour and stories that have simply put a smile on our face. Although many of the travel industry’s audience members haven’t quite made act one, as Covid-19 continues to put pressure on hospitality globally, we have been reassured that the narrative will improve by the development that continues to happen during these turbulent times.

This week, as well as recording out next virtual roundtable that explores the future of F&B hospitality (stay tuned), I was able to publish my first hotel review in a while – I checked in to The Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire following an incredible renovation by British designer Martin Hulbert – which made me realise, thanks to a nudge from good friend and PR queen Lara Good (Grifco PR), that local performances in British hospitality aren’t all that bad after all.

Work perks aside, here are our top stories from the week… but first, why not read this article while listening to the latest episode of DESIGN POD, which welcomes the ladies from Carden Cunietti to take the mic?!

Hotel review: Checking (back) in to The Grove Hotel, Hertfordshire

Image caption: In one of the lounges, the designer even commissioned a large gold beam to hang on the ceiling because, well, why not? | Image credit: The Grove Hotel, Hertfordshire

Image caption: In one of the lounges, the designer even commissioned a large gold beam to hang on the ceiling because, well, why not? | Image credit: The Grove Hotel, Hertfordshire

Socially distanced from London’s hustle and bustle, but still within 20 miles of the city, The Grove is a country estate set within 300 acres of glorious Hertfordshire countryside. Its most recent renovation, led by British designer Martin Hulbert, answers only to nature and ushers the hotel into a new era – perfect for those seeking a luxury staycation within reach of the Capital – as I learns when I become the latest Hotel Designs editor to check in…

Read more.

Rosewood Hotel Group launches ‘new breed’ of private members’ clubs

The Reading Room

Image credit: Rosewood Hotel Group

Rosewood Hotel Group, which has been loudly expanding its global portfolio during the pandemic period with hotel development in destinations such as RomeAmsterdamLondon and most recently Mexico City, has just changed the narrative once more by announcing the opening of Carlyle & Co., a landmark private members’ club in Hong Kong designed by British designer Ilse Crawford. Here’s what we know…

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Editor checks in: What it’s actually like for young designers

In my latest column, I addresses an issue that is resulting in young designers and architects missing out on a fair opportunity to succeed. Can we do more to help students to become the next generation of A&D professionals? You tell me…

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nhow Brussels Bloom Hotel opens with a colourful twist

Van in lobby inside nhow Brussels

Image credit: HD Hotel Group

NH Hotel Group’s unconventional lifestyle hospitality brand, nhow, expands its portfolio with the launch of its seventh hotel; a contemporary hub that has been designed with a different art form on every floor, including a floor designed by London designer Jessica Thacker. Sunglasses on, folks things are about to get colourful…

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Meet the women who are pioneering a new wave of design-led motels

The June April Brown and Srah Sklash

Image credit: Lauren Miller Photography

With a penchant for ‘great wine and good vibes’, The June is a female-led motelier that was founded by best friends, April Brown and Sarah Sklash. Following our bow to International Women’s Day, I sat down with Brown and Sklash to learn more about how the due are using design into to evolve The June into a leading lifestyle brand…

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And finally… we unveiled our speakers for Hotel Designs LIVE

Hotel Designs LIVE - speakers

Following four successful virtual events, Hotel Designs LIVE, which is completely free for designers, architects, hoteliers and developers, will return on August 10, 2021. In order to confront ‘zoom fatigue’ with meaningful content, we have just announced the global line-up of speakers who will appear in a series of four engaging panel discussions throughout the day…

Read more.

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More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

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(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: A new era of lifestyle

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: A new era of lifestyle

To kickstart Hotel Designs LIVE on May 11, editor Hamish Kilburn invited James Dilley, Director, Jestico + Whiles; Naomi Heaton, CEO, The Other House and David Mason, Head of Hospitality at Scott Brownrigg for a panel discussion entitled: A new era of lifestyle (scroll down for full video of the discussion)…

On May 11 – while UK hospitality took a long stretch and awakened from its forced hibernation – designers, architects, hoteliers and developers from around the globe tuned in to watch the latest edition of Hotel Designs LIVE. The event, which first launched in June 2020 to keep the industry connected while keeping the conversation flowing, took place virtually and included four engaging panel discussions with world-renowned hospitality and design experts on the following topics:

  • A new era of lifestyle
  • Bathrooms beyond practical spaces
  • Art outside the frame
  • How workspace trends will impact hotel design

The first session of the day was designed to look beneath the surface of a topic that has sparked much debate recently in the hotel design and hospitality arenas. “Backed up by a recent roundtable, it is conclusive that lifestyle in hospitality is mutating, partly as a result of the pandemic but more accurately in order to meet ever-evolving demands of modern travellers.” explained editor Hamish Kilburn who hosted the session entitled ‘A new era of lifestyle’. “With brands merging into one, boundaries in design and architecture being stretched further than ever before and modern traveller demands now meaning that experience is key, the lane for lifestyle in hospitality worldwide has widened. But what does that new era look like, and just what are tomorrow’s modern traveller demands? That’s exactly what we are going to explore in this session.”

On the panel: 

  • James Dilley, Director, Jestico + Whiles
  • Naomi Heaton, CEO, The Other House
  • David Mason, Head of Hospitality, Scott Brownrigg

The conversation began with Kilburn asking the panel to explain when it become desirable for travellers to use the term lifestyle. “I think it’s all aligned with the concept around experience,” James Dilley said. “It’s when hospitality providers were looking beyond simply beds and showers… we are hunters and collectors of our experience now (we upload them onto our Instagram channels) and it [the hotel stay] becomes the thrill of discovery and memorable experiences.”

To do the topic justice, it was important to look beyond how the recent pandemic has impacted hotel design and hospitality, and instead cast back to what was happening before Covid-19. “Pre-pandemic we were looking at urban resorts and the activation of city centres,” added David Mason. “A lot of the hotels we were working with were making their guests part of the experience where you could become part of the story.”

Perhaps one of the biggest unveil of the session came from Naomi Heaton, who used the platform to unveil the new brand, The Other House, which will shelter two new hotels in London, with hints that more properties will join the portfolio at a later date. The two new hotels, one inside Harrington Hall in Kensington and the other inside the Wellington block at Covent Garden, will open with the aim to disrupt hospitality and conventional luxury/lifestyle, drawing on her experience in the private residential sector launch something totally new. “What we see is a convergence between the tradition hotel offering, the serviced apartment offering and the high-end residential,” she said when explaining the DNA of the new brand. “What we want to do is bring them all together to create a completely new category in the market. We want our guests to feel like residents so that they feel local and part of the community.”

In addition to exploring the depths of ‘experience’ in the lifestyle sector, the panel also debated thoughtful hospitality, authentic design solutions for the luxury/lifestyle sector, safety as the industry emerges from the pandemic and the demand for meaningful social interaction in what is the new era of lifestyle.

Here’s the full video of the panel discussion (on demand), produced by CUBE, which includes Product Watch pitches from Hamilton Litestat, Atlas Concorde, Bette, Mosaico+ and hansgrohe.

The full recordings of the other three sessions (‘Bathrooms beyond practical spaces, Art outside the frame and Workspace design trends’) will be available on-demand shortly.

SAVE THE DATE: Hotel Designs LIVE will return for a fourth edition on August 10, 2021. The topics explored will include surfaces, sleep, senses and social and speakers will be announced shortly. Once these have been announced, tickets for Hotel Designs LIVE will be available. In the meantime, if you would like to discuss sponsorship opportunities, focused Product Watch pitches or the concept of Hotel Designs LIVE, please contact Katy Phillips or call +44 (0) 1992 374050.

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Duravit is one of Hotel Designs’ 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 credit: Duravit

Product watch: HygieneFlush by Duravit

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: HygieneFlush by Duravit

The new ‘HygieneFlush’ flushing system from Duravit provides ‘perfect flushing performance’ and maximum antibacterial protection. Twice the hygiene, HygieneFlush flushing system plus HygieneGlaze antibacterial ceramic glaze are ideal for a post-pandemic hospitality world…

Duravit is one of Hotel Designs’ 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 credit: Duravit

With its maximum antibacterial protection and perfect performance Duravit’s new ‘HygieneFlush’ flushing system is set to revolutionise the toilet market. By combining the new flushing system with Duravit’s antibacterial ceramic glaze, HygieneGlaze, it delivers double protection in any washroom or bathroom.

The unique feature that makes the HygieneFlush so effective is the extremely powerful force of the flush which flows simultaneously from two carefully positioned openings.  Independent tests show that this new flushing technique cleans the entire inner surface of the toilet most effectively.  Keeping water usage to a minimum – only 4.5 l is used per flush – the flow is perfectly attuned to create a vortex and it is this that guarantees the ideal flushing action every time.

This new technology ingeniously combines the concept of a rotational flush with Duravit’s Rimless flushing technology whilst deploying two parallel flushing actions.  In addition to this the openings have been repositioned ensuring that the area at the front of the toilet is cleaned flawlessly every time, whilst avoiding unwanted splashes.

Cleanliness and excellent sanitation is further guaranteed as all new HygieneFlush toilets come with Duravit’s HygieneGlaze ceramic glaze as standard. HygieneGlaze eliminates bacterial growth; six hours after use, 90 per cent of bacteria (e.g. coli bacteria) are eliminated, with 99.9 per cent eliminated after 24 hours.

The antibacterial glaze is baked into the inner bowl of the toilet during firing; this makes it particularly effective in areas that are highly susceptible to the accumulation of bacteria. The combined action of these unique Duravit features – HygieneFlush and HygieneGlaze – provides maximum protection in terms of hygiene and cleanliness in the bathroom.

The ME by Starck wall hung WC range is available with the HygieneFlush flushing technology and the highly effective antibacterial HygieneGlaze ceramic glaze there is also a SensoWash® shower-toilet option available with HygieneGlaze available as standard.

Duravit is one of Hotel Designs’ 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 credit: Duravit

The Other House in Covent Garden

The Other House: The new luxury/lifestyle brand ‘revolutionising hospitality’

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The Other House: The new luxury/lifestyle brand ‘revolutionising hospitality’

Naomi Heaton, CEO of The Portfolio Club, dropped the name of the company’s new lifestyle brand and residents’ clubs during a panel discussion at Hotel Designs LIVE. The Other House will launch in the Spring of 2022 with a stunning property in South Kensington. Then, in 2023, London’s famed Covent Garden neighbourhood will welcome the brand’s next hotel. Editor Hamish Kilburn has more…

The Other House in Covent Garden

During a panel discussion at Hotel Designs LIVE, aptly themed ‘the new era of lifestyle’, Naomi Heaton revealed the name of her new residents’ club brand. To an engaged virtual audience, the developer announced that The Other House will launch in Spring of 2022 and will “blur the lines to create a cutting-edge type of new accommodation.”

Heaton, who is arguably most known for the acquisition of Harrington Hall Hotel in South Kensington, explained that the brand will disrupt the traditional sectors of hotels, serviced apartments and private rentals, effortlessly and elegantly combining home comforts with hotel style facilities, whatever the length of stay.

The brand, which refers to itself on the website as ‘your home for as long as you’re in town’, positions itself as a ‘second home’ for its guests – their other house. It will provide a unique experience for the discerning traveller who knows what they want, seeking style and experiences to remember, without a hefty price tag.

Interior design studio, Bergman Interiors, which won Interior Designer of the Year at The Brit List Awards, has been appointed to create iconic interior schemes for both the South Kensington and Covent Garden properties, led by co-founder, Marie Soliman. Soliman and her team are working alongside award-winning architects, Falconer Chester Hall on both projects.

“The Other House caters to consumers looking for flexibility, style and greater personalisation and who embrace responsibility and slow travel,” explained Heaton in a press release. “Our mission is to create spaces that enhance the overall guest experience and completely reinvent how people stay, providing a renewed sense of space, place, ownership and engagement. The concept paves the way for a new era of smart travellers.”

Each Club will offer around 200 ‘club flats’ with a beautifully designed living area, sleeping area and kitchen. There will be boldly stunning private spaces, bars and spa with fitness studios for residents and private members. A whimsical destination bar and a bistro-style kitchen with a constantly changing seasonal menu will welcome the public.

Moving away from large scale banqueting and conference facilities, each residents’ club will offer amenities that augment the club flats and guest experience such as private dining rooms, bookable meeting rooms and screening rooms.

The brand connects guests with on-demand services and limits touch points through the club’s bespoke tech platform and app. Features include automatic check in, keyless room entry, remote room controls, fingertip access to services, as well as booking and ordering at any of its restaurants, bars and other amenities.

Rolling out in prime central London neighbourhoods initially before expanding globally, The Other House highlights the best in British design, utilising green technology, with sustainability and positive social and environmental impact at its core.

Heaton added: “Now, more than ever, we need to embrace the travel revolution we see ahead of us – we look forward to opening our doors in 2022 and welcoming this new chapter of hospitality.”

The new brand is yet to release interior design renders of the projects, but rest assured that Hotel Designs will be ready and waiting as soon as we know more. For now, welcome to your other house, London and travellers alike.

Main image credit: The Other House

The Brit List complilation

The Brit List Awards 2021: Nominations now open (and free)!

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The Brit List Awards 2021: Nominations now open (and free)!

FREE TO APPLY: Hotel Designs’ The Brit List Awards is back, and bigger than ever, as the nationwide search to find Britain’s best designers, architects, hoteliers and brands introduces two new individual awards to this year’s campaign…

The Brit List complilation

The free nomination/application process for The Brit List Awards 2021 is now officially open, as Hotel Designs’ nationwide search to identify the true leaders operating in the hotel design and hospitality arena in Britain begins. The awards, which has become a major campaign to support diversity and raw talent that stretches across the British design, architecture and hospitality landscape, is expected to be bigger than ever before – climaxing with a live awards ceremony that will take place on November 3 at Proud Embankment, London.

FREE TO ENTER: Simply click here to apply/nominate for The Brit List Awards 2020.

To remain Britain’s most meaningful design and hospitality awards ceremony, this year’s campaign will debut two new awards, The Rising Star Award and the International Award, which editor Hamish Kilburn says will elevate and diversify this year’s awards. “It’s been a challenging year for everyone operating in the industry we love to serve, and I am delighted that these two new awards position our editorial lens on young talented individuals who are fiercely climbing the ranks as well as making a nod to international superstars who are pivoting the international hotel design into a new era,” Kilburn, who will host the awards ceremony on November 3 in London, said. “And yes, following our successful virtual awards ceremony in 2020, we are doing everything we can in order to make sure our awards ceremony, which will be sheltered inside Proud Galleries in London, is the biggest and best yet.”

This year’s individual categories are:

  • Interior Designer of the Year 
  • Architect of the Year
  • Hotelier of the Year
  • Best in Tech
  • The Eco Award 
  • Best in British Product Design
  • The Rising Star Award 
  • International Award
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry

In addition to the individual awards up for grabs, the top 25 entries in the interior design, architecture and hospitality categories will be profiled in the prestigious The Brit List, Hotel Designs’ annual publication that references the top 75 most influential individuals in British design, architecture and hospitality.

“We have made the decision to postpone all of our other networking events this year until 2022 in order to pour all of our attention into The Brit List Awards Ceremony which will welcome this year’s shortlisted finalists – AKA, the best in British product design, architecture and hospitality – under one roof for a party unlike any other,” said Katy Phillips, Publisher at Hotel Designs. “As a brand, Hotel Designs has confronted the challenges of Covid-19 by being a safe space that incubates new discussions – whether that’s publishing thought-provoking articles, hosting conversations like no other in our Hotel Designs LIVE events, amplifying innovative people on our podcast platform DESIGN POD or by championing the pioneers who are taking our industry forward via The Brit List Awards.”

For the third consecutive year, Crosswater, which is sheltered under the parent company Bathroom Brands Group, has been confirmed as the Headline Partner for The Brit List Awards. In addition, Hamilton Litestat and Duravit return as Event Partners while Schlüter Systems returns as Showcase Partner. Also returning to this year’s awards, the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) will once again be an Industry Partner for the awards ceremony and its upcoming President, Lindsey Rendall, will join this year’s judging panel alongside Lester Bennet, who is the institute’s current president. In addition, NEWH has also been confirmed an Industry Partner for the event.

If you would like to discuss various sponsorship packages available, please contact Katy Phillips via email, or call 01992 374050. Tickets to the live awards ceremony at Proud Embankment, London on November 3 will be available to secure shortly. 

Weekly briefing: Hotel openings, Australian arrival & tile trends

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly briefing: Hotel openings, Australian arrival & tile trends

Editor Hamish Kilburn here dropping in to serve you your weekly briefing, which today includes news from Kimpton Hotels, YOTEL and Four Seasons as well as a detailed look at the hottest hotel openings anticipated for May and more…

While this week’s news has been hot on our agenda, I have to say (teaser alert) the editorial desk this week have been busy planning ahead as we are days away from not only going live in the latest edition of Hotel Designs LIVE but also opening this year’s entries for The Brit List Awards – roll on Monday morning.

When we have managed to sneak away from the boardroom, we have covered some sensational hotel design and hotel development stories that we would hate for you to miss. So, just in case you have been as busy as – or simply just haven’t found time to scroll through our industry news section of the website – here are the hottest stories that we have published this week.

Kimpton Hotels scheduled to arrive in Australia this autumn

Image credit: IHG

As part of IHG’s boutique luxury brand’s rapid global growth, Kimpton Hotels will finally arrive down under this autumn. That’s right, Pro-invest and IHG have announced that they will reopen Primus Sydney as Australia’s first Kimpton Hotel in October 2021.


This month’s hottest hotel openings

Europe, Romania, Bucharest, The Marmorosch

Image credit: Marriott International

As we prepared to write the fifth article in our year-long editorial series, VIP arrivals, we are reminded of what makes a hotel incredible. And as such, in this chapter of our series, we searched for hotels opening that ooze personality, style, character and that will shelter unconventional yet extremely meaningful ways to connect locals and travellers alike with local culture.

Opening with the fierce aim to tease travellers to explore once more, here are some of the most interesting hotel openings that the editorial team at Hotel Designs have identified are set to take place this month.


Four Seasons to expand portfolio in Spain with project in Mallorca

Four Seasons Mallorca

Image credit: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Following its arrival in Spain in 2020, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts has announced that it is working with private equity investment company Emin Capital to open a 110-key hotel in Mallorca.

Originally opened in 1929, the existing hotel will undergo extensive renovations before it is unveiled as a Four Seasons experience in 2023.All of the 110 rooms and suites will offer balconies with sea and forest views, allowing guests to soak in their beautiful surroundings. The renovations will be overseen by architects Estudio Lamela and SCT Estudio de Arquitectura, with interior designs by Gilles & Boissier.


Case study: Designing the bathrooms inside Scotland’s debut YOTEL

Modern, clean and slick guestroom inside YOTEL Edinburgh

Image credit: YOTEL

Scotland’s very first YOTEL, centrally located in Edinburgh’s bustling Queen Street, combines contemporary modern interiors with the classic design of the city’s famous ‘Old Town’ architecture. Its playful ‘cabin’ style rooms feature bathrooms using a bespoke solution and innovative solid surface material Surfex® exclusively from Roca.

The hotel has 276 compact cabin rooms, inspired by the feeling first class travel provides in terms of luxury and comfort. Each room is equipped with YOTEL’s signature features including luxury bedding, relaxing mood lighting and Smart TVs. This helps to enhance the smart experience YOTEL is renowned for and evokes contemporary style and convenience. The rooms are designed to have a modern feel, and its minimalist white interior highlights the brand’s close attention to detail.


While you’re here, why not catch the latest episode of DESIGN POD with tech guru Jason Bradbury? 

Interior design trends to watch – on the tiles

Image caption: Solid, durable and extremely versatile, RAK Ceramics Curton are stone-look porcelain tiles that make a highly attractive visual impact. | Image credit: RAK Ceramics

Image credit: RAK Ceramics

There we go again, dropping the ‘t’ word into your morning scroll of design-led stories. But while we’ve got your attention, here’s Ben Bryden, Sales and Marketing Director at RAK Ceramics UK, to cut through the noise and talk us through the latest tile trends that will transform the hotel interior design scheme of any project.


In pictures: The Grove shelters masterful revamp from Martin Hulbert Design

A loud lounge with biophilic walls

Image credit: The Gove, Hertfordshire

In just a few days time, on May 17, The Grove, which is a quintessentially British countryside retreat in Hertfordshire, will reopen its doors with a perfectly timed unveil of its most recent renovation to transform what was a tired interior design scheme into a light, bright and playful modern hotel experience. The complete redesign, which was masterminded by interior design studio Martin Hulbert Design, incorporates all three dining spaces – The Glasshouse, The Stables and The Lounges – as well as the lobby area and all 189 West Wing guestrooms.


And finally…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Main image credit: Marriott International

Sneak peek: The Apartments by 11 Cadogan Gardens

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Sneak peek: The Apartments by 11 Cadogan Gardens

Luxury residential and hospitality design studio, Atellior, has completed the interior redesign of an imposing property in Kensington and Chelsea, creating six new apartments that will be serviced by 11 Cadogan Gardens hotel. Let’s take a look inside, shall we? 

Located just a stone’s throw away from the hotel, the six one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that are sheltered under the iconic 11 Cadogan Gardens brand are designed as sanctuaries for guests to make their home in this most quintessentially English neighbourhood of central London.

The aesthetic is elegant and contemporary, combining residential style elements, such as contemporary lighting by Chelsom, luxuriantly thick bedroom carpets from West End Carpets and pale Havwoods timber flooring in the living areas, with marble topped tables, over-size bed headboards from Circus 25 and an exquisite selection of textured wallcoverings by Arte in the bedrooms depicting a leaf pattern – a connection with the gardens outside and a reference to the Royal Borough’s long association with things horticultural.

Lounge in 11 Cadogan Gardens appartment

Image credit: Bruno Rondinelli

The colour palette is intentionally quiet, bringing together pale greens, warm greys and white, the bathrooms are clad in white and grey tiles and kitchens have white composite stone tops. Breaking away from this neutral envelope, modern abstract artwork brings pops of vibrant blue and green in a nod to nature and the guest cloakrooms with their Calacatta Viola splashbacks and darkly painted walls are a moody contrast to the rest of the apartments.

“It was a privilege to work with Cadogan Estates on this very special project and give the late 19th Century property new purpose as The Apartments by 11 Cadogan Gardens,” says Una Barac, Executive Director of Atellior. “The apartments happen to be opening at a time when social distancing means that they are likely to be in great demand but I am sure that their timeless design will ensure their continuing popularity well into the future.”

Each apartment is differently configured; some enjoy floor-to-ceiling windows, others especially generous bathrooms with free-standing bathtubs, while the top floor apartment is opened to the rafters, creating a cosy pied-à-terre for two. All the lounges feature a restored fireplace and one apartment has a restored original ceiling. 

The apartments now stand elegantly in a neighbourhood that has become synonymous with luxury and quintessentially British hospitality standards. The narrative continues…

Main image credit: Bruno Rondinelli

19 of the most incredible hotels around the world

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
19 of the most incredible hotels around the world

We’re jumpstarting your Monday with positive energy as we remind you (and ourselves) why we fell love with incredible hotels and one-off travel experiences the first place. We’re doing this by teasing your travel senses with these extraordinary examples of architecture, design and hospitality. Edited by Hamish Kilburn… 

Whether it’s been the best hotels that self-isolate in style or tapping in to our contacts to find local journalists to review the latest gems, for more than a year now, we have been serving our readers with thought-provoking pieces on incredible hotels around the world while the hotel design and hospitality industry navigate through the difficult and uncertain situation presented in the likes of the pandemic  – we have all adapted to international travel restrictions, and all been affected in some way by the spread of Covid-19.

At Hotel Designs, to keep the industry on its toes, we have launched new online events and used this time to gather the thoughts of industry experts to do our best to futuregaze into the unknown. But while all these articles and conversations are important, the main lesson we have learned during a year of social distancing is to embrace what we love about the industry we narrate. Therefore, today we are starting the week with the aim to inspire creative thinking by sharing what we believe are the world’s most insane hotels that we will shortly be able to check in to.

Jade Mountain, Saint Lucia

With a distinct lack of right angles and by completely removing the fourth wall in all suites (or sanctuaries), Jade Mountain is at one with nature. The hotel, which was designed by co-owner Nick Troubetzkoy, is a timeless tropical paradise that’s clever architecture answers to modern demands for sustainable travel without compromising luxury. Each sanctuary features its own infinity pool that is part of an innovative water-saving system.

The living areas of the rooms are finished with more than 20 different species of tropical hardwood flooring and trims harvested in an environmentally sustainable way. The hotel’s technicians actually visited the rain forest of Guyana and personally chose which trees to be used. A multitude of hardwoods have been used including Purpleheart, Greenheart, Locust, Kabukali, Snakewood, Bloodwood, Etikburabali, Futukbali, Taurino, Mora and Cabbage Wood. In addition to locally made fine-tropical wood furniture, an eclectic collection of furniture has been placed in the sanctuaries giving each one of them their own individualistic ambiance.

Gleneagles, Scotland

The jewel of Scotland’s hospitality crown is located in the stunning Orchil Hills, just 50 minutes drive from Edinburgh. The hotel, which is known as ‘the glorious playground’ shelters a fascinating modern yet sensitive design narrative which includes characters from studios such as Goddard Littlefair, Ennismore, Timorous Beasties and David Collins Studio.

With its infamous doors scheduled to open again on April 26, the hotel, which has been welcoming travellers since 1924, will rise from the pandemic as one of the leading and most prestigious brands in international hospitality. Conor O’Leary, joint Managing Director of Gleneagles, said in a roundtable hosted by Hotel Designs last year: “One of the core aspects for me with sustainability is to think local. I think there will be huge shift in supporting and buying local, which is one of the pillars of sustainability. There has to be an element of trust, and I predict that consumers will want to know more about where things have come from.”

Inntel Amsterdam Zaandam, Holland

We can safely say that with its unique façade that is made of nearly 70 stacked typical houses from the area, there is nothing quite like Inntel Amsterdam Zaandam on the international hotel design scene. As well as the architecture being (well) just incredible, each room inside the hotel is inspired by the rich and storied hospitality of the colour city of Amsterdam.

Giraffe Manor, Nairobi

Considered by travel influencers as a number-one travel bucket list destination, Giraffe Manor epitomises the idea of bringing the outdoors in. The exclusive boutique hotel, owned by The Safari Collection is set in 12 acres of private land with 140 acres of indigenous forest in the Langata suburb of Nairobi – the hotel is sheltered in one of Nairobi’s most iconic buildings. The historic manor house has extraordinary appeal, that harks back to the 1930s when visitors first flocked to East Africa to enjoy safaris. With its stately façade, elegant interior, verdant green gardens, sunny terraces and delightful courtyards, guests often remark that it’s like walking into the film Out of Africa: indeed, one of its twelve rooms is named after the author Karen Blixen.

One of the most fascinating things about Giraffe Manor is its resident herd of Rothschild’s giraffes who may visit morning and evening, poking their long necks into the windows in the hope of a treat, before retreating to their forest sanctuary.

treehotel, Sweden

Combining ecological values, comfort and modern design, treehotel in Sweden offers an unparalleled hospitality experience. With accommodation that is camouflaged into the forrest (the Mirrorcube cabin) to one that is designed to look like a birds nest – and even one that replicates a UFO, the hospitality experience allows guests to self-isolate from the outside world in style and comfort.

The Mandrake, United Kingdom

Inside The Mandrake Hotel

Image credit: The Mandrake Hotel

Located steps from London’s bustling Oxford Street, The Mandrake is a different world from the one outside. The award-winning hotel is emerging from its hospitality hibernation ready to welcome guests back into its evergreen heart.

Every aspect of The Mandrake has been curated and designed by Tala and Rami Fustok to offer an immersive and unforgettable experience – from the three-storey-high surrounding walls of jasmine and passionflower that form the living heart of the hotel to the hotel’s priceless and eclectic art collection that includes works from the likes of Salvador Dali, Francesco Clemente and Jonas Burgert.

Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, Oman

As one of the world’s highest hotels, and sheltering 82 canyon view rooms, 33 private pool villas, including one of Oman’s most luxurious three bedroom pool villa, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort has been designed with the stunning landscape of the fabled Green Mountain in mind – think elevated luxury in every sense of the phrase.

Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô, Vietnam

Image of pool and suite inside Zannier Hotel Bai San Ho

Image credit: Zannier Hotels

The hotel, which was designed by Geraldine Dohogne, is described as the “ultimate refinement in a part of Vietnam still largely undiscovered.” Sheltering 71 spacious standalone villas are tucked away in 98 hectares of lush vegetation, along a pristine white beach with majestic coral reefs. As such, Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô is the perfect embodiment of the Zannier Hotels philosophy, and yet totally different to every other Zannier-branded hotel.

Inspiration for each of the three villa types – Paddy Field, Hill Pool and Beach Pool – is rooted in the Vietnamese tradition of architecture as an art form. A modern reinterpretation of the traditional abodes typically found in Vietnam’s tribal cultures, the villas have been ecologically built using age-old techniques to authentically replicate different architectural styles, whilst offering a more contemporary way of living. The pared-down interiors feature natural colours and textures, with a collection of Vietnamese paintings and silk prints gracing the walls. Soft furnishings incorporate traditional materials such as raw silk, woven rattan and hessian, whilst the elegant furniture is cleverly handcrafted from reclaimed wood and bamboo.

Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood, Thailand

Unparalleled luxury meets eco-friendly design. Nestled within lush tropical rainforest on an unspoiled island with some of the best beaches in Thailand is Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood is a tropical paradise. From the sprawling Six Bedroom Sunset Ocean View Pool Reserve perched atop cliffs or find yourself right on the sandy shores in one of our Beach Pool Retreats.

One&Only Le Saint Géran, Mauritius

A luxurious white guestroom overlooking the ocean

Image credit: One&Only

With one of the natural beauty and authentic charm of island life, Mauritius has become a major luxury travel hotspot – it has one of the largest concentration of five-star hotels of any island in the Indian Ocean, according to Conde Nast Traveller.

Since the island’s secret got out, the luxury hotels in the area have faced the challenge to effortlessly and sensitively stand out from the crowd. As one of the original hotels luxury brands to arrive on the island, the property’s unmatched location and heritage has been garnished with One & Only’s esteemed reputation for barefoot tropical luxury. The hotel first opened in 197, and was taken over and rebranded in 2002 by One&Only).

Manon Les Suites, Copenhagen

A jungle environment inside Manon Les Suites

Image credit: Manon Les Suites

Smack-bang in the middle of Copenhagen is a bohemian-chic traveller’s dream. Manon Les Suites takes the Guldsmeden Hotels concept, to shelter luxurious simplicity and an unpretentious atmosphere, to a new level.

Matetsi Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Reviewed by Hotel Designs where it was concluded as being ‘Zimbabwe’s answer to luxury,” Matetsi Victoria Falls sits blended into its location on the bank of the Zambezi river, in the heart of the African bush. Designed by young local interior designer Kerry van Leenhoff, the hotel was conceived to sensitively reflect its unique sense of place and culture. “It was really important for us to work with skilled craftsmen and women from our culture,” van Leenhoff said. “We have such a diverse culture with about 16 different tribes and languages. We mainly focused around the Tonga tribes as we were by the river.” The result is that from the far side of the river, you can’t actually see where the hotel starts and ends, which suggests even further that the whole property has been created with nature in mind.”

Ett Hem Stockholm, Sweden

Public area inside Et Hemm hotel is naturally one of the most incredible hotels in the world

Image credit: Ett Hem

Described on its website as ‘more personal than the luxury hotel’, Ett Hem Stockholm is the orignal home-from-home, designed by the one and only British designer Ilse Crawford. A former private residence built in 1910, the building now shelters 12 authentic rooms.

The success in intricately transforming the house into a hotel, whilst still retaining the individuality and personality of the original, is a testament to the tenaciousness Crawford who was involved in the project since the start.

Ett Hem is not the usual hotel. Ett hem is a place where guests are treated as friends of the family, a place that allows guests to become part of it and feel at home.

Kruger Shalati — Kruger National Park, South Africa

Kruger Shalati — Kruger National Park, South Africa is one of the most incredible hotels in the world

Elevated above the Sabie River, looking down on Kruger National Park, Kruger Shalati is often referred to as ‘the train on the Bridge’. It is formed of 24 glass-walled rooms that are sheltered within original carriages that balance on former train tracks. The boutique (in every sense of the word) hotel offers unparalleled views that stretch over the national park and wellness nods such as a plunge pool in order to enhance its luxurious feel.

D-Maris Bay, Turkey

Nestled on the underdeveloped and raw Datca Peninsula, where the Aegean and Mediterranean seas both meet, D Maris Bay is a hidden gem that is camouflaged by jagged mountains. The hotel, which is a European favourite jewel among modern travellers, is sheltered in a large, stone-coloured 1970s building – planning permissions restrict the hotel from making structural changes. The interior design reflects exotic elements of the East and modernity of the West through its minimalistic style. Its light and airy ambiance, radiates a touch of grandeur with marble surfaces and modern Turkish artworks adorning the walls

COMO Uma Punakha, Bhutan

Image of outside space in mountains

Image credit: COMO Hotels and Resorts

The second COMO property is Bhutan is located in the far western end of the lush Punakha Valley. From its picturesque base overlooking a snake-like bend in the Mo Chu river, Uma Punakha is ideally located for those who wish to explore the remote Himalayan Kingdom. In true COMO style, the hotel’s design is scaled back and shelters a harmony of traditional style with contemporary details.

The Upper House, Hong Kong

The creative brainchild of interior designer André Fu, The Upper House, Hong Kong recently made it on to Hotel Designs’ agenda after it was announced that the hotel was to open the André Fu Suite – the ultimate compliment for any interior designer working in the hospitality arena. The property itself is described as ‘the hotel that floats above the city’ and conjures a sense of tranquility with the warmth of a private residence. Overlooking Hong Kong’s bright lights from above Admiralty’s Pacific Place, the House shelters 117 rooms that incorporate the design aesthetic based around the ‘Upward Journey’ , resulting in timeless serenity that flows through the different areas of the hotel.

Iniala Beach House, Thailand

Iniala Beach House offers one of the most prestige luxury villas in Thailand. Comprising of three beachfront villas and a spectacular penthouse, the hotel was built on the site of Mark Weingard’s former holiday home in Phang Nga after he was struck with the idea to create an exceptional concept that combined the imagination, inspiration and innovation of renowned designers.

The Brando, French Polynesia

Overhead exterior shot of The Brando, which is considered one of the world's most incredible hotels

Image credit: The Brando

The Brando is a unique luxury resort on French Polynesia’s breathtakingly beautiful private island of Tetiaroa – an atoll composed of a dozen small islands surrounding a sparkling lagoon 30 miles northeast of Tahiti. The Brando offers carefree luxury in the midst of pristine nature. With access to the island by private plane, the resort features 35 villas on white-sand beaches frequented by sea turtles, manta rays and exotic birds. The resort was designed to reflect Polynesian lifestyles and culture.

Standing proudly as the first resort in the world to obtain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)’s highest accolade, the Platinum certification, the brand’s innovative and conscious traits, which don’t compromise on luxury but instead enhance it, are in the DNA of its success.

As well as solar panel installation and the use of coconut oil biofuel for its powerstation, the resort uses Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC), for example, harnesses the cold of the ocean depths to provide low-energy, highly efficient cooling for all the buildings, which reduces energy demands by almost 70 per cent.

Main image credits: Zannier Hotels/Anantara Hotels/The Brando

Girl playing with mobile phone on hotel bed

Industry insight: Is this the end of WiFi in hotels?

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Industry insight: Is this the end of WiFi in hotels?

A recent Which? survey found that over 14GB of data on average is going unused each month. Could your hotel be missing the opportunity to utilise this data network rather than invest in new WiFi Equipment? Following an impressive pitch at Hotel Designs LIVE, Gary Yeames-Smith, Director of Yeames Hospitality believes so…

Girl playing with mobile phone on hotel bed

The race to bring faster and bigger WiFi to Hotels has been ongoing for the last 20 years as more and more devices come online through business use as well as everyday lives. What started as a need for business laptops, was quickly followed by mobile phones, tablets and now smart watches from both business and leisure Guests.

Hoteliers have been charged with installing the infrastructure to support WiFi at the beginning and continue to do so. Why? Because they had to. Given the choice between a Hotel with or without WiFi the Guest would always opt for the former even if it cost more to stay per night. Since then every hotel now offers WiFi and the Guest pays for that though higher room rates.

But this was the need 10 years ago, when internet demand was exploding and the only way to provide it was through a wired or wireless connection because mobile data was slow and patchy at best but also very expensive to the end user. 

Fast forward to 2021 when 4G coverage is mainstream and 5G is being rolled out already to major cities. The cost of mobile data is at an all time low, yet a lot of the data also goes unused. With more speed and capacity available on mobiles that though conventional Broadband networks, isn’t it time your hotel thought of a different way?

Yeames Hospitality provides a Ofcom-regulated Mobile Coverage Solution that will increase signals on all four UK networks throughout the hotel and provide you the opportunity to give your guests amazing mobile coverage but also cut the cord on high cost leased lines in the future.  

business, people, technology, media and team work concept - close up of creative team with smartphones and tablet pc computers sitting at table in office

Image credit: Adobe Stock/Yeames Hospitality

The company, which offers a number of tech-driven solutions, can work with your hotel for fast and effective deployment on build or part of your refurbishment plans.

Yeames Hospitality was a Product Watch Pitch partner at Hotel Designs LIVE, which took place on February 23, 2021. Read more about the virtual event here. The next Hotel Designs LIVE will take place on May 11 2021.

Main image credit: Unsplash

Hotel Designs updates in-house events calendar for 2021 & 2022

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel Designs updates in-house events calendar for 2021 & 2022

In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Hotel Designs has made a few amendments to its in-house event calendar for 2021 and 2022. Editor Hamish Kilburn explains everything you need to know…

The entire team at Hotel Designs and Forum Events have been working tireless throughout the Covid-19 pandmeic, reacting to the latest government guidelines, in order to organise premium networking events that are safe and effective for designers, hoteliers, architects, developers and key-industry suppliers. In this time, we have launched new events, such as Hotel Designs LIVE, in order to keep the conversation flowing, while amended dates and concepts around our much-loved networking events.

Now that the UK government has given us a clearer indication on when social distancing measures will ease, here are the latest updates regarding all of our events.

Hotel Designs LIVE | May 11, 2021 | Virtual event

Main image Hotel Designs LIVE

The next Hotel Designs LIVE will take place on May 11, and will look at topics such as lifestyle, bathrooms, art and workspace.

In addition to the live seminar sessions – and to ensure that the event is bridging the gap between hospitality suppliers and designers, architects, hoteliers and developers – the conference also included structured ‘PRODUCT WATCH’ pitches around each session, allowing suppliers the opportunity to pitch their products and services in a ‘live’ environment to the hospitality buyers that are tuned in.

What’s more, designers, architects, hoteliers and developers attend free of charge – click here to secure your complimentary ticket(s).

The inaugural Hotel Designs LIVE, which took place online on June 23, 2020, defined the point on international hotel design’s most relevant topics with the help of some of design, architecture and hospitality’s leading figures as well as identifying the latest product innovations on the market.

Following this event, Hotel Designs LIVE will return on August 10, 2021 and December 7, 2021 to explore more relevant topics with with world-renowned designers, architects, hoteliers and developers (topics and sessions for future events will be available shortly).

#HotelDesignsLIVE | Participate here.

Interior Design & Architecture Summit | June 30, 2021 | Hilton Canary Wharf

The next Interior Design & Architecture Summit (IDAS) will take place on June 30, 2021 at Hilton Canary Wharf

IDAS is Hotel Designs’ premium meet-the-buyer event for designers, architects and suppliers.

If you are a senior designer and/or architect and would like to attend the 2021 event, please contact Alex King on 01992 374082, or email a.king@forumevents.co.uk. If you are a supplier and are interested in attending the 2021 event, please contact Jennie Lane on 01992 374098, or email j.lane@forumevents.co.uk.

Retail & Hospitality Design Forum | September 6 – 7, 2021 | Radisson Red, London Heathrow

To help the industry enter the new era of retail and hospitality, Forum Events has launched a new meet-the-buyers hybrid event for senior professionals who are directly responsible for the interior design and fit-out of retail stores, leisure and hospitality establishments and those who provide products and services to these industries.

The Retail & Hospitality Design Forum, which takes place from September 6 – 7 at Radisson Red, London Heathrow (virtual attendance options are also available), will be a highly focused event that will consist of one-to-one, pre-arranged business meetings, interactive seminars and valuable networking opportunities over the two days.

If you are a supplier to the industry looking to meet top retail and hospitality professionals, email Courtney Saggers – or click here to request more information. If you are a hotelier and would like to attend the Summit for free, please email Victoria Petch – or click here to book your place.

Hotel Summit |  September 27 – 28 | Radisson Red, London Heathrow

For more than two decades, the Hotel Summit has been bringing together senior hospitality professionals with key-industry suppliers. The meet-the-buyer event include:

  • Pre-arranged, one-to-one meetings between hospitality professionals and suppliers
  • Exceptional speakership programmes
  • Gala dinner

If you are interested in exhibiting at the 2021 event, please contact Jennie Lane on 01992 374098 or email j.lane@forumevents.co.uk. If you are a hotel operator, general manager or procurement manager and would like to attend the event free of charge, please contact Victoria Petch of 01992 374099 or email k.naumburger@forumevents.co.uk.

The Brit List Awards 2021 | November 3, 2021 | Proud Galleries, London

Following last year’s virtual awards ceremony, The Brit List Awards is back for another year to identify the leading interiors designers, architects, hoteliers and suppliers operating in Britain.

This year’s categories are:

  • Interior Designer of the Year
  • Architect of the Year
  • Hotelier of the Year
  • Best in Tech
  • The Eco Award
  • Best in British Product Design
  • Rising Star of the Year (NEW CATEGORY)
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry

Applications and nominations (free to apply/nominate) will open on May 10, 2021 and will close in August. More information on the event can be found here.

MEET UP London | March 24, 2022 | Minotti London

Sheltered safely inside Minotti London’s premium and spacious Fitzrovia showroom, MEET UP London will welcome designers, architects, hoteliers, developers and suppliers. With the aim to support young talent as we emerge from unprecedented and challenging times, the theme MEET UP London will be ’30 Under 30′ where we will unveil the leaders and visionaries of tomorrow’s hotel design and hospitality scene. Applications/nominations will open shortly.

MEET UP North | May 5, 2022 | Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester

MEET UP North, which is Hotel Designs’ leading networking evening in the north, will take place at Stock Exchange Hotel in the heart of Manchester on May 5, 2022.

Designers, architects, hoteliers and developers, click here to attend (booking form takes less than 2 minutes to fill out).  Suppliers, click here to attend (booking form takes less than two minutes to fill out).

Considering the vast amount of hotel projects currently on the boards in the north – many of which are slated to complete and open this year – the theme of MEET UP North will be Manchester ‘Inspiring Creativity’. The city, which has hosted the concept since its launch in 2018, will once again welcome leading designers, architects, hoteliers, developers and suppliers for the industry’s leading networking event in the north.

If you would like to discuss or be part of any other our hospitality and hotel design events, please do not hesitate to email Hamish Kilburn and/or Katy Phillips.

Since you’re here…

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“Individuality with a splash of colour,” says UK Bathrooms about hansgrohe’s FinishPlus range

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
“Individuality with a splash of colour,” says UK Bathrooms about hansgrohe’s FinishPlus range

“hansgrohe’s FinishPlus range of modern tones for taps, mixers and showers means brassware can now make a statement in the bathrooms while seamlessly blending various styles,” says Graeme Borchard, Managing Director at UK Bathrooms

The bathroom of today is taking on many of the traits of other rooms in the house, becoming a space dependant on style and comfort as well as practicality and purpose – a lifestyle area providing sanctuary, solace and a chance for self-care. Design plays a key role in the room’s new function, and the way the bathroom looks now has the power to evoke moods and impact mental wellbeing, be it comfort and calmness in darkest black, energetic and eager in zingy sunshine shades or powerful and present in slick monochrome.

As the bathroom adapts to its creative design credentials, the objects found within it have also evolved, and customisation and personalisation have never been more important. While decorative options for surfaces, ceramics and bathroom furniture have become never ending, brassware choices generally remained limited – until now.

Image caption: hansgrohe white shower and taps in the FinishPlus range. | Image credit: hansgrohe/UK Bathrooms

Image caption: hansgrohe white shower and taps

Gone are the days of chrome dominating the bathroom. hansgrohe’s FinishPlus range introduces five forward-thinking finishes, reimagining tones that were once unusual in the bathroom and making them easy to apply across the space. The innovative finish collection coats an array of showers, taps, accessories and (soon to be launched) drains, in bold, unconventional shades and textures which are incredibly durable and scratch resistant, demonstrating hansgrohe’s dedication to unparalleled quality and its view that the movement of water is not only as part of the daily routine, but something to be enhanced, modernised and made more beautiful.

“hansgrohe’s FinishPlus challenges preconceptions of the role brassware plays in bathroom design, and elevates taps, mixers and showers to become key features within the space,” says Graeme Borchard, Managing Director at UK Bathrooms. “The spectrum of finishes offered in the collection have a transformative power over the entire bathroom, offering endless opportunities for individualism and self-expression.”

Hansgrohe’s FinishPlus offers five finishes in bold and contemporary tones which coat some of the brand’s leading designs, such as the angular Metropol and smooth Talis E basin mixers and bath fillers. The finishes are also applied to practical elements such as valves, rails and pipes to create an all-encompassing, seamless aesthetic, with fittings large and small crafted with the same precision engineering the German brand has been perfecting for 120 years.

Matt Black

Welcoming both black tones and texture into the bathroom, the FinishPlus Matt Black surface brings a sense of moodiness and edgy style, its light absorbing matt quality highlighting the shape and silhouette of that which it covers, creating a sculptural feel. Introduce Matt Black into an on-trend all-black bathroom to create an immersive, soothing retreat.

Image caption: hansgrohe matt black shower taps and bath. | Image credit: hansgrohe/UK Bathrooms

Brushed Black Chrome

Dark with a muted shine, shadowy FinishPlus Brushed Chrome is at once dramatic and understated. Team with bright whites to highlight its slick-yet-subtle sophistication and moody impact, add to monochrome schemes to highlight its discreet shine, or juxtapose it against a coloured or patterned background to showcase the brassware’s shapely outline.

Matt White

While white is a staple for bathroom ceramics and surfaces, FinishPlus brings the bright shade to brassware, where it at once makes a bold statement and delicately blends with the room’s surroundings. Camouflage white-coated taps, mixers and showers against a pale backdrop for an ultra-fresh feel and to extend the visual impact of basins and baths, or style it as a statement point of difference against other colours, where the matt surface will create a sleek, contemporary feel.

Polished Gold Optic

One for the extravagant bathrooms, a touch of gleaming Polished Gold Optic will transform a piece of brassware into an elegant, Midas-inspired art object. Go all out with coordinating taps, mixers and showers, or have one statement item as the pièce de résistance to bring glamour and luxury to the space.

Brushed Bronze

Hovering between soft gold and copper, Brushed bronze is a gentle take on the metallic, channelling a calming, neutral feel with its soft sheen and muted colour. Pair the shade with natural materials and hues to create a bathroom that’s serene with a design-led edge.

Image caption: hansgrohe polished gold optic shower and taps in the FinishPlus range. | Image credit: hansgrohe/UK Bathrooms

Image caption: hansgrohe polished gold optic shower and taps in the FinishPlus range. | Image credit: hansgrohe/UK Bathrooms

Stay tuned this year for the launch of the FinishPlus Accessories range, which will complement the existing brassware tones and offer ever greater freedom of expression within bathroom design.

UK Bathrooms is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package and hansgrohe is a Recommended Supplier. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here

Main image credit: UK Bathrooms/hansgrohe

Image of suite inside Six Senses Ibiza

Sneak peek: Inside Six Senses Ibiza

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Sneak peek: Inside Six Senses Ibiza

Catapulting the Balearic Island into a different league, Six Senses Ibiza will offer a way of life that embraces music, culture, art, spirituality, fashion, wellness and sustainability. Hotel Designs gets an early check-in before it officially opens in July…

Image of suite inside Six Senses Ibiza

Following the opening of the brand’s latest hotel in Botanique in Brazil, Six Senses has unveiled images of its highly anticipated hotel in Ibiza. Said to be one the Mediterranean’s most anticipated openings this year, as outlined in our 2021 Hotel Openings SeriesSix Senses Ibiza is located on the peaceful northern tip of the island, the village-like resort will capture the authentic essence of the Balearic island both in look and feel. It will be set over 20-acres, with unrivalled sea views and will benefit from direct access to one of the most beautiful bays in Ibiza, Cala Xarraca. Live layers of programming and experiences will constantly evolve to celebrate music, art, sustainable fashion, spirituality, pioneering wellness, culinary exploration and culture, all synonymous with the island.

Guestroom overlooking sea at Six Senses Ibiza

Image credit: Six Senses

Six Senses Ibiza will be the first sustainable BREEAM certified resort and residential community in the Balearics. The resort will offer 116 guest accommodations, villas, suites and beachfront caves and a number of Village Residences with intimate terraces, lush gardens and pools – perfect for those looking for a permanent hideaway in the Mediterranean.

“Our vision is to capture the authentic Ibiza experience of community, spirituality and celebration,” Jonathan Leitersdorf, the architect and developer, explains. In the hot season (May to October), the community celebrates. From lazy days soaking poolside, enjoying the natural beauty of the bay or meeting an extended family of islanders, to gathering at night on long tables to explore new culinary delights, festive pop-up events and full moon dinners.

In the cool season (November to April), the community shares deep spiritual experiences. Six Senses Ibiza is gearing up to feature a series of immersive teaser weekends and longer-stay retreats, initially yoga, cleanse and fitness.

Surrounded by beautiful unspoiled coves and groves, Six Senses Ibiza is symbolic of the light, beauty and natural rhythms of the seasons that draw people back again. The tactile Finca-style aesthetic has a modern and sophisticated design and finish, and the architecture is built and inspired by locally sourced materials. The Farm at Six Senses Ibiza is a 400-year-old olive press and agricultural estate, where guests will take part in growing the abundance of organic produce that will also supply the resort’s restaurants, café and bars.

“This vision captures an authentic Ibiza experience that really resonates with me on a personal level,” says Neil Jacobs, Chief Executive Officer of Six Senses. “It is aligned with our set of beliefs, particularly around emotional hospitality. Sustainability is a huge part of our company ethos. And when you find a magical place such as Cala Xarraca, it’s something that you work really hard to both showcase and respect. In the case of Six Senses Ibiza, this is what shines so brightly.”

Six Senses Ibiza will be the first European outpost for celebrity chef Eyal Shani, founding father of new Israeli cuisine. His sublime menus will follow the Eat With Six Senses guiding principles of organic, seasonal, nutritious and delicious, gathering guests at the exquisite long tables of the Farmers’ Market. Other signature venues including The Orchard, The Piazza, Farmacy Bar and Live Cave will be complemented by grow-your-own veg, chef’s table and cooking lessons at the Farm.

The Six Senses Spa houses single and couple’s treatment rooms, a steam room, hammam and state-of-the-art fitness area, café and juice bar. The Rose Bar offers night owls a chance to roll back the years through a range of healing and preventative longevity programmes combining diagnostics, biohacking, nutrition and beauty treatments. Outdoors there is an impressive yoga deck and boxing ring on the roof. There will also be immersive retreats at the resort which will be facilitated by Friends of Six Senses, Visiting Practitioners and partners.


Six Senses Ibiza will add an enticing new setting to the vibrant Ibiza music scene. Directly on the shorefront, the Beach Caves music venue is the heart of the resort. Hosting live shows, events, emerging artist sessions, and an expansive vinyl collection, the Beach Caves features avant-garde technology from McIntosh and Sonus faber through a partnership with McIntosh Group. There is also a Cave Royale guestroom with a secret door leading to the Recording Studio for when creativity strikes in the middle of the night.

The hotel celebrates sustainable fashion at the Agora, a new retail concept – part entertainment, part education and part shopping experience. Curated by the renowned fashion editors Daniela Agnelli and Tiffanie Darke, it seeks to tell a story in a series of chapters: Reduce, Recycle, Rent and Restore. Highlights of the store will be a “live magazine” experience, a “Cinderella Room” for dress up nights, and an Intention Tree for customers to remember the change.

Arts and culture are central to the Six Senses experience. As they wander through the resort’s galleries, guests will enjoy displays by Magnum photographers, curated by Elaine Groenestein to reflect Ibiza’s core themes. Along with photography events and workshops, a larger selection of fine prints is available through the Magnum Gallery. There is also a beautiful library for guests to relax and unwind in and expand the mind.

Main image credit: Six Senses

West Wing Lobby

Hilton London Metropole to ‘radically’ transform guest experience

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hilton London Metropole to ‘radically’ transform guest experience

Hospitality design firm Perkins&Will have been appointed to completely refurbish Hilton London Metropole, which is the largest Hilton outside of the USA…

West Wing Lobby

As part of a multimillion-pound renovation, Hilton London Metropole has briefed design firm Perkins&Will to ‘radically transform the guest experience’.

The renovation, which due to be completed by summer 2021, is expected to provide guests with a completely new and upgraded stay – no element of the hotel will be left unchanged.

The 1,096 guestrooms and suites have undergone a striking transformation, designed with a contemporary and bold aesthetic that sensitively reflects different London boroughs. The venue’s four restaurants and bars will be relaunched with exciting new drinking and dining concepts, including an all-day British brasserie, serving locally sourced ingredients, and a new suitably relaxed market-style dining outlet, that celebrates London’s street food scene. The refurbishment will also see the opening of a state-of-the-art 200sqm (2,153sqf) fitness studio. 

Executive Bedroom inside the Hilton hotel

Image credit: Hilton Hotels

Extensive renovations are being made to the hotel’s 35 event spaces and meeting rooms, including two dedicated hybrid meeting rooms and three ballrooms, which total over 4,600sqm (49,500sqf) in size, from the 1,062 Square Metres (11,431sqf) Richmond Suite to the Kensington Suite, with its open private foyer and space for up to 1,350 guests. Hilton London Metropole also operates Hilton EventReady with CleanStay, which ensures the hotel delivers event experiences that are clean, flexible, safe and socially responsible.  

“Our ambitious multimillion pound renovation will maintain Hilton London Metropole as Europe’s leading conference and events hotel,” said Remco Norden, Area General Manager. “The refurbishment will radically transform every element of the hotel, from our restaurants and bars to our bedrooms, suites and meeting and event spaces. It will elevate the guest experience and continue to make us the venue of choice for business and leisure travellers and corporate and private events of any scale. 

“The refurbishment celebrates London and our hotel’s wonderful history. Despite the challenges the industry has faced in 2020, our hotel has an incredibly bright future and this renovation is our opportunity to invest in it.”  

The hotel has embraced the latest in technology to ensure a seamless stay, from upgraded Wi-Fi to the introduction of Digital Key, which allows Hilton Honours members to check in and choose their room using their smartphone via the Hilton Honours app.   

The design project celebrates the best of the capital, with the new design weaving the city’s storied history into the hotel. Guests will experience engaging touchpoints from London’s rich heritage, its vibrant art, culture, music and diverse food scene throughout.  

The new, elevated aesthetic will take guests on an immersive experience through the capital. The architecture, design, restaurants and bars showcase purposeful acknowledgements to East, Central and West London’s heritage as the hotel tells the story of this ancient city with nods to iconic areas including Borough Market, Covent Garden and towns on the Thames. 

Sustainability is at the heart of Hilton London Metropole and its refurbishment. From the team members’ uniforms, made from sustainable materials, such as recycled plastic, to the green kitchens serving locally grown produce, the hotel has collaborated with a wide range of businesses and manufacturers to create an ethical and environmentally conscious space. 

Guests staying in the Suites or Executive Rooms will enjoy complimentary breakfast and access to the exclusive and contemporary Executive Lounge, which has a dedicated arrivals area and check in facilities. The lounge serves a carefully curated food and drink offering throughout the day alongside monthly tasting and live cooking experiences. When booking their future stays, guests can also feel confident that their health and wellbeing have been taken care of thanks to Hilton CleanStay, an industry-defining standard of cleanliness and disinfection delivered in Hilton properties worldwide. 

The hotel’s radical developments will retain Hilton London Metropole’s position as the perfect choice for the business traveller, from its central location in the heart of the city to its impeccable transport links, seven different bedroom options and four suite categories to choose from, a seamless check in process, a wide choice of food and drink dining experiences and an impressive on-site fitness studio. 

Since you’re here, why not watch our recent Hotel Designs LIVE panel discussion, featuring Neil Andrew, Head of Hospitality at Perkins&Will?

Main image credit: Hilton Hotels

Interior visualisation of ADP's new hotel in Kyiv

Should hotels do a better job of reflecting their communities?

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Should hotels do a better job of reflecting their communities?

To conclude our editorial series with ADP Architecture, Studio Director Amrit Naru looks at how a hotels and their design can sensitively reflect a locations local culture…

Interior visualisation of ADP's new hotel in Kyiv

Ask someone to name a place they’re looking forward to visiting once lockdown eases, and there’s a wide range of answers you might hear. They might mention a local pub or café. They might be looking forward to getting back to the gym, seeing a sports team play, or popping in to see a friend. They’re unlikely to mention a hotel.

And there’s a perfectly good reason for that: hotels aren’t typically designed for their local community. They’re arguably designed for everyone but the local community: tourists, business travellers, visitors for one reason or another. In contrast with the back-and-forth of a transport hub, we look at hotels as a one-directional interface between a specific locale and the wider world, where the wider world touches down for a few days before returning home. The only transport hub that seems to bear comparison here is a docking station for UFOs.

This kind of view fits the traditional way of looking at hotels – but of course, it neglects the wide range of purposes that hotels can actually serve. Very few hotels are simply places to stay: they can include bars, restaurants, conference centres, spas, and plenty more. It’s easy to look at these facilities simply as added value for guests, but they’re just as likely to be used by locals.

Explore these opportunities further, and you open up a whole new way of thinking about what a hotel can be. Far from a semi-private site with clearly defined boundaries – like a house or an office building – it becomes permeable, integrated with its community, with spaces which are as much defined by their surroundings and local flavour as by the people who travel to them. This kind of approach can reverse the (un)popular image of a hotel, making it the beating heart of a neighbourhood that benefits everyone.

Take, for example, a recent ADP project on a former industrial site in Scotland. When several plants closed in the 70s and 80s, hundreds of local workers lost their jobs, and the area lost key places that had given it purpose. It’s the sort of post-industrial community that’s been crying out for regeneration of the genuinely beneficial kind, providing spaces that benefit and support an existing community rather than driving them out. So when we were appointed to design a new hotel there, we saw an opportunity to create real value for local residents and businesses.

Our public consultations confirmed this: many locals voiced their worries that a hotel of the traditional sort could detract from the area, and that a radically different approach was needed. We took these concerns on board, asking consultees what sorts of facilities would be useful to them, and designing a scheme which is as much a community hub as a hotel. The proposals include a range of spaces open to the community, such as a gym, restaurant and bar. Public realm was also key to our designs, and we explored various ways to bring local residents onto the grounds, giving the landscape an open, accessible feel that interacts sensitively with the riverbank bordering the site.

The very flexibility of this approach means that it can work for any community, in any location. We’re currently delivering a hotel for Radisson in Kyiv, Ukraine, which includes a hybrid lounge/coffee/restaurant space with an open design – reflecting a wider openness to the surrounding neighbourhood. By breaking down the boundaries between types of spaces – and using the ground floor of a hotel as a fuzzy threshold – it’s possible to encourage the kind of unplanned interactions and sharing of spaces on which communities thrive.

Of course, embedding a hotel in its locale isn’t just down to the architects and engineers who design it. Marketing teams have to strike a careful balance between promoting the hotel’s brand and responding to the spirit of a place, the unique “vibe” that defines a district. The most effective way to do this is to make flexibility central to your brand: Hotel Indigo, an IHG brand that I’ve worked with in the past, does this particularly well by using the sights and sounds of their urban locations to inform every detail of the hotel’s design, from public spaces to private rooms. IHG is certainly not the only client I’ve worked with to take this approach, with companies such as Radisson and Hilton offering similar “lifestyle” brands.

The risk here is that a design can simply mimic its environment, becoming a pastiche rather than a reflection. Again, engagement with the community is key. It’s impossible to tap into what makes a city like Newcastle or Marrakech, Sydney or New York special without taking cues from the people who call those cities home – especially when clichés about “the typical New Yorker” are so widespread. Our redevelopment of Oxford Castle – including a Malmaison hotel converted from a Victorian prison – is a classic example of this, reflecting a part of the city’s culture and history which has very little connection to the more famous university, and integrating hospitality with bars, restaurants, shops and a visitors’ centre.

Getting this right means paying attention to the details, and taking a holistic approach. Employees aren’t just brand ambassadors: they’re community ambassadors too, trained in the kind of local knowledge that adds serious value for guests looking for hidden gems nearby. A local hiring policy takes this a step further, ensuring that your staff have a genuine connection to the hotel’s surroundings while creating jobs that support the area’s economy. Bookable spaces for businesses and a local supply chain complete the picture – transforming an out-of-place visitor from out of town into a place in its own right, with the town’s blood running through its veins.

“Staying local” has taken on a whole new meaning in the last year, and it’s sure to be a phrase that resonates with us for many years to come. By bringing hotels into a deeper, richer conversation with their surroundings, we can help give a much needed boost to communities which have suffered through lockdown. It’s also a surefire way to protect our industry from relying too greatly on travel – making it stronger, more adaptable, and better equipped to deal with an uncertain future.

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.

Image caption: Interior visualisation of ADP’s new hotel in Kyiv. | Image credit: ADP Architecture

Render of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Pakistan

DoubleTree by Hilton to expand its portfolio into Pakistan

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
DoubleTree by Hilton to expand its portfolio into Pakistan

An agreement signed with Dhabi Hospitality will see Hilton’s upscale DoubleTree by Hilton brand launch in the city of Islamabad in 2025. Here’s what we know…

Render of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Pakistan

The DoubleTree by Hilton brand, which currently has more than 600 upscale hotels across 48 countries, will arrive in Islamabad in 2025, following a signed agreement between the global hotel group and real estate company Dhabi Hospitality.

“This is a landmark agreement for Hilton that signals our re-entry to the Pakistan market,” said Carlos Khneisser, vice president of development, Middle East and Africa, Hilton. “We are doing so as part of a groundbreaking development in the country’s business capital and one which will offer unparalleled convenience for travellers to the New Islamabad International Airport, which is ultimately expected to handle around 25m passengers on an annual basis.”

Featuring 167 guestrooms, including 10 suites, the property will form part of a residential and commercial development. It will sit alongside newly built residential apartments in a suburban complex containing healthcare, education and recreational facilities as well as a number of commercial outlets. Guests will be able to enjoy four restaurants, including a rooftop pool café, as well as on-site fitness facilities.

Muhammad Sadiq, CEO, Dhabi Hospitality said: “We aim to blend the comfort of suburban living with the convenience of city life, offering our customers an unrivalled lifestyle and the very best in modern amenities and services. We are proud to be bringing the DoubleTree by Hilton brand to Pakistan as part of this project and are excited to complement our offering with its world-renowned upscale hospitality and service.”

The hotel will be located to the West of Islamabad city centre, on the Srinagar Highway, which connects the city with New Islamabad International Airport. Just 4km from the airport terminal, it will become the most convenient option for travellers looking for high-end accommodation and meeting facilities in proximity to the airport. It will be equipped with three state-of-the-art meeting rooms and a 518sqm ballroom suitable for weddings and large events.

Hilton is yet to confirm the architecture and interior design studios who will be responsible for this milestone project.

Main image credit: Hilton Hotels


Artful guestroom inside The Glenmark Hotel

HBA Los Angeles complete interiors inside The Glenmark Hotel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
HBA Los Angeles complete interiors inside The Glenmark Hotel

Design firm HBA Los Angeles has completed the interior design project of The Glenmark, Glendale, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel, which is the first lifestyle boutique hotel in Glendale, California. Let’s take a look inside…

Artful guestroom inside The Glenmark Hotel

Designed by creatives for creatives, The Glenmark Hotel is a gem in the Jewel City, deeply rooted in the heart of Glendale and a hub for the healthcare and entertainment industries in Los Angeles. Its interior design dances along the fringe, flirting with natural materials, texture and geometric forms. Thoughtful public spaces and amenities, 85 artfully designed guestrooms, signature restaurant Olia, Mila Rooftop, Olia Coffee Café, a lobby bar, and 7,900 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting and event space mold The Glenmark Hotel into a true community that is a hidden Los Angeles hideaway.

HBA Los Angeles designers drew inspiration from Glendale’s vibrant diversity, the city’s innovative and creative industries, and its geographical intersection amongst its neighbours to offer a microcosm of the city with pockets of discovery throughout the hotel, much like the city of Los Angeles itself. A casual-chic aesthetic is juxtaposed with architectural gestures and playful, impactful art by local artists to create sophisticated yet approachable environments with comfortable and stimulating moments.

The art-filled lobby inside The Glenmark Hotel

The lobby serves as the epicentre of energy, bathed in natural light and with visual surprises to entice all who enter. A gallery wall of rotating artwork flanks one side of the voluminous space while wood slats wrap from floor to ceiling on the other, defining the lobby bar and reception areas. Sculptural lighting, accent furnishings and decorative elements combine with custom rugs and inviting seating groups for a relaxed, residential feel.

In the guestrooms, tailored detailing and mixed materials are realised in a neutral colour palette of white, taupe and warm browns.

Twin beds in hotel room

Image credit: The Glenmark Hotel

An intricate geometric installation composed of rich dark tilework acts as a backdrop behind the headboard while a large-scale wall mural makes a bold statement and adds a splash of colour. Streamlined technology and state-of-the-art connectivity in the guest rooms and throughout the hotel allow guests to plug in and get to work and unplug when it’s time to relax.

Main image credit: The Glenmark Hotel

A minimalist bedroom setting in Ruby Lucy

Industry insight: Redesigning an already ‘recognisable’ hotel (part 1)

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Industry insight: Redesigning an already ‘recognisable’ hotel (part 1)

Do owners and the project designers feel the pressure of redesigning an established hotel where a previous brand had found its rightful place in an area of a city? Tom Bishop, Director of Project Management at Concert, explores…

A minimalist bedroom setting in Ruby Lucy

Taking a popular hotel and creating a new chapter of the story through either ‘hard’ re-positioning or simply a ‘soft’ face lift must come with added pressure or perhaps the pressures will always be the budget that weighs heaviest on everyone’s shoulders! New identities that are led by the brands and/or operators must release any pressure but with life style brands that are more flexible, especially that invite a wide range of clientele must focus owners and designers to tease the best out of an existing hotel building.

Biophilic publis area in Dolce Sitges

Image credit: Dolce Sitges

Externally the façade reflects the culture and aesthetics of a hotel. It is an identity on which the hotel’s theme is based on. The façade is the visual connection of what the public observes and what image they perceive in their heads. Altering a façade on a recognisable building can create a big impact but will come with buildability issues.

The orientation (zoning and layout) of an existing Hotel is already set so internally the question needs to be asked if the existing or previous brand had found its rightful place i.e. did it have a specific style that just needs updating? If it had not then a full redesign is the way forward and ultimately gives designers expression to provide a genuine experience with representation of the place. The opposite is the cost manager led re-touch, rather than reinventing a hotel’s DNA.

A comfy bedroom setting

Image credit: Hilton Canopy

Designers are and can be restricted by existing services (including elevators, escalators, fire staircases, ramps, electrical system core, plumbing system, and HVAC system etc.) and cores which are already defined with structural solidity. The structure is designed and operates the critical operations as well as entertaining guests. Any redesign is not just meant for aesthetic purposes, but to improve the service that the hotel can provide the guest and their experience. 

Sustainability – hotels are massive energy consumption facilities, depending on their size, technology or location. Redesigning an existing Hotel gives the opportunity to provide new plant and equipment that is more efficient in terms of energy consumption and sensor connectivity. 

Through lifestyle there are no fixed ideas so a designers role is to guide and advise for a brand to evolve. If a hotel already captured the essence and soul of the area that surrounded it through design, extending the cultural experience and further establishing a true sense of belonging to the place then there must be a fine balance that designers have to achieve in taking on a ‘golden goose’ and not over-designing.

Part 2 in this editorial series will be available shortly. Concert 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: Concert

Image of shop with Retail & Hospitality Design logo

New event alert: Retail & Hospitality Design Forum

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New event alert: Retail & Hospitality Design Forum

Forum Events, the parent company of Hotel Designs, has launched the Retail & Hospitality Design Forum in order to bridge the gap between retail and hospitality designers and suppliers…

Image of shop with Retail & Hospitality Design logo

To help the industry enter the new era of retail and hospitality, Forum Events has launched a new meet-the-buyers hybrid event for senior professionals who are directly responsible for the interior design and fit-out of retail stores, leisure and hospitality establishments and those who provide products and services to these industries.

Confirmed delegates already include the likes of the Group Construction Director at WHSmith, a senior representative from Pentland Brands Limited and the shopper design manager at Berghaus.

The Retail & Hospitality Design Forum, which takes place from September 6 – 7 at Radisson Red, London Heathrow (virtual attendance options are also available), will be a highly focused event that will consist of one-to-one, pre-arranged business meetings, interactive seminars and valuable networking opportunities over the two days.

For suppliers, the event will guarantee:

  • An audience of pre-qualified buyers
  • Selected and ‘matched’ meetings
  • No time wasters
  • No hidden costs
  • Just one-to-one sales meetings throughout

For senior retail and hospitality professionals who qualify, the event will guarantee: 

  • Pre-arranged meetings with solution providers of your choice
  • 25 minute meeting slots will be relaxed and civilised, with no hard sell
  • Attend a tailored programme of inspiring seminars
  • Easily compare and benchmark potential products, services and solutions
  • You will be one of just 65 VIPs at the event, ensuring that you get personal attention

How to attend

If you are a supplier to the industry looking to meet top retail and hospitality professionals, email Courtney Saggers – or click here to request more information.

If you are a hotelier and would like to attend the Summit for free, please email Victoria Petch – or click here to book your place.

Image of Lucienne Walpole

In Conversation With: Lucienne Walpole, Vice President, SB Architects

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In Conversation With: Lucienne Walpole, Vice President, SB Architects

SB Architects recently appointed Lucienne Walpole as the firm’s new Vice President. Following Walpole’s participation in Hotel Designs LIVE conference, editor Hamish Kilburn caught up with the architect to learn more…

Image of Lucienne Walpole

Since joining SB Architects in 2007, Lucienne Walpole has played a valuable role on the design team for a number of the firm’s most exciting hospitality projects. Combining her dual backgrounds in interior design and architecture, Walpole brings to the firm strengths in space planning as well as architectural design. She lends a unique perspective while contributing a strong sense of creative vision and attention to detail and has played a crucial role in many high-profile hotel, resort, and multi-family projects.

So when it was revealed that Walpole had been appointed as a new Vice President of the firm, we at Hotel Designs were not surprised. I caught up with Walpole to understand her passion for design and architect, her position on wellness post-pandemic – following the panel discussion the architect took part in during Hotel Designs LIVE last week – while also learning what a typical day looks like in Walpole’s shoes.

Image credit: Conrad Punta de Mita/SB Architects

Image credit: Conrad Punta de Mita/SB Architects

Hamish Kilburn: What attracted you to work in architecture?

Lucienne Walpole: I always knew I wanted to have a career rooted in creativity, but I didn’t seriously set my sights on architecture until the end of college. I initially studied Interior Design but then went straight on to pursue a Masters in Architecture. I think the seed was always there though. I was born, raised, and currently reside in Coral Gables, Florida where we have a wealth of beautiful Old Spanish homes, one of which I grew up in. I watched as my parents transformed the run-down 1920s house into a home full of detail and beauty. They taught me about vision and being able to see past a neglected exterior or a blank page.

Hamish Kilburn: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

LW: Working at Baha Mar in the Bahamas in conjunction with SB Architects has afforded me the opportunity to lead the design of two amazing restaurants. Since Baha Mar is known for its spectacular, out of the box ideas, the client was keen to pursue ideas that might have otherwise been disregarded initially for budgetary or feasibility reasons. Not only did I get to lead the design, but I was able to be a part of the construction administration process. The sweet finale was being able to finally enjoy a meal and a margarita in one of the over-water dining pavilions we designed.

Image caption: The Sky Bar at Baha Mar, designed by SB Architects

Image caption: The Sky Bar at Baha Mar, designed by SB Architects

HK: How do you keep your designs fresh from one project to another?

LW: I’m inspired by the site and local history of each project I work on. Every location has different opportunities and every market demands a different experience. I love looking at imagery for inspiration and revisiting my initial sketches and thoughts.

HK: How has your voice as a designer evolved since joining SB Architects?

LW: I started at SB Architects straight out of graduate school at the age of 24 and I’ve been here ever since. I’ve been lucky to work under great mentors who taught me the ins-and-outs of the hospitality design world, as well as the qualities needed to be a good leader. As I’ve stretched my wings, I’ve learned not to be afraid to throw out ideas in meetings even if they seem a little crazy. I strive to always think outside of the box and not let go of the original design intent too easily.

HK: Describe a typical working day for you…

LW: I wake up before anyone else in the house in order to squeeze in a quick workout before jumping in the shower, making lunches, and getting myself ready. After I’ve dropped off our two young boys at school, I rush off to the office to start my day. These days I’m doing a mixture of working from home as well as working in the office. Once in front of my computer, I dig right in since time without the distraction of two little ones is limited these days. I’m usually designing in AutoCad and sketching, completing image research, and taking Zoom calls with clients and my team. A good podcast, audio book, or music is a must.

HK: What advice do you have for younger generations of women wanting to get into design leadership positions?

LW: As women, and often mothers, we are great multi-taskers and time managers. Don’t wait for the opportunity but instead speak up about what your goals are. Also, know that it’s ok to offer up ideas and speak up in every setting. Most of the senior leadership I work with are so busy that I think they appreciate it when someone else is willing to take the reigns on a new initiative.

Image credit: Conrad Punta de Mita/SB Architects

Image credit: Conrad Punta de Mita/SB Architects

HK: Where do you see hotel design 10 years from now?

LW: I think hotel design will evolve into a space where wellness isn’t just a line item in the program, but instead infused into each space touching all five senses, wellness will become as commonplace, and as considered as lighting. I think operations and hotel design will begin to be more closely tied, especially considering all the last 12 months has taught us. Not just from how the back-of-house spaces work, but how an operator can customise an experience for the guest and how the design can support that.

HK: You joined us on the virtual sofa at Hotel Designs LIVE a few weeks ago for a session on wellness. What will wellness’ role be post-pandemic?

LW: I feel wellness will not only be about the physical but the mental too. We need to move our bodies, but we also need to rest our minds. The wellness experience should also extend from adults, all the way to the youngest of children. I think this theme of inclusivity will push travel to become more meaningful and provide more teaching opportunities.

HK: Are you working on any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

LW: I’m working on an urban retreat, Al Yosr Clubhouse, located just outside of Cairo, Egypt. We’re designing the space to be an urban sanctuary for the surrounding community and those looking for a wellness experience. The clubhouse will have a large spa component, a few F&B venues, as well as a sunken garden that stretches the length of the site providing different pockets of space to relax, meet, and play.

HK: What design/architecture trends are you seeing for 2021?

LW: Meaningful travel, intention, less public spaces, more outdoor spaces. Providing more spaces for those working remotely. More local travel. Curated experiences and personalisation. Sustainability and wellness will move away from being a buzz word, but an expected feature… at least within the luxury market space.

Main image credit: SB Architects

image of shower toilet from Geberit

Product Watch: AquaClean shower toilet by Geberit

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product Watch: AquaClean shower toilet by Geberit

Geberit, which recently presented a Product Watch Pitch at Hotel Designs LIVE, has unveiled the AquaClean shower toilet, which offers hotels the very latest in washroom smart technology and guest wellbeing…

image of shower toilet from Geberit

Washing with water technology has always been at the heart of Geberit’s product innovations. The original Geberit shower toilet, the ‘Geberella,’ launched back in 1978, and brought groundbreaking technology to the market, with an innovative WC enhancement solution and built-in spray functionality. Its revolutionary toilet seat was designed to fit virtually any ceramic bowl and came in a range of on-trend, bold colours, so could be perfectly matched to the bathroom furnishings of the day.

Geberit’s AquaClean shower toilet as we now know it was introduced back in 2011 and continues to pave the way for the washing with water revolution today.

Enhancing guest experience

From odour extraction technology that purifies the air to an automatic lifting seat that rises when the user approaches, Geberit’s AquaClean range incorporates a range of features that have been carefully designed to improve guest experience with wellness and hygiene front of mind.

At the touch of a button, the shower toilet’s integrated spray function provides guests with a fresh-out-of-the-shower feeling, with premium models also offering a cutting-edge features including orientation lighting and heated seating.

Designed by renowned London-based architect, Christoph Behling, each model brings a contemporary, compact wall-hung design to perfectly complement any guest washroom.

Hygiene front-of-mind

AquaClean shower toilets also incorporate other solutions that help maximise hygiene in the washroom space. Geberit’s KeraTect Glaze, for example, makes cleaning easier with a non-porous, smooth surface, helping prevent staining of the ceramics and creating a high-gloss effect.  Other innovations also make cleaning and maintenance easier, with rimless design and TurboFlush technology eliminating tricky corners and hard-to-reach areas around the pan.

Selling experiences

As the trend for selling ‘experiences’ and creating an escape for guests continues, so too does the value of creating a unique, positive guest experience to help build stronger memories and ensure customers keep coming back.

As we focus ever more on physical and mental health and wellbeing to help combat the stresses of modern life, it’s clear that good design in the bathroom or washroom space could be the key to unlocking better lives. And it is critical for hotels and designers to be aware of this opportunity.

Geberit was a Product Watch Pitch partner at Hotel Designs LIVE, which took place on February 23, 2021. Read more about the virtual event here. The next Hotel Designs LIVE will take place on May 11 2021.

Main image credit: Geberit

Image of large containers

Saving energy: Utility Team launches ‘game-changing’ software

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Saving energy: Utility Team launches ‘game-changing’ software

Utility Team has officially launched its new ARC (Automated Response Command) energy efficiency software. The energy-saving solution was designed and built to optimise the cooling loads of commercial and industrial chiller plant…

Image of large containers

Utility Team has launched its new ARC energy efficiency software following live field tests of the new ARC software from across a range of sectors revealed impressive reductions in energy usage of between eight and 20 per cent. As cooling loads often account for some 60 per cent of the total energy site consumption, the savings ARC delivers profoundly benefit a business’s commercial and environmental performance.

How it works

ARC is a self-learning software that constantly monitors and logs plant output, total energy consumption, and common header temperatures. ARC then uses this data to predict what is going to happen within the plant, based on historic events under the same ambient conditions and then recommends optimal adjustments accordingly. The software constantly monitors its own performance to account for seasonal demand changes and adiabatic conditions. It is important to note that ARC does not replace the existing controls on the plant but rather uses them to optimise performance.

What’s its purpose?

For more than a year now, Hotel Designs has been working with Utility Team and amplifying the brand’s passion about helping businesses use less energy and create a net zero world. The brand is uniquely positioned to help customers realise the benefits of achieving their net zero goals.

“Sustainability is a core pillar of the business and why we invested in the idea of ARC,” explained Delvin Lane, CEO, Utility Team. “Having identified that commercial and industrial chiller plants are often inefficient and waste both energy and money, we set about finding a solution to this challenge. The potential energy savings ARC could deliver was clear from the outset, as was the positive impact on reducing carbon emissions globally.”

Who’s it for?

ARC will deliver savings wherever an organisation is using commercial or industrial chiller plant delivering a positive impact both commercially and environmentally. Installing the software solution could be a game-changer for many sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare, commercial buildings and data centres. In addition to this, as the world returns to a more normal way of life throughout the remainder of 2021, ARC can deliver significant savings to businesses operating exhibition space or sporting stadia. The installation of ARC at the Ricoh Arena for Wasps Rugby has already delivered a 14% reduction in energy consumption.

“The ease and speed of installation was impressive,” said Sarah Roberts, Operations Director at Wasps. “The solution was fitted with little impact on our day-to-day maintenance operation, which was especially important during the current COVID pandemic and the associated security protocols we have in place.

“The really exciting thing about the ARC solution is that while we have already seen a reduction in energy usage, we are not yet at a point in the year when its performance will be most beneficial. As we head into the summer months and our air conditioning systems are running at their optimum, we are really looking forward to seeing the energy usage and financial savings that ARC delivers.”

Adam Benson, Chief Commercial Officer at Wasps, added: “The introduction of ARC to the Ricoh Arena has not only helped decrease our energy consumption but also delivered a meaningful commercial saving. At a time when we need to find ways to minimise expenditure, the 14% reduction in energy consumption has been a welcome boost. This has been delivered with no impact on the quality of comfort levels and helped us lessen our impact on the environment.”

ARC delivers savings immediately

Often with new energy efficiency solutions, there is a requirement for upfront investment on the customer’s part. ARC is a Software as a Service (SaaS) licence and delivery model. This means that there is no upfront investment required by the customer, and they see a financial saving from day one. With so many businesses hit hard by the pandemic, especially in the hospitality sector, the ARC SaaS model allows businesses to access the solution easily and benefit from the savings immediately.

Christopher Toze, Managing Director of ARC and Head of Energy Services at Utility Team, said: “During the development process, we were excited about the anticipated energy savings ARC could deliver. Having undertaken months of real-world testing, the efficacy of ARC has exceeded all expectations.

ARC is a fully packaged solution that is simple to install, is backed with performance guarantees and robust measurement and verification and, with an innovative Software as a Solution (SaaS) model that removes barriers to investment.

Whilst initially launching in the UK, the ARC team has global ambitions as we believe ARC will have a significant positive impact in the fight to combat climate change by reducing the energy usage of commercial and industrial chiller plant as demand for cooling increases.”

Utility Team 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 credit: Utility Team

Gif of strong women for International Women's Day

International Women’s Day: Leading hospitality design figures comment

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
International Women’s Day: Leading hospitality design figures comment

Our nod to International Women’s Day is more of a formal bow or curtsy. Editor Hamish Kilburn hears from leading female designers, hoteliers and architects about how far we have come and, crucially, how far we have still got to travel in order to operate in an equal and fair global arena…

Gif of strong women for International Women's Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve collected the thoughts of women who have and are breaking boundaries in international hotel design. While we have come so far to champion equality in our industry, a recent report published by the BIID strongly suggests that there is a long way to go in order to create a equal opportunities in this global arena.

Let’s hear from our leading ladies on what the next step towards equality in design, architecture and hospitality needs to be.

Jo Littlefair, Co-Founder and Director, Goddard Littlefair

Image caption: Jo Littlefair

Image caption: Jo Littlefair, Co-Founder and Director, Goddard Littlefair

“While women have made great strides in forging careers and have tremendous support within our industry, unfortunately there remains a difference to how we are perceived professionally and there are prejudices which some still hold on to therefore perpetuating their existence. Without being so utopian as to be unrealistic, my personal view is that at every opportunity presented to us we should learn to celebrate our differences, try to be tolerant and inclusive of one another to realise the best initiatives we can, together. It’s like chipping away at a founding stone of a pyramid – it’s going to take a while! Being a designer means questioning and thinking creatively is second nature, I always try to channel energy in finding a solution and not being content with a closed door.” 

Una Barac, Executive Director, Atellior

Image of Una Barac

Image caption: Una Barac, Executive Director, Atellior

“Sadly, there is still a way to go for women, and minorities, in the hospitality design sector across the world. If you look around, you find very few women at senior board level. Yet, studies repeatedly show that diversity is not only good for an organisation’s culture but results in better business outcomes.

At Atellior we are now 35 people across two offices, 22 of whom are women, and we pick our people based on their talent. Having grown up in Eastern Europe when it was governed by socialist ideology, one positive result was that I completely believed in gender equality. That’s why I eventually set up my own business!”

Harriet Forde, Founder, Harriet Forde Design and co-host of DESIGN POD.

Image caption: Harriet Forde, President, BIID

“We have come far but not far enough. Each generation moves forward and sadly this will take time. Whilst women now hold 30 per cent of all board roles in the UK, we are still faced with a system that doesn’t accommodate or value the fact that as women, we bear the children who will be our future. This shouldn’t be a juggle but embraced for the challenge it is and be met with inclusive solutions for all.” 

Sarah Murphy, Architect, Jestico + Whiles

Image of Sarah Murphy

Image caption: Sarah Murphy, Architect, Jestico + Whiles

“Now is the best time ever to be a woman in the design industry. I love what I do and rarely feel as though my gender is a factor. While Jestico + Whiles is full of talented and amazing people and the company works hard to ensure equality and inclusivity is tackled day to day, not annually, we remain aware that there is work to be done internally and throughout the industry.

“I have been fortunate to work with inspirational female designers, associate directors and directors both in my company and client side. However, I recognise that my experiences are my own and that it might be different for other people – I haven’t got children yet for example. But undoubtedly, things have come a long way in even the decade I have been in the industry.

“It’s been a tough year for everyone, but I hope the shift to flexible working is here to stay. Allowing the individual to be more in control of their own structure and time might see a subtle change in inequality, through a more balanced way of life.”

Geetie Singh-Watson, Owner of The Bull Inn in Totnes

And image of Geetie Singh-Watson standing outside The Bull Inn in Totnes

Image caption: Geetie Singh-Watson outside The Bull Inn in Totnes | Image credit: Rachel Hoile Photography

“I was living in a commune and at primary school as the feminist movement took off. Surrounded by wonderful women and men working out what it meant to them and society. It was such an exciting time, but mostly in silo. There were mountains to climb. Men thinking they could touch you whenever they felt like it, the language used, the pay expectations let alone basic working and domestic rights.

“We have come so far in my life – it amazes me, and we must never forget that. But, that doesn’t mean we still don’t have more mountains to climb before equality. But these days, I can correct any male centric language, with anyone I work with, and its taken seriously. It feels like such progress. I have real hope for my daughters future. We must be alert though. We must keep up the fight and take our political responsivities seriously. Learn about our politicians and what they stand for. Or we could slide backwards so fast if we are in the wrong hands.” – the Bull Inn in Totnes was recently reviewed by Hotel Designs.

Marie Soliman, Co-Founder, Bergman Interiors

Profile image of Marie Soliman

Image caption: Marie Soliman, Co-Founder, Bergman Interiors

“My message this International Women’s Day would be to choose to challenge, choose to engage, choose to stand out of the crowd and choose to build and maintain meaningful relationships. A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. This year we are celebrating: The work of female creatives and elevate visibility for commercial projects and commissions; the female athletes and applauding when equability is achieved in pay, sponsorship and visibility; the digital advancement and championing the women forging through technology and leadership while uplifting women to pursue goals without bias or barriers. Above all, celebrating being a mother, a sister, a best friend and a life partner, supporting our families the most precious, are the most cherished and treasured gifts of all.” – Marie Soliman, Co-Founder, Bergman Interiors.

Geraldine Dohogne, Founder, Beyond Design

Headshot of Geraldine Dohogne

Image credit: Geraldine Dohogne, Founder, Beyond Design

“Gender equality in design continues to be an evolution in the world. As a woman, in many parts of the world people are not always used to seeing a woman as a figure of authority, and even in countries where it’s more common there can still be this sub-conscious thinking. Construction, building and of course architectural development are all very important parts to designing a hotel. Roles and industries that have been pre-dominantly male, though in recent years are seeing more women every day.  It’s been exciting to be in this moment of history. 

Design processes have always been driven by intuition and feeling, as soon as you discovery a place or an existing building. The hiring processes in design follows this same rhythm. Each is taken on as an individual with a unique soul and character and the creative styles either come together organically or not. From a designer point of view –  this allows a much more level playing field.  

As a designer with a more ‘masculine’ style (so people tell me!) it’s an interesting balance that plays out in my work.”

Pinar Harris, Vice President and Principal, SB Architects

Image of Pinar Harris

Image caption: Pinar Harris, Vice President and Principal, SB Architects

“There has been a surge of women taking on leadership roles, but we still have a way to go. We need to make sure we have women in ‘decision maker’ roles and strive to maintain an equal seat at the right tables to effect change and make an impact in the field. Women are currently achieving this goal, and it’s evolving one meeting at a time, one day at a time.  

“We’re working on closing a gap spanning centuries of continuous inequality, so, we still have a way to go, but, personally, I’m hopeful that our daughters are being raised with a mindset of absolute equality, with some fantastic role models in front of them in every field.”

Hotel Designs is proud to support and celebrate equality in design. Following a recent report published by the BIID, it is clear that much more needs to be done in order for us to operate in a truly democratic and equal international hotel design and hospitality scene. Happy International Women’s Day!

Smashing Supplies: a go-to stop for all hospitality supplies

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Smashing Supplies: a go-to stop for all hospitality supplies

Smashing Supplies aims to bring the best products to the hospitality industry in order to meet requirements and facilitate the safe opening and return of hospitality guests…

With the Roadmap that has been laid out by the Government, giving a level of certainty for hospitality that hasn’t been see for many months, and has been welcomed by all. Smashing Supplies offers products to equip the industry for the post-pandemic world.

Some key points to remember:

  • Equipment is serviced and ready to use, with many machines having been turned off for a very long time now is the time to ensure that they are all serviced and can function properly, you don’t want to find out that there are issues with your machines the night that you reopen!
  • A extra deep clean is carried out through the whole facility, dust and dirt unfortunately have a habit of getting into every nook and cranny particularly when there isn’t the usual traffic around. The only way to ensure safety and that your facility really sparkles is to give everywhere a through deep clean.
  • All small items of both front of house and back of house are cleaned, including but certainly not limited to;
  • All Glassware (even if it hasn’t been used to get it off the shelf and clean it ensures safety and that they have that extra bit of sparkle)
  • All Crockery – not just what has been used
  • Glassware & Crockery are checked for any chips and damages and these are disposed of, including worn chopping boards, wooden serving platters that are damaged due to knife marks.
  • All machines are run through a full cleaning cycle, and if like beer lines they have food or drink in contact with them, then they are thoroughly cleaned/purged
  • Ensure all your procedures are up-to-date and cover off all appropriate rules and regulations including but not limited to – remember ignorance is not a defence (social distancing, wearing mask rules, rood prep rules)
  • Stocks of PPE for staff are in place including masks, aprons, test kits & more are available, in date, up to specification and ready to use.

PLates with breakfast onEnsuring that your guests are not welcomed into such a clinical-like facility that they feel like they have come to the dentist, but are welcomed warmly but in a safe manner, will be key to ensuring success. Getting this balance right is essential, and here at Smashing Supplies we are here to assist in getting this balance right.

Smashing Supplies 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: Smashing Supplies

birdseye view of pool from above

IN PICTURES: Inside Moxy South Beach

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IN PICTURES: Inside Moxy South Beach

Moxy South Beach has arrived in Miami’s Art Deco District. Lightstone, the developers behind three award-winning Moxy hotels in New York City, worked with design firm Rockwell Group and architect Kobi Karp to create a stylish, playful open-air concept celebrating Miami’s cosmopolitan culture…

birdseye view of pool from above

Moxy South Beach has opened with a design that blends the glamour of midcentury Havana, the artistry of contemporary Mexico City, and a tropical vibrancy that’s unmistakably Miami. 

The 202-key, eight-story hotel, featuring two pools and the nearby Moxy Beach Club, will be the first resort-style property under Marriott International’s Moxy Hotels brand, marking a new chapter for hospitality in Miami Beach. Moxy South Beach is upending the way travellers experience hotels in the new year, from contactless check-in to indoor-outdoor lounging, meeting, fitness, and dining spaces.

Birdseye image of pool from above Moxy Miami South Beach

Image credit: Moxy Hotels

The highly anticipated opening of Moxy South Beach comes at a pivotal time for Miami Beach, which is repositioning its traditional entertainment district as the new “Art Deco District” — a reimagination of the historic neighbourhood with Moxy South Beach at the forefront. 

“In a way, the design anticipated the needs of the current environment, so we’re able to accommodate what people are looking for right now.” Mitchell Hochberg, President, Lightstone.

 “Opening the hotel during this unprecedented time presented Lightstone with a unique challenge,“ says Mitchell Hochberg, President, Lightstone. “Moxy South Beach isn’t a response to the pandemic, even if it feels like an antidote to it. In a way, the design anticipated the needs of the current environment, so we’re able to accommodate what people are looking for right now: contactless check-in, outdoor spaces, and a do-it-yourself ethos. But we always stayed true to the roots of the Moxy brand, letting guests curate their own experience while they escape reality for a few days in South Beach – and the icing on the cake is that it’s all at an attractive price point. That’s an idea with timeless appeal.”

Moxy South Beach’s interiors are designed by Rockwell Group (public spaces and bedrooms) and Saladino Design Studios (Serena, Como Como, and Mezcalista), while exteriors are by Kobi Karp Architecture in collaboration with Rockwell Group. Guests can customise their level of interaction as they move from the sanctuary of their bedroom to public spaces designed for socialising on demand. The majority of spaces are open-air and blend seamlessly with indoor areas. Public areas are peppered with private and semi-private enclaves — including poolside cabanas, open-air meeting studios, and sequestered dining tables — that let guests be in the mix and on their own all at once. 

 Guests enter the hotel through the main walkway on Washington Avenue or the modern porte-cochère at the east entrance. The sun-drenched lobby features several relaxed seating areas with amusements such as a foosball table whose players are vintage pinup dolls brought into the modern era as a women’s soccer team as well as a carnivalesque, Zoltar inspired, pay phone that provides complimentary horoscope readings from resident astrologer Bassfunkdaddy. The lobby’s three flexible meeting studios and restaurant all converge around a large, open-air courtyard. The space is surrounded by glass walls that can open or close as the weather allows.

The indoor-outdoor spaces continue with a fitness centre inspired by nearby Muscle Beach; an outdoor movie screening room on the rooftop; and the Moxy Beach Club on Miami’s famous South Beach. The 72-foot, cabana-lined pool on the second-floor terrace maximises see-and-be-seen sightlines with tiered lounge seating, benches in the water, and luxury private cabanas. A circular communal shower invites flirtatious interaction, with flamingoes peeking through the surrounding hedge.

Image of pool at Moxy Miami Beach

Image credit: Moxy Hotels

Swimmers in the pool can peek down directly into the lobby through an eight-foot, see-through cutout at the bottom of the pool, adding up to an exhibitionistic vibe that embodies South Beach. The hotel’s eighth floor rooftop features a shallow lounging pool with chaises submerged in the water and daybeds shaped like lily pads. 

The 202 thoughtfully-designed guestrooms include King, Double Queen, or Quad Bunk options, as well as residentially styled suites. All rooms are dressed in vivid Miami hues and bathed in sunlight thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows.

Image of lifestyle guestroom in Moxy Miami

Image credit: Moxy Hotels

Inspired in part by the Clyde Mallory Line, an overnight ferry service between Miami and Havana that operated in the 1940s and ‘50s, the rooms resemble ocean liner staterooms with ingenious, space-maximising storage solutions. Oceanview rooms on higher floors offer unobstructed vistas of the Atlantic, while other rooms feature expansive views of South Beach’s pastel-hued architecture. Bedrooms feature custom art by Miami artist Aquarela Sabol depicting iconic artists — Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí — visiting South Beach.

“To capture the bright, carefree sophistication of South Beach, we blurred the boundaries between indoor and outdoor amenities.” – Greg Keffer, Partner and Studio Leader at Rockwell Group.

“Our design concept for Moxy South Beach celebrates Miami’s uniquely multicultural style, from eclectic Art Deco motifs and Miami Modernism, to Cuban and other Latin American influences,” says Greg Keffer, Partner and Studio Leader at Rockwell Group. “To capture the bright, carefree sophistication of South Beach, we blurred the boundaries between indoor and outdoor amenities, and created light-filled guestrooms that have a feeling of openness.”

For the dining and drinking venues, Lightstone tapped the Miami restaurateurs behind the uber-popular Coyo Taco and 1-800-Lucky to create six new exclusive concepts, drawing on Mexican, Caribbean, and local flavours. 

Starting at the signature Bar Moxy, guests can simultaneously check-in contact-free and order a handcrafted cocktail. Retro-style swivel barstools surround the oval-shaped bar, while an infinity mirror installation above contains the phone number of El Floridita, the legendary Havana watering hole, paying tribute to Miami’s Cuban heritage.

Image of bar at Moxy Miami South Beach

Image credit: Moxy Hotels

Facing Bar Moxy is Los Buenos, the all-day bodega and taco stand, which will dish up tacos on hand-pressed tortillas and burrito bowls, as well as breakfast items and a variety of specialty coffee drinks by La Colombe.

On the second floor, an open-air rooftop restaurant and bar, Serena, channels the enchanting rooftop and patio restaurants of Oaxaca and Mexico City. Located on a vibrant, lushly planted terrace, Serena has a laid-back yet sophisticated vibe that’s like none other in Miami. Lounge and table seating — plus an enticing menu of shareable dishes and hand-crafted cocktails — create an inviting atmosphere for sunset cocktails and nibbles, leisurely lunches and dinners, or buzzy brunches accompanied by live music.

The hotel’s eighth-floor rooftop bar, aptly named The Upside, has a shallow lounging pool, alfresco movie screening area, whimsical seating options, and 360-degree panoramic views of the ocean and Miami Beach. Available exclusively to hotel guests and for private events, The Upside will become a coveted space for parties, film screenings, and pop-ups. A sinuous canopy on the rooftop provides shade during the day, while showcasing a brilliant, geometric mural by New York artist Edward Granger when illuminated at night. The piece is a nod to the thriving street art scene in nearby Wynwood and acts as a colorful beacon for the hotel.

Opening April 2021 is Como Como, a marisqueria (seafood restaurant) and raw bar centred around the “fuego,” a wood- and charcoal-fired grill utilising ancient Mexican techniques. The open-cooking concept allows diners to watch the culinary process firsthand, while a “tequila tree” sculpture theatrically dispenses the agave spirit from hand-blown glass spheres. The restaurant also serves diners in its outdoor courtyard, a lush space layered with coloured tilework, hanging plants, and a sign reading “Besos De Mezcal,” hinting at the night to come. 

Also opening in April is a sexy and mysterious mezcal lounge, Mezcalista, accessed either from the back of the marisquería or through a discreet entrance on Washington Avenue. 


“We’re creating concepts that give people a lot of choice,” says Sven Vogtland, co-founder of Coyo Taco Group. “You can head up to Serena for a sunset drink and a bite, sit down for an elegant meal at Como Como, or enjoy the intimate energy of Mezcalista while the DJ spins. Or you can have all three in one night. We’re providing a variety of vibes and environments, which in turn will attract a real intermingling of different types of guests.”

An energetic mix of cultural and lifestyle programming will roll out at Moxy South Beach, including several exclusive partnerships. Adapting the notable #SWEATatMoxy program from its sister properties in New York, Moxy South Beach will have guests working up a sweat with “Glutes Check” classes from local fitness guru Starr Hawkins, taking part in restorative sessions from NYC-based BeRevolutionarie, or joining a Surfing Bootcamp from Surfrider Foundation, an organisation dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean waves and beaches. The Surfrider Foundation collaboration continues with Silent Disco beach cleanups and surf-inspired movie screenings on the rooftop. The rooftop will also host biannual screenings in partnership with the Miami Film Festival.

Exterior image of Moxy Miami South Beach

Image credit: Moxy Hotels

On the rhythm front, Prism Creative and Tigre Sounds are curating a weekly live music series with emerging musicians. The hotel is also partnering with heralded genre-bending Miami orchestra Nu Deco Ensemble to share frequent live streams of their sold-out concerts. These partnerships continue on the small screen via Moxy South Beach’s in-room TV channels, including Nu Deco Ensemble’s “Orchestra Reimagined” performances. Hotel guests will also receive special perks at cultural institutions like the Bass Museum, Rubell Museum, Superblue Miami, and the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM).

Main image credit: Moxy Hotels

Image of man fitting carpet inside a Travelodge

Hotel SOS: Falcon are on the case

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Hotel SOS: Falcon are on the case

It would be hard for anyone to say Covid-19 has not affected their business. With three national lockdowns in the UK, events being cancelled and tourism at an all-time low, hotels need to be ready to welcome guests back into their establishments when restrictions are lifted. Falcon Contract Flooring explains…

Image of man fitting carpet inside a Travelodge

Some financial reviewers are stating it may take up to four years for hotels to fully recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. The truth is, we at Falcon Contract Flooring can be flexible and can support any hospitality business at any desirable pace they require.

Falcon understands the importance of hotels keeping rooms online 24-7 to cope with supply and demand, which is why we offer a reactive and maintenance service whereby we receive a call out, attend site, repair or replace the flooring in that area and have the area back online to be sold within a 24-hour period. An offline/sold damaged room means a loss of revenue to any hotel. So, the faster the room or area can be repaired and back online the better for hotel revenue and customer satisfaction.

Forklift in a warehouse

Image credit: Falcon Contract Flooring

As a nationwide flooring contractor, Falcon have professional, trusted and highly skilled installers working all over the UK. The installers work alongside our reactive department who are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With two warehouses spanning over 25,000 sqft, we can store all your specified products and materials, so they are available at the point of any request. The best thing about this is you do not have to pay to stock them or worry about storing them, as we take on the procurement and distribution so you can concentrate on running your hotel and we will focus on what we do best!

With the effects of Covid-19 very much at the forefront of people’s minds, business owners know cash is king, so liquidity is the main focus of every daily decision they make. This said, it is unlikely hotels will be preparing for a pricey renovation project right now. With Falcon’s reactive and maintenance service, full refurbishments are not entirely necessary. Getting rooms back online and available to improve revenue will be beneficial in the long run and an option that may not have previously been considered.

It is not just hotel bedrooms that Falcon can attend. Bars, kitchens, manager’s accommodation, corridors; they are all vital aspects of a building and must be maintained. If the site needs surveying before installation, Falcon can provide this free of charge. This is not an operation that has been manifested overnight. In 2019, Falcon attended more than 2,500 callouts over the hospitality sectors, bringing hotels and bars back to life: whilst saving them further loss of revenue. Falcon have worked hard to build this service and work alongside well-known brands such as Premier Inn, Marriott, Travelodge and Whitbread for many years.

Close up image of a man installing a carpet

Image credit: Falcon Contract Flooring

A review from Travelodge states: “We have been very impressed with the service standards, speed of service and account management. The speed and customer service is second to none compared to any of our outsourced contractors.”

Falcon’s values rest on transparency. We work hard to build good working relationships with our partners and will be clear and precise every step of the way. If we can help by bringing your hotel rooms back to the high standards they deserve and help you to achieve 100 per cent occupancy and customer satisfaction, then at the end of a day we feel very proud to have played an integral role within your organisation.

We ensure minimum disruption to your business and your revenue whilst we work to strict SLAs and health and safety guidelines. All our installers have the appropriate PPE and stick to all government guidance when working. Falcon have a coronavirus policy in place that is followed to the letter and all necessary procedures are in place to make sure if installers are visiting your site, we are respectful and safe throughout.

This is the service you need to have, that you didn’t know you needed. It’s like the first time you tried Netflix; you thought you had all the channels and films you could ever wish for, and suddenly there was a service that offered so much more. That’s us at Falcon. We’re worth reaching out to, because once you’ve tried us, you’ll never look back.

If you would like any further information regarding our reactive and maintenance service, please contact us and we would be happy to help.

Falcon Contract Flooring 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: Falcon Contract Flooring

Profile image of Joel Butler, Co-founder of HIX

In the HIX seat: recovering from Covid ‘all together now!’

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In the HIX seat: recovering from Covid ‘all together now!’

Wearing his most comfortable slippers – working from home really does have its perks – our columnist Joel Butler, co-founder of HIX Event, explores the power of ‘all together now’. Can the events industry and the hotel design community work in tandem to recover and reopen following the Covid-19 outbreak? Let’s talk about it…

Profile image of Joel Butler, Co-founder of HIX

A quick scan of this morning’s headlines gives us the three Rs of this young and already-challenging decade; ‘Risk, Reopening(?) and the R Number’.

As an event organiser it’s important to read beyond the headlines, to consume the full story and then ‘crack on’ with a stoic, pragmatic optimism. Because in all my years of making design events, this is the most starkly reflected and shared challenge that I’ve faced together with our community. Put simply, events and hotels are currently closed and recovery from Covid is needed.

So once the risk factors are mitigated and the global creaky chorus of the opening of event and hotel doors sings out, it’s the next R that remains the goal; Recovery.

Of course re-opening and recovery are not the same thing, the former can lead to the latter but true recovery will likely call for real change in the way we design our experiences. The fact that both the events and hospitality industry rely on people means that perhaps a good place to start is with our personal recoveries.

It’s too early to understand how the pandemic has changed us, but a year of social distancing, lockdowns and wearing slippers for 95 per cent of our waking hours must surely change us, right? 

Social commentators have spoken about a shift towards self-compassion as a resource for managing stress during and after the pandemic. Not the same thing as self-pity or self indulgence, Dr. Kristen Neff describes self compassion as “a connected way to relate to ourselves…a recognition that it can be hard for all of us.”  This is relatable to all of us right now and the challenge for hotels is to create spaces and experiences which allow for and encourage self compassion.

Another element of our shared personal recovery relates to safety and comfort. As well as our health and wellbeing, we’ve worried about friends and family, about global political unrest, and about which tier we’ll find ourselves in when we get back from the shop. It’s not surprising that our homes have become bubbles of comfort and security. So how will hotels create an experience that feels like home, working with the paradox of making a truly ‘special and memorable’ stay whilst designing the cosiness the guest’s living room? 

“The return to events and hotels represents the chance for joyous, communal celebration and togetherness. Imagine that; being all together now.” Joel Butler, Co-Founder, HIX Event.

Thirdly, ‘All together now’. Since the first few weeks of Lockdown 1.0 we made this our theme for HIX. An event for the hospitality community is always going to be about warmth, celebration and togetherness and the long wait to get back to face to face will only accentuate this. However, a sense of absence, isolation and often loneliness have been experienced during the pandemic with friends, families, colleagues and communities being kept apart. The return to events and hotels represents the chance for joyous, communal celebration and togetherness. Imagine that; being all together now.

By understanding our guest’s personal recovery we begin to understand and plan our industry’s recovery. Self-compassion, safety and comfort, and ‘all together now’ are just a few of the topics we’ll be exploring at HIX in November, applying these conversations to hotel development and design. By which time the headlines should be infinitely more positive, with the front pages being dominated by the new 3xR’s; ‘Recovery, RevPAR and Refurbs’.

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

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Main image credit: HIX Event

Sandals remembers Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart (1941 – 2021)

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Sandals remembers Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart (1941 – 2021)

It is with regret that we report on the passing of Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Company Chairman and Founder of Sandals and Beaches Resort. The master marketer made Sandals a household name and brought opportunity to the Caribbean…

Legendary Jamaican entrepreneur Gordon “Butch” Stewart, one of the hospitality industry’s most vibrant personalities and founder of Sandals Resorts International, the world’s leading all-inclusive resort company, has died at the age of 79.  An unstoppable force, who delighted in defying the odds by exceeding expectations, Stewart single-handedly built the world’s most awarded vacation brand from one resort in Jamaica to over two dozen distinct resorts and villas throughout the Caribbean.

A son of Jamaica, Butch Stewart was born in Kingston on July 6, 1941 and grew up along the island country’s North Coast, a tropical paradise that now boasts several of his Luxury Included® Sandals and Beaches Resorts and where his love of the sea, dominoes and free enterprise were sown.  Certain from the start that he wanted to run his own company, at the tender age of 12, Stewart first stepped into the hospitality industry selling fresh-caught fish to local hotels.  His success got him ‘hooked’ and his enthusiasm for entrepreneurship never waned.

After completing his secondary education abroad, Stewart returned home to Jamaica where he demonstrated his innate talent as master salesman at the renowned Dutch-owned Curaçao Trading Company, quickly rising to the position of sales manager but itching to start his own company.  In 1968, Stewart took his chance. With no collateral but recognising the comfort that would make air conditioning an essential service, Stewart convinced American manufacturer Fedders Corporation to allow him to represent their brand in Jamaica.  With that, Stewart’s foundational business – Appliance Traders Limited (ATL), was born and he was on his way.

At ATL, Stewart developed a simple business philosophy he articulated many times: “Find out what people want, give it to them and in doing so – exceed their expectations.”  This would become the standard for every Stewart enterprise and practiced by every employee of the many companies Stewart would go on to found, including and perhaps most importantly, Sandals Resorts International.

Stewart Founds Sandals Resorts

In 1981, with a gift for recognising opportunity, Stewart found one in Bay Roc: a rundown hotel on a magnificent beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  Seven months and $4 million in renovations later, Sandals Montego Bay would open as the flagship of what is today the most popular award-winning, all-inclusive resort chain in the world.

Sandals Montego Bay_Swim Up Suites

Image credit: Sandals

While Stewart never laid claim to inventing the all-inclusive concept, he is recognised worldwide for his tireless effort to elevate the experience, delivering to his guests an unsurpassed level of luxury, and to share his certainty that a Caribbean company could successfully compete with any organisation in the world.  He accomplished both.

“I had heard of the concept, yet at the time, the services and rooms were very basic. Contrary to that, I envisioned we could bring forward a luxury resort to offer customers so much more. So, we perfected it. Only the most comfortable king size four poster beds, fine manicured gardens, cozy hammocks and the kind of warm, refined service the Caribbean has become known for. Just as important was to be located on the absolute best beach, because that’s what everyone dreams of.”

Where other so-called “all-inclusives” offered meals and rooms at a set rate, Sandals Resorts’ prices covered gourmet dining options, premium brand drinks, gratuities, airport transfers, taxes and all land and watersport activities.  The competitors’ meals were buffet-style, so Stewart created on-property specialty restaurants with high culinary standards and white-glove service.  Sandals Resorts also was the first Caribbean hotel company to offer whirlpools and satellite television service, the first with swim-up pool bars and the first to guarantee that every room is fitted with a king-size bed and a hair dryer.  More recent innovations have included a signature spa concept – Red Lane® Spa, signature luxury suites designed for privacy and ultimate pampering, complimentary WiFi, and signature partnerships with iconic organisations such as Microsoft Xbox® Play Lounge, Sesame Workshop, PADI, Mondavi® Wines, Greg Norman Signature Golf courses and the London-based Guild of Professional English Butlers. And in 2017, Stewart introduced the Caribbean’s first over-the-water accommodations, which were quickly expanded to include Over-the-Water bars and Over-the-Water wedding chapels.

By steadfastly adhering to the “we can do it better” principle of pleasing his guests, Stewart fostered a company free to imagine and free to consistently raise the bar.  This ethos earned him the title of “King of All-Inclusives,” changing the face of the all-inclusive format and establishing Sandals Resorts as the most successful brand in the category – boasting year-round occupancy levels of more than 85 percent, an unequaled returning guest factor of 40 percent and demand that has led to unprecedented expansion including the creation of additional concepts such as Beaches Resorts, now the industry standard for excellence in family beach vacations.

Butch Stewart loved Sandals.  At the time of his passing, he was hard at work on plans for the recently announced expansions to the Dutch island of Curaçao and St. Vincent.

Stewart As Statesman

Stewart’s leadership helped resurrect Jamaica’s travel industry and earned him the respect of his peers and the admiration of his countrymen.  He was elected President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica in 1989 and was inducted into its “Hall of Fame” in 1995. He served as a Director of the Jamaica Tourist Board for a decade and as President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association in the mid-80s, ably balancing government and private sector priorities, reconciling the concerns of large and small Jamaican hotels, and raising public understanding of the tourism industry. In 1994, Stewart led a group of investors to take leadership of Air Jamaica, the Caribbean’s largest regionally based carrier.  It was a daunting task – planes were dirty, service was indifferent and on-time schedules were rarely met, causing market share to plummet along with revenues.

When Stewart stepped in, he insisted on a passenger-friendly approach: on-time service, reduced waiting lines, increased training for all personnel, and signature free champagne on flights to accompany an emphasis on better food.  He also opened new routes in the Caribbean, brought on new Airbus jets and established a Montego Bay hub for flights coming from and returning to the United States. Just as with ATL and Sandals Resorts, Stewart’s formula proved successful and in late 2004, Stewart gave the airline back to the government with an increase in revenue of over US$250 million.

It was not the first time Stewart would come to the aid of his country.  In 1992, he galvanised the admiration of Jamaicans  with the “Butch Stewart Initiative,” pumping US$1 million a week into the official foreign exchange market at below prevailing rates to help halt the slide of the Jamaican dollar.  Dr Henry Lowe, at the time president and CEO of Blue Cross, wrote to Stewart saying: “I write to offer sincere congratulations to you for the tremendous initiative which has done so much, not only for the strengthening of our currency, but more so, for the new feeling of hope and positive outlook which is now being experienced by all of us as Jamaicans.”

Less well-known may be the extent of Stewart’s considerable philanthropy, where for more than 40 years he has helped improve and shape the lives of Caribbean people.  His work, formalised with the creation in 2009 of The Sandals Foundation, offers support ranging from the building of schools and paying of teachers to bringing healthcare to the doorsteps of those who cannot afford it. This in addition to his tireless support of a wide range of environmental initiatives. Beyond the work of the Foundation, Stewart has given millions to charitable causes such as celebrating the bravery of veterans and first responders and helping those in the wake of devastating hurricanes.

In 2012, Stewart founded the Sandals Corporate University, aimed at providing professional development for employees through reputable education and training programs. With access to more than 230 courses and external partnerships with 13 top-ranking local and international universities, every staff member can apply, broaden their knowledge, and advance their career.

Stewart’s successes in business and in life have earned him more than 50 well-deserved local, regional, and international accolades and awards including Jamaica’s highest national distinctions: The Order of Jamaica (O.J.), and Commander of the Order of Distinction (C.D.).  In 2017, Stewart was honoured with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS), hosted by the Burba Hotel Network, marking his significant contribution to the hospitality industry.  “The success of Sandals has helped to power the growth of the tourism industry and economies not only in Jamaica but throughout the Caribbean,” said BHN president Jim Burba.  “The word ‘icon’ certainly applies to Butch Stewart.”

It delighted Stewart whenever he was dining anywhere in the world and an excited staff member would share with him, “Thank you.  I got my start at Sandals.”

Butch Stewart, The Man

With his easy pace, infectious warmth and trademark striped shirt, Stewart exuded an approachability that belied the complexity of his character.  While he was an acute businessperson, who at the time of his death was responsible for a Jamaican-based empire that includes two dozen diverse companies collectively representing Jamaica’s largest private sector group, the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner and its largest non-government employer, he was an extremely private man whose deepest devotion was to his family.

His greatest test came in 1989 when his beloved 24-year-old son Jonathan was killed in a car accident in Miami. Stewart recalled the incident in a 2008 interview, “For two months after he died, I was absolutely useless, and after that I was sort of running on remote control. Things were a blur. It’s every parent’s nightmare.  After a year or so, I started to see things in vivid detail. You have to get busy, be close with your family. It did a lot in terms of me getting closer. There’s a lot more satisfaction.”

Stewart was able to return to his relentless pace, and the consensus among those who knew him best is that he did it by leading by example. “If you are going to lead, you have to participate,” Stewart was fond of saying.  He believed that if everyone in the organisation recognised that the man in charge was working as hard as they were, they’d have an infinite amount of respect and motivation. “It’s about instilling a spirit of teamwork, defining a purpose and then rolling up your sleeves to get the job done better than anybody else,” Stewart said.

The company Butch Stewart built remains wholly owned by the Stewart family, who, in honor of Mr. Stewart’s long-term succession plans, has named Adam Stewart Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, extending his formidable leadership of the brands he has shepherded since he was appointed CEO in 2007.

Speaking on behalf of his family, Adam Stewart said, “our father was a singular personality; an unstoppable force who delighted in defying the odds by exceeding expectations and whose passion for his family was matched only by the people and possibility of the Caribbean, for whom he was a fierce champion.  Nothing, except maybe a great fishing day, could come before family to my dad.  And while the world understood him to be a phenomenal businessman – which he was, his first and most important devotion was always to us.  We will miss him terribly forever.”

Gordon “Butch” Stewart is survived by his wife, Cheryl, children Brian, Bobby, Adam, Jaime, Sabrina, Gordon, and Kelly; grandchildren Aston, Sloane, Camden, Penelope-Sky, Isla, Finley, Max, Ben, Zak, Sophie, Annie and Emma; and great grandchildren Jackson, Riley, Emmy and Willow.

A private funeral service will be held. Those wishing to share memories, condolences or personal stories may do so at AllThatsGood@sandals.com, and a tribute video can be found on the Sandals website

Main image credit: Sandals

Headshot of Daniel Fryer and image of a lobby

Is it really ‘in with the new’ for the hospitality industry?

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Is it really ‘in with the new’ for the hospitality industry?

“Out with the old and in with the new,” but what do you do in hospitality, when what’s about to come looks exactly the same as what’s just