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A cutting-edge bathroom design from Gessi

Bathroom design: Gessi spotted in beautiful projects around the world

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Bathroom design: Gessi spotted in beautiful projects around the world

From stunning hotels to chic private residences, Gessi is able to offer a style in wellness areas that is unlike anything we have seen before. Here, we celebrate the brand’s couture-like take on bathroom design… 

A cutting-edge bathroom design from Gessi
Chic hotels and spas, dream residences, and yachts exhibit a style of living and travelling steeped in a taste for beauty, design and wellbeing, which all require the same approach in bathroom design (one that is personal to the project).

Impressive urban dwellings that reflect the natural beauty of lakes, mountains, beaches and forests, or even the elegance of fine watercraft, all serve as inspiration for Gessi, known as the private wellness company. Its award-winning commitment to creating a style of well-being in every living space. A vision that designers relish when choosing Gessi products to transform a bath into a Private Wellness Experience to be appreciated in the world’s finest architectural creations.

A colourful open-planned bathroom within a suite

Image credit: Gessi

From the Maldives to Greece, Milan to Saudi Arabia, New York to Shanghai, this collection is at home in the most sophisticated environments. A testament to the company’s presence in the large-project hospitality market, where it has been appreciated for the style, quality, durability, and environmental sustainability of its products and its ability to provide advanced technical support and customisation.

The designers’ choice of Gessi Collections in these highly regarded projects expresses a new awareness of the need to create environments in which design and technology nourish emotional well-being as well as purely functional expectations.

Why not read more about Gessi’s Spotlight Collection?

The largest existing program for the for the creation of customised wellness experiences

The fast pace of daily life does not always allow us to devote time to a relaxing bath, and the customary practice has become to resort to a more practical shower, in which the user can access the well-being given by water by a simple touch.

Indeed Gessi Private Wellness gives life to this idea, as it proposes a design shower concept with advanced functions, aimed at creating a wellness corner or a personal Spa in one’s own bathroom, although the collection boasts countless uses in professional spas worldwide.

A modern shower on an earthy wall

Image credit: Gessi

The Gessi Private Wellness Program represents the world’s widest range of steel showerheads and shower elements for hydro massage, including rain showers, waterfalls and atomisation. These modular elements can be freely composed, for a total customisation of one’s own shower, so to create a “private” wellness, designed according to one’s own desires.

The products of the Gessi Private Wellness system stand out for their patented, innovative architectural aesthetic, the great attention to details of shapes and finishes, the facility of installation even in small spaces.

The advanced functions are designed to be easily accessible and genuinely beneficial to the user. This is the result of very long research on the therapeutic, relaxing and energetic properties of light, an incorporeal element, and water, a fluid element. The outcome is a technology capable of enhancing the therapeutic properties of these two elements and produce not only scenographic effects, but above all emotion and wellbeing.\

Gessi 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.

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Wink Hotels has arrived in Vietnam, here you can see quirky interiors in a render of the hotel's lobby

Wink Hotels has arrived in Vietnam with a fresh eye for design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Wink Hotels has arrived in Vietnam with a fresh eye for design

Wink Hotels has arrived in Vietnam, entering the hospitality arena by opening its debut hotel this March. Hotel Designs exclusively catches up with AW2, the Parisian based architecture firm, that designed the brand’s design scheme…

Wink Hotels has arrived in Vietnam, here you can see quirky interiors in a render of the hotel's lobby

Wink is a new hotel brand and new concept, aimed at a young Vietnamese audience, defined as the Indochine 2.0 generation – a new generation of Vietnamese who are driving the booming economy.

The brand launches with the arrival of a 237-key medium-rise urban hotel, Wink Hotel Saigon Centre. The property is part of the new Wink brand, the vision of Indochina Kajima and operations company Indochina Vanguard, which is rolling out a series of hotels across the country. Located in District 1’s Dakao Ward, a hip and upcoming neighbourhood, the twelve-floor, 10,500 m2 hotel has been designed as an extension of Vietnamese street life, bringing local flavour from the outside in. 

Architecture Workshop (AW2) designed every element of this affordable lifestyle hotel, from the architectural concept through to interior design and furniture, as well as collaborating with the company to create the brand identity across its hotels.

The brand focuses on creating a balance between design forwardness, financial return and construction feasibility while being a fashionable urban destination. AW²’s previous work in Vietnam (FV International Hospital, Four Seasons The Nam Hai and Six Senses Con Dao) with Indochina Capital, who created the development team, placed them in a strong position to respond to the client’s brief requirements.

For the Wink brand, AW2 created a specific locally-inspired colour palette deployed throughout the hotel, from the bespoke sunshades on the façade down to the cushion fabrics. The bold and vibrant exterior design attracts attention from the outside, acting as a beacon for the wider neighbourhood. 

The Wink Hotel incorporates blended spaces where accommodation, work and leisure co-exist. The interior design is centred around creating a fun and dynamic environment, using furniture styles based on the street food culture such as food carts for the self-service food and beverage facilities and bicycles repurposed as table legs for the breakfast bars.

Collaborative spaces are made to encourage visitors and the public to use the public areas at their leisure. The shared spaces are composed into different flexible zones consisting of an entrance ‘Wink Space’ lobby, a lounge with integrated library and games area and food & beverage facilities. The food & beverage facilities cater to all needs including the Wink Bar, ‘grab and go’ self-service, breakfast bar and dining areas.

For the hotel guests, the bedrooms have been efficiently designed to be compact, with bespoke furniture that maximises space usage and with a strong brand identity throughout. With three different colour spectrum schemes (each made up of three key Wink-branded colours), the external sunshades act as an extension to the hotel interiors and reflect the colour themes found in each hotel bedroom.

“The Wink Hotel Saigon Centre is designed for a fast-growing, fast-changing society that remains connected to local traditions while simultaneously embracing contemporary trends,” added Reda Amalou & Stéphanie Ledoux, Partners, AW².

AW² have more than twenty years of experience within the hospitality industry, with projects in 40 different countries, working with leading hotel and resort operators. They have drawn upon their extensive knowledge to create a new brand that speaks to the next generation of global travellers. 

The well-timed arrival of Wink Hotels will no doubt meet (perhaps exceed) new demands from modern travellers, to offer a hospitality setting that can effortlessly allow travellers to see destinations through fresh eyes.

Main image credit: AW2

Luxury pool at Domes Zeen, a Luxury Collection Resort, Chania

Marriott International to open almost 100 hotels in Asia Pacific this year

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Marriott International to open almost 100 hotels in Asia Pacific this year

Following Marriott International announcing its 800th hotel opening in Asia Pacific, the group is expected to open almost 100 more properties in the region this year alone…

Luxury pool at Domes Zeen, a Luxury Collection Resort, Chania

Last year, despite the pandemic putting a halt on travel demand, Marriott International opened 75 new hotels in Asia Pacific, representing more than one opening per week across the region. This year, the hotel group is expected to continue this growth in the region. In a recent press statement, Marriott announced announced its ambitious plans to open nearly 100 new properties in the area in 2021.

“I am proud of the way we have continued to grow and have moved quickly to adapt to the challenges that arose from the pandemic. With the launch of new global industry hygiene standards in April 2020, innovative offerings such as work anywhere packages and hyper-localised marketing and sales strategies, our nimble and forward-thinking approach will continue to lead us through the recovery,” said Craig S. Smith, Group President, International, Marriott International. “We are grateful for the continued resilience and positivity demonstrated by our associates and for the confidence our guests, owners and franchisees continue to have in us. We remain well-positioned to meet the travel demands of our guests across Asia Pacific and the rest of the world.”

Greater China has led the global recovery to date, and the company expects to soon celebrate its 400th hotel in Greater China and its 50th hotel in Shanghai with the opening of JW Marriott Shanghai Fengxian in spring 2021. With this hotel opening, Shanghai has the distinction of reaching this important milestone for the company in Asia Pacific.

“Mainland China is on track to become the world’s largest personal luxury market by 2025.”

According to a joint report by consultancy Bain & Co. and Alibaba’s Tmall Luxury unit, Mainland China is on track to become the world’s largest personal luxury market by 2025 even seeing year-over-year domestic growth in 2020 despite the pandemic. To leverage this trend, Marriott International continues to strengthen its luxury portfolio with expected openings in 2021 such as W Changsha, W Xiamen, St. Regis Qingdao and The Ritz-Carlton Reserve Jiuzhaigou. With the anticipated opening of the Ritz-Carlton Reserve, China will be the first country in Asia Pacific to house all of Marriott International’s luxury hallmarks.

Pool at Ritz-Carlton Reserve, China

Image credit: Marriott International/Ritz-Carlton Reserve, China

Marriott’s leisure bookings in China have been particularly strong, up over 25 per cent year over year in the third quarter in Mainland China, demonstrating the resiliency of demand once consumers are comfortable that the virus is under control and restrictions can safely be lifted. The company is introducing more travel experiences across its brand portfolio, including at popular leisure destinations such as Mianyang in the Sichuan province with the expected opening of Sheraton Mianyang, as well in the culturally-rich destination of Nanjing with the anticipated opening of The Westin Nanjing Resort & Spa.

Beyond Greater China, Marriott International continues to strengthen its footprint, with several expected brand debuts across Asia Pacific in 2021. In Japan, W Hotels is expected to debut with the opening of W Osaka, while The Luxury Collection is also slated to debut in Australia with the opening of The Tasman in Hobart. The iconic Ritz-Carlton brand is expected to celebrate its debut in the leading resort destination of Maldives in early summer, bringing legendary service to the picture-perfect archipelago.

A render of the first Luxury Collection hotel in Australia

Image credit: Marriott International/The Luxury Collection

Further expanding Marriott’s presence in breathtaking resort destinations, the JW Marriott brand is slated to bring its warm luxury experience to Jeju Island in South Korea with the planned opening of JW Marriott Jeju in late 2021. The company’s signature wellness brand, Westin, is also highly anticipated to debut in one of India’s top beach destinations, Goa, this summer.

Since you’re here, why not read ‘The Hot List’, referencing the most significant hotels openings expected in Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 of this year?

To support domestic travel in Japan, the company plans to open six additional Fairfield by Marriott hotels throughout 2021 along ‘Michi-no-Eki’ roadside stations aimed at revitalising the country’s local sightseeing spots. Japan expects to have more than 30 Fairfield by Marriott hotels by the end of 2023. Touted as one of the best cities in the world for art, culture, music and food, Australia’s Melbourne is expected to see the opening of the country’s second W Hotel with W Melbourne in spring and the opening of Melbourne Marriott Hotel Docklands in early 2021.

Pool area at Melbourne Marriott Hotel Docklands overlooking city

Image credit: Marriott International/Melboure Marriott Hotel Docklands

“The strength of our pipeline is testament to the long-term growth prospects in Asia Pacific,” said Paul Foskey, Chief Development Officer, Asia Pacific, Marriott International. “Despite a challenging environment in 2020, we are pleased with the signings we have achieved across the region during the year. We have full gratitude to our owners and franchisees for their belief in the resiliency of travel and the strength of Marriott’s portfolio of brands.”

Main image credit: Marriott International/Domes Zeen, a Luxury Collection Resort, Chania

7 innovative hotel hygiene solutions

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
7 innovative hotel hygiene solutions

To kickstart Hotel Designs’ mission to put ‘Safe Design’ under the editorial spotlight – and following a lot of confusion when it comes to which hotel hygiene solutions are most appropriate for the hospitality industry – here are a handful of innovations that will help hospitality back on its feet. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes…

Despite modern hotels generally being clean and safe spaces, there is no doubt that hygiene will become of the many new demands from modern travellers in a post-pandemic world. In a recent panel discussion, hoteliers from around the world gathered to discuss how to reassure the post-corona consumer. One of the major conclusions was that the hospitality industry has become more interested in learning about new hotel hygiene solutions; methods and innovations when it comes to cleaning surfaces and killing bad bacteria that is airborne.

Covid-19 was the cruel catalyst that forced all industries to confront hygiene. With the pandemic forcing much of hospitality’s doors shut once more – and at the very least keeping guests at a distance – it was only ever going to be a matter of time before new products to emerge, all of which launched with claims of being  ‘unlike any other’ on the market.

To cut through the noise, here are seven effective hygiene products and services on the market that have caught our editorial attention in recent months.

Room To Breathe – for peace of mind

Man using hygiene friendly way to steam clean curtains

Image credit: Room To Breathe

What’s unique about Room To Breathe, aside from the technology, is the brand’s narrative. Before Covid-19 was even a headline, the team at Room To Breathe were planning on launching a service that would ‘transform indoor environments into hypoallergenic spaces’. The seven step process, which includes purging, deep cleaning, fogging, UV technology, protext, sanifying and testing, works to continuously maintain clean air and surfaces removing up to 99.999 per cent of coronoviruses including influenzas, bacteria, allergens, mould, germs & VOC’s.

KEUCO sanitisers – for the design-savvy

One of major concerns hotels will have when introducing new hygiene protocols – especially when this shift in attitude confronts guests’ behaviour – will be finding solutions that do not interfere with the design of the space. KEUCO’s sleek sanitiser dispensers are suitable for an extensive variety of areas, locations and situations: homes, hotels, supermarkets, shopping malls, offices and airports. These new dispensers meet the highest hygiene requirements, whilst combining functionality with a distinguished design.

Infra-red touchless taps – for the tech-savvy

GROHE Bau Cosmo infra-red hygiene tap – close up lifestyle shot

Image credit: GROHE

With hygiene being a ‘top priority’ for the brand, so much so that it is launching its first CPD module on the topic this February, The GROHE Bau Cosmo E, a strong robust design made using composite polymer, uses motion sensors to detect movement, which then activates the water flow. A mixing valve on the side of the spout can be used to adjust the temperature if required and a temperature limiter can also be installed if desired. Once the user removes their hands from the basin, the sensors will detect this and stop the water flow.

Blueair Blue Pure 411 – for the boutique guestroom

Compact, energy-efficient and decorated with awards, the Blueair Blue Pure 411 is an ideal air purifier for guestrooms and office spaces. The Simple ‘plug in and go’ product breathes clean air indoors. The Blue Pure 411, which was recently specified in all rooms at Page8 Hotel in London, uses Blueair’s proprietary HEPASlient™ technology to remove at least 99.97 per cent of airborne particles as small as 0.1 microns in size such as viruses, pollen, dust, pet dander, mould spores, smoke, and allergens.

Rimless DirectFlush WC – for seamless cleaning

The rimless DirectFlush toilet with the innovative CeramicPlus and AntiBac surface is a hygiene solution that has been launched by Villeroy & Boch. The brand’s new generation of rimless WCs offers particularly quick and thorough cleaning. A precise, splash-free water flow ensures the entire interior of the bowl is rinsed thoroughly to ensure cleanliness. The easy-to-clean DirectFlush WCs is ideal for both private households and commercial projects.

UNILIN Evola Collection – for robust surfaces

A grey stone like surface that is hygienic

Image credit: UNILIN

The need for a hygiene friendly finishes doesn’t mean that interior projects have to compromise on design, at least not when it comes to laminated boards and HPL materials from UNILIN panels. These surfaces can be cleaned several times a day by 70 per cent alcohol solutions without fear of damage, helping in the ongoing maintenance and daily hygiene of commercial environments.

With the UNILIN Evola Collection, specifiers can bring the feel and look of natural materials, brushed metals and terrazzo, explore the crisp ‘clean’ colours of pure white and bright fresh green, or embrace the soft-touch effect of Super Matt Black; creating surfaces that are at once beautiful and hygienic. What’s more, with more than 190 options, there’s really no limit to creativity.

Robot service… too soon? 

An image of a robot looking up

Image credit: Alex Knight/Unsplash

Ever since I have written about hotel design, I have had to confront rumours that robots will replace front-of-house hospitality. Despite the human touch being is irreplaceable when it comes to service, we cannot deny that Covid-19 has created new challenges for designers and hoteliers when creating public areas. In a recent debate, it was suggested that, to feed an on-demand society’s expectations, the hotel lobby will become more theatrical in the post-pandemic world, as practical elements like ‘check in’ will take place online prior to stepping inside the building. Therefore, there is a strong argument that the role of front-of-house staff will also change following this demand and, suddenly, the idea of robot butlers suddenly doesn’t sound so radical.

As I write this, we have a journalist on the ground in Las Vegas to explore all the latest tech trends emerging in hospitality at the annual CES. We cannot yet conclusively answer as to whether or not we predict robots having a new role in a post-pandemic world, but we can certainly suggest that, considering all of the solutions above have developed from research and development, technology will very much be front and centre of all hygiene solutions in 2021 and beyond.

If you have a hygiene products that you would like to put on the radar of our editorial team, please email press releases and images directly to our editor. The HD Edit on ‘Safe Design’ will go live on February 20. Between on and then, you can re-watch our latest HD Live session on Reassuring the Post Corona Consumer.

Main image credit: Jean Philippe/Unsplash

3_Standard King Guest Room_Hotel Carmichael_credit-Coury Hospitality

Miniview: Hotel Carmichael, Autograph Collection strikes a chord

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Miniview: Hotel Carmichael, Autograph Collection strikes a chord

Timeless, neoclassical interiors and intricate details, designed by HBA, salute America’s rich musical legacy inside the recently completed Hotel Carmichael, Autograph Collection. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores…

3_Standard King Guest Room_Hotel Carmichael_credit-Coury Hospitality

Hospitality interior design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) has completed the design of Hotel Carmichael, Autograph Collection. Created to inspire an enduring journey through history and provoke continued revival, the 122-key, six-story hotel is an architectural masterpiece located adjacent to The Palladium—one of the greatest music halls of its time—which houses the Great American Songbook in downtown Carmel, Ind. along the Monon Trail.

Guided by the melody, harmony, rhythm and soul from the Golden Age of American Song, along with the neoclassical style of the great Scottish architect and interior designer Robert Adam, HBA Atlanta designers instilled the interiors of Hotel Carmichael with timeless furnishings, simplicity of form and thoughtful detailing that come together as a symphony of classic elegance with marked personality for a defining experience unlike any other.   

“By using a storyline-based approach, we sought to create a cohesive design concept with a level of attention to detail that invokes the spirited feeling of a time in history where grandeur, scaling, and decadent decoration were celebrated.” – Catherine Josey, Designer, HBA.

“We started with a neoclassical design and brought it forward in time. We integrated historic elements into each of the spaces to give guests a sense of nostalgia as they were transformed into the present,” said HBA Atlanta Senior Designer Catherine Josey. “By using a storyline-based approach, we sought to create a cohesive design concept with a level of attention to detail that invokes the spirited feeling of a time in history where grandeur, scaling, and decadent decoration were celebrated to encourage guests to be fully present and appreciate the moment they enter the lobby.”

Image caption: The elegant lobby balances grandeur design and decadent decoration sensitively. | Image credit: Coury Hospitality

Through the oversized black metal doors adorned with bronze hardware, guests walk into a stately lobby with black and white checkered flooring and Doric columns inspired by magnificent Great Hall designed by Adam at London’s Syon House. An oversized art piece flanked by theatrical drapes on each side sets a dramatic backdrop for a grand reception desk composed of white and black stone with gold gilded medallions. The lobby lounge library exudes the familiarity of an English pub with high wainscoting coated in a dark rich paint, coffered ceiling and comfortable seating. A dual-sided, wood-burning fireplace allows guests to relax with a book in the library or enjoy lively drinks with friends on the lobby side.

“Each space has its purpose in function and form, whether to ignite the imagination, engage or elevate, yet all fit together so perfectly to leave guests with memories they won’t soon forget,” continued Josey. “With purposeful design, Hotel Carmichael is a place where guests can write their own story and return time and again to fill the pages of their book.”

Moving into the meeting and event venues, Baroque-style mirrors line the hallway of the prefunction space outside the elegant Cole Porter Ballroom where patterned carpeting and a ceiling detailed with medallions, crowns and hanging crystal chandeliers create a light, airy space. HBA Atlanta designers created contrasting atmospheres for the two boardrooms, one with dark millwork walls and wood floors for a classic feel and the other, more playful with blue lacquered walls.

5_Cole Porter Ballroom_Hotel Carmichael_credit-Coury Hospitality

Image caption: The elegant Cole Porter Ballroom is where patterned carpeting and a ceiling detailed with medallions, crowns and hanging crystal chandeliers create a light, airy space. | Image credit: Coury Hospitality`

Teal lacquered doors open to Vivante, a culinary experience reminiscent of a French bistro where walls washed in white serve as a canvas for dark wood furniture to make a statement and a built-in dark wood wine cabinet to act as a focal point. Ceilings are simple while the details are thoughtful and impactful. Developed in partnership with legendary musician Michael Feinstein, a frequent performer at The Palladium, Feinstein’s is Hotel Carmichael’s signature cabaret dressed in dark carpeting and furniture with an elaborate bar formed of a mix of metals and mirrors. The refined ambiance encapsulates the music and magic of Carmel City Center.

Journey through the guest corridors and discover a softer palette of blues and greens for a serene moment, punctuated by art in reference to the Great American Songbook with a distinct experience on each floor.

4_Suite Bathroom_Hotel Carmichael_credit-Coury Hospitality

Image caption: Grand bathrooms filter through from the luxurious and comfortable guestrooms and suites. | Image credit: Coury Hospitality

HBA Atlanta designers outfitted guestrooms with blue leather headboards, oversized sectionals for lounging and chandeliers in every room. Bathrooms feature walk-in showers, freestanding tubs and back-lit mirrored vanities that provide ample lighting. In the suites, hardwood flooring upon entry leads to a small powder room, a dining room with hints of teal accents through the rug and dining chairs, and a bright living room with blue drapes and multicolored side chairs. Gilded touches and chandeliers are carried through the property into the suites. 

Main image credit: Coury Hospitality

Virtual roundtable: ‘sustainable does not mean natural’ in surface design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Virtual roundtable: ‘sustainable does not mean natural’ in surface design

With ‘greenwashing’ still an all-too-common term in the global ‘sustainable’ hotel design and hospitality arena, we gather a cluster of designers and architects to attend a virtual roundtable, sponsored by Architextural, to discuss sustainability solutions in surface design. Editor Hamish Kilburn leads the discussion… 

With rapid population growth, urbanisation and the ability to purchase goods at our fingertips, we in the western world have become overall a wasteful on-demand society that on the whole is unfortunately not sustainable in our thinking.

More specifically in hospitality, while initiatives such as putting a curb on single-use plastics have been celebrated, ‘greenwashing’ has become a commonly used term in order to expose those whose veneer of a sustainable establishment is actually doing more harm than good. In order to grasp sustainability’s role in the future of hotel design, and to put forward viable alternatives, we must look beyond the semi-sustainable methods of yesterday and instead research consciously with aim to find new methods that are not just kinder to the environment, but will also enhance local relationships and improve aesthetic qualities.

As ever, it falls upon the design community to put forward innovative methods that make sense for the future projects that will emerge on the international hotel design scene. In this exclusive virtual roundtable, sponsored by Architextural, we handpicked designers and architects in order to question sustainability in surface design, and learned that ‘sustainable does not always mean natural’.

On the panel:

Before we delve into materials and far-fetched, eco-driven initiatives in surface design, in order to establish misconceptions, we should look at architectural wrapping has become increasingly popular in recent years. On the surface of the debate, using PVC is contentious and, despite it being the world’s third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer, it is not particularly sustainable. However, used in the right way, surface manufacturer Architextural believes the process of wrapping can significantly help designers and their clients achieve a sustainable outcome when it comes to upcycling goods.

Hamish Kilburn: Lindsay, you’re the marketing manager for Architextural. Can you tell us a bit more about the brand’s sustainability credentials?

Lindsay Appleton: Architextural, is a new brand, part of William Smith Group, which was established back in 1832.  The concept of wrapping existing surfaces, instead of sending them to landfill, is contributing to a more sustainable future. In 2021, we have more than 1,000 patterns on the shelf, so as well as offering an environmentally friendly process, we also have a lot of variety in our ranges to suit most design applications in so many sectors – our products are incredibly versatile.

HK: Jack, you work for 3M, which manufactures Architextural’s product. Can you tell us more about this process?

Although the product is PVC it’s optimised to withstand wear and tear, UV, impact and it’s exceptionally conformable. Therefore, it can prolong the lifespan of products and eradicate the need for excess waste. 3M Architectural Finishes range is designed to meet aesthetic demand, while delivering functional benefits which can improve the sustainability of projects.

HK: What makes this process sustainable?

LA: The concept of wrapping using a PVC product, makes it a durable refurbishment solution. Rather than ripping out existing fixtures and fittings to be sent to landfill, upcycling what’s already there qualifies for all the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits around reusing existing furniture and reusing existing materials. The process is therefore much more sustainable, and there is less disruptive over having a traditional refurbishment. By upcycling what was already there, it is a sustainable way to reduce cost.

image of sustainable wooden headboard in bedroom

Image credit: Architextural

“Anything that allows you to reinvent without throwing out has got to be a good thing.” – Harriet Forde, Founder, Hariet Forde Design

HK: What is driving the rise in upcycling surfaces – is this ‘trend’ purely linked to sustainability?

Harriet Forde: I think we are trying to address the natural desire of humans to evolve and change. We are always looking forward to the next thing that is happening. We are a visual animal and looking forward to see what is trending. However, we cannot expect revolutionise all the time. We have to be able to manage that in a way that is sustainable. Anything that allows you to reinvent without throwing out has got to be a good thing.

Una Barac: When I started in the industry some two decades ago, Wenge was a popular veneer. We, as designers, allowing for it to become so popular came very close to exterminating that entire species of a tree. This is why we will now use blackened oak as an alternative– so we will find sustainably sourced oak and we will treat to achieve that dark effect without having to travel the world to find exotic species of wood, cutting it down and flying it half way across the globe.

So, for me, there are sustainable ways to being true and authentic – and we are learning more all the time. We should be designing with location in mind.

HK: Before the pandemic, I believe clients were really starting to understand the value of sustainably sourced goods beyond them just being eco-friendly. How this attitude changed since the pandemic with hygiene creeping up on the agenda?

Ben Webb: It’s definitely come up in conversations, but it isn’t the driving factor behind us putting these spaces together. Clients, and in fact people in general, are so much more aware now than they were five years ago when it was just used to sound good. The awareness now – and the fact that it is written in a lot of these briefs from day one – is very important. You need to talk about it from the beginning of a project rather than at the end.

“The greenest, most sustainable products are the ones that already exist.” – Ben Webb, Co-Founder, 3 Stories.

It doesn’t have to be some crazy new material, but it could just be the fact that you reuse the furniture. The greenest, most sustainable products are the ones that already exist. Let’s not forget that there are a lot of products and materials that already exist. In the past, we have had that shift with warehouse-like interiors, but actually the larger discussion point is the products that have been produced and we could actually reuse them. Wrapping these products, for certain brands, is extremely important.

Hygiene is coming up in conversation but our lead times are around two years – sometime longer. Therefore, there is a bigger picture and we always have to look ahead.

HF: As a designer, you should set the parameter right at the beginning of the project with how much your intention is to be sustainable, because it ultimately impacts the budget, and clients often see you reusing as a way to save money.

Geoff Hull: A lot of reused materials such as plastics can achieve ergonomic and geometric forms in a slender and elegant way. Polymer products can also carry other non-porous and hygiene friendly surfaces particularly relevant in our current Covid conscious World.

Henry Reeve: One of the ways we try to be sustainable is to ensure that our designs stand the test of time, so that we are not ripping stuff out after a couple of year, because then by definition you are not creating waste.

“In the QO Hotel Amsterdam, for example, all the carpets are made from recycled fishing nets.” – Henry Reeve, Head of Interior Design, IHG (Kimpton/Hotel Indigo).

We have introduced some interesting initiatives in some of our hotels. In the QO Hotel Amsterdam, for example, all the carpets are made from recycled fishing nets. Plastic is obviously a very durable material so this works perfectly. Also, in our Voco hotels, all the duvets are made from recycled bottles – and we have received really positive feedback from our guests regarding how comfortable they are.

One of the initiatives with furniture, is when they come to end of life with the hotel, but still in good conditions, we have donated our FF&E to housing projects and youth facilities.

When it comes to wrapping, we did implement this with the case goods inside some of the meeting rooms in InterContinental Park Lane. This was a time-saving a cost-effective process that really worked.

HK: And Henry, how do you sensitively communicate these initiatives this to guests?

HR: You have to be careful when shouting about renewables. There’s information there should the guests want to read more.

“We have to, if we are creating new products, ensure they don’t end up in landfill 10, 20 even 100 years down the line.” – Jeremy Grove, founder, Sibley Grove.

Jeremy Grove: The way in which we try to work is that we see the problem being more of a design problem and not a material one. We need to understand what happens afterwards. Wrapping and giving a product a new lease of life. A product is only desirable when we are using it and once we throw it away it is then no desirable at all. So, we have to, if we are creating new products, ensure they don’t end up in landfill 10, 20 even 100 years down the line.

The Fox & Goose is a good example, because it was designed to be dissembled, using materials that could be taken back to source and regenerated into a better quality.

For us, it’s about doing what’s sustainable and what makes good business sense. It’s really important for us to work with clients who don’t always share our ethos so that we can teach them as the project develops. Working with owners, operators and developers, if we can help to change their mindset on sustainable even by just a little bit then we are contributing to our industry as a whole thinking more consciously.

Image caption: The sustainable Fox & Goose, designed by Sibley Grove, was created to be dissembled | Image credit: Fox & Goose

Image caption: The Fox & Goose, designed by Sibley Grove, was created to be dissembled | Image credit: Fox & Goose

“We found a company that will pick up all the materials that we’re stripping on the site.” – Maria Gutierrez, Project Architect at Holland Harvey Architects.

Maria Gutierrez: I find that we also develop as designers when we are able to work on two projects under the same brand. We are currently working on designing the second Inhabit in London and we have taken so many learnings from the first, which was a fully sustainable hotel sheltered inside a Grade II listed building. We found a company that will pick up all the materials that we’re stripping on the site. All the marbles, all the tiles. When you recycle, and upcycle, them they become beautiful statements of sustainability. We are upcycling all these materials and repurposing them to be the worktops in the new hotel. Learning from the first hotel, we are able to go even further with the next project.

And then we get to the process of Value Engineering (VE), in which sustainable initiatives always suffer.

Image caption: Inhabit London is grade II listed, designed by Holland Harvey Architects, is a fully sustainable hotel that confronts the ideology that heritage buildings cannot shelter sustainable spaces. | Image credit: Inhabit Hotels

Image caption: Inhabit London is grade II listed, designed by Holland Harvey Architects, is a fully sustainable hotel that confronts the ideology that heritage buildings cannot shelter sustainable spaces. | Image credit: Inhabit Hotels

BW: A lot of VE comes down to longevity. It may be a sharp cost now, but if something stands the test of time then its value increases.

 “I have recently seen recycled terrazzo with chunks of plastic in.” – Henry Reeve, Head of Interior Design, IHG (Kimpton/Hotel Indigo).

HK: What has caused the rise in demand for exposed concrete surfaces?

GH: We have had a few projects including Ace Hotel and Village Hotels where concrete was seen as an honest and robust material. Techniques with formwork and ingredients has enabled a menu of different textures, finishes and colours for new build projects (where re used concrete can be crushed and used as aggregate) or existing retained superstructure can also add character and historic reference to any project.

HK: How can using upcycled materials in surfaces add new layers to a design of a hotel?

HR: There’s definitely interesting materials that have caught our eye, especially around recycled plastic. Technology has moved on leaps and bounds and I have recently seen recycled terrazzo with chunks of plastic in. Chunks of marble and/or wood in a terrazzo material looks stunning and create a very luxurious feel. I am expecting to see more of that in the future.

“Even the largest brands can be very excited by ideas around upcycling and recycling.” – Una Barac, Founder and Executive Director of Atellior

UB: Everyone seems to have a broader awareness. Even the largest brands can be very excited by ideas around upcycling and recycling. Here are a few examples. Park Plaza purchased an existing property which had almost 400 chairs that were made from cherry wood and upholstered with paisley patterns. We literally stripped them down with a local workshop that sanded the wood, painted each chair and then reupholstered them with a modern fabric.

Another example is a Hilton property in Bournemouth. The owner had procured antique furniture. In the spa, we decided to use one of these items – a desk – and we upcycled it which we then encased in glass because there were concerns with splinters. This piece of furniture became a beautiful focal point within the hotel.

BW: We have found that materials can have a dual purpose, when they have a very practical use but also very aesthetically pleasing.

“Just because it is natural does not mean it is sustainable” – Jeremy Grove, founder, Sibley Grove.

HK: During R&D, what far-fetched materials have your teams discovered in new surfaces?

JG: For me, a lot of what we focus on is not really the far-fetched stuff at all! Our work we did with Selfridges is a great example, which allowed us to look at a material that is upcycled fishing nets and ropes.

However, just because it is natural does not mean it is sustainable. Take oak, for example. It takes between 75 – 150 years to mature. If we were using this in a shop fit-out intended to be used for just six months then it really isn’t sustainable at all. When designing, we as an industry sometimes neglect that a lot ecosystems rely on these natural materials. We have lost vast amounts of our oak and its solutions around these problems that I am interested in.

GH: Nothing ‘far-fetched’ comes to mind but quite often we get to use many recycled materials either through manufacturing and specification choices or through the use of existing on site materials. We have many listed building examples where we have dismantled (rather than demolish) parts of a building for re-use in its altered form (stone , timber flooring , mosaics , cornicework etc).

HF: Sometimes the product that does not have the best sustainably credentials, like PVC for example, can in fact be the most sustainable if it is long-lasting and by not changing it you are actually being more sustainable.

BW: We all have a collective responsibility and awareness when we are designing a new hotel because we are making a massive impact. As designers, we have to meet the brief and make these spaces look stunning, but we there is no harm to think a little deeper to try and design in a clever way to try and source the best, most sustainable products and materials.

MG: The world and customer is starting to become more interested in sustainability and is able to make informed decisions around travel, design and fashion. This widespread knowledge is making it easier for designers to discuss this with clients. It’s also a great opportunity for hotels to tell their narrative in a unique way.

UB: It’s about designers taking developers on a journey to set the brief and parameters and educating the client as you move forward.

HK: How has this movement change the way in which design and architecture is taught?

JG: In terms of how it’s taught academically, it has always been part of academia. The largest challenge is how we translate that into the commercial world and there is a disconnect between them. It takes real resolve to challenge some of these conventions. Design has to lead that journey.

GH: I believe the use of conventional and traditional materials and methods have developed and altered considerably over the last 25 years and there is a greater choice of materials which address form ,and  function as well as embrace recycling/upcycling credentials.

HF: At the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID), we run an annual student challenge. When I was on the judging panel two years ago, the students were very focused on sustainability. In a student scenario, it is very idealislised and in the line of work there are a lot trip hazards along the way. CPD, though, is a really positive way to continually educate yourself in what is a continually evolving industry anyway.

Architextural 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.

GROHE Bau Cosmo E taps in commercial washroom

Hygiene, there’s a RIBA approved CPD module for that!

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hygiene, there’s a RIBA approved CPD module for that!

GROHE has launched its third RIBA approved CPD module, Hygiene Optimisation for Sanitary Facilities, which will be hosted by editor Hamish Kilburn and presented by GROHE’s Karl Lennon, on February 9, 2021…

GROHE Bau Cosmo E taps in commercial washroom

In response to the increasing demand for hygiene-optimised solutions since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, GROHE has launched a RIBA approved CPD module for the architecture and design community. Its aim is to facilitate greater awareness and provide inspiration to multiple stakeholders and industries working within the built environment, from architects and designers to house builders, retailers, and plumbers.

Click here to register for the CPD module, entitled: Hygiene Optimisation for Sanitary Facilities.

The latest seminar-based training module is the first on RIBA’s CPD database to look at hygiene in both the kitchen and bathroom, allowing architects and designers an in-depth look at residential design under a hygiene lens, alongside its increasing importance in commercial settings. As a provider of complete bathroom solutions, GROHE is able to offer its expertise holistically when it comes to bathroom applications. The CPD session encourages architects to consider how all touchpoints in the bathroom can be optimised with hygiene in mind, across brassware and ceramics. Meanwhile in kitchen settings, GROHE looks at the emerging importance tapware can play in maintaining hygiene levels.

GROHE Bau Cosmo infra-red tap close up lifestyle

Image credit: GROHE

GROHE first identified a seismic shift in the demand for hygiene-optimised products at the beginning of 2020, which reached new heights once the first wave of the pandemic hit the UK.

“Whilst in the UK commercial market the transition to more hygiene-focussed public spaces and business environments has been in motion for some time, there has been increasing demand in the consumer markets, in such a way that has never been seen before“, says Karl Lennon, Leader Projects Channel – A&D, LIXIL EMENA. “Ongoing conversations with our partners and clients over the last year has signified to us that there is a real demand for more knowledge around hygiene and what solutions are available. The pandemic is likely to impact both the short- and long-term implications of the way our buildings are designed and how we live and work in them. The design community are eager to expand their horizons in order to be able to adapt.”

By designing our surroundings with hygiene front of mind, Hygiene Optimisation for Sanitary Facilities highlights other positive implications to consider too. For example, boosting sustainability credentials with products such as infra-red taps and flush plates which reduce water and energy consumption. Improving the accessibility of our private and public spaces is also a viable outcome, as more autonomous solutions will be favoured over traditional products that rely on manual operation.

To mark the release of its new CPD module, GROHE has partnered with leading hospitality design platform, Hotel Designs, to host a virtual launch event for architects and designers on Tuesday 9th February 2021. Hosted by Hotel Designs‘ editor, Hamish Kilburn, and presented by Karl Lennon, Leader Projects Channel – A&D, LIXIL EMENA, the launch event will give attendees a first look at the new CPD session. GROHE will also be hosting a prize draw for all those who register, with twenty of its brand-new Rainshower SmartActive 130 handshowers to give away. Winners will be announced and contacted shortly after the event.

For those interested in attending the launch event, registrations can be made here. To express interest in booking a private CPD training session, emails should be directed to cpdtraining-uk@grohe.com.

Since you’re here, why not read more about GROHE’s recently achieved sustainability accolades?

GROHE 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: GROHE

Room set featuring the Crosswater Crossbox Push

“It’s groundbreaking”, UK Bathrooms puts the Crossbox Push to the test

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
“It’s groundbreaking”, UK Bathrooms puts the Crossbox Push to the test

We’ve heard a lot of noise about the Crossbox Push shower unit in recent months, with its sharp design and innovative technology making it an ideal product to specify for the hospitality industry. But just how effective is it? We asked the experts at UK Bathrooms to put Crosswater’s new shower unit to the test…

Room set featuring the Crosswater Crossbox Push

While certain pieces of brassware in the bathroom are ever-evolving, others have remained fundamentally unchanged over the decades. While brassware as a whole has taken on the different colour finishes in vogue at various times – from gleaming gold brass to the matt black and white finishes trending today – some bathroom brassware seems to get more aesthetic attention than others. Notably, taps have undergone the most dramatic of developments, with handle shapes and spouts in a constant state of flux both design-wise – varying considerably from pieces based on historic precedent to those more akin to modern sculpture – to their positioning by the basin or bath, from classic mixer taps to wall mounted or freestanding.

Within the shower, shower heads have undergone bold changes over recent years, with forward thinking designs not only looking the part, offer different styles of water flow, or being integrated with lighting or elements of technology. More practical shower controls have been largely overlooked aesthetically, water and temperature typically regulated with the twisting of a valve and left at that. Until now. Cue the arrival of Crossbox Push by Crosswater, a module which radically modernises the design of shower controls and adds a revolutionary new functionality to the shower experience.

‘The Crossbox Push introduces a push control to the shower in a groundbreaking, design-focused way,” explains Graeme Borchard, Managing Director at ukBathrooms. ‘The instant water flow Crossbox Push offers at the touch of a button merges efficiency and precision control with an utterly sleek contemporary aesthetic, forever altering the look of within the shower.”

Streamlined functionality

The push button operation of Crossbox Push brings a fresh perspective to shower control design. Why twist and adjust when you can simply press? Rotary heat control means that the desired temperature can be pre-set and conjured in a tap of the Neoperl ABS push button. Water can be summoned from up to three different water outlets – be it a rainfall, wall mounted or hand-held shower head – in one easy touch.

Image of modern bathroom

Image credit: Crosswater/UK Bathrooms

Looking good

The two key elements of the Crossbox Push are the bold circular button, which is also integrated with a textured dial to alter water flow, and the smaller temperature control knob. Combined, the pair make a modern design statement, boldly protruding from the all metal backplate in a minimal, clean style, while the lines splitting the button into two or three add easy usability with low visual impact.

The finishing touch

Available in an array of on-trend and timeless finishes, the Crossbox Push can be specified to suit any colour scheme, style or existing brassware – all bases are covered with the Crosswater MPRO palette. Got a Scandi-style pale space? Blend in with Matt White, or contrast with Matt Black. Feeling glamourous? Brushed Brass is your friend. Need some texture? Try the Brushed Stainless Steel Effect. Something classic? Chrome is here for you.

Style and substance in the touch of a button, the Crossbox Push is ushering in a new era to water control, and a total refresh of design within the shower space.

UK Bathrooms is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package, while Crosswater is a Recommended Supplier. 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: Crosswater/UK Bathrooms

A render of a floating hotel in the sea

Hotel concept: designing a sustainable floating resort

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel concept: designing a sustainable floating resort

With the aim to design a hotel resort that offers guests an unparalleled at-one-with-nature experience, AMA Design has developed a hospitality concept called GAIA, a floating eco hotel that pushes boundaries to re-connect people with nature. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores…

A render of a floating hotel in the sea

Focusing on the positive possibilities of the future, boutique design studio AMA has proposed a new concept for hospitality experiences in the region. Floating on top the water with a lightweight prefabricated structure, the concept of GAIA takes sustainable architecture and design to new depths by using active and passive means to limited the hotel’s energy needs.

Render of floating hotel in Dubai

Image credit: AMA Design

The concept has been designed to fit into its context. Respecting its natural environment in a light and positive way whilst considering sustainable design and circular economy principles, the hotel fits into an emerging contemporary ‘Eco-Gothic’ style.

“We wanted to create a new type of hospitality experience, testing the potential of emerging construction technologies to make a sustainable and innovative building,” explained Andy Shaw, Managing Partner of AMA. “Our proposal aims to allow people to re-connect with nature whilst making a building with the minimal impact on nature itself. “Most resorts struggle to give true peace and connection to nature due to their location and scale. We designed ‘GAIA’ to be as natural and isolated as possible, whilst giving a calming, immersive experience for guests between the waters, sky and wildlife amongst them.”

Built from pre-fabricated lightweight composites from boat technology, finishes will be all natural such as bamboo and timber so that visitors are immersed in a natural environment framed with the sky and sea.

At the base of the building, in the water, the emerging technology of 3D printed coral will be used and act as a support structure for marine life to feed and flourish underneath. This would encourage diving and snorkelling off the building and encourage an interaction with nature whilst supporting biodiversity.

Sustainability features include:

  • The prefabricated modular design and construction system reduces wasted material and energy.
  • Marine grade durable lightweight materials used extends the lifespan.
  • Carbon is sunk in timber and bamboo materials uses above water, and In the 3D printed coral material (Calcium Carbonate).
  • Renewable clean energy is generated on site through solar panels on skin and water movement underneath.
  • Passive design measures in the shape and orientation of the pods allows for airflow cooling.
  • Marine life is stimulated on 3d printed coral underneath.
Render of the floating hotel at sunset

Image credit: AMA Design

The timely hotel concept, which was developed for the ‘Shape of Things to Come’ exhibition at Dubai Design Week, has helped to shape future possibilities in international hotel design. Shaw explains: “It was developed as a concept for the exhibition, but all the technology needed to build it is available now and in use. They just need to be scaled up and made more accessible. We are hoping an ambitious developer takes it forward, or an established resort adds it to an existing offering as extra rooms and features.”

Main image credit: AMA Design

Gold structure of Main image credit: Destination Gold Coast Consortium

Project watch: the ‘shimmering’ Dorsett Gold Coast takes shape

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Project watch: the ‘shimmering’ Dorsett Gold Coast takes shape

As the project surpasses its two-year mark, construction on Dorsett Gold Coast at The Star Gold Coast, a 313-key hotel, is on the home straight for a 2022 opening. Editor Hamish Kilburn takes a look at what we can expect…

Gold structure of Main image credit: Destination Gold Coast Consortium

Currently on the boards, but preparing to take the Gold Coast to new heights of luxury, the golden-glazed windows of what will be Dorsett Gold Coast at The Star Gold Coast are being installed. And as construction of the building that will shelter the 313-key hotel has reached the 24th storey out of a total of 53 storeys, the new development is beginning to make a statement.

Developed by Destination Gold Coast Consortium (a joint venture between The Star Entertainment Group, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and Far East Consortium), and designed by award-winning design firm HBA, the hotel is expected to add a sprinkle of drama onto the city’s skyline.

Inspired by the coastline views of Broadbeach Island – the lush vegetation of the hinterland and the calming ocean waves – the designers at HBA sought to achieve harmony between the hotel’s interiors and its surrounding environment through a fresh, sophisticated, and relaxing overall design aesthetic.

render of guestroom showing botanical carpets and luxury tones

Image credit: Destination Gold Coast Consortium

Expect soft nods to botanicals to be incorporated through custom carpet designs while subtle references to lapping ocean waves and abstracted underwater scenes will be woven into the design narrative of the lobby, guestroom artwork, and custom wallcoverings to establish a true sense of place. 

With wellness taking centre stage in modern traveller demands, the bathrooms will feature simple design – think marble surfaces with accents of gold.

Image credit: Destination Gold Coast Consortium

A custom chandelier installation composed of kinetic lighting and reflective materials will serve as a focal point in the main lobby, enhancing the concept of soothing tranquility and light dancing on the ocean’s surface. Guestrooms will be well-appointed with fully custom-designed furnishings and decorative lighting elements to provide guests with a one-of-a-kind, memorable stay. 

Dorsett Gold Coast is part of a wider, $2 billion+ approved masterplan for Broadbeach Island, which will feature four additional towers and associated resort facilities. The Star Gold Coast will continue to transform into a world-class integrated resort that brings a new level of sophistication, service and style to the Gold Coast.  

Main image credit: Destination Gold Coast Consortium

A render of a stylish bar

Hyatt Regency makes debut in Cambodia’s captital

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hyatt Regency makes debut in Cambodia’s captital

Sheltering 247 rooms, the opening marks the largest hotel by an international brand in the city and Hyatt’s debut in the Cambodian capital…

Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh, the first Hyatt hotel in the Cambodian capital and the second Hyatt hotel operating in Cambodia, has opened.

A render of a stylish bar

The 247-key property is the largest hotel from a global brand in the city and is located in the heart of the cultural and business district of Doun Penh.

Conceived by award-winning Singapore-based SCDA Architects and leading Thailand-based PIA Interior, the hotel’s stylish interiors reflect Cambodia’s unique history, seamlessly blending Khmer architectural accents with French colonial influences alongside specially commissioned artworks by contemporary Cambodian artist, FONKi.

As guests pull into the hotel’s driveway, they are greeted with a welcoming centerpiece, a beautiful French heritage building flanked by frangipani trees. Originally built as a Colonial villa in the early 20th century, the carefully restored lemon-coloured Colonial House with wooden shutters, arched doorways and terracotta-tiled roof now serves as the hotel’s entrance, providing guests with a nostalgic arrival experience.

Behind the Colonial House stands the newly-constructed, 14-storey main building, featuring 247 guestrooms, including 43 residential-style suites, all with hardwood floors and marble bathrooms. Starting at 30.5 square metres, the guestrooms offer modern comforts, including complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, 65” TVs, a walk-in rain shower, Staycast systems, and Hyatt Mobile Entry technology for keyless entry.

A render of a modern guestroom in the Hyatt Hotel

Main image credit: Hyatt Hotels

Distinct Khmer touches are found throughout the rooms, including an intricately carved headboard depicting Bayon Temple, one of the most celebrated temples at Angkor. The 1,087-square-foot (101-square-meter) Royal Suite features two ensuite bedrooms, a walk-in closet, separate living and dining areas and floor-to-ceiling views of the city.

Guests staying on the 10th floor can access the Regency Club Lounge where they can enjoy dedicated check-in and check-out services, daily breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvres, and complimentary drinks alongside panoramic city views with indoor or outdoor seating.\

The hotel is home to four dining venues, including Market Café Restaurant & Lounge, an all-day dining venue inside a light-filled atrium serving breakfast, afternoon tea and à-la-carte options, Metropole Underground, an early 20th century metro-themed bar offering live music and local beers and an old-world speakeasy-style bar tucked away in the Colonial House called The Attic, which specialises in handcrafted cocktails and grand cru wines. Spanning the rooftop, FiveFive Rooftop Restaurant & Bar is set to become the city’s social hotspot where guests will be treated to locally sourced meats and sustainable seafood, an array of signature cocktails.

In addition, a wide range of recreational facilities are located on the third floor, including the 22-metre outdoor infinity pool surrounded by lush greenery, a poolside bar, a Himalayan salt room and a steam room. The 24-hour gym is equipped with a cardio zone, strength zone, and free weights. Personal trainers are on hand to offer one-on-one sessions for guests.

Main image credit: Hyatt Hotels

Sneak peek: inside SLS Cancun, a “barefoot-chic tropical” hotel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Sneak peek: inside SLS Cancun, a “barefoot-chic tropical” hotel

The new beachfront sanctuary in Cancun, which officially opens on February 1, features 45 suites, ocean views and world class design led by famed architect and designer Piero Lissoni. Hotel Designs takes a look inside…

Having designed a myriad of hotels around the world, Piero Lissoni brought his iconic design magic to Cancun to bring to life sbe’s vision of a “barefoot-chic tropical” hotel. SLS Cancun, which opens in early February, is a perfectly timed arrival as the SLS brand is one at the centre of the Ennismore and Accor merge to become the largest and fastest growing global player.

Complete with bright contemporary spaces intertwined with Italian décor, reminiscent of his hometown in Italy, the hotel shelters just 45 striking suites. From oceanside floor-to-ceiling windows with unobstructed views of the ocean and tones of deep ocean blue and vibrant turquoise to an open-floor concept lobby featuring soft, white-washed wood and light stones, Lissoni’s latest property evokes a feeling of calmness as the space connects the interior and exterior as one. 

“This hotel is like a cocktail,” Lissoni explains. “We’ve incorporated a few different ingredients: the local culture together with that of America and Europe. And we’ve bound the style of the latter to that of Mexico. So the light and the presence of art works, antiques and local craftsmanship dialogue with those of other worlds. And I think we’ve come up with a cocktail that’s particularly interesting.”

SLS Cancun guestroom render in Cancun hotel

Image credit: SLS Hotels

Guestrooms and suites are described by the hotel brand as “sparkling and shining” that promise to “take your breath away”. Each area is modern with sleek lines to compliment azure waters of the ocean that are effortlessly framed.

Meanwhile, the public areas feature a contemporary lobby bar, and to further stretch the theme of barefoot luxury, the hotel experience focus is steered towards a luxurious poolside scene, sandy beach and  the state-of-the-art fitness centre and spa.

Complimenting the overall design of the hotel, LEYNIA is an Argentinian grill, led by chef Jose Icardi, which is inspired by flavours from Japan, melding the rustic allure of open flame cooking.

The opening of SLS Cancun becomes the brand’s fifth property in North America, as the brand enters into an exciting era that will no-doubt promise thoughtful growth to further enhance the “new kind of luxury” that the brand has created.

Main image credit: SLS Hotels

Render of Hotel Indigo Nottingham

IHG to launch a landmark duel-branded hotel in Nottingham

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
IHG to launch a landmark duel-branded hotel in Nottingham

Hotel operator IHG has signed terms with development group Conygar to bring two of its world-renowned brands, Hotel Indigo and Staybridge Suites, to Nottingham…

In December of 2020, a planning application for phase 1B proposing a 17-storey landmark hotel in Nottingham was submitted.

Render of Hotel Indigo Nottingham

It is now confirmed that the multi-million-pound scheme will include a new hotel, which will be managed by IHG and developed local development group Conygar, in order to create new home for both the Hotel Indigo and Staybridge Suites brands.

The duel-branded hotel, with architecture and interior design led by Jestico + Whiles, will comprise 223 guestrooms and suites – 155 located within Hotel Indigo and a further 68 aimed at multi-night business and leisure travellers in the Staybridge Suites, which will include a range of amenities such as a full kitchen and dedicated shared outdoor space exclusively for Staybridge Suites guests.

They form part of the latest stage of the development, which will include a further 247 residential rental apartments and an extensive food and beverage area featuring a stunning bar and busy 100-metre long forum for people to meet. There will also be 3,000 sqm of flexible serviced office space, with some 400 desks.

Image caption: An example lounge area from a Staybridge Suites in Dundee | Image credit: IHG

The hotel is the city’s first of its size in nearly two decades, forming part of a landmark tall building.

Karan Khanna, Managing Director, UK & Ireland at IHG said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Conygar to bring the leading global brands of Hotel Indigo and Staybridge Suites to Nottingham as an important part of the regeneration of the Island Quarter. These new properties will add to IHG’s presence in the city, sitting alongside our existing Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels. As we begin 2021 these new hotel signings show the confidence that owners and investors have in IHG and our potential for continued growth for when travel can finally resume.”

The brand has said that guests will experience the “same quality of design” as in IHG’s recently opened Hotel Indigo in Bath and dual-branded Hotel Indigo and Staybridge Suites in Dundee, as well as the mixed-use elements of its recent IHG dual-branded Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express in Warsaw, Poland.

Inspired by ‘the neighbourhood story’ of the city, Hotel Indigo will take design cues from the local area and its bar and restaurant will offer locally sourced ingredients to customers. Meanwhile, the Staybridge Suites will feature a 24-hour fitness room, storage lockers for guests wishing to store items between stays and a communal ‘outdoor living room’ complete with firepit, grilling areas and covered seating. All the suites allow people to enjoy a flexible space to relax, play and work.

“The Island Quarter is one of the most significant city centre regeneration schemes in the UK at the moment, and it was vital that the hotel brand which we brought to the development was reflective of that,” said Richard Watson of Conygar. “We are absolutely delighted to have agreed terms with the team at IHG to bring its Hotel Indigo and Staybridge Suites brands to Nottingham.

“This is a very important step for us as we move this development forwards and securing a hugely successful global operator in IHG shows real confidence in the flagship element of the scheme as a whole. These two brands are world-renowned as upscale and quality hotels, which really play a part in the communities in which they are based.

“The hotel forms a key element of this latest phase, which is truly cohesive, creating a range and fluidity of uses that will spread across the whole site. The Island Quarter is a development that Nottingham can be proud of and bringing brands of this calibre to the city plays an important part in that.”

Main image credit: IHG

A collage of interior design shots inside The Bull Inn in Totnes

Case study: designing the bathrooms in the UK’s ‘most sustainable hotel’

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Case study: designing the bathrooms in the UK’s ‘most sustainable hotel’

Award-winning sustainable hotel, The Bull Inn, Totnes, which Hotel Designs reviewed recently, specified Bette shower trays and baths…

The Times and The Sunday Times’ Eco Hotel of the Year 2020, The Bull Inn, Totnes, selected Bette to provide shower trays and baths that fit with its focus on sustainability.

A collage of interior design shots inside The Bull Inn in Totnes

The hotel is the fourth brainchild of Geetie Singh-Watson, who opened the world’s first certified organic pub in 1998. She worked with Devon-based architect, Jackie Gillespie of Gillespie Yunnie Architects, to ensure that every aspect of the hotel is sustainable. This includes the pastel-coloured plaster walls, organic linens, innovative heating system and bathrooms.

“I particularly like the low profile and solid feel of the BetteSupra shower trays, and the fact that they come with adjustable frames.” – Jackie Gillespie, founder of Gillespie Yunnie Architects.

The stylish bathrooms feature white brick tiles with accents of muted gold. Each has either a shower, with Bette glazed titanium-steel BetteSupra shower tray or a comfortable double ended BetteStarlet bath, perfect for a relaxing soak. All the shower trays and the baths feature Bette’s almost invisible anti-slip surface, Anti-Slip Pro.

“We used Bette shower trays and baths because they combine high quality and lasting looks with sustainability, as they are made from natural materials and are recyclable,” commented architect Jackie Gillespie. “I particularly like the low profile and solid feel of the BetteSupra shower trays, and the fact that they come with adjustable frames. I have used the shower trays and baths on many projects and like the double-ended symmetry and comfort of the BetteStarlet bath, with central waste. It’s also extremely useful that both the shower trays and baths come in such a wide range of sizes, so we were able to select the right sizes for the rooms, including 1200 x 900mm shower trays in the majority of the bathrooms.”

Owner, Geetie Singh-Watson added: “We are committed to a philosophy of Doing Business Better, which drives us to really examine the best way to do things; to scrutinise our habits and our ways of being and buying. It was really important to me that we didn’t have plastic baths or shower trays and I believe that, if we always looked at the end of life of a product when we buy it, we would change the impact on the planet. The Bette products are not only 100% recyclable but will last for many years.”

Bette baths, shower trays and basins come with a thirty year warranty, are easy to clean and available in over 400 colours, including gloss and matt finishes. Made from natural raw materials, they are completely recyclable and verified to the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) as per ISO 14025 and to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

Since you’re here, why not read our review of The Bull Inn, Totnes?

Bette 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: The Bull Inn, Totnes

Collage of Axiom space station

Plans for a hotel in space on track for a 2024 launch

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Plans for a hotel in space on track for a 2024 launch

250 miles above the earth in the wilderness of space, with cabins designed by the world-renowned Philippe Starck, the Axiom space station is the brainchild of former NASA chiefs. Editor Hamish Kilburn investigates as the plans get underway…

Collage of Axiom space station

There has been a lot of talk in recent years of taking hospitality to new heights, but as close we as we have got to a ‘space hotel’ so far has been the Space Suite inside the Kameha Grand Zürich, the ‘Lunar Loo’ designed by Duravit and Orion Span’s planned orbiting hotel, which was slated to welcome guests from as early as 2022 – we have no update on its progress.

However, in a recent article in The Times, the race to launch hospitality outside earth’s atmosphere has taken a bold leap forward with plans, led by former NASA chiefs and astronauts, now underway to build the first commercial space station. Free from the shackles of gravity, extensive research and manufacturing has to led to this moment; Axiom being one step closer to launching.

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Axiom, which literally means “a statement or proposition which is regarded as being established”, is a company co-founded by the former programme chief of International Space Station (ISS) “Axiom was founded with the vision of a thriving home in space that benefits every human ever where,” Mike Suffredini, chief executive of Axiom Space and who previously led NASA’s second largest engineering contract, said. “We often hear that this is a very bold statement. it is.”

“Philippe Starck will have the honour of designing the cabins inside – think “nest-like comfort” – that will frame panoramic views of our home planet below.”

Costing a reported $2 million, which is a drop in the ocean when considering the cost of building a new-build hotel in today’s climate, the Axiom station is intended to become the first ever free-flying, globally available private space station, which is planning to launch in 2024. Although its manufacturing requires space engineers, the interiors have been handed over to French industrial architect and hotel design legend Philippe Starck who will have the honour of designing the cabins inside – think “nest-like comfort” – that will frame panoramic views of our home planet below.

The company promises to “help open a new chapter in human history” with this launch. On its website, it says: “20 years after astronauts first began to live and work aboard the ISS, Axiom offers the ability to traverse the sublime reach of space and fulfil personal goals of philosophical, philanthropic, scientific or commercial nature.”

Although we are somewhat sceptical when reading about a hotel in space, it is encouraging to see that Axiom has a fine pedigree who are ultimately making this dream a reality. As well as Suffredini, the team includes four retired astronauts, including Charlie Bolden, the former head of NASA.

To infinity, and beyond!

Main image credit: Axiom

Hamish Kilburn

Editor Checks In: don’t make me round-up 2020

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Editor Checks In: don’t make me round-up 2020

“For someone who always tries to see the positive in everything, this year has been a challenging and turbulent journey that has been full twists, turns and dead ends,” editor Hamish Kilburn writes when trying to round-up 2020…

Hamish Kilburn

It’s 21:00 GMT on a stormy evening in December. The eyes of the world are fixed on my home county following a new super strain of Covid-19 that was found, mutated they say, in Kent. There’s literally nothing to do apart from curl up on the sofa with a glass of red wine to write this, which is my last article of 2020 (hurrah!).

Just when this year couldn’t really get much worse, my phone lights up beside me and my stomach immediately drops. The sender is a freelance journalist who is supposed to be in Dubai taking full advantage of this ‘air corridor’ we had been granted. For any editor right now, it’s a pretty big deal commissioning an international trip, as travelling anywhere at the moment feels like undertaking a covert operation (even when you’re not the one actually boarding the plane).

“If the last 12 months have taught us anything on the editorial desk at Hotel Designs, it’s perspective and being grateful for what we have.” – Hamish Kilburn, editor, Hotel Designs.

The text message read: “Hi Hamish, I’m really sorry but I’m stuck in Zanzibar, now self-isolating for 10 days having tested positive for Covid-19, and will not make it to Dubai to review the hotel.” And this, my friends, is the new world we are living in. What a way to end to 2020? Not only am I now living in a place that is being branded by the media as ‘the new Wuhan’, but I also feel part responsible for a journalist and friend being struck down by ‘the virus’, with no option but to lock himself down in a hotel, over Christmas, that wasn’t budgeted for – talk about disruption! But if the last 12 months have taught us anything on the editorial desk at Hotel Designs, it’s perspective and being grateful for what we have. Fortunately, our writer and his wife who he is travelling with are showing no symptoms and are recovering safely and comfortably in the confides of their hotel room.

This situation is a stark reminder of how shaken our market is, even now, more than 10 months after coronavirus first emerged in the headlines. While other industries wake up from a forced hibernation, unfortunately hotels around the world are still taking a battering, and the majority are still performing with less than 50 per cent occupancy due to the pandemic. Major cities that were once dominating tourist hotspots have found themselves in unfamiliar territories; vacant and on the surface without purpose – and there was me in January thinking this was all just a sensational story that will blow over…

The hotels within these metropolis’ that were designed to cater for substantial demand are currently uninhabited. And yet, the magic and power of hospitality has kept the industry’s spirits alive.

During the peak of lockdown – and even after we entered the dreaded tiered system here in the UK – wonderful and innovative initiatives emerged from hotels up and down the country. With the unanimous aim to support key workers during turbulent times, hoteliers utilised the situation and started to focus their attention locally, and as a result produced new and improved sustainable ways to operate.

Meanwhile, designers and architects were able to exhale from travelling and attending back-to-back client meetings and pitches. Instead, although being away from their creative studios was less than ideal, they were able to focus on drawing up new purposeful spaces suitable for a post-pandemic world.

It is therefore more important now than ever before to recognise and celebrate the individuals in Britain who are leading the way in international hotel design and hospitality, as we did last month when we went live with The Brit List Awards 2020.

Just when Covid-19 slapped us across the face with a wet fish – I was on the floor howling with laughter when a designer used this line earlier this year in a panel discussion – we opened the applications and nominations process for the awards. And with each completed application form that landed in my inbox, the team and I were reminded why Britain is – and will always be – regarded as a leading hotel design and hospitality hub.

There’s a lot of anticipation building around what 2021 will bring. If Pantone’s Colour of the Year is anything to go by, we’re in for a mixed 12 months that will require yet more forward-thinking to harmonise our industry. From our side, we will continue to keep the conversation flowing and the industry connected with our Hotel Designs LIVE series and the anticipated arrival of our podcast. We will also continue publishing strong editorial features (look out for that Dubai hotel review), and we will maintain our position as the leading international hotel design website by listening to the designers, architects, hoteliers, developers and suppliers who are all helping to shape our industry.

I would like to sign off 2020 by sticking two fingers up to the past and instead welcoming in new perspectives that we will amplify on the pages of Hotel Designs. I wish you all a safe and refreshing festive period and our team looks forward to reconnecting in the New Year – at least it can’t be as bad as the one we have just endured!

Editor, Hotel Designs

Main image credit: DJP Portraiture

Cork wallcoverings and blue sofas inside a lodge like hotel room

At one with nature: the new Spa Lodges inside Gilpin Hotel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
At one with nature: the new Spa Lodges inside Gilpin Hotel

Lake District interior design firm Nielsen House has completed work on a series of luxury Spa Suites, commissioned by the five-star Gilpin Hotel & Lake House in Windermere. Let’s take a look inside…

Cork wallcoverings and blue sofas inside a lodge like hotel room

Interior design firm Nielsen House, which previously designed Gilpin Hotel & Lake House’s pan-Asian restaurant ‘Gilpin Spice’ and five private Spa Lodges, has unveiled the design of the hotel’s five new Spa Suites, which are said to shelter ‘the ultimate spa retreat for two’.

Image of lodge in the lake district

Image credit: Gilpin Hotel & Lake House

“Our brief was to extend the beauty and serenity of the lakes to all who visit,” said Sarah Jane Nielsen, founder of Nielsen House. “The experience had to be completely Gilpin, completely Lakeland, but with our Scandinavian style. We pride ourselves on sustainable design and the interplay between indoors and outdoors. Biophilic design plays a leading role, creating a healthier and more natural environment with all the warmth and comfort of home.”

Each suite, which aptly captures the unique sense of place of the hotel by bringing the outdoors in within the interior design scheme, features 100 square metres of private built-in facilities.

Image of half of the bed and plants

Image credit: Gilpin Hotel & Lake House

Nature has been carefully injected into all touch points of the hotel, including the bathroom, which features a circular internal bath with double vanity area, double rainmaker shower, steam room, sauna, massage chair and treatment room.

Taking wellness to new heights in The Lakes, the suites also features a large private sundeck, hydrotherapy stone-built hot tub, water feature, plunge pool and a living wall.

The five new suites are a well-timed addition to the hotel, while the hospitality industry adapts to meet new health and hygiene demands in public spaces – a movement that is expected to evolve with creativity in 2021.

Main image credit: Gilpin Hotel & Lake House 

pantone colour of the year: woman in grey standing in front of yellow backdrop

More about PANTONE’s Colour of the Year 2021

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
More about PANTONE’s Colour of the Year 2021

For only the second time in the campaign’s more than 20-year history, PANTONE’s Colour of the Year 2021 will be two colours: PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating. Here’s all you need to know about these two tones. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores…

pantone colour of the year: woman in grey standing in front of yellow backdrop

The unveiling of PANTONE’s Colour of the Year means one thing: 2020 is nearly over! And with our editorial lens focusing into the future, we are intrigued about the decision behind the colour experts’ colour of choice for 2021.

PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating are two independent colours that highlight how different elements come together to support one another, a lesson surely learned by all in 2020, which we can start to practice in 2021.

Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is “one of strength and positivity,” says PANTONE, at least. It is a story of colour that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise of something sunny and friendly.

A message of happiness supported by fortitude, the combination of these specific colours is aspirational and gives us hope, which with the way hospitality is at the moment something we are in hot demand of.

As people look for ways to fortify themselves with energy, clarity, and hope to overcome the continuing uncertainty, spirited and emboldening shades satisfy our quest for vitality. PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power. PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray is emblematic of solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation. The colours of pebbles on the beach and natural elements whose weathered appearance highlights an ability to stand the test of time, Ultimate Gray quietly assures, encouraging feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience.

Personally, I’m just glad that Covid Blue didn’t make it through…

Main image credit: PANTONE

A dramatic image of Múzsa bar inside Four Seasons Hotel Budapest

Richmond unveils new bar inside Four Seasons Gresham Palace, Budapest

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Richmond unveils new bar inside Four Seasons Gresham Palace, Budapest

The new bar, Múzsa, inside Four Seasons Gresham Palace, Budapest, is a masterclass in the evolution of the hotel lobby space, an area within the hotel that interior design firm Richmond International continue to set new design and hospitality standards in…

A dramatic image of Múzsa bar inside Four Seasons Hotel Budapest

Award-winning hospitality design specialists, Richmond International, unveil resplendent lobby-bar interiors for Múzsa at Four Seasons Gresham Palace, Budapest. The completion of this project – following recent renovations of guest rooms and meeting spaces – marks Richmond’s latest collaboration with the hotel, having overseen its original design more than 16 years ago.

Occupying what was previously an open plan lobby area, Múzsa epitomises the evolution of the hotel lobby. An iconic design undertaking of its time by Richmond, the original lobby space at Gresham Palace was a true masterpiece, showcasing grand design and celebrating local craft. Originally built in 1906 as a residence for British aristocracy before undergoing a hotel restoration in 2004, it was restored during a period where public spaces in hotels aspired to be more reverential than multi-functional; extravagant passing spaces which provided little more than sights to behold.

Today, the hotel lobby is no longer a space that guests merely pass through. It assumes a more purposeful role, providing room to work, hold meetings, socialise or simply unwind. These once communal spaces have become highly sought-after, providing valuable services for guests and creating additional functionality and revenue for hotels, through thoughtfully-executed design.

“We’re really proud to be a part of the evolution of Gresham Palace.” – Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International.

Imbuing the glamour and elegance of Budapest’s golden age, Múzsa introduces a new lobby lounge concept to Four Seasons Gresham Palace, fusing the building’s rich past with the needs of today’s sophisticated clientele. This new offering reflects a bold departure from the historic trend of single use design, in favour of versatility and flexibility. The result is space that is convivial in nature and welcomes social interaction, offering a main reception, private concierge club, multiple meetings rooms, a tasting room and expansive bar areas.

“This was a project that was hugely important to the team,” said Fiona Thompson, Principal at Richmond International and winner of the Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry award at The Brit List Awards 2020. “When we first saw the hotel and then completed the restoration more than 16 years ago, we fell in love with the building. We’re really proud to be a part of the evolution of Gresham Palace and to see that it remains such a significant piece of architecture in Budapest today.”

A masculine design inside the Tasting Room

Image credit: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

The journey through Múzsa was considered in meticulous detail, with each moment offering a distinctly different mise-en-scène which surprises and delights. A deep reverence for the heritage of the building sees Richmond adopt a modern, yet sympathetic take on Secessionist interior motifs and colour combinations, seamlessly blending past, present, and future to create one timeless experience.

Upon entering the building, guests are welcomed into the lobby lounge with banquette seating to create a social hub within the bar area, designed for guests to meet and relax throughout the day, and into the evening. It features peacock fabric with deep seaming and beautifully detailed screening sections. Large golden lampshades by Solinfo Lighting & Home hang over the banquette, showcasing a bass relief pattern which subtly replicates architectural tiling details on the walls.

A main concierge library area captures the splendour of the building, with two discreet meeting rooms and a tasting room creating additional intimate spaces for guests to use and enjoy. Warm-toned mosaic walls, statement lighting and striking artwork come together to create atmosphere and drama, whilst providing comfort for work and play.

In the bar area, which seats 130, a raised platform for live performances takes centre stage. Wrapped in bespoke artistic fabric by Rima and McRae, this hero feature is an ode to the luxury of traditional Budapest hotel bars of the 1910s and evokes a strong sense of theatre and dynamism to the space. Another key feature in this space is the bar fixture, adorned with a mirrored finish and intricate patterning. It’s circular shape and transparency allow guests to seamlessly walk around it, see through it and enjoy cocktails at the counter with an energetic ambiance. 

A voice of authority in hotel design, with more than 50 years of expertise working with the world’s leading luxury hotels, Richmond International was responsible for the original design of Four Seasons Gresham Palace. The award-winning team approached this project with profound insight and personal affection having been integral to its transformations over the years. 

Through the years, Gresham Palace has lived many lives. It was originally designed as a residence for British aristocracy before later being badly damaged during the war and Soviet era. Beyond this, the landmark building was also home to a shopping arcade before being converted to a Four Seasons Hotel in 1999. Ongoing renovations by Richmond International began in 2004 and continue today.

Main image credit: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

The Brit List Designers of 2020 - profile images of the finalists

Meet The Brit List Designers of 2020

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Meet The Brit List Designers of 2020

Each year, Hotel Designs unveils The Brit List, a publication that lists the top 25 designers, top 25 architects and top 25 hoteliers who are operating in Britain. Following the official unveiling of The List at this year’s virtual award ceremony, please meet The Brit List Designers of 2020…

The Brit List Designers of 2020 - profile images of the finalists

For more than four years now, The Brit List Awards has shone the spotlight on the designers, architects and hoteliers who are proving to be trendsetters on the international hotel design scene. Earlier this year, Hotel Designs’ 2020 search began..

This year’s panel of judges– and of course our sponsors and partners – went above and beyond to support The Brit List Awards as the difficult yet responsible decision was made to organise the judging process and deliver the awards ceremony in virtual formats.

During the in-depth judging process, we all discovered a new meaning of hospitality as we read how designers, architects and hoteliers are continuing to push conventional boundaries.

To kickstart our editorial celebration of this year’s winners, please meet (in alphabetical order) The Brit List Designers of 2020…

Albin Berglund, Managing Director – Bergman Interiors

Albin Berglund is the co-founder of Bergman Interiors. He leads a team of designers with Marie Soliman that is unquestionably making ripples in London’s – and now the world’s – luxury interior and architectural design arena. With more than 25 years’ combined experience, Berglund and Soliman have built up an enviable portfolio of projects, spanning London to St. Petersburg, Qatar to New York.

The studio’s dynamic approach is to clearly define where design can have the maximum benefit and impact on our guests’ wellbeing and focus on these key wellness elements.

Currently, the firm is working on a seven-star spa hotel in Norway. It contains guest villas, a luxurious spa and common areas such as restaurants and bars. Berglund’s answer to the project has been to coherently formulate the spaces so that guests can read a continuous language throughout, drawing on nature to tell the story of both the hotel and its setting.

Carolynne Shenton, Founding Director – Studio Mica

Carolynne Shenton is the creative force at the core of the interior design team at Studio Mica, and has been the principal designer behind some of the most prestigious interior projects including the award-winning Nobu Hotel Shoreditch.

Her most recently completed project is a new build, two-storey hospitality villa in Ibiza. The studio was responsible for the interior design and furniture specification. The floor area of the villa is 1,000 sqm and the design features master and guest suites, internal and external bathrooms, dual-family and catering kitchens, bars, open-plan living with panoramic sea views, studio cinema, a gym, a spa with an infinity-edge lap pool, landscaped gardens, al fresco dining and roof terraces.

As well as this, Shenton is also currently working on the interiors and furniture fixtures and equipment for a new 85-key boutique hotel with a restaurant, members club, gym and spa in East London.

Charlie North, Design Director – Ennismore

The multifaceted approach to Charlie North’s design style has allowed him and his team to create award-winning interior schemes for Ennismore-owned brands such as Gleneagles and Hoxton Hotels.

Most recently, North led the team to complete Hoxton Southwark, a 192-key hotel, which features restaurants, bars, function rooms and 4,000 sqm of flexible co-working office space – all of which are stacked within and sheltered inside a slender 17-storey building.

The Hoxton Southwark places an emphasis on British-led design with antique and bespoke fixtures dotted throughout the hotel. The design scheme of the urban hotel, where possible, also brings the outdoors in, which gives each area a new depth entirely.

Clinton Freeman, Design Director – IHG

Former Design Director of David Collins Studio and former Senior Design Director of EU at Hilton, Clinton Freeman was appointment Design Director of IHG in September of 2019. The hotel group has been included in The Brit List for a number of years, with Henry Reeve being named highly commended in the Interior Designer of the Year category last year, and Emma King being shortlisted the year before.

The IHG Group is expanding at a rapid rate, with an emphasis on lifestyle hotels in new destinations, and is rapidly influencing a new breed of boutique hotels. Hotel Indigo, for example, currently has 104 hotel openings in the pipeline in the next three to five years*.

[*this was accurate at the time The Brit List 2020 went to print]

Dale Atkinson, Founding Director – Rosendale Design

Dale Atkinson has dedicated his life to his passion and takes pride in the design aesthetic he creates. Rich in tradition, and yet creatively contemporary, Atkinson utilises research as the bedrock of all projects, allowing each space to evoke a unique environment.

Next year will see the opening of the newly refurbished restaurant at the renowned Santa Marina Resort, Mykonos. The studio was commissioned to create spaces both internally and externally that celebrated Greek culture. Due to Covid-19, the project’s completion has been delayed until May 2021.

Damien Follone, Senior Associate & Senior Designer (F&B) – Wimberly Interiors

Damien Follone brings more than ten years of architectural and interiors knowledge to the Wimberly Interiors’ team as a Senior Associate and Senior Designer of Restaurants + Bars at the firm’s London studio.

His design approach and critical thinking ensure that each project is strategically positioned from inception through to delivery with emphasis on hotel food and beverage experiences. Follone is at the forefront of experiential design, exploring how F&B concepts and brands come together with products and personalities to create enjoyable and authentic guest experiences.

Having worked in architecture in Australia, he brings both high-level resort planning and humanscale design skills from a number of projects in Oceania and Asia.

More recently, his hotel experience in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia has allowed him to work with renowned luxury brands to analyse, position and design their F&B offerings to be successful and relevant in the local market.

David Mason, Director of Hospitality – Scott Brownrigg

Following four years as a Project Director in Interior Design for Scott Brownrigg, in 2019 David Mason was promoted to become Director of Hospitality at the firm, and made his debut in The Brit List as a result.

Mason has worked steadily to authentically grow Scott Brownrigg’s profile within the market place. As a global design leader, ranked 11 in the UK and within the global top 100 architectural practices, the firm’s interior design team have worked on projects for brands including Hilton, Hard Rock Hotels, Radisson Blu, Hyatt Regency & Assembly.

In the past four years, Mason’s team has created a budget hotel, Assembly London, behind the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square. The project was praised by British GQ as one of its top 10 places to visit in London.

Last year, the studio completed its work on Hard Rock Hotel London in Marble Arch, which became the city’s new destination venue. Mason led a team, designing all the public spaces for the hotel.

Most recently, Mason and his team have been working on the re-development and re-branding of two existing hotels in East London, with its launch this year delayed due to Covid-19. The team are fortunately now heading back to site with the first phase launch anticipated for January 2021.

David T’Kint, Partner – Hirsch-Bedner Associates

As a Partner at Hirsch-Bedner Associates EMEA, David T’Kint is responsible for overseeing a team of designers and creatives. Driven by creativity and in response to the evolution of luxury design, his regional team brings together the talents and specialties of his global team to enhance the firm’s 360-degree service, creating a one-stop-shop for inspired hospitality design.

In December 2019, the studio completed on the interiors for Great Scotland Yard Hotel; a landmark development in London’s City of Westminster. Once the London’s Metropolitan Police headquarters, the listed building’s latest chapter is a 152-key luxury boutique hotel, in which the stories of the building’s past unfold through exquisitely sculpted interiors and eclectic decorative elements.

Transforming this historical space into a welcoming place for discerning travellers, T’Kint expressed the individuality of Great Scotland Yard through an unexpected play of Edwardian-inspired hues and patterns, conventional Whitehall, and colours that relive the timeless elegance and sophistication of the era with a flair of contemporary details.

Dennis Irvine, Founder / Creative Director – Dennis Irvine Studio

Dennis Irvine has consistently designed for world-renowned operators and high-end luxury private residences. As a voice and presence within the hospitality industry he remains respected for his ‘sense of place’ design aesthetic and relevant project design narration. Irvine continues to champion attention to detail and craftsmanship with local and international artisans, which often result in unique interiors both in the UK and globally.

A regular speaker, Irvine attends industry events and offers views on topics such as hospitality design evolution, advice to those starting their careers in the industry and sensitive historic restorations.

Irvine continues to be recognized in many publications including the Robb report, Forbes, Harper’s Bazaar and Architectural Digest amongst other well-known hospitality publications to ensure British design is recognised and respected globally.

Edward Davies, Managing Director & Principal – G.A Design London

 With more than 17 years’ experience working in the super luxury hospitality arena, Edward Davies has a meticulous eye for detail, and understands the high expectations of high-net worth individuals. Whether that is in the craftsmanship and detailed design of a hotel suite, or the personal service provided by the G.A Group.

Always pushing the boundaries of design and encouraging clients to take the leap into the unexplored, Davies isn’t afraid of dreaming big. An inspiring leader, Davies enables his team to take creative control and ownership of the luxury hospitality projects he oversees, whilst providing intuitive and inspiring direction. He manages to distil the client brief in a succinct way, with clarity. This combination of trust and creativity makes him a wonderful visionary of designers.

Working as the London Managing Director at G.A Group, Davies runs the day-to-day management of the 90-strong London-based studio, whilst also acting as Principal across a number of high-profile interior design and architecture projects worldwide.

Current projects overseen by Davies include a new luxury hotel brand in Southeast Asia, the latest new offerings from Corinthia Hotels in Rome and Moscow, and the 184-key 1 Hotel in Mayfair, London. Each a unique brief and challenge, Davies approaches them equally with the same verve and vigor.

Ed Warner, Founder & CEO – Motionspot

Hotel Brooklyn is regarded as the UK’s most accessible design-led hotel. Bringing New York flare to Manchester, the hotel provides 189 rooms that are set across 10 storeys with conference rooms, a restaurant and bar on the ground floor and mini cinema in the lobby.

But what really makes this hotel special is its commitment to design-led accessibility. Ed Warner is the founder of Motionspot, the design studio responsible for creating Hotel Brooklyn’s accessible solutions. This was central to the design and build of the hotel, which shelters nine wheelchair accessible bedrooms – including the first hotel in Manchester with ceiling track hoists – and nine ambulant accessible bedrooms.

Accessibility isn’t just limited to the bedrooms, as attention was paid to the communal spaces too, to ensure that guests with a range of physical, visual and cognitive access needs could enjoy all the hotel has to offer.

Elizabeth Lane, Partner – RPW Design

Highly accomplished designer Elizabeth Lane has been essential in many of RPW Design’s projects with her abundance of design expertise acquired from her work around the globe. A Partner at RPW Design, Lane is renowned for ensuring beautiful interiors and operational functionality work in complete harmony.

The designer’s 16-year tenure at the company has included welcoming current Managing Director Ariane Steinbeck and supporting a smooth transition as RPW founder Jan Wilson took a step back from the helm of RPW Design in late 2015 whereupon she became a Director and Partner in the firm.

One of her recent projects was spearheading the renovation of Four Seasons Hampshire. As well as being responsible for designing the guestrooms inside the hotel, Lane excelled in ensuring elegance and functionality throughout the renovation of the hotel’s conference and banqueting space and continually provides steady leadership in a complex project team of owners, operators and consultants. It was a project that Lane describes held true to their convictions as a firm. The results, she says, are a testament to RPW Design’s ability to deliver projects that will stand the test of time.

Emma Farren, Senior Designer – DesignLSM

Emma Farren is a strong, creative leader at DesignLSM and professionally manages her own projects, consistently working hard to push new ideas and active design solutions for clients. Farren’s conceptual approach and technical ability, combined with her passion for all things design related, provides her designs with a strong sense of refinement and flexibility. Since joining the team back in 2016, she has built up a vast portfolio of award-winning work that most recently includes the design evolution of Gaucho restaurants.

Farren worked in close collaboration with Gaucho CEO, Martin Williams, and his team helping them to evolve the Gaucho brand through a new creative direction that moves away from the cowhide of old and on to a more refined aesthetic that celebrates the modern-day Gaucho. Immersing herself into the brand story, she drew her inspiration from the visual narrative of Argentina and the Gaucho way of life, considering its spirit and stunning landscapes – from the dramatic mountain landscapes to the Pampas region through to the high-altitude vineyards.

The design results for the first site in Charlotte St London reflect the raw, majestic nature and cultural energy of Argentina through an elegant and sophisticated aesthetic that captivates guests as soon as they step through the door.

 Geraldine Dohogne, Founder – Beyond Design

Geraldine Dohogne does not fit the traditional mold of a designer since she, in her own admission, stumbled into this profession driven by passion. As a result, perhaps, there’s no such thing as copy and paste in Dohogne’s work. On the contrary, every project she touches offers a new story. The same core values are always respected, but each and every new project is thought through individually. This is the process that enables the former Head of Design a Zannier Hotels to grow personally as well as professionally.

Beyond Design is Dohogne’s recently launched studio. Much more than solely concentrating on the interior design, the designer prides herself to handpick every single object and source local craftspeople whom themselves form an integral part of the place in question. As a result, every project represents a marathon across flea markets and meeting with local artisans and artists in order for the result to tell a genuine narrative that makes people reflect and appreciate a place even more.

 Hamish Brown, Partner – 1508 London

 Having been involved since 1508 London’s inception, Hamish Brown has been pivotal to the growth of the company and has championed the studio’s expansion from private residential into multi-unit developments and hospitality. As a result, Brown has helped 1508 London become one the world’s most revered architecture and interior design studios.

As an interior architect, Brown’s ability to understand every facet of the design process ensures he is perfectly positioned to help support clients throughout their journey. His profound commitment to clients’ experiences has installed a dedication to the creation of timeless, elegant spaces of the highest quality, all of which are informed by a unique narrative, grounded in functionality with no one set style.

The studio was responsible for the interior design scheme that is sheltered in The Lanesborough Club & Spa, which is referred to as the world’s best hotel spa because of its innovative design.

Projects that are currently heading towards completion include The Carlton Tower Jumeirah and Rosewood Doha.

Henry Reeve, Director of Interior Design – IHG

Henry Reeve, last year’s Highly Commended in the Interior Designer of the Year category in The Brit List Awards 2020, continues to drive the boutique and lifestyle sector forward in what has been an incredibly difficult year for the industry.

Opening the luxury Kimpton ViviDora in early Q1 was a real highlight for the group in 2020, creating a hotel that felt both special and luxurious whilst fully integrating itself into the youthful, urban, raw and authentic Gothic quarter of Barcelona.

What’s more, during lockdown Reeve innovatively utilised his skills and craftsmanship to launch Made by Henry, designing handcrafted homewares and accessories for all. With the mantra, “Measure twice, cut once,” Reeve continues to lead a new wave of designers.

Lindsey Bean-Pierce, Partner, Head of Interiors – Dexter Moren Associates

Lindsey Bean-Pearce, Partner, is responsible for running the interior design team at Dexter Moren Associates, managing a talented group of ten designers across a diverse and varied portfolio of headline projects and ensuring a high level of design consistency throughout.

Currently she is working on the Autograph Abastumani Hotel & Spa in Georgia, the Westin Verdelago Resort Hotel & Village Club in Portugal, the conversion and refurbishment of the Malmaison York, Accor’s first Movenpick Hotel in Italy, the Pamphili Rome, as well as the refurbishment of a Victorian hotel in London’s Paddington and a new-build boutique hotel in Dubai.

Prior to this she most recently led the completion of the International Hotel & Property Award winning boutique Vintry & Mercer Hotel and the Clayton Hotel New Drum Street, London.

Boasting more than 15 years’ experience running projects in the UK and Europe, she brings considerable creative flair and strong conceptual and technical abilities to a role in which no two days are the same.

As head of a team of talented creatives from all sectors of expertise and experience, Bean-Pierce takes great pride in mentoring her more junior colleagues, watching them flourish into stand out designers, and ensuring that each is constantly growing and expanding their design knowledge.

Mark Bithrey, Founder & Creative Director – B3 Designers

Since founding B3 Designers in 2002, Mark Bithrey has worked on the interior design for iconic hospitality brands across the UK and Europe. B3 Designers has, under Bithrey’s creative direction, developed an impressive, diverse and award-winning portfolio. The most recently completed hotel project is The Prince Akatoki, London.

The hotel, part of the APAC hotel management group StayWell, launched in September 2019. The brief was to refurbish the 82-key former Arch Hotel in the heart of the West End, with a focus on bringing Japanese design and hospitality ideals to the West. The scope included the bedrooms, reception, sanctuary, communal workspace, corridors, lift lobby, TOKii (restaurant), and The Malt Lounge and Bar.

Marie Soliman, Co-Founder – Bergman Interiors

Marie Soliman is the co-founder of Bergman Interiors, and leads a team with Albin Berglund that is making ripples in London’s – and now the world’s – luxury interior and architectural design world. With more than 25 years’ combined experience, Soliman and Berglund have built up an enviable portfolio of projects, spanning London to St. Petersburg, to Qatar to New York.

The studio’s dynamic approach is to clearly define where design can have the maximum benefit and impact on our guests’ wellbeing and focus on these key wellness elements.

Currently the firm is working on a seven-star spa hotel in Norway, which contains guest villas, a luxurious spa and common areas such as restaurants and bars. Soliman’s approach has been to coherently formulate the spaces so that guests can read a continuous language throughout, drawing on nature to tell the story of both the hotel and its setting.

Martin Brudnizki, Founder – Martin Brudnizki Design Studio (MBDS)

Martin Brudnizki’s love for design started from a young age. His mother was a stylist and his father a mechanical engineer; the combination of these elements embedded a deep understanding of aesthetics alongside a grounding in functionality.

Following a number of successful positions at renowned interior design firms, Brudnizki established his eponymous Studio in London in 2000 and a New York Studio in 2012.

The designer has become a symbol – no, an icon – in F&B design because of his ability to sensitively uplift public areas and transform into becoming destinations within their own right for both travellers and locals alike. Statement examples include The Ivy, London; The Beekman in New York and Scarfes Bar inside The Rosewood London – he is currently working to complete new F&B spaces inside long-awaited Four Seasons Madrid.

Since winning Interior Designer of the Year at The Brit List Awards 2018, MBDS (a team of more than 70 talented members) has proven time and time again, through the projects it has completed, that the firm is leading the way in hospitality design on an international scale.

Martin Goddard, Co-Founder – Goddard Littlefair

As a designer, Martin Goddard is not afraid – in fact it’s one of his favourite parts of a project – to roll up his sleeves and relate directly with contractors on site. He overcomes the challenge of being perceived as the interior designer when contractors hear him slip seamlessly into their language and demonstrates that he understands the technicalities of their craft.

Most recently, Goddard and his team completed the interiors inside The Mayfair Townhouse, London. Curious, engaging and witty, the hotel is said to deliver the unexpected and redefines what it means to be a London hotel – think Oscar Wilde meets Alice in Wonderland.

Other projects that Goddard and his team have completed include Villa Copenhagen, Hilton Vienna, Chelsea Barracks, Belvedere Gardens and Spa, The Biltmore Mayfair, Sheraton Grand Warsaw, The Imperial Dubrovnik Restaurant, South Bank Place Spa and Corinthia Malta Spa.

Michael Bories, Design Director & Project Management – Marriott International

Michael Bories became Director Design & Project Management for Marriott International in 2017, following previous roles at Emaar Hospitality Group and Foster + Partners.

Matching last year’s ambitious growth strategy, Marriott International aimed to open 30 new luxury hotels in 2020. The global company currently encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,400 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 135 countries and territories.

Recent projects that have emerged this year from Marriott International include W Ibiza, Abu Dhabi’s debut The Luxury Collection, The Ritz Cartlon Nikko in Japan, Aloft Bali, Renaissance New York Chelsea Hotel and Aloft Tokyo.

Oliver Redfern, Interior Designer – Squid.Inc

Squid.inc is a leading interior design firm, which specialises in hotels, restaurants and clubs. Interior designer Oliver Redfern led the interior design project of Brooklyn Hotel in Manchester.

Strategically located for both convenience and luxury, right in the heart of Manchester, the hotel provides ample opportunity to experience the vibrant city in whichever direction you choose. Brooklyn’s public areas offer an atmosphere of irresistible familiarity. It’s the unplaceable yet undeniable sense of belonging, where outsiders become insiders, that defines Brooklyn as a destination of true Mancunian hospitality; everyone welcomed exactly as they are.

It’s a sanctuary of the urban explorers; a living room away from home, a workplace away from the office, a place where inspiration waits to be discovered and interpreted into an adventure of guests’ own making.

Simon Rawlings, Creative Director – David Collins Studio

As Creative Director of David Collins Studio, Simon Rawlings has overseen the realisation of some of the world’s most iconic hospitality, residential and retail spaces. In the course of two decades at The Studio, he has collaborated with clients such as Harrods, Alexander McQueen and Mandarin Oriental, both in reinventing prominent buildings and establishing important new landmarks.

His most recent headline-grabbing project is Nobu Hotel London Portman Square, which applies a contemporary approach to both aesthetics and hospitality, and has just opened. The hotel’s design takes cues from Japanese architectural disciplines and minimalist design, whilst utilising a refined colour palette influenced by heritage Japanese colour combinations.

Located in the heart of central London’s vibrant Marylebone area, the new luxury hotel features 249 guestrooms and suites, Nobu’s world-class restaurant, a ballroom and meeting spaces – all beautifully conceptualised by David Collins Studio with Make Architects.

Tina Norden, Partner – Conran and Partners

Tina Norden, Partner at Conran and Partners, led the interior design refurb of a building that was known locally as Prague’s most established boutique. Redesigning the 71-key Maximilian Hotel called upon experienced designers to sensitively reimagine and redesign the hotel’s interiors.

Norden’s design approach reflects the cultural and architectural heritage of its urban context, referencing Czech modernism and the progressive art movement influenced by famous avant-garde artist and architectural writer, Karel Teige.

The design team wanted to retain a strong element of Teige’s poetic modernism while creating a sense of place rooted in the city and the neighbourhood. This involved drawing upon the iconic pastel colour palette of Prague’s architecture and local crafts – including weaving and glass-making – for the materiality of the design.

The Brit List 2020 is Hotel Designs’ nationwide search to find the top 25 designers, top 25 architects and top 25 hoteliers operating in Britain. This year’s campaign came to a close on November 13, when the virtual award ceremony unveiled The List as well as the individual winners

To attend The Brit List Winners’ Party, which takes place on April 29, 2021 at Minotti London, please click here. Applications and nominations for The Brit List Awards 2020 will open Summer 2021.

Profile image of Dereck and Beverly Joubert, founders of Great Plains in Africa

In Conversation With: the filmmakers who designed Great Plains

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In Conversation With: the filmmakers who designed Great Plains

Having spent more than 40 years exploring Africa as photographers and filmmakers, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, the founders of Great Plains, have new standards in sustainability, hospitality and humanity. Editor Hamish Kilburn catches up with the dynamic duo to understand authentic luxury hotel design through a wider lens, capturing a broader perspective when it comes to hospitality in the wild…

Profile image of Dereck and Beverly Joubert, founders of Great Plains in Africa

There is something about Africa – the woodlands, wetlands, and seemingly never-ending grasslands in-between – that gives life deeper meaning. I’ve noticed that the sun sets differently here, almost feeling like you’re closer to the sun than any other continent on earth is.

My experience in Africa is a millisecond, though, compared to the time that Dereck and Beverly Joubert have invested in order to learn about this great natural world. Having spent more than 40 years’ exploring these plains as filmmakers and photographers – the pair have produced more than 25 films for National Geographic – to call these two wildlife and conservation experts is an unruly understatement.

In 2006, to fund their wildlife conservation work, Beverly and Dereck channeled their wisdom and love of nature and started a new hospitality venture. Their inspirational journey – which went on to challenge the cookie-cutter approach in safari travel, architecture and design – began when they set up Great Plains, an authentic and iconic tourism conservation organisation.

Today, the brand shelters 16 safari properties, in Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe, each designed through the director’s lens to tell unique stories that enhance each camp’s very special sense of place and built to celebrate each destination’s individual character.

Despite being award-winning filmmakers, world-renowned hoteliers and selflessly good human beings through their ongoing charity work, there is not a shred of haughtiness about Beverly and Dereck, as I learn when I catch up with the husband-and-wife team to understand how they, through a purposeful and sustainable approach to luxury hospitality, are helping travellers to capture one-off experiences from a slightly different perspective.

Hamish Kilburn: What initially made you audition for the roles of ‘hotelier’?

Beverly Joubert: We’re explorers, conservationists and filmmakers. As we started the Big Cats Initiative at National Geographic, we soon realised that saving lions one at a time was futile and we needed to conserve large landscapes to save everything in them. To afford this, we decided on high-end tourism as opposed to philanthropy.

Dereck Joubert: To be honest hospitality runs deep in Africa; in our DNA where of course we were all born, so we were inspired by that spirit of coming home and being welcomed. As a result, as I design our camps, I do it with two ’stories’ in mind: the three act ‘ welcome home’ one and whatever story I want to tell through the design of that unique place.

Dereck and Beverly Joubert, filmmakers and wildlife photographers, in a 4x4 with an elephant in the background

Image caption: In 2006, to fund their wildlife conservation efforts, filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert launched Great Plains.

HK: What amendments have you made to the existing script of safari in Africa?

DJ: Oh, I don’t think we have amended the African safari – it transcends us! It may have been about the physical journey (safari being quite simply a journey in Swahili) but if anything I hope we expand it to an inner journey as much as a physical one. Our version of safari is one where you can explore your roots, from millions of years ago, and interrogate your relationship with the other creatures here, our history with them, our very profound and interwoven dependancy. For example there was an ancient cat called Dinofelis that stalked the caves we sheltered in 3.5 million years ago, and possibly forced us out into the grasslands more where we discovered fire and bone marrow that gave us strength, intelligence and the ability to no longer fear large spotted cats. Today we seek out leopards to marvel at their beauty rather than shy away in fear, but we’ve walked this journey of the safari together.

BJ: What does the resonance of meditating at a waterhole with elephants nearby as they rumble do to you? How can we each for that creative energy that the early philosophers and poets sought out in the wilderness, uncluttered and pure. In the style of our camps, we try to add detail and story telling like this in design, in service and as an experience.

HK: What is the current narrative in Africa?

BJ: The Covid-19 death rates in the USA is at about 800 per million people. In Botswana it is 2 per million, so the safety and risk are worlds apart. The outdoor experiences reduce the risk dramatically, but no matter what the rates are, the closed borders have obviously collapsed tourism.

What is evident is that we’re in a cycle of demise that can cause spiralling circles of pandemics. As a result of our nefarious relationship with wild animals placed in captivity in cages in wet markets (in this case), we have sparked an economic crisis, global shutdowns that will lead to a recession, closed borders, and tourism, that communities rely so heavily on in Africa and other places.

DJ: The loss of income has led to many turning to nature to feed themselves at a time when game wardens and anti poaching patrols have been cut back. This perfect storm has led to a second pandemic of destruction of wildlife and a renewed trade in illegal wildlife and bush meat, that find their ways into the wet markets again. So we are seeing a second and third wave of new unexpected viral pandemics as a result. We have to shut down wet markets and the trade in wildlife. We have to review and renew the ways we engage with all animals . We started Project Ranger to support rangers who have been furloughed and keep wildlife areas intact and protected. We have to ensure that there is actually something for travellers to want to seek out when this is all over.

HK: What makes your cast of 660 employees special and unique?

BJ: It is an ensemble cast isn’t it?! I think that the way we work at Great Plains is as a small family business, with a family of employees who do more than just show up. Hospitality in general requires skills that are more involved than that any way – much close to the work as performers – each day to smile and engage in a pleasant way no matter what is going on in your life. I recognise that, so we are sensitised to this and have a policy of support. If a guide is having a bad day, another is primed to reach out and ask him or her what is going on and to step in. Managers do the same to their staff and actually this starts at the top and someone who just joined our EXCO meetings pointed out that I start each session asking each Managing Director what we can do as a whole group to help each week. I know the names of all our staff and most of their families and I don’t want to grow it beyond that point where it becomes impersonal and corporate.

 

HK: Can you talk us through the filmmaker process of storyboarding each scene/camp?

DJ: Each hotel or in our case, camp, is a story. I start with an overall direction and message. In the Selinda camp, for example, I wanted us to re-evaluate our relationship with elephants. The camp is in the heart of the highest density of elephants in the world, but in the past, early explorers like Livingstone and Selous travelled through these areas with guns and a desire for ivory. Selinda was a hunting concession for decades and when we took it over we stopped all killing.

Our relationship with elephants is symbolic of our loss of harmony, so therefore harmony was the solution to ’the question’ the area and the elephants themselves impose on us.

Now I obviously didn’t want to simply populate the décor with elephant images – that would be too easy and cheap. Instead, I designed and cast two life-sized bronze skulls of elephants including bronze tusks but in the forehead of one I had the words “homo nosce the Ipsum” cut in, and in the other “homo nosce  pe Ipsum”, which is Latin for “man know thyself” and “man forgive thyself”. The sculptures are placed on either side of the main entrance with the intention to stimulate a real conversation that starts with us understand who we are and what we have done over the centuries to their peaceful animals, but then  to forgive ourselves (and our ancestors) for who we are.

But that is just the first act, and I wanted to design this with a longer and deeper path towards harmony which in Eastern teachings leans towards the laying out of five fundamental elements the first being the metal skulls, but then you enter a chamber with blue touch of furniture, to represent water and often our guests arrive by boat so I imagined them dragging that element with them, like a smoke trail from the river. Next, you enter for a welcome tea; an open space with a flowing white silk roof to represent air. Beyond that you pass through an open dining area with brown tables, where we serve fresh largely plant based food from the earth, and then to the fire and off to the third act and your resting place, in your room, presumable in perfect harmony and balance.

Only once we understand who we are, and forgive ourselves will we be able to cross a threshold, as one does in this camp, into a new unburdened relationship with both ourselves and elephants, like stepping through a vortex.

It’s not just a story though, I believe that most people arrive and feel that tranquility and settle because of the balance we have created, and so many arriving guest actually sign deeply as they enter this story, this camp. If I can I will briefly describe Mara Plains, that I felt should be an architectural and physical meeting place, also in harmony between three often opposing cultures: The Maasai, the Swahili, the colonials.

But as explorers for National Geographic, we wanted to be the glue as one is behind the lens. So I oriented the camp based on a single and lone tree five km away, drew a line through the camp, and angled it all around this tree. Then I drew a Fibonacci proportion in the ground and had the tent makers make the main tent exactly to those proportions, representing  the ideal gold rectangle one uses in a 35 mm picture frame.

Inside the camp, we imported 75-100 year old railway sleepers as recycled wood (teak) and brass from the original Blue Train 120 years ago. Reds from the Maasai culture represent this very visual association and it didn’t have be head handed because we are in Maasai world so it is everywhere anyway, but the coastal Swahili culture has in influence here so the large Swahili doors behind the showers are a not to them, associated with the sea and water. Each tent fits the Fibonacci proportions creating a film set styled ration that takes you back to the romance of the 1920’s adventures but hopefully without the embedded racism and in appropriate colonialism of that time.

“I added my own collection of campaign furniture as templates and samples for cabinet makes to replicate, which happened at the time of the Indonesian Tsunami where thousands of artisans were left without work.” – Beverly Joubert, co-founder, Great Plains.

HK: How and where do you source your props/artefacts?

BJ: In some cases, we design and make them ourselves, like in Zarafa, in Botswana, which is based on the story of the first giraffe to be seen by westerners as it went on a journey to Paris as a gift to KingCharles X.

Here, I added my own collection of campaign furniture as templates and samples for cabinet makes to replicate, which happened at the time of the Indonesian tsunami where thousands of artisans were left without work, and where tons of mahogany used for houses were smashed down from house scale to ideal furniture scale. So we used the reclaimed mahogany and hired the artisans to make this campaign furniture that is now unique to Zarafa camp. In other cases we just come across something in a market or antique store that we love and can’t live without, so we don’t!

HK: How has your approach on sustainability helped the local community?

BJ: Well, we have delivered something like 6,000 solar lanterns to families that have perviously been off grind, and an amazing addition to that was that the principal of the local school wrote to  thank us because school grades were going up because kids could do their homework after dark. I don’t think the kids liked having do that but… We send nine ladies with very little education from Botswana to India to learn solar circuit board manufacturing technology for six months and to return and develop local businesses from this. We’ve planted more than 5,000 trees and started tree growing initiatives. We have a Great Plains Academy to teach people about hospitality and who to bridge the gap from high school to university.

HK:  It’s clear that, as wildlife filmmakers, you allow nature to call the shots – can you explain more about how guests can give back to nature during their stay?

DJ: To nature, our guests and followers get involved in help fund a rhino calf by naming stand securing its protection on the wild, or supporting Project Ranger to keep front line conservationists at work to avoid this second pandemic. We have a need for $20 donations towards solar lanterns for kids learning at night, as well as $45,000 to move a rhino and indeed, we need an army of ambassadors who don’t donate but lobby against the extraction of wildlife (via hunting or poaching and trade) with their local representative. Everyone can do something.

HK: What major lesson has this journey in hospitality taught you so far?  

BJ: We can all learn from hospitality because it is all about kindness and care; paying attention to details and I find myself taking a lot more care just to find out how someone (even in my team) is doing, randomly, as if I am hosting the world.

HK: 2016 was a pivotal year for you both. Beverly you survived a fatel injury after being attacked by a buffalo while filming your latest materpiece. Dereck, did that event and your recovery change your relationship with nature?

DJ: You know the buffalo attack didn’t really change that relationship, as much as it changed our relationship with ourselves, in that I promised myself not to waste another moment, day or month not totally enjoying my life with Beverly (if I got her back, which I did four times).

HK: Has designing hotels changed your perception at all as wildlife filmmakers?

BJ: Interesting, probably in that it has made me (both of us, I think) understand story telling more, because if you base the entire design of a hotel on a story, as I do, and that is going to be its story for decades it had better be well researched and thought out. So our films have probably evolved into more layered and in depth stories and while I had not connected the two careers in many way, I can see yah prior to this, where I am designing spaces based on a deep philosophy like our relationship with elephants, or intersecting cultures there is more depth to our films.

“I think that all journeys are stories and we are all the heroes of our scripts.” – Dereck Joubert, co-founder, Great Plains.

DJ: A good example is the Okavango film/s where the story is about a river from end to end. But that wasn’t enough, so I re-read Dante’s Divine Comedy partly while Beverly was in hospital recovering from the buffalo attack. And in it, I found two parallels, one of our or my journey and Dante’s as he wove his way from purgatory to parade to find and be reconnected with his love (as I did, over nine months as Beverly slowly came back to life.) Regarding the journey of the river, I flipped the story in the theatrical release to start also in Purgatory (in the desert) and wind our story back to Paradise at the source. Those are the kinds of stories one tells around a campfire about the design of a hotel or camp, not always in a natural history documentary for National Geographic!

I think that all journeys are stories and we are all the heroes of our scripts, (why write yourself in as the bad guy) and we are the storytelling ape. But to us, as much as we love lions and elephants, there are opportunities as films to tell parables that hold up  the mirror to our lives, so we can advance in our relationships, and in our new and renewed contract with nature.

HK: In a sentence, can you explain the synopsis’ of your next masterpieces/camp openings?

BJ: As I walked the banks of the Zambezi River, under spreading pod mahogany trees, I saw a movement in the shade; a herd of elephants ambling towards me chasing their thirst, right passed me and out onto the plains, sliding into the water, leaving me with the name for the new camp on this exact site; Tembo Plains: (elephant in Shona.)

Main image credit: Great Plains

Sustainability in the bathroom – it’s all in the materials

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Sustainability in the bathroom – it’s all in the materials

The Swiss bathroom specialist, Laufen, has set new sustainability trends in bathroom design. Editor Hamish Kilburn investigates…

With unprecedented performance properties, the revolutionary SaphirKeramik, found in all Laufen products, bestows possibilities and versatility never seen before, enabling exceptional shaping where finely-defined curves and tight edge radii of 1-2mm are created.

This unique ceramic is considerably thinner and has an improved bending strength, compared to traditional bathroom ceramics. Laufen is now able to produce wafer-thin, yet exceptionally robust ceramic bodies, which in turn makes it more sustainable by reducing weight with a lower consumption of raw materials and energy, required for the manufacturing process. SaphirKeramik is not a replacement for any existing materials; instead, it broadens the range of forms of expression of the natural base material.

Since its launch in 2013 SaphirKeramik has developed into a favourite material of many architects and bathroom planners, because it permits a whole new design language within bathroom ceramics, which could not have been realised in the same way with conventional ceramics. Designed under the creative leadership of superstar Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, the contemporary ‘The New Classic’ collection interprets classical styles using Laufen’s innovative SaphirKeramik to help create soft, gentle feminine curves, alongside angular, masculine elements.

Since you’re here, why not read Hotel Designs’ tour of Roca and Laufen UK headquarters?

Image caption: The New Classic, designed by Marcel Wanders for Laufen

Image caption: The New Classic, designed by Marcel Wanders for Laufen

Laufen is also taking responsibility for the its impact on the environment by developing ways to recycle wastewater. In collaboration with Austrian design studio EOOS and long-term research by Eawag, Laufen have developed a ground-breaking urine separation toilet that opens a new chapter in sustainable wastewater management: Save! Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Save! will revolutionise sanitation, reduce the environmental issue of wastewater pollution and provide a solution fit for the 21st century.

The key innovation in Save! is the “urine trap”, created by EOOS Design, which diverts urine to a concealed outlet using only surface tension. By trapping the urine – which contains a high number of nutrients – the device allows the liquid to be repurposed into a  fertiliser called Aurin.

"urine trap", created by EOOS Design for Laufen

Image caption: “urine trap”, created by EOOS Design for Laufen

The installation of urine separation toilets into hotels, public areas and residential developments will lead to sustainable and energy-saving wastewater management, seamlessly integrating the circular economy by efficiently treating the collected wastewater, recovering and recycling the preserved nutrients.

Laufen is committed to contributing towards the development of innovative technologies to solve this urgent problem, developing new, sustainable solutions that will help save lives and improve sanitation conditions in developing countries.

Laufen 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: Laufen

In the factory with sustainable bed & mattress manufacturer Naturalmat

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In the factory with sustainable bed & mattress manufacturer Naturalmat

With its fascinating storyline stretching from luxury superyachts to international hotels, bed and mattress brand Naturalmat’s stamp of approval can be traced right back to the source, as editor Hamish Kilburn learns when he pays a visit to the brand’s HQ in Topsham, Devon…

The story behind the success of bed and mattress manufacturer Naturalmat, and its esteemed reputation for being a conscious brand, all started more than 20 years ago. The Tremlett family, boat builders at the time, were in their yard in Topsham, Devon, and realised that there was a void in the luxury marine industry.

Mark Tremlett and his father designed luxury superyachts for the super-rich, which were complete with high-end fittings and fixtures while flooded with innovative space-saving solutions. Each vessel that would come out of the yard was perfectly designed for its heavy pocketed owner.

And yet, the family realised that while the luxury marine industry had evolved into an exciting design-led arena, the pre-existing beds that were being specified within these floating abodes were not fit for purpose. “I saw that people were still sleeping on polyurethane foam mattresses underneath it all,” said Mark, who is the co-founder of Naturalmat, explained to Hotel Designs. “This is not a great material to use on a boat (or any bed) as it’s not breathable, leading to issues of damp and mould, and doesn’t give the most comfortable experience.” It was during this lightbulb moment when Naturalmat was born.

Image caption: The Rosemoor Bed | Image credit: Naturalmat

Image caption: The Rosemoor Bed | Image credit: Naturalmat

Five interesting facts about Naturalmat

  • The company saves approximately 40,000 kw per year through its various eco initiatives
  • Naturalmat offers three 100 per cent natural fibre mattresses, and three natural fibre plus pocket spring mattresses
  • Naturalmat uses the husk of a coconut within its mattresses, which gives the user a fairly straight, robust fibre. But if you twist these very tightly and unravel them, they retain that curl which is then perfect to tease into a pad —in the absence of metal coils, it’s the natural ‘spring’ layer that provides the structure and bounce on each mattress
  • Naturalmat does not use fire retardant chemicals in any of its products
  • As of last year, Naturalmat done away with using plastic in packaging, and now the various packaging across the business is either from potato starch, corn starch, sugar cane, unbleached cotton, recycled kraft boxes, paper bags, or large, infinitely reusable mattress-sized duffle bags.

A few years after all but conquering the marine and nursery industry with locally and intuitively designed mattresses, in 2008 the company was approached by Simon Woodroffe, founder of Yo! Sushi, who had just launched a new hotel concept, YOTEL. Naturalmat soon landed its first major hotel project, when Woodroffe specified the brand for YOTEL New York. With smaller sized rooms, which the hotel brand refers to as cabins, the meaningful partnership was stitched together. It was this leap into the hospitality market that allowed the Devonshire-based family business to boom on the international hotel design scene.

Following the extensive project inside the 669-key lifestyle hotel, more relationships between the bed manufacturer and hotel brands such as Qbic, Six Senses Resorts, Z Hotels, Hoxton Hotels forged as Naturalmat’s unique and fully sustainable manufacturing process complimented brand, sustainability and quality standards.

A bedroom inside Hoxton Southwark

Image caption: Hoxton Hotels specifies Naturalmat mattreses | Image credit: Hoxton Hotels/Ennismore

Following the bed and mattress brand winning Best in British Product Design at The Brit List Awards 2019, I headed down south to understand how each mattress is made, by hand. But before we dive in, first let’s explore where the materials are sourced from. The organic lambswool, used to create comfortable products that are unmatched, comes from Soil Association certified farms in Devon, Dorset and Somerset. The company purchases direct from organic farmers, not just to ensure the highest quality but also to give the farmers a better return than taking the wool to market. As a result, the company is consciously supporting the local farming community.

Once the wool has been purchased, here is the step-by-step process behind each and every handmade Naturalmat mattress:

  • First the roll of wool and cotton herringbone ticking is cut to the size of the mattress that has been ordered.
  • The company’s precise sewing team then stitch the handles onto the edge panels, as well as the Naturalmat label onto the surface.
A women sewing a mattress

Image caption: Anne is one of Naturalmat’s precise sewing team | Image credit: Naturalmat

  • Downstairs in the mattress making section of the factory, a team of two layer the mattress ‘sandwich’ starting with coir (or a spring unit, if being used), layering with natural latex, mohair, cashmere, or whatever else the ‘mattress recipe’ calls for.
Two men in the factory designing and making Naturalmat mattresses

Image caption: A team of two layer the mattress ‘sandwich’ starting with coir | Image credit: Naturalmat

  • When this stage is complete, each mattress and topper that is manufactured gets a top layer of organic lambswool, and the covers are loosely stretched out onto either side. The side panel is then rolled around the edges and loosely pinned.
  • This ‘sandwich’ is then moved to a large table where the brand’s expert upholsterer (who’s been making mattresses for more than 20 years) runs a clever tape-edging machine around it, which seals the mattress sandwich with the brand’s signature grey wool and cotton piping. The mattress is then flipped (bit tricky for Emperor-sized units), then the team tape-edge the other side.
  • Once the ‘sandwich’ is sealed, it’s moved across to a jig which props it up on its side, allowing the team to tuft all the buttons through the mattress. The tufting is what keeps all the natural fibres in place, as well as offers that bit of ‘puff’ for comfort.
  • The finished mattress is then slid into one of the company’s large, recyclable, sugar-cane derived packaging bags, sealed, then loaded onto a Naturalmat van ready for delivery.

What’s as impressive as the quality behind each product is the company’s passion around sustainability. From the very beginning, the company took a different approach to the rest of the trade. The factory, for example, that shelters this innovative manufacturing process is on its own an eco-friendly machine, complete with solar paneling that powers the building and the operations inside.

A blue bed in a modern room

Image credit: Naturalmat

From a materials perspective, Naturalmat could not understand why the majority of mattresses were made using man-made synthetic materials that were neither biodegradable nor from a sustainable source.

Most recently, the bed and mattress brand’s eco credentials caught the attention of Geetie Singh-Watson, a self-proclaimed warrior against greenwashing in hospitality, as she was designing The Bull Inn in Totnes. Singh-Watson was only interested in sourcing all products and services locally and researched each brand thoroughly before specifying each and every product within the eight-key pub/hotel.

A close up of a bed inside The Bull Inn in Totnes

Image caption: Naturalmat supplied the beds for The Bull Inn, Totnes credit: Rachel Hoile Photography

With the brand catching the attention of authentic independents and large chains – it is currently processing an order for the first urban Six Senses hotel, which will open in New York – the brand’s modern attitude matched with traditional ethos is going from strength to strength, and in turn is educating the hotel design and hospitality arena on the values of conscious design.

Naturalmat 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: Naturalmat

An image of a pool outside a villa

RAKxa, a revolutionary wellness retreat in Bangkok, opens its doors

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
RAKxa, a revolutionary wellness retreat in Bangkok, opens its doors

The new ‘integrative wellness and medical retreat, RAKxa, has opened its doors to guests in Bangkok’s ‘Green Lung’. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes… 

Set in Bangkok’s preserved ‘Green Lung’, a protected jungle-clad island on the Chao Phraya River, RAKxa is a 60-key retreat (27 villas are currently open), which shelters tailored wellness programmes designed by certified medical doctors.

An image of a pool outside a villa

These programmes combine advanced medical treatments with revered holistic therapies alongside renowned Thai hospitality, resulting in a world-class medical destination.

A mix of traditional materials and crafts have been used in a contemporary styling to create a medical wellness retreat that has avoided the ‘spa’ look whilst ensuring the crisp, neutral tones are not associated with a hospital. Traditional materials include rattan, bamboo, reclaimed wood, earth-wear, ceramics, brass, jute, mulberry paper and water hyacinth. Light colours of teal and gentle greens are used throughout the premises to soothe and restore an element of calm. Showcasing the serene location next to the river, traditional river boats decorate the gym area as well as elements such as old balers used to decorate the walls.

RAKxa uses objects throughout the premises that may not traditionally be considered art, such as teapots, chairs and stools. These all have a sense of place and are considered as traditional Thai decor, based on the countries’ history. One area proudly displays 72 teapots along a shelving unit, all made from a local southern Thai pottery maker and each unique to one another. Using local artisans to create the rugs and woven wall decor, RAKxa exemplifies traditional Thai styling, creating the ultimate wellness retreat where Thai hospitality oozes through the design.

This ground-breaking enhanced wellness retreat is the first of its kind in Thailand and promises a fully transformative experience through personalised three-to-fourteen day programmes with long-term health goals in mind.

Main image credit: RAKxa

Product watch: Heathfied & Co’s Pearl Collection

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Heathfied & Co’s Pearl Collection

Inspired by the iconic and classic symbolism of pearls featured throughout fashion, beauty and film over the years, Heathfield & Co’s Pearl Collection reflects the rare beauty of this unique gemstone…

Whilst each piece holds its own distinctive influence, opal glass spheres and hemispheres are characteristic throughout, each providing a soft ambient glow. Curved brass metalwork, subtly reflective surfaces and asymmetric configurations are combined to provide a cohesive visual identity.

Referencing a pearls timeless and traditional nature, these innovative designs carefully reinterpret the original aesthetic to create a simple, yet elegant range of contemporary lighting.

Perfectly petite, our Halo table lamp (left) demonstrates a contemporary design highlighted with classic styling. The subtly tapered alabaster cone creates a soft aesthetic, set off against polished brass metalwork and a defined opal glass globe, which provides an ambient glow.

Drawing inspiration from classic jewellery design, the vertical body of the brand’s Vermeer pendant (right) creates an elegant aesthetic in any interior. The piece features four opal glass spheres, asymmetrically positioned around its minimal form.

Audrey Pendant in the Pearl Collection | Image credit Heathfield & Co

Image caption: Audrey Pendant in the Pearl Collection | Image credit Heathfield & Co

Heathfield & Co 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 caption: Gabriella Pendant in the Pearl Collection | Image credit Heathfield & Co

Meliá Hotels International to open fourth hotel in Milan

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Meliá Hotels International to open fourth hotel in Milan

The 70-key five-star hotel, which will be sheltered inside one of the most recognisable buildings in Piazza Cordusio, will become Meliá Hotels International’s fourth property in Milan when it opens in 2023…

Following the reopening of ME Dubai this week, Meliá Hotels International and Generali Real Estate have announced that they will be partnering together in a unique project in Milan: a new Gran Meliá hotel opening in the city centre in 2023. 

Significant buildings in the portfolio of Generali Real Estate in Europe (photo gallery updated at May 2020)

Image credit: Meliá Hotels International

The five-star hotel will be the result of the complete refurbishment and restoration of the historic Palazzo Venezia, one of the most recognisable buildings in Piazza Cordusio, just a few metres from Piazza del Duomo in the centre of Milan. The building owns its name to Generali’s Venetian roots: it was designed in the late XIX century by architect Luca Beltrami, built by the Generali Group as its headquarters in Milan, and hosted the Generali offices until the move of the Generali Tower in CityLife.

A render of a contemporary lobby

Image credit: Meliá Hotels International

The transformation of the building into a luxury hotel will be the perfect transition owing to its monumental architecture and innate elegance, coupled with state-of-the-art, world-class hospitality. After the renovation, the building will comply with the criteria required to obtain the LEED Gold certification, an international sustainability recognition that is particularly remarkable in the case of a historical building. Furthermore, as a hotel, the building will be accessible to the public for the first time in its history.

“Italy is one of the world’s greatest tourist destinations and it is a privilege for us to offer iconic hotels such as the Gran Meliá in Milan, which bring even greater recognition to our brands”, commented Gabriel Escarrer, Vice President and CEO of the hotel company, who also assures that “thanks to our efforts to raise the quality of our portfolio, we will be in the best possible condition to face the recovery and once again attract demand in the most competitive destinations in the world.” 

A render of a modern and contemporary bar/lounge within the hotel

Image credit: Meliá Hotels International

Thanks to its unique location, the new Gran Meliá hotel will set a new benchmark for luxury travel, providing the perfect base from which to explore Milan for leisure and business travellers alike. It is ideally situated to discover the city of fashion and design, the artistic and cultural monuments, whilst also being within easy access of the business and financial hubs. 

After an extensive renovation, the building – property of a fund managed by Generali Real Estate SGR – will preserve its majestic historical façade and will house 70 luxurious rooms designed to offer guests the most unforgettable stay. True to any Gran Melia experience, the hotel will offer unparalleled food and drink experiences, offering gourmet travellers a selection of the finest Italian and international cuisine. The building will also feature a rooftop bar and terrace, offering breath-taking 360° views of the city from a unique viewpoint, under the characteristic dome.  

“With this important investment, we confirm our confidence in the strength of Milan and its come-back among the most important business and travel destination, after the pandemic crisis”, commented Aldo Mazzocco, CEO of Generali Real Estate. “As a long-term investor, we selected a world-class and forward-looking partner such as Melia, which shares with us a ‘Mediterranean’ root and style, to both preserve and transform one of our most iconic buildings into a high-end hotel”.

Another of the brand’s hallmarks is its variety of “exceptional experiences”, a unique collection of experiences to help guests discover and enjoy the destination and designed for travellers who wish to explore the true essence of the city.  

This hotel will be a new addition to the exclusive Gran Meliá family, an exceptional collection of premium hotels located in the most desired destinations in the world and defined by elegance in every detail and rooted in Spanish style. The brand exudes sophistication and aesthetic refinement, values that fit naturally with the Milan ambience. 

The addition of the Gran Meliá hotel in Milan is a further example of Meliá Hotels International’s commitment to growth in Italy, and in particular, in Milan, where it already operates hotels under three of its brands: Meliá Milano, ME Milano Il Duca and INNSIDE Milano Torre Galfa. In addition, the company also has hotels in Rome and Genoa. 

Main image credit: Meliá Hotels International

image of Crow Wood Hotel & Spa resort

Case study: creating timeless touchpoints inside Crow Wood Hotel & Spa Resort

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Case study: creating timeless touchpoints inside Crow Wood Hotel & Spa Resort

Hamilton Litestat’s Hartland CFX evokes timeless sophistication at every touchpoint in the newly built Crow Wood Hotel & Spa Resort…

Set in 40 acres of stunning private park land in Burnley,Lancashire, sits the recently opened Crow Wood Hotel & Spa Report.

image of Crow Wood Hotel & Spa resort

Its 76 luxury guestrooms and suites have been created with the utmost care and attention-to-detail to provide a stylish retreat and place of relaxation.The resort offers spectacular views of Pendle Hill and the surrounding countryside, as well as the hotel’s beautiful ornamental lake and fabulous gardens.

The Brief

During the construction of the Crow Wood Hotel & Spa Report, building contractor Walsh Integrated Building Services sought a trusted supplier to provide durable wiring accessories with a high quality, designer finish. Electrical wholesaler LED Electrical Nelson, based in Nelson, Lancashire, recommended Hamilton Litestat’s products for installation throughout the bedrooms and bathrooms in its 70 guestrooms, along with the bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas in its six guest suites.

The solution

Hamilton worked closely with LED Electrical Nelson and Walsh Integrated Building Services to find designer decorative wiring accessories suited to the aesthetic and functionality requirements of the modern and effortlessly stylish guestrooms and suites. Aiming for an elegant and timeless look, Hamilton’s sleek Hartland CFX design was chosen for all applications throughout the guest areas, ensuring design continuity. It was selected in a sophisticated satin steel finish with satin steel switches and black inserts, which complement the finish of the bespoke accent light fittings selected for the rooms.

Bedroom inside Crow Wood Hotel

Image credit: Crow Wood Hotel & Resort

In each of the 70 guestrooms, three plates with differing functionalities were located on each side of the bed: a switched double socket for easy charging of devices; a single one-gang switch plate to control the bedside reading light, and a single two-gang switch plate to control both lighting located above the bed and the main room light. Further wiring accessories were selected for installation at each desk/vanity area in the guestrooms. A two-Gang 13A Switched Socket with both 2.1A and 1A USB charging outlets allow guests to easily use devices and work at the desk if needed. A 5A lighting point was also installed within the seating area to ensure the space is well lit.

Suite inside Crow Wood Hotel

Image credit: Crow Wood Hotel & Resort

For installation in the six suites, Hamilton provided additional charging points and lighting control functionality. At the side of each bed, the switched double socket has been upgraded to include dual 2.1A and 1A USB outlets for additional charging options. The bedside two-gang switch is replaced with retractive switches that deliver dimming capability, allowing guests to alter the light intensity depending on their requirements or preferred ambience. All guestrooms and suites have a dual 2.1A and 1A USB switched socket located at the desk/vanity area, while the suites also have a four-gang grid plate positioned here to control the lighting for the lobby, seated area and bed area. In the seated area, two additional 5A unswitched sockets support the power requirements for lamps positioned either side of the suite’s TV monitor. Throughout all bathrooms, a single grid plate with 20A cable outlet is installed for the heated towel rail.

Final Master Bathroom inside Crow Wood Hotel & Resort

Image credit: Crow Wood Hotel & Resort

The result

Hamilton’s Hartland CFX solutions provide functional yet sleek, stylish and sophisticated wiring accessories that complement the overall architecture and interior design of the resort. Guests lighting and charging requirements are provided for with elegant simplicity. Darren Worgan, Senior Contracts Manager at Walsh Integrated Building Services, selected the products and says: “Hamilton’s wiring accessories provided the perfect finishing touch and continue the high-quality and sophisticated look and feel delivered by the room overall. Guests visiting the resort come for a luxurious experience, and they will get that at every point in their stay –the greatest attention to detail has been paid to all elements of the build, and Hamilton’s wiring accessories illustrate this.”

Mark Kitchen, Business Development Manager at LED Electrical Nelson, added: “Hamilton is a dependable brand that I’ve worked with on many projects, offering excellent quality for a great price. On this development, as with previous projects, we also benefited from Hamilton’s Bristol-based manufacturing, which ensured swift delivery of products and meant we were able to meet tight installation deadlines.”

Andrew Brown, Managing Director, at Crow Wood Leisure, says: “We’ve received fantastic feedback from guests about their experiences staying at the resort since we opened in October 2019. The functionality, finish and placement of the wiring accessories delivers exactly what our guests need and expect of a luxury resort like the Crow Wood Hotel.

Hamilton Litestat 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: Hamilton Litestat

A modern bed with black lighting

Hypnos launches carbon neutral eco-packaging solution

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hypnos launches carbon neutral eco-packaging solution

Sustainable bed manufacturer Hypnos has pioneered a ground-breaking carbon neutral packaging that could help with carbon reduction efforts across the bed and furniture industry…

A modern bed with black lighting

After 18 months of intensive research and development, Hypnos has successfully developed another industry first by creating a new recyclable, eco-friendly packaging solution which will be used for their beds and mattresses across both its retail and contract factories. It comes as part of major efforts by the cutting-edge manufacturer to design its packaging from sustainable and renewable sources and eliminate the use of harmful, fossil-based products.

At the heart of the packaging is sugar cane, a renewable and carbon dioxide depleting resource. Sugar cane ethanol is combined with recycled plastic which has a carbon footprint that can be up to four times lower than that of normal plastic, helping those who use it to massively reduce their carbon footprint. The use of ethanol, a bi-product of sugar cane production and recycled plastics that form a green polyethylene (a more environmentally-friendly form of plastic), means the creation is carbon neutral and 100 per cent recyclable as well. Furthermore it’s incredibly durable and has superior technical properties to normal polythene, performing better on puncture tests.

Hypnos led the challenge by working in partnership with a specialist green polyethylene manufacturer to create the cutting-edge solution which could be a sustainability game changer across the entire bed and furniture industry. Indeed, Hypnos made the decision not to patent or trademark this revolutionary packaging for themselves. Instead the brand wants to share their innovation globally and are calling on industries around the world to ditch single use polythene and make the transition to this 100 per cent recyclable product.

“New government legislation requires that all businesses use plastic packaging that contains at least 30 per cent recycled plastic by 2022 or they will face a new Plastic Packaging Tax.”

Richard Naylor, Sustainability Director at Hypnos, comments: “We’re extremely proud of our sustainability credentials and it’s Hypnos’ commitment to creating ethical solutions which benefit the environment that has allowed us to invest in this revolutionary green polythene. We’ve been working hard to develop this innovation and continue to look at new ways we can make better sustainable solutions and choices, not just for Hypnos, but for the bed and furniture industry as a whole.

“We believe in fostering environmental responsibility wherever we can which is why we are keen to share this technology with other industries. Most bed manufacturers use plastic to protect their beds and products. If all the mattress manufacturers in the UK switched to eco polythene instead, it would save a staggering 8,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, so just imagine what could be achieved if bed and furniture manufacturers world-wide made this change!

“We are now calling on all bed and furniture manufacturers to change from fossil-based polythene, which can take thousands of years to decompose. Instead, we’re asking them to make the transition to this product to reduce our combined carbon footprints and help care for the planet. We’re happy to set up meetings and put them in touch with our specialist manufacturer so that they too can start to benefit from this pioneering sustainable, carbon neutral solution.” 

New government legislation requires that all businesses use plastic packaging that contains at least 30 per cent recycled plastic by 2022 or they will face a new Plastic Packaging Tax. With a ratio of 65 per cent renewable sugarcane to 35 per cent recycled plastics, the new eco polythene by Hypnos will take even more plastic out of landfill and incineration, stimulating increased demand for recycled plastics that can be turned into further reusable and sustainable materials. 

Hypnos has been trialling their green packaging on selected mattresses and beds for several months and from November has been rolling it out across its entire range. An essential part of the process is the removal and return of the packaging by Hypnos’ delivery partners as this allows it to be returned and recycled in perpetuity. As a result Hypnos is taking back its new packaging from retailers and hospitality partners wherever possible so that it can once again be recycled.

This latest development is another milestone in Hypnos’s successful sustainability agenda. From the use of renewable and traceable natural resources to carbon offsetting programmes, they were the first bed maker in the world to become carbon neutral, and have been continuously carbon neutral for a decade. In addition they have also been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development this year.

Furthermore, Hypnos’ beds and mattresses have been made from natural and sustainable materials, with no chemical-based foams and have been completely recyclable, ensuring they never need to go to landfill, for over a decade. And now, even the protective packaging its beds come in is entirely recyclable and carbon neutral too.

Hypnos 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: Hypnos

A trio of modern maroon dining chairs from Morgan

Morgan expands Rakino Collection designed by Tim Rundle

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Morgan expands Rakino Collection designed by Tim Rundle

Morgan, contract furniture designer and manufacturer, announces the launch of two dining chairs to the Rakino Collection, a series of lounge chairs and tables, designed by Tim Rundle…

A trio of modern maroon dining chairs from Morgan

Juxtaposing soft sculpted upholstery with a strong, low line frame, the new dining chairs in the Rakino Collection by Morgan feature crisp timber detailing, emphasised by a clean linear structure.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Tim, who brings an international perspective to Rakino,” said Katerina Zachariades, Design Director at Morgan. “We have enjoyed developing this chair and refining our production methods to achieve the light, simple structure that defines it.”

A close up of the maroon dining chair from Morgan

Image credit: Morgan

The original collection, which won Product of the Year at the 2019 FX Awards, was first unveiled at Clerkenwell Design Week. Rundle told Hotel Designs that the series of furniture items were inspired “in the best way”, following a trip to see the production. “In Hampshire I discovered a factory staffed by some serious experts in upholstery and timber joinery,” he said. “I really wanted to make the most of these capabilities, and maybe even push them a little to see what was possible. In terms of the chairs themselves I wanted to create something that felt quiet and inviting, that could feel right in your home, while obviously being appropriate for hard working contract environments.”

Since you’re here, why not read Hotel Designs’ Q&A with furniture designer Tim Rundle?

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

The Residences DC Duplex 28

Sneak peek inside The Residences, Dorchester Collection, Dubai

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Sneak peek inside The Residences, Dorchester Collection, Dubai

The opening of the 32-storey glass-facade building, which is being described as ‘a landmark of opulence’ in Dubai, will mark the Dorchester Collection’s entrance into the Middle East. Here’s a sneak peek inside the luxury address…

The Residences DC Duplex 28

Developed by OMNIYAT, which is one of the most recognised property developers in the Middle East, The Residences, Dorchester Collection, Dubai will be located in globally renowned Downtown Dubai, and will be sheltered inside an eye-catching, glass-facade building that has been designed by award-winning architecture firm Foster + Partners.

The Residences Dorchester Collection Dubai Exterior

Image credit: Foster + Partners/Dorchester Collection/OMNIYAT

Boasting two spectacular interconnected towers – one housing the 10th iconic Dorchester Collection hotel and the other a residential tower – the property, which is said to be 60 per cent complete, perfectly captures the essence of chic metropolitan dwelling and offers patrons of luxury around the world an unequalled lifestyle experience.

The Residences Dorchester Collection Dubai Terrace

Image credit: Foster + Partners/Dorchester Collection/OMNIYAT

The 32-storey residential tower includes just 39 fully furnished residences, ranging from 3,900sqft to 10,100sqft, with two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. Additionally, situated on the 30th, 31st and 32nd floor, The Residences, Dorchester Collection, Dubai, offers six elegant four- and five-bedroom penthouses exclusively designed to create a private, high-quality and lavish lifestyle statement for the world’s luxury cognoscenti. Consisting of a staggering 17,700sqft with soaring ceilings and vast, uninterrupted views of the sea, each penthouse features its own swimming pool overlooking Dubai Canal and stunning Dubai cityscape.

The Residences DC Duplex 14

Image credit: Dorchester Collection/OMNIYAT

“At OMNIYAT we work with pioneers and leaders in their respective fields to provide audiences with a bespoke, luxury lifestyle, and The Residences, Dorchester Collection, Dubai, embodies this,” explained Mahdi Amjad, Founder and Executive Chairman of OMNIYAT. “We are delighted to be the first developer to collaborate with the legendary hospitality brand Dorchester Collection in launching the 10th iconic hotel and exclusive residences, therein bringing an unrivalled experience to Dubai.”

The Residences DC Duplex 46

Image credit: Dorchester Collection/OMNIYAT

Managed by legendary hospitality brand Dorchester Collection, synonymous with quality and known for its unparalleled standards of service – with The Dorchester in London arguably being the flagship of the brand – this development will be setting the benchmark for the ultimate city lifestyle. An inimitable blend of design, landmark architecture and exceptional service in the heart of Dubai, The Residences, Dorchester Collection, Dubai, is as unique as a fingerprint, set to meet the needs and expectations of connoisseurs of luxury around the world.

“We are immensely proud to partner with OMNIYAT, a pioneer renowned globally for its architectural landmarks,” said Christopher Cowdray, CEO of Dorchester Collection. “Set to become a significant new beacon on the Dubai skyline, The Residences, Dorchester Collection, Dubai, will offer one of the most exciting propositions seen in the Middle East, especially combined with our legendary award-winning service.”

> Since you’re here, why not watch our design tour of The Dorchester?

Bringing the interior design to life is the Parisian Duo Gilles & Boissier. Ensuring residents step into their very own sanctuary of sophistication, the interiors combine exquisite finishing, intricate detail and a sumptuous material palette with unique features such as floor to ceiling glass windows and doors, expansive terraces and bespoke furniture designed by Gilles & Boissier, offering a seamless turnkey experience for buyers.

A large masculine bedroom overlooking Dubai

Image credit: Dorchester Collection/OMNIYAT

At OMNIYAT, details make perfection, and in addition to a timeless and elegant interior design, residents get to enjoy a wide variety of the latest technology and utilities. With grandiose kitchens fully equipped with modern touches such as large fridge and wine cooler made by Sub-Zero, as well as cooking and cleaning appliances by Gaggenau, each residence is also fitted with instant filtered, sparkling and boiling water by Quooker and modern taps by THG Paris, custom designed by Gilles & Boissier.

Image credit: Dorchester Collection/OMNIYAT

Each apartment also features the latest collection of wide-screen televisions by Bang & Olufsen, audio systems fitted by Sonos, home automation system for easy living by Crestron and dressing rooms by Molteni Dada and Poliform.

Further adding to the overall living experience, residents will get to indulge in unrivalled amenities including swift access to sports thanks to the private gym and yoga studio, the expansive outdoor pool with a view of Dubai and a 200-metre wide untouched water frontage on the Dubai Water Canal.

Main image credit: OMNIYAT/Dorchester Collection

Minimalist luxury guestroom inside the Marriott hotel on Grosvenor Square

In pictures // London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square completes renovation

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In pictures // London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square completes renovation

Hospitality interior design firm RPW Design has completed a renovation to transform the Mayfair hotel’s guestrooms and suites…

London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square has revealed its newly refurbished guestrooms and suites 

Minimalist luxury guestroom inside the Marriott hotel on Grosvenor Square

Situated in the heart of Mayfair, the 237 guestrooms and suites, complete with alfresco terraces and private gardens, have been carefully renovated to honour the elegant architecture in which they reside. Having worked with Marriott Hotels across Europe, RPW have designed the rooms and suites to be inspiring, contemporary spaces with a residential feel, offering guests a ‘home-away-from-home’ comfort.

“We are delighted to unveil the results of this exciting collaboration between RPW Design and London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square,” explained Elizabeth Lane, a Partner at RPW Design who was at the helm of the project. “As a significant property in the centre of Mayfair, we wanted our new design to emulate the hotel’s historic setting with traditional feel, whilst simultaneously creating a welcoming and stylish space that provides access to the whole city.”

The refurbished guestrooms and suites adopt a neutral colour palette featuring rich navy blues and crisp whites complemented with grey accents in varying textures and finishes. Each guestroom and suite offers a stylish desk in a modern room setting for guests to work in and inspire brilliance. In the bathrooms, guests will admire innovative design details, spacious overhead rain showers and contemporary vanity units.

Marble looking bathroom

Image credit: RPW Design/Marriott International

RPW Design’s inspiration for the refurbishment was drawn from the local, historic area with subtle nods to Mayfair’s heritage and architecture throughout. Design details such as the herringbone pattern in the wallpaper and upholsteries pay homage to the famous Savile Row and Bond Street tailors; and the ironwork detailing woven into the carpets and rugs is reminiscent of the surrounding quintessential Georgian architecture.

> Elizabeth Lane is one of our Brit List Designers of 2020. Since you’re here, why not check out The Brit List 2020.

Ian Pask, General Manager of London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square commented: “The refurbishment perfectly captures the elegance of the building and the surrounding Mayfair area. The transformation captures a classic yet contemporary British style, while offering a spacious retreat for guests to relax, work and be inspired in.”

London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square promises an ideal setting for couples looking to be based in the heart of London whilst having the luxury of a private space to retreat to. Boasting eight balcony suites with private alfresco terraces, guests can enjoy exclusive access to the hotel’s hidden courtyard garden. The garden, a tranquil haven, possesses a central water feature where guests can step back from the glamour of Mayfair for a reflective moment.

Main image credit: RPW Design/Marriott International

Image of lobby inside TRIBE hotel

Accor enters into exclusive negotiations with Ennismore

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Accor enters into exclusive negotiations with Ennismore

With the two brands working as one, the lifestyle entity is set to become the largest and fastest growing global player, with 12 world-class brands under their umbrella…

Accor and Ennismore, both award-winning hotel brands, have started exclusive negotiations to form the world’s leading lifestyle operator in the hospitality sector, with a clear focus on one of the fastest growing segments of the industry.

Image of lobby inside TRIBE hotel

Through this all-share merger, a new autonomous and fully asset light entity will bring together an unrivalled portfolio of world class brands, including The Hoxton, Gleneagles, Delano, SLS, Mondrian, SO/, Hyde, Mama Shelter, 25hours, 21c Museum Hotels, TRIBE, JO&JOE and Working From_. The new entity will be headquartered in London and will take the name Ennismore.

Image credit: Gleneagles

“The combined entity will comprise 12 brands with 73 hotels.”

Sharan Pasricha, Founder and CEO of Ennismore and Gaurav Bhushan, CEO of the Accor Lifestyle division will become Co-CEOs of the combined entity, alongside an experienced, highly skilled and international management team coming from the various brands and industries across the globe. Accor will be the majority shareholder of the new entity, with Sharan Pasricha holding a substantial minority position.

“Over the last nine years, our mission with Ennismore has always been creating hospitality brands that inspire discovery,” Pasricha explained. “I’m passionate about how brands make you feel, from the personalised digital experience to the design, and with an incredible team of operators and creatives around me, we have expanded The Hoxton across the globe; reimagined Gleneagles; and crafted unique restaurant and bar concepts. This exciting autonomous entity with Accor – one with culture and brand purpose at its heart – allows us to come together to build on our combined portfolio of unique lifestyle brands, accelerate our growth and explore new markets.”

Image credit: Hoxton Southwark

At its inception, the combined entity will comprise 12 brands with 73 hotels in operation with a committed pipeline of more than 110 hotels and another c. 70 hotels under active discussion, and more than 150 destination restaurant and bars. Based on the current network and pipeline the lifestyle platform should achieve an EBITDA of over c. €100m by midterm, the project resulting in significant cost synergies of approximately €15m per year.

In order to form this joint venture, Accor intends to buy out its partners in sbe (see dedicated release by Accor), Mama Shelter and 25hours. The planned combination also envisages the formation of a new company which will hold all the leased assets under the combined entity’s brands. The deconsolidation of the existing leases will have a €52m positive effect on Accor’s consolidated net debt in 2020.

A quirky twin bedroom inside Mama Shelter Lille

Image credit: Mama Shelter Lille

Gaurav Bhushan, CEO of Accor’s Lifestyle operations said: “Joining forces with Sharan and Ennismore’s talented teams will be a major step in Accor’s development strategy. With this combination, we are putting together an unrivalled portfolio of unique brands that appeals to owners, partners and guests, supported by the greatest set of talents in the industry, state of the art distribution and tools and a common ambition to continue to grow and innovate. I very much look forward to our journey together.

Sébastien Bazin, Chairman & CEO of Accor added: “Lifestyle, entertainment, places with a soul have been at the heart of our development and growth strategy over the last years. Partnering with Ennismore’s founder Sharan and his great teams will take our Lifestyle ambition to a new and exciting level. With this combination, we are leading the hospitality industry by creating the largest and fastest growing ecosystem of world class brands. Lifestyle is a sector fueled by passionate and daring entrepreneurs, constantly pushing the boundaries of a reinvented vision of travelling the world. I am proud Accor has been able to join forces with many of the most creative and talented ones. This new powerful combination is set to become the engine of our exciting future growth. “

Under the leadership of Pasricha and Bhushan, each brand will retain their unique culture and purpose, supported by dedicated teams and with the full support of their founders, including the Trigano family, founders of Mama Shelter; Christoph Hoffman, founder of 25 Hours; Sam Nazarian, founder of sbe; Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson for 21C, and Melissa and Mark Peters for TRIBE.

This new, unified and powerful venture will benefit from an in-house global creative studio, designing award-winning interiors and brand communication; an expert digital and technology team innovating the guest experience; and a team of restaurant and bar specialists crafting unique concepts rooted in their neighbourhoods.

Accor’s Lifestyle operations today represent c.5 per cent of Accor’s fees and more than 25 per cent of the pipeline fees. Growth will be accelerated, building on a strong footprint in Europe and the U.S., and a rapidly expanding presence in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and South America supported by Accor’s development teams.

Closing is expected to occur in the first semester of 2021 and is subject to the employee consultation process and customary regulatory authorisations for projects of this type.

Main image credit: Accor

The Dorchester Terrace Penthouse living room

The Dorchester, where style will always conquer over fashion

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The Dorchester, where style will always conquer over fashion

The new challenge for traditional luxury hotels in London – aside from navigating the obvious pandemic – is confronting the demand for a new era of contemporary luxury hotels. Editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to one of Mayfair’s finest establishments, The Dorchester, to understand the power of style over fashion in hotel design. Inside the 250-key hotel, he investigates how heritage luxury hotels are sensitively remaining relevant in modern times…

The Dorchester Terrace Penthouse living room

London, which to many is regarded a capital city of worldwide hospitality (at the very least a major hospitality hub), is entering a new era: the luxury lifestyle market is answering to the demand of modern travellers and, as a result, a new wave of contemporary hotels is approaching the city on an unprecedented scale.

According to the data analysts at STR, pre-Covid, 2020 was expected to become the year with the highest number of hotel openings that the city has ever seen, which was fuelled somewhat by the fall in the pound against other currencies in the on-going Brexit saga. Although this can only be seen a positive for the holistic hospitality industry in London, it no doubt puts into question the demand for – and therefore the role of – traditional luxury hotels that are dotted around Mayfair.

If we were to personify these illustrious jewels in a theatrical manner, think of them as the headline acts; their roles so impressive and unique that they have earned the right to a residency following countless standing-ovation and headline-grabbing performances.

Within this cluster of legends is The Dorchester, a 250-key luxury hotel that shelters a distinct classic English residential style, which has stood proud on Park Lane – majestically on the fringe of Hyde Park – for nearly nine decades. Within that time, it has managed to build and retain a legacy while effortlessly leading London’s premium hospitality scene to rank itself time and time again as an award-winning luxury hotel.

To truly understand what sets The Dorchester aside from other luxury addresses in London, I invited our official videographers at CUBE Video along with me to check in and capture luxury hospitality meeting stylish design. Here’s how we got on:

Since first opening in 1931, after being built in record time over just 18 months (which is the equivalent to the speed of completing one floor per week), The Dorchester has been favoured by royalty and celebrities alike. It was here, in the Park Suite, where HRH Prince Phillips famously spent his last night as a bachelor – and down the corridor where Queen Elizabeth II was spotted on the day of her engagement.

> Since you’re here, why not read our ‘In (Lockdown) Conversation With’ Robert Whitfield, The Dorchester Collection’s Regional Director (UK) & General Manager of The Dorchester.

The hotel’s style was originally created by Oliver Ford, who also handled the decoration for the Queen Mother’s residence at the Royal Lodge in Windsor and Clarence House in St James. Ford introduced details such as handmade carpets on each floor in different floral patterns.

One of the most iconic, and most photographed, areas inside The Dorchester is The Promenade, which is adorned with rich coral coloured silk draperies, custom gold-framed mirrors and striking chandeliers. Rumoured to be as long as Nelson’s Column is high, The Promenade is a clever use of space that stretches right down the hotel’s spine and is aptly decorated with sumptuous seating and striking floral displays that feature ‘The Dorchester Rose’, which was dedicated to the hotel by award-winning rose breeders Meijer Roses. The hotel’s in-house designer florist Philip Hammond explains how a small detail like a rose can compliment the hotel’s design scheme. “This specially selected rose is blousy in composition and has a pale blush colouring, with the pink tone gaining more colour as the rose gradually opens up,” Hammond says. “When you see it against the backdrop of The Dorchester, you really appreciate how it complements our timeless interiors.”

The Promenade at The Dorchester

Image caption: The Promenade at The Dorchester, which features stunning floral displays using the signature Dorchester rose| Image credit: The Dorchester

The Grill has been an integral dining outside within the hotel since it opened. However, with the recent appointment of head chef Tom Booton – who at just 27 years old happens to be the restaurant’s youngest ever head chef – the restaurant has been led into a new chapter (and the critics love it!).

As well as serving up a creative and playful menu that was designed by the man who, in his own words is, “all about fine dining without the formality”, everything about The Grill’s modern personality is surprisingly applauded by the hotel’s luxury status. The lobster thermidor tart, for example, has become somewhat of a signature dish for The Grill: a cheesy cheddar tart with thermidor foam and a rich lobster bisque, topped with a roasted lobster tail.

For dessert, The Grill’s twist on tradition now challenges the very nature of conventional dining, subtly, by introducing The Pudding Bar, which is the perfect way to finish off Booton’s dining experience. By pulling up a stall (quite literally), guests can break away from their tables to watch their sweet treat, such as the rich Double Decker (it is as delicious as it sounds) being prepared. Not only does this create a welcome disruption to a standardised dining formula – not to mention putting apt emphasis on what is, let’s face it, the best part of any meal – but it also tactfully injects a healthy dose of theatre within the experience, with guests able to interact with the chefs.

The Pudding Bar complete with artefacts on a feature wall inside The Grill | Image credit: The Dorchester

Image caption: The Pudding Bar inside The Grill | Image credit: The Dorchester

There is no doubt about it, the public areas and F&B outlets inside The Dorchester are breathtaking, and operate smoothly under awe-inspiring original design features. But public areas aside, what about the private areas within a hotel where guests demand modern flavour; the guestrooms and suites?

With such a bold and distinctive design narrative comes great challenges and enormous responsibility when the time inevitably approaches to renovate; finding the balance to create the right level of contemporary flavour while staying true to the hotel’s traditional leafy design scheme is an ambitious and somewhat arduous task for any designer, regardless of previous credentials.

Image caption: The bedroom inside The Dorchester Suite | Image credit: The Dorchester

In 2002, the hotel underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment with an all-encompassing renovation of guestrooms and suites, including the addition of a custom-built, high-tech entertainment and business console in each guestroom and a remarkably advanced telecommunications system.

In 2007, award-winning design firm Alexandra Champalimaud, design studio that created the interiors for Raffles Singapore, The Carlyle and Monkey Island Estate, was given the responsibility to refurbish a handful of the property’s most prestigious suites: The Audley, Terrace and Harlequin Penthouses. And with the studio’s ability to effortlessly transform these areas to become tech-savvy yet timeless abodes, the design plot for The Dorchester thickened and a new era for the hotel was born. Whilst these suites stayed true to the hotel’s classic English residential style, the design within them fused contemporary comfort with timeless glamour.

In 2012, Champalimaud Design returned to sensitively renovate a further 22 suites. As well as redesigning the bedrooms and living areas, the design team also remodelled the statement marble-flooded bathrooms, which feature a separate stall shower with large drench shower head and what are said to be London’s deepest hotel bathtubs.

An all-marble bathroom inside one of the finest hotels in London

Image caption: The Dorchester bathrooms are said to shelter London’s deepest baths | Image credit: The Dorchester

Having now secured landmark status, The Dorchester’s majestic glow is physically protected from change. In terms of its secret to remaining relevant nine decades since first opening to the world, the answer is perhaps unclear. What is transparent, however, is the hotel’s ability to evolve with meaning into modern times while also retaining and celebrating the building’s history, which has become its legacy.

What’s more, by consistently choosing style over fashion, The Dorchester remains a much-loved and integral part of history in British hospitality, and stands as proud today as it was in 1931 as one of London’s most refined headline acts.

[Cue The Dorchester’s post-lockdown curtain call.]

Main image credit: The Dorchester

A collection of bathroom products, lighting and furniture

Spotlight on: December (Hotel Designs’ ultimate throwback)

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Spotlight on: December (Hotel Designs’ ultimate throwback)

Hotel Designs’ December editorial feature has landed, which is ‘Year in Review’, an ultimate throwback to 2020’s more signifiant product launches…

It has become a tradition at Hotel Designs to spend December reflecting the editorial spotlight on the year’s most groundbreaking product launches.

A collection of bathroom products, lighting and furniture

In 2020 – the year when Covid-19 caused chaos to all areas of the industry; with trade shows cancelled and hospitality being brought to its knees with several lockdowns – that nod has become even more meaningful. From lighting to flooring, hygiene to furniture, we will take a look back at the product launches that have created the biggest statement on the design and hospitality scene.

In what is now described as our ‘ultimate throwback’, the editorial team will cut through the noise, and inviting our Recommended Suppliers to share their hero products of 2020, to identify the products that designers, architects and hoteliers should be specifying in their future projects.

If you wish to find out more about Recommended Supplier packages, or know of a product that we should be talking about, please email Katy Phillips

Main image credit: Gessi, Morgan, Chelsom

A safari accomodation tent in the dessert

Luxurious and comfortable accommodation from Bushtec Safari

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Luxurious and comfortable accommodation from Bushtec Safari

Following the brand’s presentation as a Product Watch Partner at Hotel Designs LIVE, Bushtec Safari explains why luxury tented resorts have become global trend for guests seeking luxurious and comfortable accommodation…

A safari accomodation tent in the dessert

Luxury tented resorts have become global trending destinations for luxurious and comfortable accommodation, seeing to unique experiences, without compromising on quality.

Bushtec Safari as part of the Canvas & Tent Group is one of the leading tent manufacturers and suppliers to well-known safari camps and game reserves, hunting and luxury lodges, villas and resorts within the travel market both locally and internationally.

A tented accommodation in front of a river

Image credit: Bushtec Safari Display Area

The brand is renowned globally as we have provided luxury tents to countless projects through our head office and our branches in America, Europe and Botswana as well as our distributors in the UAE, Australia and Asia.

With more than 1,000 different tent designs, we prefer keeping everything we do in-house – from design, to manufacturing, delivering, and installing.

Over the years that we have been designing and manufacturing luxury tents, we have truly tested boundaries and accomplished the unthinkable. We have a range of standard designed luxury tents which can be customised according to specified requirements, alternatively we can create a custom design from scratch based on a concept on paper. With our team of in-house designers, we can create almost anything that you can imagine. We also work closely with the investor’s architect should one be appointed.

A tented accommodation in the middle of nowhere with stars above

Image credit: Mountain View Safari Lodge

Ladysmith, which is in the Kwa Zulu Natal province in South Africa, shelters our state-of-the-art factories, totalling a productive area of 27,500 m2 where more than 300 skilled design, technical and specialist personnel are employed. Here we craft masterpieces with passion and dedication.

Despite the rigorous quality standards which we adhere to when manufacturing our tents, we still need to deliver on our mantra: “Designed to Impress. Built to Last”.

While our materials are manufactured according to the most exacting quality and climatic durability standards, over time exposure to the elements will take its toll. To conserve the aesthetic appearance of your tented accommodation and extend the lifespan and return on investment, we offer regular on-site inspections and a maintenance service.

If you’d prefer to do it yourself, we can provide maintenance training for your camp managers and staff members, so they can extend the lifespan of your tented accommodation. The usual maintenance includes replacement of zips for canvas-style doors, resealing of the square tubing, tensioning of flysheets, washing each tent as well as reproofing each tent.

We also understand the importance of different environmental elements that have to be taken into consideration when we manufacture luxury tents. In order to accommodate these considerations, we offer different types of steel frames, different combinations of materials, fire-retardant materials, insulated materials and even guarantee that our canvas and flysheets are UV treated, welded and stitched to high standards. We engineer our tent structures in such a way that it can withstand the elements that it is exposed to, enabling the tents to last the investor for more than 10 years, which will be great for your return on investment.

Aerial shot of a tented site

Image credit: Bushtec Safari/Private Resort

Our tents are eco-friendly and can blend in with the natural surroundings quite effortlessly. Each tent has a light footprint, and by securing it to a wooden deck that plants into the ground, you can have your luxury tented camp without disrupting the environment at all.

Bushtec Safari luxury tents are designed and manufactured for year-round use in various weather conditions – from the African bush, to the deserts of the UAE, to the woodland landscapes of Europe and even tropical island style resorts – Bushtec Safari has got you covered.

Not only do we supply these one-of-a-kind luxury tents, we can also offer the investor the option of a full turnkey solution through our sister brand, Bushtec Safari. In this scenario everything concerning the project will be managed and implemented by our in-house team, from planning to concept development, design, site layouts, sourcing, manufacture and supply of all items needed including interiors, right through to deployment and project management. With our professional and experienced team you can rest assured that your investment is in the best hands. For us, no destination is too remote, no idea too bold, no challenge too big.

Bushtec Safari was one of our Product Watch Pitch Partners for Hotel Designs LIVE

Main image credit: Bushtec Safari/Good Moremi Gorge

Sofitel London St James luxury room with blue tartan carpets and blue modern furniture

Hotel review (in video): checking in to Sofitel London St James

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel review (in video): checking in to Sofitel London St James

17 years after first unveiling the original designs for the Sofitel London St James, Pierre-Yves Rochon returned to London to breathe new life into the 183-key lifestyle luxury hotel. Editor Hamish Kilburn, along with a production team to film his response, checks in find out more…

Sofitel London St James luxury room with blue tartan carpets and blue modern furniture

The ultimate compliment for a hotel designer, aside from a client signing off one stage allowing them to move on to the next, is being asked to return back to a project years later to lead it sensitively into a new era. This scenario, although rare and therefore highly momentous, also comes with certain pressures, considering that each and every decision will be scrutinised by client and critic and compared to the statement design scheme that was originally unveiled and considered a success.

For Sofitel London St James, a flagship for the global hotel brand that is positioned in between Westminster and Mayfair, the decision to invite legendary designer Pierre-Yves Rochon back to redesign the guestrooms and suites was one that came naturally. And it was his ability to combine English décor with refined French elegance that gave this hotel’s interiors a new and somewhat an unexpected personality.

“It was important to preserve the identity of the hotel that was created 17 years ago.” – Pierre-Yves Rochon

To truly capture the essence of this modern hotel sheltered in a heritage building, I checked in with our product team at CUBE Video to explore what makes this hotel special. Here’s how I got on…

“It was important to preserve the identity of the hotel that was created 17 years ago,” Rochon told Hotel Designs. “So, there was a clever mix between the elements of the past that we have kept and the new elements marking the new decoration. For example, we kept the headboards and bedside tables the same, but we created a new concept in the guestrooms and suites, which we refer to as the ‘Media wall library’.”

Sofitel London St James luxury twin room in red

Image credit: Sofitel London St James

Inside the new guestrooms, which are complete with retro furniture and bold colours, it is clear that the aim was to, in Rochon’s words, “give a new life to the hotel.” To prevent each room in either green, red or blue colour schemes from looking ‘tired’, and to refine a modern interior design scheme fit for the flagship status it has been given, Rochon’s bold leap away from convention allowed him to further blur the definition of what a London hotel should look like. The tartan carpets, for example, create a textured layer of detail but also compliment the 1960s – 70s theme explored in the design scheme, as Rochon explains: “The choice of Scottish-inspired carpets in the bedrooms is, of course, linked to the fact that we are in the UK, but another reason we choose these carpets was because of the geometric appearance which corresponds to this particular period of design in the 1960s and 70s.”

Image credit: Sofitel London St James blue guestrooms with tartan carpets and blue walls

Image credit: Sofitel London St James

Throughout the hotel, there is a dominant theme of English Style meeting French elegance. While the guestrooms are trendy with certain nods to British iconic fashion figures of the 60s and 70s, the bathrooms are chic, well-lit and with a black and white colour scheme they are also somewhat timeless. “The bathrooms have always been appreciated by the hotel’s guests, so we simply decided to refurbish them when necessary,” said Rochon. “This included improving the lighting, creating showers and redesigning the floors in black and white graphics, in continuity with the original decoration.”

When asked, Rochon admitted that the most challenging aspect of the renovation was staying within budget, “while also respecting the decorative spirit” of the hotel. Regardless of having to stay between the lines of a budget, it is admirable how one designer’s creativity can lead one hotel into two different eras, and as a result re-unveil a modern masterpiece that lives up to its flagship title.

Main image credit: Sofitel London St James

Industry insight: bathroom planning for the future of hotels

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Industry insight: bathroom planning for the future of hotels

As the pandemic continues to challenge existing hotel concepts in all sectors of hospitality, the conventional bathroom and wellness area is being confronted. Tony Taylor-Sherif, Area Specification Consultant at Schlüter Systems who delivered a PRODUCT WATCH pitch at Hotel Designs LIVE, explains…

It is no secret that 2020 has been an unpredictable year with challenges faced by all due to Covid-19. The hospitality sector is one of many which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, but hopefully a strong bounce back will be on the horizon due to the resilient nature of the industry.

However, the design and build of a hotel is a long process that can take a number of years, and predicting how the landscape of the hospitality sector will look on the other side of a global pandemic really is anybody’s guess. One thing that is certain, though, hotels at the early stages of the design process will need to be impressive, welcoming and have the all-important ‘wow’ factor.

Schlüter Systems’ latest range of shower boards could be a key player in assisting with the long-term plans of hotels going forward: a low height version within the Schlüter-KERDI-SHOWER-LTS range has been created specifically to work alongside the Schlüter-KERDI-LINE-G3 linear drain to provide low build up and level access whilst being fully waterproof.

Exclusive modern white bathroom with glass shower

Image credit: Schlüter Systems

The reason this product can help future high-rise hotels is that when installed with the KERDI-LINE-G3 drain, the KERDI-SHOWER-LTS low height offering has the potential to allow for an extra storey to be created with the additional space available due to the fall of 1:80. When return on investment is such an important factor, this option could make all the difference.

Not only does the low height offering provide architects with more space to build upwards, another benefit is that it can easily be installed as part of a warrantied and fully waterproof system. The KERDI-SHOWER-LTS can be used seamlessly with other products in their portfolio, such as Schlüter-DITRA-HEAT to offer the popular choice of underfloor heating, and the BBA-certified Schlüter-KERDI-BOARD for the slick creation of niches or partition walls.

New design bathroom with shower and two basins, in gray and white with black details

Image credit: Schlüter Systems

This will provide both hotel owners and their guests with the much-needed reassurance and peace of mind that the specified bathrooms will be long-lasting and reliable. Getting the parts behind the tiles right ensures that any elements you add to give guests an unforgettable experience will stand the test of time.

Although it is difficult to know what the next few years will look like for the hospitality sector, it is clear that hotels will need to offer the very best to their customers and with Schlüter Systems, this can be done stylishly with ease.

Since you’re here, why not read more about Schlüter System’s stylish niches and shelves.

Schlüter Systems was a PRODUCT WATCH pitch partner at Hotel Designs LIVE.

Main image credit: Schlüter Systems

Product watch: the Statement Sculpture by Marokka Design House

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: the Statement Sculpture by Marokka Design House

Need to add a little statement into your next hotel project? Marokka Design House, a brand that is built on creating geometric objects of desire, may have just the thing…

The best destinations always have a sense of place by connecting with visitors on a deeper more experiential level, this can be through heritage, architecture and attention-grabbing designs.

The latter resonates especially with Marokka Design House, a business that is built on creating geometric objects of desire that also gives back to the societies and places in which they exist.

It is not surprising that sculpting one of the oldest forms of art, preceding painting, the purpose not being to depict beauty but to provide a physical presence for the spirituality of early civilisation.

When the imposing three-metre high Gus, a western lowland gorilla, was originally created in partnership with Broadgate and The Aspinall Foundation for a unique, tech-inspired exhibition – WILD LIFE, it had a clear objective which was to raise the awareness of endangered animals.

The stunning polygonal gorilla formed the cornerstone of an interactive exhibition in the centre of London’s Financial District and combined the physical sculpture with digital experiences. By downloading Marokka’s free app, visitors were able to bring augmented reality animations to life while highlighting the plight of endangered animals around the world and celebrating the incredible work of charity partner, The Aspinall Foundation in protecting them and sending animals back to the wild.

The advantage of creating a physical sculpture is its permanence and in the case of King Gus (as he has since been named), is that he now resides in the entrance at Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve and his large presence makes the experience all the more memorable for those who visit.

Charlotte Clout, owner of Marokka Design House, has also revealed that another King Gus will be launching soon and will be looking for his forever home. He can be customised to enhance and reinforce the brand presence of any business park, hotel interior or exterior.

As well as making large scale sculptures, Marokka makes smaller-scale sculptures for the home that are made from sustainable and eco-friendly materials, available to buy on the website – plus, the brand donates 10 per cent of all sales to The Aspinall Foundation and DOTS (Dogs on the Street).

Marokka is one of our Industry Support Package clients 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: Marokka

Computer generated image of a luxurious and modern living room interiors. 3D Rendering of a full furnished living Room.

Product watch: Focus launches the gas Gyrofocus

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Focus launches the gas Gyrofocus

Focus has launched the world’s first pivoting gas fire, the gas Gyrofocus – a new patented global innovation with design meeting environmental standards – once again shaking up established codes…

Computer generated image of a luxurious and modern living room interiors. 3D Rendering of a full furnished living Room.

Fireplace brand Focus, which was recently Highly Commended in The Eco Award category at The Brit List Awards 2020, has reinvented replace technology with the announcement of the world’s first pivoting gas fire. Introducing the gas Gyrofocus.

The legendary design, originally created more than 50 years ago as a wood-burning stove, has a newly patented technology allowing the gas to be brought down through a sealed pipe into the suspended replace whilst pivoting 100 degrees. This is a real technological feat and a world first recognised by the filing of a patent.

Image credit: Focus

The gas Gyrofocus is practical, easy to maintain and a stress-free fire. It is a generous and spectacular fire with ceramic logs that perfectly imitate the dancing ames of a real wood fire.

The first suspended and pivoting gas replace is energy efficient with an output of 13 kW and allows for ease of installation above any type
of flooring. The gas Gyrofocus is also equipped with remote control: instant ignition, adjustment of flame and heat intensity, programming for controlled, constant and comfortable heat.

Odourless and with zero particle emissions, this icon naturally finds its place in an apartment in any geo-location. Thanks to its ease of use, this sculptural design can be installed in the reception areas of large hotels, restaurants and establishments open to the public.

With its advanced technology, the gas Gyrofocus, available in two colours (black or white) cannot be sold without a preliminary technical survey of the site and its installation must be carried out by official Focus partner-resellers trained in this technology. The model is equipped with a specially designed plate to allow the gas to pass through the pipe. The installation operates on batteries and the burner is controlled with a remote control.

Since you’re here, why not read more about Focus’ latest outdoor range of fireplaces?

Focus 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: Focus

Boutique hotel, La Vue, in Bordeaux region goes on sale

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Boutique hotel, La Vue, in Bordeaux region goes on sale

The family-owned La Vue, a luxury hotel and wedding venue that is sheltered inside a former 17th Century Cognac distillery, is up for sale – and Hotel Designs, for the first time in the publication’s history, is keen to find a buyer for the family…

2020 has proven itself to be the year of distressed assets, with characterful hotel properties around the world being sold to the chains. However, there is nothing distressed about La Vue, a perfectly placed boutique hotel that has potential to be something incredible on Europe’s independent hotel scene.

Situated right at the centre of a triangle drawn between three major cities in France – Bordeaux, Cognac and Angouleme – La Vue is a luxury boutique gem set in one acre of land, which is surrounded by vineyards and spectacular views.

The 15-key property, which was refurbished in 2018 and reviewed in The Telegraph shortly after where it was described as a “tasteful, secluded little gem” and dubbed the “Tuscany of France”, is home to five three-bedroom self-catering gites, which are attached to a spectacular Manor House with en-suite guestrooms, bar, bistro and staff accommodation.

The hotel and wedding venue is located in a small village called Birac, which is roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes from Bordeaux, 30 minutes from Cognac and 25 minutes from Angouleme. Previous guests have often tied in trips to La Vue with visits to St Emilion, Pauillac and other famous wine making domaines. Cognac lovers are well catered for too in the eponymous city – with tours of Remy Martin, Martel and Courvoisier available. Adjacent to La Vue is an organic Cognac maker called Jean Luc Pasquet who supply the hotel and offer tastings and tours.

“The hotel has recently been granted preliminary approval from the local authorities for a further 50 beds.”

La Vue itself is a former 17th Century Cognac distillery, and is architecturally very typical of the Charentes region. The current family who own the property acquired it in 2017 from a British couple who had been running it as a wedding venue for many years, primarily catering to British guests. In 2018 it underwent a complete overhaul to bring it up to a standard where it could be relaunched as a high-end wedding venue. 

An outdoor pool iun between barns in La Vue

Image credit: La Vue

Outside, there are two swimming pools and a small spa and wellness area that is complete with sauna and steam room, plus staff accommodation facilities. The landscape has a beautiful lawn to the rear surrounding the pool deck, and a pergola that is suitable for outdoor dining. At the rear there is an observation deck with views that stretch across the valley, and that frames spectacular sunsets.

What’s more, the hotel has reported a strong pipeline of bookings running into 2022, and it has recently been granted preliminary approval from the local authorities for a further 50 beds – the site for the proposed expansion is a currently disused cognac barn.

To find out more details about this boutique hotel, and to be put in touch with the owners, please email us on the editorial desk. 

Main image credit: La Vue France

Outdoor heating in F&B setting

Anything but business as usual: the demand for outdoor heating

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Anything but business as usual: the demand for outdoor heating

Following presenting a dynamic product pitch at Hotel Designs LIVE, Bromic Heating discusses how hotels can re-purpose their spaces with outdoor heating to ensure they’re both compliant with Covid-19 regulations and deliver a premium guest experience…

Outdoor heating in F&B setting

With the current pandemic effectively halting the global hospitality industry, hotels around the world would like nothing more than to return to business as usual. However, as the sector slowly starts reopening, it’s clear that it will be anything but business as usual with many hotels questioning just how they will be able to stay afloat while ensuring their guests’ safety.

With occupancy rates still at a record low, many hotels are using this time to re-evaluate how they can expand their current footprint to accommodate the largest number of guests while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Providing guests with access to more spaces with cleaner and fresher air will play a central role in any strategy moving forward and hotels have already started contemplating new design solutions with more open-air environments. Below are some of the key areas that will benefit from a move outdoors.

One of the main touchpoints affected by the current restrictions will be the food and beverage serving areas. As a result, some hotels have already started looking at alternatives to their usual buffet service, from moving entire dining rooms outdoors to offering “anyplace dining”, allowing guests to eat anywhere in the hotel, whether that’s by the pool or in the garden. Other, more structural solutions, include the introduction of bi-fold doors and windows that can quickly turn any indoor dining room into an outdoor restaurant.

Fitness and health: from indoor gym to open air workouts

Another potential victim of the pandemic will be indoor gym facilities. While hotels will have the option to reconfigure their onsite gyms to create more space between equipment, they should also consider moving their gyms outdoors. Outdoor exercise has become a familiar sight during the pandemic and a trend that is likely to survive the lockdown. Hotels should therefore look at re-purposing some of their outdoor spaces into exercise areas, offering their guests open-air workout alternatives, whether that’s rooftop yoga or patio Pilates. This will also help hotels expand their wellness offering – a trend that is likely to receive a post-pandemic boost with guest welfare becoming paramount.

Outdoor heating for 24-hour comfort

When looking at expanding or re-purposing outdoor environments, it’s important to not neglect guest comfort. Hotels operate 24 hours, so ensuring that guests have access to outdoor spaces at any time of the day or night will be essential. Outdoor heating solutions can help. Quickly and easily installed, they’re a cost-effective solution that ensures guests are comfortable while dining, exercising or when stepping out of their room for some fresh air, whatever the time or season.

Well-designed outdoor spaces will be the key to recovery. Heaters should be positioned in a way that they offer even heat distribution across both the seating and food serving areas. Another point to consider is the nature and direction of prevailing winds. Thoughtful placement of heating in areas most susceptible to ingress of cold air, using wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, suspended or portable heaters, create warm and welcoming spaces where guest can dine and relax comfortably at any time of the year.

Case Study: The Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa

The Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa is a 209-room luxury resort within walking distance of California’s scenic North County beaches and the picturesque village of Carlsbad. The resort prides itself in offering guests countless activities and luxuries from a single location, including a spa, golf course, gourmet dining, bars and a convention centre.

One of the resort’s key dining destinations, the Twenty/20 Grill & Wine Bar, boasts a large outdoor patio, where guests can take in the spectacular views of the Pacific coastline while enjoying some of California’s best locally-sourced cuisine. To further enhance their guests’ dining experience and to ensure patrons are warm and comfortable even during cooler nights, the restaurant installed 15 Bromic Platinum Smart-HeatTM Gas heaters across its 120-seat outdoor patio back in 2008.

“Guests love to sit in this area especially during dinner to view the setting sun over the Pacific Ocean while dining. It can get a bit chilly due to the coastal breezes which makes these heaters very important,” comments Kent Bailey, Complex Director of Engineering at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa.

Premium finish and performance

Made from premium-grade stainless-steel, Bromic Platinum Smart-HeatTM Gas heaters were specifically engineered to deliver superior performance and durability for the highest level of investment protection. With their signature ceramic glass fascia, the heaters provide an even heat distribution across a large area, while innovative, patented technology ensures that guests are comfortably warm even in wind speeds of up to 18km/h.

“Many of our patrons say they love the heaters and how they make you feel warm, but are not blazing on top of your head,” adds Kent.

A modular design that’s built to last                       

After about 12 years of service in a challenging coastal climate the heaters started showing signs of wear and tear and the Sheraton decided it was time to replace the units. When the hotel contacted Bromic to inquire about its options, it became clear that instead of a full replacement, the Sheraton would only need to exchange a few critical parts, saving the resort both valuable time and money.

“Bromic gas heaters have a modular design which means that critical components from the inside of the control module to the ignition wires and burners are interchangeable as they wear out over time,” explains Karl Tschauner, Director of Sales at Bromic Heating. “For the Sheraton this meant that they only needed to replace certain parts instead of having to uninstall and reinstall an entire group of heaters.”

“When we were challenged with having to replace the heaters, we were in a pinch to get them ordered and on to the property, so they could be installed quickly,” remembers Kent. “The team at Bromic were great to work with and did everything in their power to ensure we received the replacement parts as quickly as possible.”

Bromic Heating was a PRODUCT PITCH partner at Hotel Designs LIVE.

Main image credit: Bromic Heating

Main image for Hotel Designs LIVE Session 4

(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: The revival of smart tech post-pandemic

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(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: The revival of smart tech post-pandemic

In the final session of Hotel Designs LIVE, editor Hamish Kilburn was joined by global industry experts to discuss the revival of smart tech after he checked in to a completely contactless hotel experience…

Main image for Hotel Designs LIVE Session 4

The final session that took place during Hotel Designs LIVE was entitled: The revival of smart tech post-pandemic – and was sponsored by Grohe, a bathroom manufacturer that is clearly leading the way when it comes to utilising technology to create innovative bathroom solutions.

To introduce the topic to the audience, editor Hamish Kilburn shared a video feature that showed him teaming up with Headline Partner Technological Innovations Group to explore technology’s role post-Covid. To do this, they checked in to Bloc Hotel Gatwick, which has just undergone an extensive technology renovation and now shelters a completely contactless hotel experience.

Here’s how they got on:

Following this immersive hotel review, which was produced by the event’s official videographers at CUBE Video, Kilburn was armed with relevant questions to put forward to his expert panel about tech solutions for a post-pandemic world.

On the panel:

Within this session, the audience heard PRODUCT WATCH pitches from Grohe, Technological Innovations Group, Aqualisa, Hamilton Litestat and a sponsored question from Duravit.

Since you’re here, why not watch all four sessions from Hotel Designs LIVE – sessions one, two and three – on demand?

SAVE THE DATE: Hotel Designs LIVE will return for a third edition on February 23, 2021. Session titles 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.

Bathroom brand Aqualisa expands its brassware offering

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Bathroom brand Aqualisa expands its brassware offering

Hard on the heels of launching an extended brassware range – the warmly received Uptown collection – shower manufacturer Aqualisa has introduced two more ranges of brassware under the new Downtown and Central branding…

All three ranges are a value for money option, that will support shower sales with a combined, style matched brassware proposition. This latest move establishes Aqualisa as a brassware category player with a strong proposition for market sectors where bathroom customisation and the trend towards ‘mix and match’ is a strong purchase influence.

These new tap offerings are relevant to all Aqualisa’s target markets – trade, consumer and specifier – where the opportunity exists to offer a co-ordinated sale of shower and taps under one brand with the same style elements. With a variation of lever styles, these taps cover both basin and bath variants and can be paired with a wide selection of single and dual lever mixer showers and bar valves, including the AQ, Mian, Midas and Dream ranges.

“We’re keen  to support our showers through specialist retail and merchant showrooms with consumers that are looking for co-ordinated taps with strong brand values as well as to brand loyal installers at the trade counter who will specify taps as part of a complete bathroom refurbishment project,” says Head of Marketing Sian Brink.

The introduction of these new tap ranges announces Aqualisa’s serious entry into the brassware market as it heads towards the end of 2020, but, importantly, the launch positions Aqualisa as a brassware brand with a more extensive offering to come in 2021.

“These brassware options see the Aqualisa brand covering full, matching combinations of showers and taps to suit a broad range of bathroom installations,” says Sian Brink. “The choice of different lever styles provides options to match both new and existing sanitaryware styles, making them ideal for bathroom makeovers and updates.”

All taps in the ranges are easy to fit with flexible hose connections and click clack wastes included with the basin taps. They are durable and functional with high quality limescale resistant chrome plate finish, justifying a five-year guarantee against any manufacturing defect.  With integral flow limiters and full WRAS approval, the ranges satisfy all Part G water safety, usage and efficiency standards.

Aqualisa is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly feature 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: Aqualisa

Image of the Sterling Suite with Brit List logo

The Brit List Awards 2020: the winners’ story

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The Brit List Awards 2020: the winners’ story

The Brit List Awards 2020 came to a dramatic climax yesterday, when the individual winners – in seven categories – were announced in the virtual awards ceremony that was broadcasted live from London. Editor Hamish Kilburn, who hosted that ceremony, has the winners’ story…

Image of the Sterling Suite with Brit List logo

Earlier this year, when we were all adapting to a #WFH summer, a designer accurately described how the pandemic has made us feel. “Covid-19 has been like a wet fish being slapped across our faces,” she said as I laughed, and then frowned with concern when I considered the enormity of the situation. Adapting during these no-doubt challenging times has resulted in many changes, but we were never going to allow a virus to impact on the quality of our nationwide search to find the top designers, architects, hoteliers and suppliers operating in Britain.

This year’s judging panel – and of course our sponsors and partners – have been phenomenal: going above and beyond to support us as we made that difficult yet responsible decision to transform this year’s awards ceremony into a virtual capacity (while looking forward to the winners’ party that will following in April).

During the in-depth judging process, we all discovered a new meaning of hospitality as we read how designers, architects and hoteliers are continuing to push conventional boundaries. But the category that really stood out, was the hoteliers – seeing the innovative initiatives that were born during the Covid-19 crisis was breathtaking, and this has naturally become a common thread between this year’s entries.

Following the unveiling of The Brit List 2020, which references the top 75 influencers in British design and hospitality, we unveiled this year’s individual winners. Here are their stories.

INTERIOR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Albin Berglund, Co-Founder, Bergman Interiors

The Brit List Awards - Albin Berglund

Albin Burglund, in the judge’s words, won because of the wonderful sense of place that pervaded in his recent projects that were referenced in his entry. However, it is also his pioneering approach to designing a new era in wellness hospitality – and the studio’s drive to challenge conventional design – that makes Albin a worthy winner.

Albin Berglund and Marie Soliman, the founders of Bergman Interiors, are making noise on the world’s luxury hotel design stage for challenging the past and offering solutions when designing the future of hospitality.

ARCHITECT OF THE YEAR
Winner: Christos Passas, Project Director, Zaha Hadid Architects

The Brit List Awards - Christos Passas

Christos Passas and the whole team at Zaha Hadid Architects have showed such immeasurable creativity for their work on The Opus in Dubai, which shelters ME Dubai. The striking mirrored-glass building gives modern architecture a new meaning. Its new-age yet timeless design challenges so many forms of convention, defying boundaries in architecture and design to stand as a fitting legacy to the late Zaha Hadid.

HOTELIER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Gary Neville, Co-Owner, Stock Exchange Hotel

The Brit List Awards - Gary Neville

To further prevent the spread of Covid-19 and to support key workers, both Hotel Football and Stock Exchange Hotel were among the first hotels in the UK to close and offer their rooms to NHS staff for free. Not only this but Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, the co-owners of both hotels, also vowed not to make any staff redundant or put them on unpaid leave during the closures.

BEST IN TECH
Winner: XR Smart Studio (Royal Lancaster London)

The Brit List Awards - XR Smart Studio

In a time when hosting an event seems an unlikely possibility (sounds familiar), the team at the Royal Lancaster London introduced XR SmartStudio, in partnership with Smart AV. This innovative piece of equipment features a 20 sqm Extended Reality stage with LED backdrop and floor, audio, broadcast cameras and TV-ready lighting allowing clients to have both a live audience and virtual attendees.

THE ECO AWARD
Winner: Sibley Grove (The Chamberlain)

The Brit List Awards - Sibley Grove

Sibley Grove adopts a circular approach to design. This means that the studio considers the entire lifecycle of a product, ensuring materials are used again and again or integrated back into the natural world through decomposition. Designing in a circular way reduces demand on resources, reduces landfill, and incentivizes the production of clean, reusable materials.

In the Chamberlain, for example, the ceilings use TROL DEKT acoustic panels, a biological material made from 100 per cent natural elements and FSC timber. It achieves high levels of technical performance in use, but crucially it can be disposed of harmlessly.

A crucial part of The Chamberlain design is Sibley Grove’s policy of ‘design for disassembly’. An approach adopted in all of their projects. In other words, it is considering how the design will come apart after use, whether it is two or two hundred years into the future.

BEST IN BRITISH PRODUCT DESIGN
Winner: Sequel Principle collection, from Parkside and Alusid

The Brit List Awards - Parkside

The new Sequel Principle collection, from Parkside and Alusid, represents a huge step forward for the ceramic tile industry as the world’s first mass produced 95 per cent recycled content tile.

With a tile body made entirely from by-products (post-consumer recycled glass and ceramic) of other manufacturing processes, Sequel Principle is based on technology that has taken a bold leap from a small batch production to a fully scalable process. Made by adapting the tile body to work in standard ceramic production facilities, Sequel Principle achieves a similar like-to-like cost as some other twice-fired tiles.

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
Winner: Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International

The Brit List Awards - Fiona Thompson

I first met Fiona Thompson, Principal of Richmond International, in 2015. As a shy and timid features editor, I had not long graduated from uni and just like every post-grad feels in his/her first job, I felt like I had a point to prove. At the time, The Sterling Suite sheltered inside The Langham London was about to be completed, and I was fortunate enough to gain access into the studio where the sketches from this project became reality. Naturally, I was nervous.

However, I was totally put at ease when Fiona beamed into the room, sat down and explained every design detail of the 450-square metre suite. Not only did she answer every single one of my 20+ questions, but she also showed an interest in me.

During our priceless conversation, Fiona made me realise that I was embarking into an industry where human relationships – real relationships – are at the core of nearly every decision. And in these challenging times that we are in, I am all about REAL and MEANINGFUL relationships! Fiona, you wholeheartedly deserve this award!

Thank you to our partners, and we will see you at the winners’ party in April!

A lonely chair on cork flooring

A modern tradition – introducing a new range by Granorte

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
A modern tradition – introducing a new range by Granorte

As we continue our journey looking at innovative sustainable solutions, editor Hamish Kilburn casts his eyes on Tradition, a range of glue-down cork floor tiles from Granorte

A lonely chair on cork flooring

As we spend more time in our home during the new normal, we’re increasingly conscious of the materials and finishes we choose and the impact they have on our wellbeing. Materials that link us to the positive effects of the natural world are gaining popularity and helping us to feel calm and relaxed as we seek to feel protected and secure within our homes.

Cork, as we have realised for a while now at Hotel Designs, is an ideal surface to foster this connectivity and is one that not only links us to nature but helps to preserve it also. Cork’s unique aesthetic is deep rooted in the natural world and arguably, its status as a historic floor used in happier times cements its soothing and calming effect. Harvested from bark, rather than felling, cork comes from trees that live for hundreds of years, so it is a material that’s renewable and natural, and which also helps to sustain the balance of the atmosphere.

Granorte’s Tradition collection is as close to the original cork floors as is possible to find today. Possessing a history dating back over a century, cork tiled floors are the purest use of the material and to which Tradition stays faithful. With a natural sanded pre-finish ready for sealing, these stylish glue-down tiles are available in agglomerated designs that all provide a beautiful and richly organic cork aesthetic.

“While we have innovated to harness the benefits of cork with products that respond to today’s interiors in floating click floors and PVC-free LVT alternatives, it is the simplicity and pureness of Tradition that seems extraordinarily appropriate at the moment,” says Paulo Rocha, product and R&D manager, Granorte. “Tradition is a sustainable flooring choice that puts homes in direct touch with the natural environment – it is a simple execution of the material that feels all the more genuine and authentic for that very reason.”

Tradition is available from Granorte in a 4mm thick 600 x 300mm tile, manufactured in Portugal from 100% cork recycled from the wine stopper industry.

Granorte is one of our Industry Support Package clients 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: Granorte

The Brit List Awards 2020: how to virtually celebrate in style

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The Brit List Awards 2020: how to virtually celebrate in style

With The Brit List Awards 2020 getting underway in just a few hours time, our editorial team have compiled their top tips to making the most out of a virtual awards ceremony (it includes fizz)…

The awards ceremony for The Brit List Awards 2020, Hotel Designs’ nationwide search to find the top designers, architects, hoteliers and suppliers operating in Britain, takes place at 14:00 (UK time) today.

While you’re here, why not read the shortlist for The Brit list Awards 2020?

As this year’s ceremony is taking place in a virtual format in order to adhere to the latest social distancing measures (not something that comes naturally to our industry), we have pulled together some tried and tested top tips to ensure you experience this year’s virtual awards ceremony in style.

1) Do not disturb

An animation that says do not disturb

Image credit: Morgan Housel on Unsplash

Switch your ‘Out of Office’ on, get comfortable and stay hydrated (we recommend a glass of fizz as this is a celebration) 

2) Stay connected

WALLPAPER with tweet tweet in lighting

Image credit: Chris J. Davis on Unsplash

Connect with us and the industry across social – our hashtag for the event is #TheBritListAwards2020.

Please tag us in your posts on InstagramTwitterFacebook and Linkedin – @HotelDesigns – so that we can reshare your content to our global audience.

3) Get ready to party!

Image of champagne and sign to party

Image credit:Alealexander Naglestad- and Nick Fewings on unsplash

And finally, why not dress to impress? While our awards ceremony this year may be virtual, our winners’ party is certainly not! The Brit List Winners’ Party/MEET UP London is taking place at Minotti London on April 29, 202 (purchase your tickets here).

So, what happens now?

If you have signed up to join us for this memorable industry calendar moment then you will have received your Zoom invitation by now. This will have come from Forum Events with the subject line – The Brit List Awards 2020 – The Award Ceremony Confirmation.  

You know the drill – just click the link in the Zoom confirmation email to attend The Brit List Awards 2020 (don’t be late)! 

The agenda of the virtual awards ceremony

Editor’s Welcome
Meet the Judges
The unveiling of The Brit List 2020
Individual winners announced 

#TheBritListAwards2020 | Main image credit: Unsplash

Image of minimalist bedroom with earthy tones