Posts Tagged :

    Hotel Development

    EXCLUSIVE ROUNDTABLE: Meaningfully differentiating luxury in hotel design

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    EXCLUSIVE ROUNDTABLE: Meaningfully differentiating luxury in hotel design

    To continue Hotel Designs’ series of articles to put sustainability under the spotlight, editor Hamish Kilburn chairs an exclusive editorial roundtable, in collaboration with Minotti London, to understand how today’s leading designers are sensitively working to create a more meaningful luxury hotel design landscape. Joining us on the Minotti sofa to discuss this topic:

    With the aim to conceive and design meaningful luxury hotels, there is undoubtedly a question mark on how designers and architects can differentiate their projects to stand out as timeless jewels. With the rise in technology and social media, competition for hotel operators and developers is no longer limited to a single neighbourhood; we have very much entered a global arena. But how are today’s leading designers confronting the evolving hospitality landscape, and just how significant is sense of place when approaching sensitive luxury projects? We invited a handful of the industry’s most distinguished innovators to Minotti London‘s alluring showroom in Fitzrovia to find out more.

    Hamish Kilburn: What are the largest misconceptions when it comes to designing luxury?

    Jo Littlefair, Director and Co-Founder, Goddard Littlefair: Travelling globally, and understanding global attitudes towards luxury is so important. We have clients that have huge misconceptions to whatever project they are developing. We still struggle when clients associate harsh golds and marbles with luxury, for example. I find it really disheartening, because for me, a non-material object like ‘time’ is a luxury. When approaching the design of any luxury hotel, it’s really important to keep in mind the attitude you are trying to create.

    Hamish Brown, Partner, 1508 London: There are a few buzzwords that keep coming up in the studio. We don’t have a ‘house style’ as such, therefore we are really trying capture and create sense of place within each projects. It’s not about fashion but about style. If you look at the great Hollywood movie stars now and compare them to images of themselves 30 to 40 years ago, quite often they will look as relevant now as they did then. That is certainly to do with style over fashion. We look at ways in which classical details and proportions can manifest themselves within a design.

    David Mason, Head of Hospitality, Scott Brownrigg: The definition of luxury is not the same for everyone. Some may see luxury in technology, while others believe it is in the foundations of a hotel. In our studio, we don’t necessarily design the ultra six-star luxury hotel, but many of our clients are interested in ‘luxury’, which can come from anything from the service down to the attention to detail. What is luxurious to one person is different to another.

    Constantina Tsoutsikou, Creative Director, HBA London: I think luxury is also about being generous as a designer. You always give more than what is expected and make sure that the spaces are comfortable and also have longevity. Where I can, I try to avoid anything too shiny. It’s becoming more apparent that the days of clients wanting to the interiors to show off wealth are behind us. Instead, well-designed luxury interiors are more honest and truthful. That in itself is a luxury mindset.

    “We have realised that clients want luxury but almost on a shoestring budget.” – Constantina Tsoutsikou, Creative Director, HBA London

    Image caption: (centre) Hamish Brown, (right) Jo Littlefair

    HK: When did your clients start accepting a shift in consumer demands when it comes to luxury?

    HB: I think it massively goes back to what that hotel means within its location as well as the characteristics of the building. There is certainly more of an acceptance from both sides. Some clients believe that what they want is a grand, sweeping entrance, whereas to really differentiate themselves and to make their hotel work within its location and to be relevant to the building, we suggest to park pre-conceived ideas and think about what would work for that particular hotel.

    CT: We have realised that clients want luxury but almost on a shoestring budget. If you compare it to a good few years ago, budget expectations are certainly getting lower. Perhaps it is a sign of the times. At the same time, palettes are becoming more concise, that’s a good thing because designs are cleaner. There’s still a layering there, but the money that was being spilled into a hotel project before the 2008 crisis is not there anymore. However, the expectation certainly is. So, as designers, we have to work out how to manage that.

    JL: Also, you cannot ignore the noise and influence of social media – it has a lot to answer for. That inaccurately convinces clients and developers that design is easy and disposable, and that it doesn’t take five minutes to produce a moodboard. But in reality, especially when considering sense of place, you’re thinking about a building and a brand. Putting these elements together requires a real curation of things. Otherwise, I have seen it when people go off on tangents and throw details into the canvas. Nothing ends up gelling and it becomes a messy clash of ideas.

    “Trying to get the balance between the soft, the elegant while making these spaces feel comfortable places to work, sit and socialise is a challenge.” – David Mason, Head of Hospitality, Scott Brownrigg

    HK: One of the most obvious changes in hotel design, and in the demand from guests, is in the public areas. How has this changed the way in which you specify furniture?

    CT: Everybody is working from everywhere. We have a beautiful resort project, which is currently on the boards. As a result of the direct demand from modern travels, we are thinking about putting USB charging sockets on the day beds next to the pool. Generally, I think this is a positive step forward for hotels, which have a life on their own. I think it’s wonderful – and a real stamp of approval from the community – when the neighbourhood becomes part of the life inside a hotel. After all, nobody likes a dead public space.

    “All of our furniture is designed at a deliberate height so that each piece can gel with other elements. As opposed to creating one iconic piece, we wanted to create a design DNA.” Digby Summerhill, Director, Minotti London

    DM: It’s a hard balance to strike. When our commercial interior designers get asked create these multifunctional spaces, the way in which they design is very task oriented. Trying to get the balance between the soft, the elegant while making these spaces feel comfortable places to work, sit and socialise is a challenge.

    Digby Summerhill, Director, Minotti London: We’ve always had modular systems that are flexible. All of our furniture is designed at a deliberate height so that each piece can gel with other elements. As opposed to creating one iconic piece, we wanted to create a design DNA; something that runs through an interior design scene. It’s not a coincidence that no individual item stands out in our collections. One thing I think is interesting is that we didn’t design any of these pieces with hospitality necessarily in mind. Instead we very looked at consumer behaviour and understood the demands of consumers within public areas.

    HB: We are often trying to design public spaces to not look like public areas. The idea of a lobby/lounge going against what people would expect in a conventional hotel, to shelter intimate spaces, private nooks where people can work, is very appealing to me. I agree that idea of the community coming in and using the hotel is huge, but perhaps this is something that London has not got right in the past. In other cities there is much more fluidity and it works beautifully. Allowing furniture to adapt to how people are using is a big part of this, and an idea that is really exciting.

    Image caption: (Left) David Mason, (Right) Jo Littlefair

    HK: Let’s talk about sustainability. A study recently showed that 76 per cent of guests believe that hotels could be greener. Is consciousness the new luxury, as I suggested in my recent editor’s letter?

    JL: We’ve been really encouraged recently to have had two projects come to us with sustainability at their hearts. Absolutely every decision has to have a sustainability angle. What we hope is that it continues through to the final touch points, because there will be financial implications along the way. Having filter taps in the room so that hotel guests can refill water bottles is a fresh approach that I love. The design utilities recycled parts of the existing building, giving a whole new meaning of injecting life back into a hotel. We are really thinking about those elements, including timelessness. I agree that it is about style. For us, it’s not about having a hemp interiors, it’s about creating luxury that has a slight assured sense of elegance and quality that has a higher purpose.

    DM: The best way to differentiate luxury when it comes to sustainability is to be clever. Having a brief like this is rare, let alone working on two. So, designers, it is our responsibility to educate our clients and specify materials and items that don’t harm the environment or the end user. Behind this, it’s therefore so important that we understand the products and materials and what sets them apart from others in the market.

    “Luxury is not just about design, it is about service as well and so many other things that are intrinsically layered on top.” – Hamish Brown, Director, 1508 London

    HK: To me it’s very transparent when hotels use words without actions when it comes to sustainability. Is it the designer’s responsibility to ensure clients avoid greenwashing?

    CT: You have to remember, we are designing spaces that will open in three years time. It’s a long time, and things change very quickly. You have to be ahead of the game and lead in that way so that the hotel is relevant when it opens. You have to ensure that the strategy you have in place is looking ahead and avoids the need for significant last-minute changes. On the other hand, as designers, we have a responsibility to influence the clients. But I think soon, it will become a necessity across the entire industry. I predict this will happen faster than we think, and it’s already started with wider conversations with local suppliers.

    HK: What are you all doing at the moment to try and differentiate your luxury projects from others?

    CT: I am always asking myself, how do I position this hotel in the current market, or in a wider sense, how do I position this hotel for an international clientale? This is because the competition is no longer just the hotel’s neighbour, it’s a global arena.

    DM: I suppose it is now about experience. People desire luxury experiences. A hotel group has just bought the Fort of India. How incredible would that be; to stay and experience something totally unmatched like that. Travellers want authenticity and they consider that to be luxury.

    HB: Sense of place cannot be underestimated. The definition of luxury differs from place to place and demographic to demographic, and you have to respond, beneath the surface, to understand what is happening in those locations. Luxury is not just about design, it is about service as well and so many other things that are intrinsically layered on top. When those elements and concepts interlock, that’s when you have a seamless luxury experience when service and design sit side by side and are harmoniously linked.

    HK: Consumer demands of public areas have spilled out into outdoor spaces. Has this changed the way in which you design these areas together?

    JL: We love integrating the outdoor areas so that they becomes a seamless flow where we can. I would say this is especially the case in food and beverage sector. We have recruited designers that only specialise in those areas so that we can get the operational flow right. That connection to the outdoor is integral to our overall wellbeing. Humanity is an element of luxury that we have not touched upon, because our disassociation with human relationships is becoming more enforced by our use of technology. I feel that human touch – it can be as simple as eye contact, and/or just being understood in a different country – is really important that we deliver with hospitality. And first and foremost, design and architecture should enable this.

    “Usually I will use the sustainability angle as an added value and not the primary reason why we are specifying, unless the brief has an eco-friendly thread in its core.” – Jo Littlefair, Director and Co-Founder, Goddard Littlefair.

    HK: Sustainability is becoming a buzzword that some would argue is losing its meaning. What makes a piece of furniture sustainable for you?

    JL: At the end of the day we, as designers, have to ensure that the furniture looks fantastic – and it meets all the needs and demands from our clients as well as regulations. But it really does come down to how we communicate this with the client. We do have to choose our words carefully, but that’s the same as when pitching any idea to the client. Usually I will use the sustainability angle as an added value and not the primary reason why we are specifying, unless the brief has an eco-friendly thread in its core.

    DM: Different cultures are going to be more interested than others, that is for sure. It is all about baby steps, and we do as much as we can.

    Technology and manufacturing has been a massive help. Sustainable products and materials are now at a price point that works for a client and a luxury brief. To then specify a product that is eco-friendly and longer lasting than another becomes a no-brainer. I really believe it is changing. Clients are more aware of the value of reclaimed or reupholstered furniture. Having said this, it is also a balancing act. I am working on a hotel at the moment with the aim to reupholster the casegoods and the beds, and sadly it is actually almost as expensive as buying new pieces.

    “I think if you can justifiably explain how a decision adds value, then cost can sometimes be reconsidered.” – Hamish Brown, Director, 1508 London.

    HK: In regards to luxury, do you believe value outweighs cost?

    HB: It’s a lovely idea, and my view is that value does outweigh cost. If you look at today’s market and the economy, there is a huge sense of getting value. It’s not always about cost. I think if you can justifiably explain how a decision adds value, then cost can sometimes be reconsidered.

    JL: We get closer to understanding the deal that the developer has struck and the budget that has driven the deal, which underpins the whole project. Basically, our client has a figure that they cannot deviate from. So yes, it is common sense, and I do value beautiful furniture, and we do have to be ambassadors that push for quality so that these pieces don’t end up in landfill, but there is a bottom line figure discussion. As a designer, you are the piece of magic in the middle having to constantly and consistently value engineer the project.

    HB: The most successful projects that we work on are the ones where everyone involved is upfront and honest with cost and there is a real transparency there.

    HK: Has the weight on where the budget is spent in the hotel changed?

    DM: It’s always in the ceiling!

    CT: I have seen that generally, not enough budget is left for the finishing touches.

    JL: For me, it’s artwork.

    Following the exclusive panel discussion, the leading designers and architects were able to browse the showroom, which showcased, in an apt setting, Minotti’s 2019 collection of timeless indoor and outdoor furniture.

    Minotti London will be the venue of Hotel Designs’ Meet Up London, which will take place in Spring 2020. More details will follow.

    If you are interested in hosting our next editorial roundtable, please email Katy Phillips or call +44 (0)1992 374050. 

    Checking in to Inhabit Hotel, sheltering a new level of eco design

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Checking in to Inhabit Hotel, sheltering a new level of eco design

    During the London hotel’s soft launch period, editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to discover Inhabit’s debut property, which in the process earns his eco stamp of approval…

    Last year, an insightful study revealed that the city of London had the eighth highest level of pollution in the world, making the sky 67 times brighter than it would be without the contribution of humans. In the same study, it was highlighted that a staggering 84 per cent of Brits spend less than 10 minutes a day enjoying peace and quiet.

    Armed with these statistics, it came with great delight reading about a new hospitality concept of a fresh urban hotel perspective, where wellbeing and sustainable design was at the core of everything. Where the aim is for guests to leave feeling lighter, more free and inspired by taking the pace of life down a gear or two. Where time is luxury. Where Inhabit Hotel becomes a home-from-home.

    After a chaotic experience navigating the London Underground, which I politely consider to be ‘the pits’ of all public transport with it being the most polluted place in the city, I arrived at Paddington’s new boutique hotel in the same state of mind as I imagine most guests do; slightly stressed showing early symptoms of rush-hour rage. Juxtaposing the hustle and bustle of the city’s zone 1, the hotel’s understated is guests’ first indication of a new kind of hotel.

    The sixth-floor urban sanctuary is the brainchild of Nadira and Rihim Lalji, and is the cousins’ first hotel within the portfolio. Created by architecture firm Holland Harvey Architects and Caitlin Henderson Design, the 90-key hotel is designed with busy travellers in mind. My arrival experience feels more as if I am staying with warm hosts rather than a hotel. The lobby sits in perfect harmony between the F&B area, named Yeotown, and book-filled library.

    The check-in desk is down-played, and marries nicely into the laid-back luxury design concept. While checking in, my eyes are drawn to a timetable that I am not familiar with; a yoga and mediation schedule, which I am told launched only this week but was very much part of the core plan for the hotel. “Wellness is at the heart of our brand,” says Nadira Lalji. “Every aspect of our hotel is aligned with what being well means to us. We think of wellness as more than a physical state, but a way of being. Our brand pillars, which stand for social connectedness, intellectual expansion and environmental responsibility, reinforce this belief.”

    The ground-floor library is Inhabit’s answer to the rise in demand for public areas designed with bleisure in mind. The space encourages residents and members of the public to unwind, work and be inspired. The noise-free corner is complete with LED bulbs, which are 80 per cent more efficient in terms of energy used than traditional lighting. Occupancy sensors ensure that no energy is lost and guests are seen in their best light when they require it.

    Image credit: Inhabit Hotel

    Yeotown, is an innovative and thoughtful F&B area, perfect for guests on the move or as a venue for casual meetings. By partnering with food-wastage apps Karma and Too Good to Go, the area allows non-guests to pick up perfectly edible bargains which would otherwise be put into waste. The tables and chairs, made also by Holland and Harvey, have been created using materials honestly and in their natural state. “At Inhabit, we have specified oak flooring and joinery, all finished with a natural sealant to show off their natural colouring and tones,” said architect Richard Holland. “The floor is a natural stone from Fired Earth, which has beautiful variations and tonal differences.”

    Upstairs, the sustainability story continues, which is most impressive when considering that the hotel is sheltered within a Grade II listed building. From Casper eco-friendly mattresses to the REN amenities that are made from recycled plastic – even the soft toilet paper is 100 per cent recycled – the guestrooms and bathrooms are quite obviously designed with conscious guests in mind. But on close inspection, it becomes apparent just how high up on the agenda sustainability is for the hotel. Taking the concept of ‘escapism’, one step further, each room comes complete with Studio ND phone charge and stowaway boxes, made from scrap materials, so that guests can break away from their devices.

    Perhaps it was my perfectly timed stay to sit in-between speaking about this very topic on stage at the Independent Hotel Show – more likely it’s simply the sheer statement of an urban hotel having such an eco-focused message – that has put on a smile on my face when checking out following one of the best night’s sleep I have had in London for a while. I can’t help but feel totally relaxed and reassured that the bottom line of profit is not the only value when it comes to successfully operating a hotel. And it was this that inspired my latest Editor Checks In online column, where I argue that consciousness could very well become the new luxury.

    Main image credit: InHabit London

    GROHE pledges to have carbon-neutral production by 2020

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    GROHE pledges to have carbon-neutral production by 2020

    With the aim of becoming the first manufacturer of the sanitary industry to achieve carbon-neutral production by 2020, GROHE has once again stepped up its pledge…

    Less than a month after editor Hamish Kilburn unveiled Independent Hotel Show’s Conscious Bedroom Report to highlight that a whopping 76 per cent of guests believe hotels could do more to be greener – and while Hotel Designs continues to put sustainability in the spotlight this month – GROHE has laid out its carbon-neutral plans.

    Sustainability has been an essential element of GROHE’s corporate strategy for almost 20 years now. As early as 2000, the global brand for complete bathroom solutions and kitchen fittings committed itself in its “principles and guidelines for sustainability” to continuously improving all products, processes and services in terms of protecting the environment and conserving resources.

    “In July, as part of the “GROHE goes ZERO” initiative, all five production plants worldwide as well as the logistics centres in Germany were converted to run on green electricity.”

    Since then, the bathroom manufacturer has set new industry standards, applying its 360- degree sustainability approach that incorporates employees, suppliers, customers, processes, products and thecompany’s social contribution alike. With the aim of becoming the first leading manufacturer of the sanitary industry to achieve carbon-neutral production by 2020, GROHE has once again stepped up its pledge. In July, as part of the “GROHE goes ZERO” initiative, all five production plants worldwide as well as the logistics centres in Germany were converted to run on green electricity. With the start of the new fiscal year in April 2020, the sanitary manufacturer will offset unavoidable CO2 emissions through two compensation projects.

    “For years now, we have been investing not only in research and development in order to produce intelligent, sustainable solutions, but also to a large degree in a resource- saving value chain.” – Thomas Fuhr, CEO Grohe AG

    “More than ever, manufacturers like GROHE are in demand to take on responsibility and strive towards more sustainability,” said Thomas Fuhr, CEO Grohe AG. “For years now, we have been investing not only in research and development in order to produce intelligent, sustainable solutions, but also to a large degree in a resource- saving value chain. With GROHE goes ZERO, we are now setting an example for the entire industry: We are actively addressing the CO2 challenge by increasingly avoiding emissions and, if this is not possible, compensating for them.”

    The sustainability initiative is seamlessly linked to numerous measures that are taking place at the GROHE plants, promoting the long-term reduction of the carbon footprint and conserving resources: The brand has invested in block heat and power plants, was awarded the silver certificate by the German Sustainable Building Council for the plant extension in Klaeng, Thailand, and built a state-of-the-art test laboratory in Hemer, Germany. GROHE also uses advanced technologies that increase sustainability, such as the material-saving 3D metal-printing process which has been launched this year.

    As a result, GROHE has been able to increase its energy efficiency by 24 per cent and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by around 40 per cent since the introduction of its sustainability programme in 2014. This means that the global brand has already far exceeded its 2021 targets of 20 per cent respectively.

    GROHE Supports Two Water Projects in India and Malawi

    Supporting two offsetting projects is another logical step for GROHE to compensate for so far unavoidable CO2emissions: In the north of India, the operation of a hydroelectric power plant replaces electricity that mainly comes from coal-fired power plants. In the African non-coastal state of Malawi, a project repairs and maintains boreholes that are used to produce drinking water. With the help of selected offset projects, GROHE will support activities based on extremely stringent criteria, such as the Gold Standard, developed under the aegis of the WWF. In addition to avoiding CO2, the measures also contribute to a more sustainable, ecological and socialdevelopment within the projects’ environments.

    “With GROHE goes ZERO, we are further expanding our leading position as one of the most sustainable brands in the sanitary industry,” says Thomas Fuhr. “But at the same time, we have by no means reached all of our sustainability goals; we can and must get even better.”

    GROHE has received numerous awards for its commitment. Currently, the brand is one of three major companies that have been nominated for the German Sustainability Award. GROHE CEO Thomas Fuhr was recently awarded for his commitment to sustainability by the corporate network B.A.U.M., the German Environmental Management Association.

    GROHE is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email  Katy Phillips by clicking here.

    Main image credit: GROHE

    Manchester’s Hotel Brooklyn to open in February 2020

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Manchester’s Hotel Brooklyn to open in February 2020

    The doors to Manchester’s highly anticipated Hotel Brooklyn will open in February 2020…

    Designed by Squid Inc – the team behind renowned Hotel Gotham – the long-awaited Hotel Brooklyn is scheduled to open in February 2020. The 189-key hotel is inspired by the New York Borough and chosen for its resonating similarities to Manchester, in terms of its buzzing industrial growth, as well as its strength of identity and culture.

    The hotel will pay homage to Brooklyn’s history from early 20th century to the present day, with the inclusive design of the hotel being overseen by Motionspot, the UK’s leading accessible design company. Positioning itself as Manchester’s most accessible hotel, Hotel Brooklyn will be a trailblazer in championing accessible, sexy and modern design for all.

    “We believe Hotel Brooklyn is a perfect fit for Manchester” – Robin Sheppard, Chairman of Bespoke Hotels

    Squid Inc’s starting point was to create a distinctly Mancunian destination that resonated with the characteristics of its counterpart, Brooklyn: the sense of neighbourhood, the grittiness of its culture and edginess of its people. Brooklyn residents, from Mel Brooks to the Beastie Boys, have helped inspire this vibe.

    “It was an honour to work with Bespoke Hotels again on creating another iconic Manchester hotel with a strong identity and character,” said Olly Redfern, Lead Interior Designer of Squid Inc. “Weaving the lines between Manchester and Brooklyn is a bold and inspirational project that draws many parallels and it was incredibly fun to do, partnering with some of the best local suppliers to create the finished look.”

    Beautiful Victorian brownstone buildings have become icons of both Brooklyn and Manchester and Squid Inc have been driven by the ambition that the architects of Brooklyn showed when repurposing an area which had fallen out of favour, transforming it into one of the most exciting parts of town.

    The brownstone idea is explored from the moment guests enter the hotel, with the industrial feel of the architecture softened by the lobby interior and designed to recreate the sense of journeying down a Brooklyn avenue, with brick stone and trees lining the walls.

    Image credit: Bespoke Hotels/Hotel Brooklyn

    Beyond the lobby is a flight of wide-paced steps, designed to provide a communal space to hang-out – paying homage to the iconic stoops of Brooklyn, and the sense of community these have inspired in film and art.  

    The Snug is designed to be a playful, contemporary twist on the traditional.

    Harking back to historic Victorian brownstone buildings and their expansive drawing rooms, The Snug is designed to be a playful, contemporary twist on the traditional.  This space is cosy and intimate – a sanctuary from the hubbub – with an open fireplace and a record player spinning vintage records from the Manchester music scene.

    “Bathrooms have been cleverly-angled to allow their back walls and semi opaque windows to look out across the guestroom.”

    The aesthetic of the 189 guestrooms has been inspired by Brooklyn’s loft spaces, peppered with immaculate features that favour quality and high-spec finishes. Beds have brass adornments, while Turkish rugs have been designed to contrast with the concrete floors. Bathrooms have been cleverly-angled to allow their back walls and semi opaque windows to look out across the guestroom, while street art wall features finish off the bold design direction.

    Image credit: Bespoke Hotels/Hotel Brooklyn

    Bathroom amenities include organic bamboo toothbrushes and ethically sourced toothpaste, green soap and lotion dispensers with minimum waste.

    In addition, the hotel features 18 dynamically designed accessible bedrooms, each of which has been stylishly designed to complement the aesthetics of the hotel. “Accessible accommodation at Hotel Brooklyn features subtle details like basins with integrated hand grips, removable matt black grab rails, accessible bedroom storage and a hidden ceiling track hoist”, said Ed Warner, Founder & CEO of Motionspot. “We hope this high level of attention paid to inclusivity will make Hotel Brooklyn one of the most sought-after venues for guests of all abilities.”

    Hotel Brooklyn’s bar and restaurant, named Runyon’s after Damon Runyon, an American writer renowned for his depictions of Brooklyn characters, will present a diverse menu showcasing European and American influences. Paying respect to the remarkable industrial craftsmanship of the Brooklyn Bridge (immortalised in many iconic images), Squid Inc have taken the bridge’s tension lines as inspiration, giving Runyon’s a flavour of downtown Brooklyn – a mix of gangster and quality, purposeful engineering – adding a desirable irregularity to proceedings.

    On the top floor of the hotel, Salvation is the hotel’s dedicated events bar, featuring exposed brick work, pop art and neon lights to create a lively destination bar for the UK’s preeminent Northern city.

    “We are thrilled to have secured this fantastic site in the heart of Manchester’s historic industrial thoroughfare of Portland Street”, commented Robin Sheppard, Chairman of Bespoke Hotels. “We believe Hotel Brooklyn is a perfect fit for Manchester, not solely in terms of the architectural grandeur and convenience of its location, but the abundant character and feistiness of the city. Portland Street is experiencing a regeneration as the hotel strip of the city”.

    Image credit: Bespoke Hotels/Hotel Brooklyn

    Throughout the hotel, regional suppliers have been selected wherever possible. Deanhouse Interiorswere commissioned to fabricate the entire fit-out package, including cased goods from wardrobe and bedroom fittings, to the reception pods and 9th floor bar counter. Alongside this, PS Interiors sourced several key furniture pieces throughout, including the retro styled bedroom chairs, while sourcing New York street art was overseen by Elegant Clutter Artwork. In addition, Manchester-based The Knot Collective were commissioned to design two bespoke rugs for the hotel’s public spaces.

    Main image credit: Bespoke Hotels/Hotel Brooklyn

    FIRST LOOK: Inside Riggs Washington D.C., a new level of unrivalled luxury

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    FIRST LOOK: Inside Riggs Washington D.C., a new level of unrivalled luxury

    Ahead of the highly anticipated opening of the 181-key luxury hotel in Washington D.C., Hotel Designs takes a closer look inside…

    Lore Group, the international hospitality company behind renowned hotels, such as Sea Containers London and Pulitzer Amsterdam, has released model images of Riggs Washington D.C.. The new luxury hotel is the latest hotel development to hit the headlines, and is the brainchild of The Brit List 2019 judge Jacu Strauss, designer, architect and Lore Group’s creative director.

    In concepting and designing the property, Strauss, invoked the spirit of the former bank while preserving and restoring much of the property’s original design features to reimagine the storied building for the modern traveller. The 181-room property features playful nods to the building’s rich past, drawing on the parallels between the activities that take place in banks and at hotels to offer something personal and serendipitous around every corner.

    The hotel’s development, which was first explored by Hotel Designs in a exclusive interview Strauss when he described the Washington D.C. as: “a city with a particularly strong and quirky evolving hotel and F&B market.” As such, the design of Riggs has paid particular attention to the public areas of the hotel, with the aim to add sensitive statement on the hotel design scene in the US capital. In the original barrel-valuted lobby and cafe, restored expansive ceilings, corinthian columns, classic stonework and custom furniture set the scene for an eye-catching arrival experience. A medallion of Juno Moneta, the Goddess of Money, presides over the room, while original features have been given a new lease of life and the grandeur of the building embraced to create a welcoming and inspired hotel that is deeply rooted in D.C. and its impressive history.

    Image credit: Lore Group/Riggs Washington DC

    Upstairs, the 181 guestrooms – including 15 bespoke-designed suites are full with flair and personality. The marble-patterned headboards and wall coverings by Vousta blend together to create a thoughtful motif in each room. The interiors, balanced to create a romantic, sophisticated and calming oasis, have been inspired no doubt by Strauss’ love for travel.

    Image credit: Lore Group/Riggs Washington DC

    Catering to Washington DC’s ever-evolving social scene, the hotel’s 2,500 soft rooftop will offer panoramic views over the capital, and also feature a number of meeting, dining and events space.

    “Lore Group continues to explore ways to deliver inspired and approachable hospitality concepts to interesting places around the world,” said Billy Skelli-Cohen, group CEO. “With Riggs Washington D.C., we have created a hotel and F&B concepts that celebrate both the legacy of the building – and the history of the city – through unexpected details and a thoughtful approach to guest experience.”

    The arrival of Riggs comes an interesting time for Penn Quarter, which has been rejuvenated over the last two years. The new hotel is expected to further raise the level of luxury, creativity and innovative hospitality in the area – and Hotel Designs is keen to follow its progress.

    Main image credit: Lore Group/Riggs Washington DC

    SO/ Paseo del Prado La Habana opens in Cuba

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    SO/ Paseo del Prado La Habana opens in Cuba

    Accor’s fastest growing luxury hotel brand, SO/I arrives in Cuba just in time to honor Havana’s 500thanniversary…

    Designed by the renowned French architect, Michel Regembal, SO/I Paseo del Prado La Habana has opened in Cuba. The 250-key hotel will showcase the brand’s ‘have-it-all’ lifestyle of rebellious luxury at its new residence in one of the most emblematic neighborhoods of the country’s capital city.

    “SO/ is one of the most high-energy, fashionable and edgy brands within Accor’s luxury portfolio, combining the vibrant energy of the locale, energizing entertainment and creative food and beverage experiences with modern luxury service,” said Heather McCrory, CEO, Accor North & Central America. “Avant-garde design and fashion are also at the heart of the SO/ brand, and the new hotel in Havana will be a welcomed and exciting addition to our fast-growing network.”

    Image credit: Accor

    SO/ Paseo del Prado La Habana is a masterpiece of luxury and style, designed by the renowned French architect, Michel Regembal. With design at the core of the SO/ brand, the hotel in Havana will unfold as a glamorous yet playful masterpiece featuring the creative signature of celebrated Spanish fashion designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada – from the hotel’s emblem to the staff’s stylish uniforms. With 250 guestrooms on nine floors, including eight suites, the décor of each room is infused with the spirit of one of three dance styles – Classical Ballet, Salsa or Son Cubano – balanced with spectacular floor-to-ceiling views of the sea, the neighboring Malecón, Paseo del Prado and the hotel’s sweeping patio.

    “The life of SO/ Paseo del Prado La Habana begins in this special year, the 500th anniversary of Havana itself,” said Jean Philippe Hubau, General Manager, SO/ Paseo del Prado La Habana. “We feel this is a bright and exhilarating way to start, as our goal is to become the most sought-after lifestyle address in Havana – a city that captures the imagination like no other place on earth. The hotel provides a fascinating mix of social spaces, audacious experiences and distinct ‘Just Say SO’ services to celebrate the Cuban culture, surprise and amuse even the most sophisticated jet-setters, and captivate the hearts of Habaneros as well.”

    SO/ Paseo del Prado La Habana is located at the intersection of Paseo del Prado and Malecón, just a one minute walk from Habana Vieja (Old Havana), a World Heritage Site filled with ancient monuments, forts, churches and palaces. A seven-minute walk takes guests to Central Park and the Gran Teatro de la Habana, while a stroll along the Malecón boardwalk to the El Vedado district provides a glimpse into the city’s wide avenues, aristocratic villas and ubiquitous 1950s American-series cars.

    At the idyllic Cosecha Restaurant, guests of SO/ Paseo del Prado La Habana are invited to begin the day with organic and wholesome breakfast fare. The SO/ SPA, SO/ FIT gym and the infinity pool with a signature pool bar provide daily rejuvenation and wellbeing experiences. In the evening, the HI-SO bar brings the glamour to stylish guests who mingle to the DJ beats while taking in fashion shows, art events and glittering, celebrity-filled SO/ parties on a spectacular rooftop terrace with exclusive palapas from which to enjoy an artisanal sunset cocktail. If that’s not enough, the hotel’s Chocolate Shop, Origen, is a charming spot where guests and locals pop in for savory European-inspired pastries, artisanal chocolates and Cuban coffees; while the lobby bar, MIXO, attracts stylish Habaneros and international guests to enjoy a lively atmosphere set amongst great views.

    SO/ Paseo del Prado La Habana is the ninth property in the SO/ portfolio, which includes the recent additions of SO/ Auckland, SO/ Berlin Das Stue, SO/ Vienna and SO/ St. Petersburg. With an ambitious plan to expand its global footprint over the next few years, SO/ is one of the fastest growing brands in the luxury portfolio of Accor.  New SO/ properties in Kuala Lumpur, Koh Samui, Dubai, Paris, Melbourne and Los Cabos are scheduled to open over the coming years.

    Main image credit: Accor

    Swissotel aquires Hotel Allegro in Bern, to reopen property in Autumn 2020

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Swissotel aquires Hotel Allegro in Bern, to reopen property in Autumn 2020

    As part of this exciting next chapter for the property, Kongress + Kursaal Bern AG will invest approximately 16 million Swiss Francs on remodeling the property’s 171 guestrooms and public areas. 

    More than 20 years after opening, the Kursaal Bern enters a new chapter in its history. Kongress + Kursaal Bern AG entered into an agreement with Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts whereby, effective in autumn 2020, Hotel Allegro will then be operated as Swissôtel Kursaal Bern.

    Renovations inside the 171-key hotel will commence next January and are due to be completed by autumn 2020, and the hotel will remain open during the refurbishment process. Once complete, guests can look forward to clever design solutions, high-quality furnishings and a carefully thought-out sustainability concept, but also to traditional Swiss hospitality in the midst of one of the country’s most historic cities.

    “Our search for a strong international brand partner led us to Swissôtel. It combines genuine Swiss hospitality with intelligent design and a stimulating atmosphere. This makes us a perfect match,” said Kevin Kunz, CEO Kongress + Kursaal Bern AG. “Regardless of the change in brand, we will of course keep the proven management team in place and will continue offering traditional Bernese hospitality.”

    modern and contemporary guest room in a hotel

    Image credit: Swissotel

    Operating more than 30 hotels in 18 countries, Swissôtel, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2020, has been part of the Accor group since 2016.

    The partnership agreement between the brand and Kursaal Bern is a landmark moment for the tourism sector in the city. Both Kursaal and the hotel will benefit from Accor’s global reservations system, the company’s worldwide sales teams, direct booking channels, and access to new, innovative technologies. Guests at Swissôtel Kursaal Bern will also have the opportunity to become a member in the ALL loyalty program that puts all Accor brands and businesses worldwide under one umbrella.

    “We offer a genuine expression of Swiss values and a steadfast commitment which is deeply rooted in quality, efficiency and reliability,” said Lilian Roten, Vice President Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts. “We are excited to add a third property in the brand’s birthplace. Our contemporary Swiss style combined with local characteristics creates a balanced environment for guests to relax and feel at home.”

    The renovation is led by architects Marazzi + Paul together with interior designer Nina Mair. “She uses high-quality, natural materials and has managed to win us over with well-conceived and confidently stylish functionality,” added Kunz.

    Roten adds: “Our alpine heritage has its roots in craftsmanship, sustainable design and a conscious, active way of life. This is exactly what Nina Mair’s design brings to the new Swissôtel Kursaal Bern. It’s through these approaches that we offer our guests a sense of well-being, energy and joy of life, which is perfectly in-tune with our brand promise ‘Life is a journey. Live it well.’”

    Main image credit: Swissotel

    Viceroy Residences at Ombria Resort wins prestigious sustainability award

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Viceroy Residences at Ombria Resort wins prestigious sustainability award

    Continuing our theme this month to put sustainability under the spotlight, Viceroy Residences at Ombria Resort has been recognised for its commitment to the environment, winning Best Sustainable Residential Development, Portugal at the European Property Awards… 

    Luxury real estate development Ombria Resort in the heart of the Algarve, which is slated to open in 2021, has been honoured at the 2019-2020 European Property Awards.

    Announced at the awards ceremony in London, the destination won the coveted new category recognising excellence in sustainability, the Best Sustainable Residential Development, Portugal, with the Viceroy Residences at Ombria Resort project.

    “We have definitely seen a shift across the last decade in the requirements of prospective buyers – they are much more focused on sustainability.” – Julio Delgado, CEO, Ombria Resort.

    The European Property Awards is considered one of the most prestigious and recognised programme celebrating the highest levels of achievement across the real estate industry. The Sustainable Residential Development category, introduced this year for the first time to reflect the importance of sustainability in real estate, judged developments on their economic, environmental and social responsibility with Ombria Resort demonstrating strong practices in each area.

    Reflecting the resort’s overall ethos Carved by Nature, Ombria Resort has a deep commitment to pioneering sustainable tourism; incorporating environmental, economic and socio-cultural values into innovative, everyday actions that will ensure the natural and cultural surroundings live on for future generations.

    “We are thrilled to win this prestigious achievement and be leading the way in sustainable residential developments,” said Julio Delgado, CEO, Ombria Resort. “We have definitely seen a shift across the last decade in the requirements of prospective buyers – they are much more focused on sustainability, the natural environment and supporting local ecosystems. Our commitment to sustainability and a respect for nature is at the heart of everything we do, so to have such an accolade to recognise our efforts is truly an honour.”

    The Viceroy Residences at Ombria Resort is a collection of 65 one- and two-bedroom freehold apartments serviced by Viceroy Hotels & Resorts, set within the Viceroy at Ombria Resort 5-star hotel, located in the heart of the development which spreads over 150 hectares in the inner Algarve. Ranging in size from 70 to 173 sq.m of gross internal area, the apartments are fully furnished and equipped to exacting five-star standards.

    Designed as an elegant Portuguese village with all the charm and character of a long-established settlement and blending seamlessly into the hills, the resort eature a unique, sustainable vision of NZEBs (Nearly Zero Energy Buildings), which will lead the way for the Portuguese market – including creating a national case study for the use of geothermal energy.

    Its pioneering shallow geothermal system will use water to transfer heat energy found just below the ground surface for climate control, hot water supply and swimming pool heating. Reverse heat pumps utilize the stable temperature of the ground as the main source of energy to produce heating in the winter, cooling in the summer and hot water throughout the year, safely and responsibly. The strategy for a sustainable, efficient Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system is based upon achieving high levels of user-friendly comfort while ensuring low energy consumption and maintenance costs.

    Bioclimatic architecture, both innovative and traditional, allows for energy to be conserved wherever possible, with heat gained or lost through materials with low heat transference coefficients and age-old design tricks to protect from the sun.

    Other innovative sustainable programmes at Ombria Resort include a comprehensive recycling programme, electric vehicle charging points and the conservation and cultivation of the local flora and fauna.

    Adopting and implementing sustainable trade practices and supporting local suppliers with many building materials such as stones, tiles, plasters and insulation materials sourced regionally and nationally, vastly reduces Ombria Resort’s carbon footprint. The overall aim is to become a member of the community and actively contribute to the preservation of local traditions, generating new jobs and business opportunities. Activities at Ombria Resort will include an area for organic farming, honey harvesting facilities, astronomical observatory, paths for nature walks, mountain biking, and other sports facilities.

    Main image credit: Ombria Resort

    JW Marriott Maldives officially opens

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    JW Marriott Maldives officially opens

    The Maldives is booming as JW Marriott Maldives officially opens with what is being called the region’s most impressive culinary facilities, complete with a treetop restaurant, former Nobu chef and ultra-private supersize villas…

    Situated on the island of Vagary, Shaviyani Atoll, JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa has officially opened featuring 60 expansive beach and overwater villas all with private pools. Headed up by food and wine expert, general manager Marc Gussing, the resort has one of the most impressive culinary offerings in the Maldives.

    There are five restaurants as well as three fully-serviced bars, and a chef’s garden – an exceptional offering for a remote private island with only 60 villas.

    Guests can feast on a wide range of cuisine that includes and goes beyond classic Maldivian dishes. Highlights include vibrant Thai dishes created by a former Nobu Chef in a treetop restaurant, authentic Japanese Teppanyaki, poolside Woodfired pizzas made in a traditional pizza oven, and freshly caught seafood in a fine-dining, overwater restaurant. Meals are complemented with a choice of sake, Japanese whisky, rum cocktails, smoked cocktails, and both new and old-world wines.

    Image credit: Marriott International Hotel

    The villas start at 234sqm – larger than the average London flat. The resort places a strong emphasis on privacy with private decks and pools designed so they can’t be seen from the outside.

    “Each room draws inspiration from the natural surroundings and local Maldivian culture.”

    There are four ultra-expansive villa types, all with private pools. The two-bedroom, three-bathroom Duplex Beach Pool Villas sleep up to five guests and have upstairs living areas and direct beach access ideal for families, whilst the Duplex Overwater Pool Villas with upstairs living areas have unsurpassed views of the Laccadive Sea. Beautiful One-bedroom Beach Pool Villas and sunrise and sunset Overwater Pool Villas are also available.

    Each room draws inspiration from the natural surroundings and local Maldivian culture, incorporating colours and materials that highlight the island destination. Thatched roofs on villas are reminiscent of inverted Dhoni boats, the traditional Maldivian wooden fishing vessels, and slanted roof tips recall white herons dipping their heads into the water.

    Image credit: Marriott International Hotel

    Situated in the untouched Northern atoll of Shaviyani, the resort is a 55-minute seaplane flight to the north of Male. The island’s surrounding natural reef benefits from the island being far from Male and civilisation and is teeming with sea life. An on-site marine biologist ensures the pristine reef remains untouched and in perfect health whilst overseeing aquatic expeditions including diving and snorkelling.

    An iconic Spa by JW, overwater gym and an open-air yoga pavilion offers cutting-edge and indulgent spa treatments and a daily schedule of yoga and fitness activities.

    Main image credit: Marriott International Hotel

    ‘Must see’ brands at Sleep & Eat 2019

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    ‘Must see’ brands at Sleep & Eat 2019

    With less than three weeks until Sleep & Eat 2019, here are just a few brands and products to look out for… 

    More 160 design-led suppliers are now confirmed to be exhibiting at Sleep & Eat 2019, which takes place on November 19 – 20 at Olympia London. For many years now, the exhibition has been the place where both established and up-and-coming manufacturers not only choose to launch their collections, but where business is done and opportunities to network and socialise are numerous.

    Reflecting the growing convergence between hotel, restaurant and bar design, the exhibitor line-up includes many international companies which supply all three sectors, as well as cruise ships and spas.

    Following our sneak peek inside the doors of the company’s new UK headquarters, Laufen will launch The New Classic collection by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders. Utilising Laufen’s innovative SaphirKeramikmaterial, the designer created a collection combining gentle, feminine curves with angular, masculine elements. “For the first time, the ultra-modern SaphirKeramik has been moulded into a classic and iconic form,” commented Wanders. “This lightweight yet resilient material gave us the unique opportunity to celebrate the beauty of ceramics with our elegant, soft lines.”

    Dramatic view of the full The New Classic collection

    Image credit: Laufen/Marcel Wanders

    Morgan, the British designer and manufacturer of contemporary furniture, will be introducing its new Kaya lounge collection. Taking its name from sacred forests spread along the Kenyan coast, Kaya finds its roots in the openness, honesty and purity of trees. Morgan will also exhibit The Rakino collection of lounge chairs and tables designed by Tim Rundle, and The Goodwood collection designed by Katerina Zachariades in collaboration with artist Mark CcClure.

    A Sleep & Eat newcomer, Prestigious Textiles, will be debuting with a range of prints, jacquards and velvets alongside a rich diversity of plains, semi-plains and sheers. The company will also present its new bespoke service, giving customers the freedom to take their design of choice and translate it onto any print ground using the latest digital printing technology.

    Also new to Sleep & Eat, Marie Martin, the range of exclusive lighting by the Dutch company Lumière, will present its most popular lighting fixtures. Stemming from a passion for interiors, this collection arose from the desire to unite the love for antiques, for Paris, for colour and fully decorated spaces. Marie Martin’s range will feature lush materials – bronze, silk, brocade, and velvet – as well as abundant attention to detail and extravagant colour schemes.

    Spanish architectural and design surfaces producer and distributor Cosentino will be showing a range of its brands. These include Dekton ultra-compact surfaces, Silestonequartz and Sensa by Cosentino natural protected stone.

    German bathroom manufacturer, Bette, will exhibit its award-winning glazed titanium-steel baths, shower floors and washbasins, all of which come with a 30 year warranty. Available in an extensive range of sizes and colours, they are finished in BetteGlaze;  a durable, non-porous, scratch-resistant and easy to clean surface.

    Muted coloured washbasins

    Image credit: Bette

    AHK, the Turkish supplier of joinery and fit-out contractor, will feature its indoor and outdoor loose furniture range and latest case goods collection. AHK will also reveal the AW Simulator – the game-changing meeting room pod that immerses users in a unique experience. Its advanced technologies include a panoramic digital view, exclusively designed expanding table, state-of-the-art AV system, and unparalleled acoustics and soundproofing.

    Chelsom will showcase some of the dynamic and trend-driven designs within its extensive Edition 26 collection. Among the products are The Orb, The Icicle and Roma.

    GROHE will be returning to Sleep & Eat for its 14th year. This year, the brand will showcase its most eclectic and diverse product offering yet. This will include its ground-breaking Icon 3D metal-printed taps, taking pride of place on the stand for its first official showcasing in the UK. “Sleep & Eat is a key event for us, one which has helped us to build very strong industry contacts over the years and where we continue to push the boundaries of innovation,” said Raj Mistry, Marketing Director of GROHE UK.

    Image credit: Grohe

    Terratinta – manufacturer of high-end Italian porcelain stoneware, inspired by Scandinavian design enriched with fresh and unusual aesthetic effects – will display its newest ranges of ceramic tiles, including Sartoria Artigiana, Sartoria Romanza, Hexa Mosaics, and Ceppo.

    The Exhibition will also see the event debut of family-owned Irish manufacturer and fit-out specialist, Abbey Upholsterers, which works with numerous luxury hospitality brands as well as in luxury residential. At Sleep & Eat, the brand will be highlighting its hotel guestroom furniture collections.

    Omexco – the Belgian manufacturer of high-end wallcoverings, specializing in sophisticated printing and embossing techniques – will feature its latest designs, Arubaand Portfolio. Aruba collection, inspired by the exotic Caribbean isle, recognises craftsmen who respect natural materials such as weaves of waterlily and raffia with a range of linen yarns and ecological non-woven wallcoverings, whereas Portfolio collection pays tribute to Omexco’s heritage and features a variety of natural yarns including pure linen, multi-coloured silky cotton and viscose.

    Other familiar names exhibiting at Sleep & Eat will include Astro Lighting, Arte, Camira, Knightsbridge Furniture, Quasar, Roca and VitrA. An array of newcomers this year will include Absolute Lifestyle, Article London, Eichholtz, ELG Solutions, Iconic Images, ILIV Contract Textiles, Kaufmann Ceramics, Sahrai, Tarkett, and VICALVI Contract.

    The event also encompasses a complimentary Conference, Development Roundtables and nine specially designed pop-ups including concept guestrooms, restaurant and bar Sets, The Hub – a co-working space, the VIP Lounge and the Sleeper Bar.

    Sleep & Eat, November 19 – 20 in the National Hall, Olympia London. The show will be open from 10am on Tuesday 19 with an evening drinks reception until 8.30 pm, and from 10am-6pm on Wednesday 20. Click here to register.

    Main image credit/caption: Sleep & Eat/Abstract forms, texture and objects study

    MEININGER Hotels signs for second hotel in the UK

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MEININGER Hotels signs for second hotel in the UK

    The hotel group, MEININGER Hotels, will open 87-key hotel in Liverpool in 2021…

    MEININGER Hotels, which currently operates 29 hybrid hotels in Europe, has signed a contract for a new hotel in Liverpool, reinforcing its aim for further growth in the UK. “Our new hotel property in Liverpool is an existing building that will be converted into a typical MEININGER Hotel according by spring 2021,” says Thomas Hagemann, COO of MEININGER Hotels.

    “On a gross floor area of 36,049 sq ft (3,349 sq m), the result will be a state-of-the-art accommodation with 87 rooms and 277 beds spread over six floors, a lobby, reception, guest kitchen, bar, lounge, game zone as well as a breakfast area and luggage room.

    “Our guests can also look forward to sufficient social spaces for shared community experiences as well as to our flexible room concept, which is unique in the industry. The MEININGER Hotel Liverpool will appeal to individual, group and business travellers with its room structure consisting of two, three and four-bed rooms.”

    The MEININGER Hotel Liverpool will be located on Union Court, right in the heart of the city. Most of the main cultural, architectural and gastronomic attractions of the city are within walking distance of the hotel: from the UNESCO world heritage buildings around the Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool One, the Tate Gallery or the Cavern Club. Thanks to the excellent public transport links via the nearby train and bus stations, both Anfield and Goodison Park are also within easy reach for football fans.

    This will be the MEININGER Group’s second hotel in the UK after the opening of the MEININGER Hotel London Hyde Park in 2006. A MEININGER Hotel Manchester is also underway and expected to open at the end of 2021.

    Hannes Spanring, CEO of MEININGER Hotels commented: “Together with openings planned for this year in Paris and Lyon as well as next year in Washington D.C., which will mark the respective market entries in France and the U.S., Liverpool is an important milestone in MEININGER Hotels’ goal to operate approximately 34,000 beds internationally by 2024.”

    “There is no doubt that the UK capital is very popular with visitors, and we had a 94% occupancy rate last year at our Hyde Park hotel,” he added. “But the UK is very rich in attractive destinations with enormous development potential elsewhere too. We are therefore delighted to have signed the contract for a new MEININGER Hotel in Liverpool.

    “In Liverpool, the figures for overnight stays and hotel offerings have shown a sustained upward trend in recent years, and the forecasts are also very positive,” Spanring continues. “The current range of rooms consists mainly of four-star and budget hotels, hostels account for only one percent of all accommodation in Liverpool to date. Our goal is to become the UK market leader in this segment with our unique hybrid hotel concept, which combines the service and comfort of international budget hotels with the exceptional amenities and flexible room structure of hostels.”

    Main image credit: Xtravagant

    Checking in to a urban landmark: The Edwardian Manchester

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Checking in to a urban landmark: The Edwardian Manchester

    The Edwardian Manchester, which joins The May Fair as Edwardian Hotels London’s second Radisson Collection property, has recently completed a £12m renovation. Editor Hamish Kilburn was invited to exclusive review the 263-room hotel… 

    A coherent blend of old and new is my first impression when, stood under a glass box that divides two buildings, I check in to the modern and contemporary The Edwardian Manchester.

    The Grade II listed The Free Trade Hall plays an integral role in the UK’s history and has long been an important spot for Mancunians. From the political, the Free Trade Hall was constructed in 1853–56 on St Peter’s Fields, the site of the Peterloo Massacre, to the cultural; a range of  iconic names have either performed or spoken at the property, from Charles Dickens to the Sex Pistols to Winston Churchill, the hotel embodies a sense of community and union.

    Edwardian Hotels London’s Design Team, led by Creative Director Rob Steul and Product Design Manager Krishma Singh-Dear, has successfully created a dynamic destination through smart, intuitive architectural design. Guests are drawn to a series of connected focal points throughout the building, with each location serving as a distinct purpose to enhance their visit. Their refusal to compromise on quality, and consistent attention to detail is apparent through the use of robust, yet luxurious materials and subtle highlights that consciously link spaces together.

    “The top-to-bottom renovation allowed the opportunity to marry the modern bedroom tower with the important heritage of the Grade II* listed original building,” says Steul. “The ground floor public rooms now create a coherent guest arrival leading to a varied and memorable flow of elegant spaces – layering materials, colour and lighting in a clear spatial sequence with texture and drama. It was critical in this building to get the balance of old and new right, allowing the memory of the Free Trade Hall, with its heroic façade, to live on as part of a confidently modern yet comfortable hotel. For me, the great surprise is the spa, gym and pool found below the entry level – a true urban resort in the heart of Manchester.”

    The lobby’s design is an excellent place to start. Balanced to reflect both the building’s heritage as well as the modern soul of Manchester. A large contemporary chandelier hangs in the entrance under a carefully curated mix of relaxed public seating. Meanwhile, above the long check-in desk, deliberately hidden from view upon arrival, are crests of honour, which reference the properties previous life.

    Peter Street Kitchen

    The ground floor restaurant, Peter Street Kitchen, serves hotel guests a fusion of Japanese and Mexican cuisine under a quirky and thoughtful design concept that aims to bring people closer together. The design team created a sequence of four distinctive spaces; a heroic scaled bar, an intimate circular dining room, a shared table area, and a relaxed lounge running the length of the barrel-vaulted colonnade overlooking the nightlife of Peter Street.

    “A varied palette juxtaposes smooth and textured materials to further define the space.”

    The unique menu inspired design features such as shared bench tables, a Hibachi inspired fire pit, and sumptuous leather-clad booths. Highly dramatic mood and feature lighting complements the stylish textures of natural woods, river stone, and sleek steel, with the historic carved stone arches and highly detailed plasterwork serving as a rich backdrop.

    A varied palette juxtaposes smooth and textured materials to further define the space. Circular marble mosaics and wood planking is used on the floors with historic stone with hand-crafted plaster framing circular mirrors and reflecting the shape and light of the arches opposite. The rough, raw timber exterior cladding of the bespoke dining banquets gives way to a supple white leather interior, further enhancing the powerful, circular form of the dining area.

    Image caption/credit: Peter Street Kitchen/Edwardian Hotels

    The Library

    Also situated on the ground floor, The Library has been curated by Assouline and is nestled adjacent to the welcoming lobby. The chic and contemporary dining concept includes neon lighting and considered bookshelves to create subtle boundaries. What is arguably most impressive, though, is the style of the menu. Designed around the theme of a recipe book, a clean image of the dish is the left of the page, while a precise list of ingredients is on the right page.

    “Mirrored nickel lamps project a warm glow over the navy velvet and dark woollen charcoal grey armchairs.”

    Complete with stunning, limited-edition books, the area, especially during the day, is a sophisticated space that encourages guests to sink into leather sofas and wingback armchairs to truly relax. Mirrored nickel lamps project a warm glow over the navy velvet and dark woollen charcoal grey armchairs, whilst the baby grand piano greets guests with a luxury setting to eat, drink and relax in, simultaneously capturing Manchester’s ties to art and culture. The property’s birch tree wallpaper has been used to mirror the exterior birch trees that line South Street entrance, bringing a connection and synergy between the two spaces.

    Wellness and wellbeing

    The lower floor of the hotel features the hotel’s gym and spa, which has been completely reimagined to manipulate ceiling heights, remove the appearance of walls and barriers, and create an open and fluid floor plan that provides clear sight lines between the defined spaces. The entire pool area is encompassed by a neutral palette of wood, concrete, marble and white flooring which aesthetically contrasts with the 12-metre pool’s aqua blue stone lining, creating an alluring lagoon. Crittall glass dividers are used to open the space and maximise light, while the swimming pool is further enhanced as a destination space with seven low cabanas creating a truly relaxing escape for guests.

    “The project allowed us to combine modern design influence with the property’s classic heritage.” – Product Design Manager, Krishma Singh-Dear

    Image caption/credit: The spa/Edwardian Hotels

    Guestrooms and suites

    The hotel’s guestrooms and suites have also been transformed, aligning with the contemporary design used throughout the property’s ground floor. Modern, yet relaxed and inviting, a pallet of greys mixes with black leather, smart dogtooth, marble, walnut and brass.

    Iconic images of Manchester and its history adorn each room, bringing flashes of colour alongside bespoke graphic prints designed exclusively for the hotel, while quirky details, such as the same checkered armchair seen in the lobby, add personality and form to each room.

    Image caption/credit: Modern guestroom/Edwardian Hotels

    “Aside from our ongoing work on the group’s first Super Boutique hotel The Londoner, the refurbishment of The Edwardian Manchester has been our largest and most complicated in-house designed and managed project to date,” explains Singh-Dear. “The project allowed us to combine modern design influence with the property’s classic heritage. I am very proud of the result and enjoy seeing our guests enjoy the spaces we have created.”

    Combining luxury, style and a rich history, The Edwardian Manchester has become one of the most established five-star hotels in the region as the brand prepares to open what is said to become one of the most environmentally friendly in the UK, with sustainability at its core.

    Main image credit: Edwardian Hotels

    Anantara to make its debut in Ireland

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Anantara to make its debut in Ireland

    By rebranding The Marker Hotel in Dublin, Anantara will open the brand’s first urban hotel in Europe…

    Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas will make its debut in the upcoming months in Ireland with the rebranding of The Marker Hotel in Dublin, one of the Irish capital’s most modern and luxurious buildings. The addition of the property in Dublin will represent the expansion of the luxury brand’s footprint into northwest Europe for the first time and also the first urban Anantara hotel in Europe.

    The hotel is located in the Docklands, one of the most attractive and dynamic areas of the Irish capital, in the heart of Silicon Docks, a nod to Silicon Valley on account of the high concentration of multinational high-tech companies located in the area. Close to the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) and the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, the hotel is a perfect cultural and business epicentre for travellers’ keen to experience Ireland’s famous hospitality at its best. The Marker is the only five-star hotel in the area, which has recently emerged as one of the most vibrant and modern parts of the city for living, working and socialising.

    Image credit: Anantara

    Owned by Deka Immobilien, one of Europe’s leading real estate investment managers, and a member of Leading Hotels of the World, The Marker Hotel has a futuristic design and style and offers 187 contemporary guestrooms over six floors (166 deluxe rooms, 18 executive rooms and three suites) plus eight state-of-the-art event and meeting facilities.

    Image caption/credit: The Marker Hotel Dublin: Corner Suite/Anantara

    Services such as an award-winning spa, named Irish Tatler Dublin Spa of the year several times, and stylish rooftop terrace with stunning panoramic 360º views and the restaurant La Brasserie, recently named Best Hotel Restaurant in Dublin by the Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI), are part of the experience of The Marker Hotel.

    “We are thrilled to announce the expansion of our luxury Anantara brand into northwest Europe in the fair city of Dublin,” commented Dillip Rajakarier, CEO of Minor Hotels, parent company of Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas. “The Marker Hotel is already known as one of the city’s leading hotels and bringing the reputation and luxury touch points of Anantara to the property will further elevate the guest experience.”

    In the surrounding area visitors to the city can enjoy a walk through the culture and heritage of the Docklands, which dates back to the eighteenth century, a wide range of options for foodie travellers, including extravagant cafés and high-end restaurants, shopping on nearby Grafton Street, boat rides along the river and in Dublin Bay or sporting activities from a relaxing yoga class to watching a game of Gaelic football at renowned Croke Park.

    “This agreement will enable us to bring a truly different value proposition to the Irish market for the first time,” comments Ramón Aragonés, CEO of NH Hotel Group, operators of Anantara in Europe, under the guidance and brand oversight of Minor Hotels. “The Anantara brand will connect travellers with genuine experiences in a privileged location in the city of Dublin.”

    The Dublin hotel will be the third Anantara in Europe, joining Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort in Portugal and the Anantara Villa Padierna Palace in Marbella, Spain.

    Main image credit: Anantara

    The world’s first guitar-shaped hotel arrives in Florida

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    The world’s first guitar-shaped hotel arrives in Florida

    Located in the prime spot in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel, which is the world’s first ever guitar-shaped hotel, has opened following a $1.5 billion property-wide expansion…

    Seminole Hard Rock Hotel has made history this week, becoming the first ever guitar-shaped hotel to have opened. The 638 new luxury guestrooms and suites and an oasis tower housing 168 guest suites all sit within the now iconic structure of the hotel.

    Known as an icon for hospitality and entertainment, The Seminole Hard Rock will also be introducing it’s flagship casino which has doubled in size. The casino will include high-stakes table games, South Florida’s premier poker room and an extensive roster of slot titles.

    Guests can now enjoy a 4.5-acre lagoon-style heated pool area featuring dramatic waterfalls, private cabanas, 182-foot high waterslide, elevated jetted spa, hot tub and Beach Club. There are a plethora of restaurants within the hotel, and a luxury spa.

    The hotel group this year also made its entry into the UK with the opening of Hard Rock London as well as shaking this up in the Maldives.

    Main image credit: Hard Rock Hotels

    Editor Checks In: The new luxury for AW/19 and beyond

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Editor Checks In: The new luxury for AW/19 and beyond

    Following an enlightening month at the helm of the editorial desk, Hamish Kilburn pauses for just a moment on whether or not consciousness is the new luxury in design, architecture and hospitality…

    Am I accurate in saying that a few years working on the international hotel design scene can often feel like a lifetime of achievement? So much seems to happen in such a short period of time.

    Within what feels like a blink of an eye, sketches of projects have become the jewels of populated skylines, while juniors have evolved into directors of studios. Meanwhile, topics we have discussed in the specialist press for decades, such as sustainability and designing with purpose, have finally hit the headlines of the mainstream media to leave whole cities and populations petrified about their future.

    I so vividly remember my first ever trade show in this colourful industry. I was a 22-year-old, fresh-out-of-university features editor. You could spot me in the crowd from a mile away, complete with a three-piece suit, polished black shoes and new glasses to match. I may as well have just worn a sign with the word ‘noob’ printed in permanent ink.

    I scurried towards my pre-booked seat to catch an insightful on-stage Q&A with Martin Brudnizki, who had at the time just completed the extensive renovation of The Ivy in Soho, London. Whether I was shy or just inexperienced (or quite possibly both), I was not a fan of audience participation back then, at least not if it involved speaking up myself. I would rather leave a question burning within my chest than all eyes in the audience potentially focusing on me.

    How things have changed, and thank the high heavens they have too. This month was full of minor milestones for both myself and Hotel Designs, which as a result has made my former self a mere shadow of the editor I feel proud to have become.

    Firstly, in an interview to understand what the designer has achieved since becoming The Brit List 2018’s Interior Designer of the Year, I was finally able to put my questions to Brudnizki. I visited the celebrated designer in his Chelsea studio just a few months ahead of this year’s ceremony, which takes place on November 21 at Patch East London.

    In addition to the award-winning designer unknowingly becoming our poster boy for this year’s awards, I also held the microphone to host the headline panel discussion at the Independent Hotel Show London 2019: The Conscious Bedroom Report. And although this was my fifth time hosting an on-stage session, it was – in many ways – the most significant of them all. For starters, the subject area that was restrained under the spotlight, sustainability and thinking consciously, was one of huge relevance. And also, my panel made up of Alex Harris from Harris + Harris London, Olivia Richli from Heckfield Place, Sue Williams from Whatley Manor and Xenia zu Hohenlohe from Considerate Group made the whole experience seamless and the topic easy to digest.

    “Unmistakably, business owners from up and down the country were, in a way, pledging that they would do more to make a difference.”

    “Let’s have a show of hands,” I said to the overflowing audience as I ignored entirely what my 22-year-old self would be thinking. “Who here is a hotel owner/operator and truly believes that they could do more to be sustainably and socially more conscious?”

    One by one, hands raised and remained firm in the air. It was a moment. Unmistakably, business owners from up and down the country were, in a way, pledging that they would do more to make a difference. Admittedly, this was after hitting them hard with the statistic that 76 per cent of guests believe that hotels could be greener while 72 per cent hope a hotel can provide local produce. I am not a gambling man, but if I was I would bet for the same overwhelming result if we were to put forward the mini yet mighty experiment on our readers – the designers, hoteliers, architects, suppliers, procurement managers, and design and architecture enthusiasts from far and wide. If the session was anything to go by, we can all do more to become more thoughtful in our actions on this global stage.

    “My conclusion for the audience at the show was to not think about sustainability with red tape around it.”

    So where do we go from here? Things are changing. In April 2020, just five months from now, plastic cotton buds, drinks stirrers and straws will be banned in England. This is very much a ‘today’ problem, and in order to keep ahead of the game, all individuals operating within this market need to consider the issues we will face tomorrow instead. I’m talking about food wastage, using upcycled materials in design and eliminating the ingredients for greenwashing. My conclusion for the audience at the show was to not think about sustainability with red tape around it, but to instead brainstorm new and innovative ways to add organic, conscious personality into your hotel or service.

    One of our breakfast planning meeting to establish and define the theme for this year’s show was sheltered inside the extremely quirky and sustainable Artist Residence London. I was inspired and captivated to hear about some of the initiatives that were already happening in a handful of the UK’s leading independent hotels; how they were tackling the war on food wastage, going paperless and spending hours scrolling through search engines for second-hand furniture pieces. But it was Julio Margues, the General Manager of London Bridge Hotel who, for me, hit the nail clean on the head. “My vegetable patch has a great view of The Shard,” he said casually. And that’s the point. Hoteliers, designers and architects should not boast about being sustainable in their day-to-day decisions, which in my opinion should naturally be a common value shared by all. But they should highlight the minor and quirky – somewhat personal – details that set them aside from others.

    I leave you with an open question to sign off October 2019, a period of my editorship I will struggle to forget (for all the right reasons). In an industry and era where and when trends are becoming more and more obsolete, could consciousness become the new luxury?

    Editor, Hotel Designs

    ARCHITECTURE GOALS: Architects unveil Japanese infused urban retreat in Sydney

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    ARCHITECTURE GOALS: Architects unveil Japanese infused urban retreat in Sydney

    The new development of five buildings in Sydney will feature new penthouses that will offer rare traditional Japanese design details…

    Australian developer Crown Group’s latest residential development, Mastery by Crown Group, will offer a rare infusion of Japanese design in Sydney, complete with traditional Japanese hinoki timber onsen style baths.

    The five towers are designed by three different architects, with a Japanese aesthetic and design scheme. The tallest, at 20-storeys, is designed by world-renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, and features lush, timber-clad innovative design on the building’s green exterior emulating a ‘stacked forest’. Three further towers are the work of award-winning architect Koichi Takada Architects, while the fifth residential building is designed by established Sydney based architects Silvester Fuller.

    Prisca Edwards, Director of Sales at Crown Group said the apartments would have the most sophisticated Japanese-inspired interiors Sydney had ever seen, with a neutral palette and generous use of natural materials, timber tones and soft warm hues, inspired by the interplay of light (hikari) and shadow (kage).

    “Mastery by Crown Group has been designed with the most sought-after features drawing on an inspirational Japanese concept of simplicity, peace, and nature,” she said. “Koichi Takada himself conceptualised and curated the interior of every apartment. It’s very Japanese inspired, very minimalistic and also represents what Crown Group stands for.”

    The modern and sophisticated interior design varies between five buildings to complement the exterior architecture. In all residences, natural light takes centre stage. Landscaping on the facades relates to materials used inside the apartments.

    Edwards said the design created a natural urban retreat, incorporating the calming, zen design sensibilities of Japanese architecture and interiors.

    “We are giving penthouse buyers the option to have a hinoki wood bathtub — it is a traditional Japanese onsen style bath using the densest wood in the world,” she said. “Normally, wood disintegrates in the water but this type of timber is really unusual because it becomes hardened.

    “Natural oils with medical properties and soothing fragrances are released in the warm water for a sensation of extreme wellbeing when you soak in the warm water. Hinoki wood oil is also traditionally used to treat skin irritations and injuries thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal action. When inhaled, it acts as a decongestant of the respiratory system, used to cure asthma and as a tonic for the nervous system. So, we are going all out with this – soaking in a Japanese natural style – because they are limited and with a Japanese concept these are different.”

    Mastery by Crown Group, being developed in partnership with Mitsubishi Estate Group, will comprise 368 luxury apartments across five-tower residential towners. When completed in 2021, residents can access to Crown Group’s signature resort-style facilities including an infinity-edge rooftop pool, gym, spa, mini-cinema, community room and a ground-floor retail precinct comprising a mix of restaurants, cafes and shops, as well as Sydney’s first Japanese “eat street”.

    Main image credit: Crown Group

    Kempinski opens second luxury hotel in the Americas

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Kempinski opens second luxury hotel in the Americas

    Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski has opened, marking the brand’s debut in Dominica ahead of global expansion… 

    Nestled in Douglas Bay on the northwest side of the island of Dominica, the unparalleled luxury destination which now features Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski blends harmoniously the Caribbean hospitality with timeless European elegance of Kempinski.

    “Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica is an important addition to Kempinski fast-growing portfolio of iconic and luxurious hotels in the Caribbean, and further emphasizes our development strategy in the region,” said Martin R. Smura, Chairman of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of Kempinski Hotels S.A. “The beachfront hideaway is the perfect destination for luxury travellers looking for a different kind of resort experience in deep connection with nature, and combines the best of Kempinski European service with a keen respect for Dominica culture and traditions.”

    Commenting on the opening, Michael Schoonewagen, General Manager, Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica says: “We are excited to bring Kempinski rich heritage of impeccable personal service and incomparable hospitality to Dominica. Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica is the celebration of the destination’s pristine, untouched landscape and Kempinski European refinement. We look forward to welcoming all guests to experience this new pinnacle of luxury in the Caribbean.”

    “Dominica is the land of a variety of flora and fauna, including many rare plants, animals and bird species.”

    Found between Guadeloupe and Martinique, the lush, unspoiled island of Dominica is the Caribbean’s hidden gem. Unexposed to mass tourism, the island attracts both eco-adventurers and those simply wishing to disconnect from everyday life. Surrounded by Cabrits National Park, Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica has been designed to preserve the natural balance between land and the sea, whilst ensuring a modern contemporary guest experience.

    Dominica is the land of a variety of flora and fauna, including many rare plants, animals and bird species. The island is protected by an extensive natural park system that encompasses three national parks, two forest reserves and the Syndicate Parrot Reserve. Adventure seekers can enjoy eco-trekking on countless hiking trails, bird watching or simply observing wildlife in their natural surroundings.

    All of the resort’s 151 luxuriously appointed guestrooms and suites are generously proportioned and guarantee exceptional mountain or ocean views. From deluxe and superior rooms to spacious suites and two-bedroom duplexes, as well as villas, each is inspired by the island’s natural beauty and features a soothing palette of coastal colours, detailed wood accents and ample natural lighting, bringing the beauty of the outdoors in.

    Rooms are equipped with every modern convenience that a guest might need including flat-screen televisions and complimentary WiFi service to in-room espresso machines and luxurious bath amenities.

    For the ultimate Cabrits experience, the 426 sq m Presidential Villa features stunning ocean views, dedicated butler service, a private lobby entrance, two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, a dining room, a private spa room with sauna and a large, oversized terrace for outdoor dining, complete with a grill and private pool. A private chef is also available upon request.

    The selection of culinary treasures at Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski has been carefully thought out to give all the senses a feast. The resort is a culinary destination featuring both local and international cuisine as well as “farm-to-table” and “sea-to-table” dining.

    The hotel group currently operates 79 five-star hotels and residences in 34 countries, and has plans to add new properties in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

    Main image credit: Kempinski Hotels

    Aparthotel growth outpacing UK hotel market

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Aparthotel growth outpacing UK hotel market

    Serviced apartments and aparthotels are the fastest growing segment of the UK’s hospitality accommodation market, according to new research by commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH)…

    LSH’s latest hotel market research Va Va Vroom! reports that the serviced apartment sector, which includes aparthotels, currently represents just 3% of the total hospitality accommodation in the UK, a significantly lower level than in many international markets.

    In the US, the sector takes a 9% market share, the report says, suggesting that there is considerable room for growth in the UK.  Reflecting this potential, the sector is now expanding at an accelerated rate, with approximately 6,000 new units scheduled to open over the next two years – making up around 13% of the UK’s total active pipeline.

    While serviced apartments have historically been targeted at single travellers on long stays, Va Va Vroom! highlights that the sector is now appealing to a much broader customer base, with aparthotels increasingly popular for short-term stays.  Newer aparthotel concepts are tapping into the changing consumer demands of the Airbnb era, it says, by providing flexible accommodation that offers more of a ‘home-from-home’ experience.

    Innovative formats are also blurring the distinctions between serviced apartments, aparthotels and traditional hotels, it reports, with operators such as Native, Locke and Roomzzz developing increasingly stylish, design-led products.  Ideas from the co-working sector are also being introduced to create home-office hybrids.  While London has historically been the main focus for operators, key target markets for aparthotel operators now include regional centres such as Manchester, Glasgow and Liverpool.

    “The aparthotel sector is currently one of the most exciting parts of the market,” said Simon Stevens, LSH Hotels Director. “While the rise of the Airbnb sector is sometimes viewed as a threat to more traditional types of accommodation, it is actually benefiting aparthotels by making consumers more receptive to alternatives to conventional hotels.

    “With new brands being launched and established operators reinventing their products, serviced apartments and aparthotels will continue to innovate and grow. The sector will remain a melting pot for new ideas; borrowing from alternative concepts such as co-living and co-working to create inventive new hybrids.”

    Main image credit: Accor/Adagio

    Conran and Partners designs spin on flexible working spaces

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Conran and Partners designs spin on flexible working spaces

    Design firm Conran and Partners has completed new flexible working spaces within the lobby that are sheltered inside Crowne Plaza Paris – République…

    Conran and Partners has completed a significant redesign of the lobby spaces at Crowne Plaza Paris – République. The launch marks the first step in a wider roll-out of a new concept-design blueprint for the brand in Europe, aiming to deliver a distinctive guest experience globally.

    The lobby has been reinvigorated as the brand’s exible work and meeting concept, ‘Plaza Workspace.’ This contemporary hub was developed to meet the changing needs of modern business travellers seeking more comfortable public and semi-public spaces in which to work and relax. Regarded as the largest design innovation in the brand’s history, Crowne Plaza Paris – République is the first hotel to launch the Plaza Workspace in Europe.

    Throughout Plaza Workspace there is an abundance of tech savvy elements: tables feature integrated wireless phone chargers and high-speed Wi-Fi is available to address the growing trend in flexible work and life preferences and people’s desire to work from anywhere. Plaza Workspace also includes The Studio, a bookable-by-the-hour meeting space to cater for private meetings and events, complete with its own bar counter and break-out lounge seating. The studio’s design maximises the flow of guests through the spaces, allowing them to transition seamlessly between work and down time.

    The former main entrance of the hotel has been relocated from the Place de la République to one side of the building, giving the arrival experience a more private feel with access via a courtyard in the style of a traditional Parisian apartment block. The signature bar is now in a more prominent position closer to the outside terrace, which runs along the hotel’s principal façade.

    In contrast to a conventional arrival experience, guests are initially welcomed by a centrally-located monument wall. This wall – referencing the original Haussmann-era architecture of the area – serves to orientate the guest, dividing the space between the ‘plaza’ (the informal and relaxed bar spaces) and the ‘gallerie’ (the refined and elegant recep on and studio spaces). Among the book selection adorning the shelves of the lounge and Plaza Workspace are titles on Haussmann’s contribution to the remodelling of Paris.

    Conran and Partners have also completed the design of the European adaptation of the ‘WorkLife’ concept guestroom, a design patented in the United States, which will serve as the basis for the wider redesign of rooms and other non-public facing areas of the hotel in the future.

    The Place de la République is famous as the site of the statue of Marianne – the personification of the French Republic – commemorating the founding of the First Republic of France in 1792. The square is important as one of the key locations where Parisians congregate during times of national significance.

    The hotel occupies an exceptionally attractive and restored Haussmann building, formerly a department store, Les Magasins Réunis. It is located at the point where three different arrondissements (3rd, 10th and 11th) of the city meet. A couple of original Haussmann features are s ll visible, including the staircase, wrought-iron balustrade and doors onto the original caged lifts at higher levels. Conran and Partners’ design also responds to the different – yet complementary – feel of each adjoining arrondissement (‘Fashionable’ (3rd), ‘Bohemian’ (10th) and ‘Modern’ (11th).

    “Within the individual elements of a project there are always opportunities to work with manufacturers to create distinctive furniture commissions and bespoke materials,” said Simon Kincaid, Partner at Conran and Partners and a shortlisted finalist for The Brit List 2019. “For each new development, we study the locale and create a narrative, drawing on our experience of blurring the boundaries between work and leisure to create strong, characterful places.”

    Image credit: Anna Stathaki

    Conran and Partners’ approach was based on a thorough analysis of Crowne Plaza’s success in the Americas as well as among its European target market. The practice developed an architectural strategy focusing on key elements within a typical guest stay. A series of seating typologies and a hierarchy of signature elements was created which enabled key functional elements to be located, while defining specific design features and focal points. This has given hotel guests and visitors a wider variety of spaces to encourage more dwell time.

    The approach has also sought to reinterpret the idea of a ‘plaza’ as a place where people can meet and relax and applied this to the various spaces within the hotel, encouraging guests to move between different types of spaces. The design also responds to changing consumer behaviour, in particular exible working and the ‘always on’ and ‘on-demand’ workplace culture. Spaces and services have been created to facilitate more business- related functions within the plaza workspace, both formal and informal, as well as helping to bring people into the hotel.

    “The spaces in Place de la République are tech savvy, while acknowledging the need to embed humanity in the design to create a comfortable place to work and relax,” continues Kincaid. “The narrative we created for Crowne Plaza Paris- Republique is based on the concept of ‘New Modern’. It seeks to demonstrate that business hotels can be exciting by offering guests kind, personal touches, while introducing new, meaningful experiences for them to share and – above all – to appeal to the senses as far as possible.

    “Our design narrative has informed the choice of furniture and accessories and even the rug design and the artwork selection (developed in collaboration with Double Decker Artwork Consultants), which seek to reference the various key art movements and ar sts closely associated with Paris since the mid-nineteenth century. Materiality and palette are central to our design thinking.”

    Libby Escolme, Global Vice President, Crowne Plaza, commented: “I have always loved travel and staying at an inspiring hotel is o en why I am excited about a business trip. Today’s traveller wants to stay somewhere that inspires them, where innova ve design creates great spaces that work well. We have collaborated on this project with Conran and Partners, a best-in-class design rm, and I feel genuinely excited about how our new hotel spaces will enhance a guest’s stay with us.”

    Main image credit: Anna Stathaki

     

     

    SACO reveals a new group identity

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    SACO reveals a new group identity

    One of Europe’s pioneering providers of lifestyle aparthotels & serviced apartments, SACO, has revealed a new group name and identity – edyn – signalling an ambitious phase of pan-European growth for the business and an ongoing commitment to create flexible, contemporary living spaces for the modern traveller.

    Since 1997, the business has been an industry pioneer in extended-stay living, initially with the serviced apartment company, SACO, and from 2016 with Locke aparthotels, now operating in London, Edinburgh and Manchester.

    edyn will bring the business’ portfolio of successful, growing hospitality brands – SACO, Locke, The Moorgate and The Wittenberg – together under a new group identity, website and employee-facing brand.

    Following acquisition of the company by Brookfield Capital Asset Management in 2018, the leadership team is currently focussed on driving ambitious growth plans, which currently include a portfolio of nine new properties under the Locke brand, comprising of more than 1,500+ aparthotel rooms across the UK & Europe, all set to be open by 2022, in addition to the current 80,000 serviced apartment rooms within the SACO and global partner portfolio.

    The launch of edyn as the new group identity confirms an exciting next chapter for the business. In addition to the nine new properties in development in major cities including London, Dublin, Berlin and Lisbon, the business is continuing to explore opportunities across Europe, and is set to create more than 1,000 new roles across the business over the next five years.

    Chief Executive Officer, Stephen McCall explains: “As a group, we’ve always questioned traditional category conventions and actively sought out better ways to meet the needs of the modern traveller.  These principles lie at the very heart of our business and the time is now right to bring our successful brands together under a bold new identity that reflects our vision to deliver soulful hospitality.”

    “We’re on a journey of acceleration with the Locke brand and as well as the pipeline of nine new destinations, we’re constantly looking for new opportunities across pan-European gateway and hub cities.  We aim to be the industry-leader in the lifestyle aparthotel category, and create unique, design-led properties that bring the modern traveller & dynamic local communities together in spaces where both residents and locals are free to be themselves.  edyn reaffirms our continued commitment to question, evolve and grow as a business driven by our people and our culture.”

    Main image caption/credit: Whitworth Locke Manchester

    In Conversation With: Britain’s design legend Martin Brudnizki

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    In Conversation With: Britain’s design legend Martin Brudnizki

    Last year’s crowned Interior Designer of The Year at The Brit List Awards, Martin Brudnizki, invites editor Hamish Kilburn to his Chelsea London studio to explain some of the major milestones in his career as well as how he logistically manages his time in a truly international market…

    Design gems are not hard to come by on the British hotel design scene. You have only to open the pages of last year’s edition of The Brit List – and this year’s shortlist for that matter – to find the top 75 influential designers, architects and hoteliers.

    However, design legends are less common. It’s not a question of talent or ability, but more a reflection of style, class, personality and being about to really set oneself aside from others in the heavily congested international hotel design market.

    There is only – and will only ever be – one Martin Brudnizki, for example. Last year, Hotel Designs’ The Brit List crowned the acclaimed visionary as its Interior Designer of the Year – and for good reason. “Brudnizki is an international leader, standing as an icon as well as inspiration to so many young aspiring designers,” commented last year’s expert judging panel. “His recent work in University Arms Cambridge is a credit to his studio’s ability to give a building a new lease of life in the most sensitive and creative way.”

    Image caption/credit: The Library designed by MBDS/University Arms Cambridge

    Almost one year later, while the editorial team at Hotel Designs are gearing up for yet another spectacular awards ceremony, I aptly caught up with the Brudnizki in his Chelsea studio in London to find out more about our ‘poster boy’s’ journey to become one of the world’s most celebrated interior designers of the moment.

    “I grew up in Stockholm; my mother was a stylist and my father an engineer and I think this blend of approaches to living and design, in particular, rubbed off on me,” Brudnizki explains. “My mother is incredibly stylish and filled our home with beautiful colours, patterns and objet. My father on the other hand, worked in a very precise and thought-through way. Both aspects of their personality has certainly informed the way I work today.”

    Brudnizki’s early career in design saw him working at the likes of David Gill Gallery and David Collins Studio before branching off and putting his own practice in 2000, Martin Brudnizki Design Studio (MBDS) in 2000. “I learned a lot during my time in other places,” he adds, “which has served me well when establishing my own studio.”

    “We have a number of up-coming projects that I also hope shape our studio’s story. It’s an exciting time.” – Martin Brudnizki

    Since then, MBDS has become one of the leading international design studios, with bases in London and New York and projects including The Beekman, University Arms and Four Seasons Athens. But, like all designers, Brudnizki remembers the milestone moments; the hotels and buildings that captured his and his team’s incredible imagination, usually sheltered in iconic shells. “All the projects we work on are exciting and help shape the future of the studio however, there are a few that really stick out as being pivotal,” the designer explains. “Scott’s in Mayfair presented us with the opportunity to design our first fine dining restaurant, it also cemented our relationship with Caprice Holdings, who have since become important clients of ours. Working with Nick Jones on Soho Beach House Miami was exciting as this saw us introduce the successful Soho House brand to a new region. The Beekman in New York opened in 2016 and helped stamp our mark on New York. It’s located in a beautiful building and we were lucky to garner a lot of attention from it. Finally, Annabel’s in London has proved incredibly popular for us. It’s such an iconic club so we felt very honoured to be asked to redesign its incarnation. We have a number of up-coming projects that I also hope shape our studio’s story. It’s an exciting time.”

    Dividing his time between both London and New York has given Brudnizki the unique freedom to position himself in two of the world’s most respected design hubs. “Both cities have very unique identities,” Brudnizki explains. “They are both are melting pots of culture and excitement and whilst very different, they both present wonderful opportunities to mark your mark.”

    “Luxury travel to me is being able to combine a sense of curated experience with spontaneity; finding new places but also the having the flexibility to be adventurous and go off piste.” – Martin Brudnizki

    From the outside looking in, the luxury market in hotel design may look like a desirable place to start when setting out to build a reputation as being a leading designer, but it also comes with risk to cater to the ever-changing demand of the modern luxury traveller. For Brudniki, the true art of luxury travel is a reflection of his own experience and personality. “Luxury travel to me is being able to combine a sense of curated experience with spontaneity; finding new places but also the having the flexibility to be adventurous and go off piste,” he defines.

    Since winning at The Brit List 2018, Brudnizki’s vision on a new hotel brand has come to life in the shape of Mr C Hotels, which opened in Miami earlier this year – and has, as a result, put him in the running for the second consecutive year for this year’s awards. “Mr C is situated in a modern new build in the green surroundings of Coconut Grove,” he explains. “New builds have many benefits, including up-to-date technology and no listed statuses to content with however, new builds often lack the characterful details of older properties. With this in mind, we often have to dig deeper to find a strong narrative to wrap the hotel’s design in. For Mr. C we looked to the landscape of the region and the glamorous boating heritage and incorporated elements of this into our scheme.”

    As well as technology, another area that has peaked recently in popularity among developers as well as designers and architects is the value of sustainability and designing consciously. “I think it depends on the project and the client, Brudnizki admits. “We are working with Six Senses on their new hotel and resort in Kitzbuehel Alps and the whole design is focused on sustainability and using organic and local materials. This is to mirror the brand’s values so we’ve had an interesting time researching new materiality and local artisans who can help reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint and up their sustainability accreditation.”

    Quick-fire round

    Hamish Kilburn: Where is next on your travel bucket list?
    Martin Brudnizki: Portugal.

    HK: What is the number one item you simply cannot travel without?
    MB: A silk eye mask.

    HK: What is the last item that will show up on your bank statement?
    MB: Probably food from Bayley & Sage.

    HK: What is your favourite place to unwind in London?
    MB: My home in Parsons Green. As a travel so much, it’s nice to just come home and relax in the peace and quiet.

    HK: What trend do you hope will never return?
    MB: International Beige.

    HK: Where are you travelling to next?
    MB: My New York Studio next week.

    Before I leave the designer in peace to create with his team the hotel interiors of the future, which include hotels in London, Austria, LA and Cape Town (among others), I am interested to explore, on the surface at least, new materials that have emerged on the designer’s radar. “I am really interested in straw marquetry at the moment; it’s such a beautiful natural fibre that can be used in the most unusual of places, such as walls and furniture,” Brudnizki says.

    MBDS itself is incubating a strong network of talented designers that will further position Britain as a globally regarded leading design hotspot. With his name on the door of two dynamic studios – and also in the minds of I would argue all aspiring interior designers – Brudnizki is leading the ever-evolving industry into new territory.

    The shortlisted finalists this year’s The Brit List have been invited to The Brit List Awards 2019, which takes on November 21 at Patch East London (Aldgate). To purchase limited tickets, click here

    Main image credit: Luca Marziale

    Get creative with Creations from Wilton Carpets

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Get creative with Creations from Wilton Carpets

    In creative shades of fjord, demerara, burnt copper and gunmetal, the Creations colour palette is the foundation of many striking woven carpet designs from Wilton Carpets, now curated in ‘Creations; Ready to Weave’, a brochure now available from the Wiltshire manufacturer.

    Demonstrating the impressive versatility of designs made with the Creations palette, the brochure charts the ability of Creations to enhance the cool, elegant interiors of hospitality and leisure settings, mansion apartments and high-traffic commercial spaces.

    From the vitality and spirit of modern patterns to the contemporary interpretation of traditional motifs, Creations delivers functional base tones and gorgeous radiating highlights for carpets that are not only beautiful but commercially viable too.

    As part of the Ready to Weave concept, the Creations palette can be used in any combination of the 12 colours available across any design – library or otherwise – bringing designers the opportunity to deliver a bespoke look that’s perfectly matched to their interior and ready within just four weeks.

    “Creations was created as a reaction to the cool and calm greys and blues that have gained traction in commercial interiors,” explains Damian Roscoe, creative director, Wilton Carpets. “The move away from richer, regal bases to these new colours, along with flashes of ultra-popular ochre, green and icy blue working as beautiful highlights; provides a thoroughly modern colourbank in-tune with today’s interior palettes.”

    Using Creations as a base for many of its new woven axminster carpet designs, including Havana, Nova Scotia and Urban, Wilton Carpets has underlined the important role that this new ultra-usable palette is playing in its design direction. The ‘Creations; Ready to Weave’ brochure illustrates this beautifully and promises inspiration for designers looking to bring beautiful carpets to their commercial projects.

    Main image credit: Wilton Carpets

    Editor’s round-up of London Design Festival 2019

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Editor’s round-up of London Design Festival 2019

    Strap yourself in for editor Hamish Kilburn’s annual round-up of London Design Festival (LDF). The 2019 edition was a thought-provoking insight into how the bare bones of the industry, led by innovative manufacturers working with open-minded designers and architects, are taking it upon themselves to design a better future of international hotels from the foundations upwards…  

    “Most cities are experts in one or two disciplines,” said Ben Evans, Director of London Design Festival. “But the breadth and depth of London’s expertise is unparalleled.”

    For the 11th year, LDF was the epicentre of the design universe, publically displaying in full the ingredients to make the capital an incubator of ideas, creativity and something different.

    Initially established in 2003 by Sir John Sorrell and Evans, the festival has grown to encompass a broad range of activities, and attracts visitors from around the world: last year welcomed a record-breaking 588,000 direct visitors from more than 75 countries, generating almost one million visits.

    Despite Brexit call-to-actions being plastered across the front of the city’s major newspapers, the festival’s spotlight this year was thankfully not on the political landscape (or landslide) of whether or not this is really happening, but instead the lenses were focused on conscious change for good. With designers being now more aware than ever before on the need for design responsibly, sustainable products, materials and initiatives were evident in all corners of the metropolis, at all of the four Design Destinations. “LDF celebrates and promotes London’s design excellence in a period when showcasing creativity is even more important, adds Evans. And installations around the city from the likes of Matthew McCormack, Sony Design and Paul Cocksedge were a visual reminder of how design can influence change and educate wide-spread audiences of all demographics.

    Focus 19

    Neatly kicking things off after Hotel Designs led an exclusive roundtable at Arte Wallcovering at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, Focus19 extended its luxurious arm to welcome a select number of pop-up stands. Whether green is or isn’t this year’s colour is irrelevant. What’s more important for hotel creatives is following how suppliers are turning up the volume on how they are designing with purpose and further bringing the outdoors in using sustainable methods. One area where this is very apparent is in fabrics and large prints – both of which are never in short supply at DCCH. Arte arguably stole the show with the launch of four new collections. Following last year’s collaboration with Moooi, any collection to launch after would be a tough act to follow, but the wallcovering experts delivered and the results are extraordinary.

    While fabrics were strong, so too was lighting. Pookey Lighitng’s installation designed by The Brit List 2019 judge Florence Rolfe was a vibrant LED light show. Meanwhile, David Hunt Lighting cut the ribbon on its new permanent hub within the DCCH, showcasing its bespoke service as well as its intricate lamps. As well as hosting a captivating talk with the lighting company’s founder, Vaughan, unveiled a new collection of simple, yet extremely chic sculptured lamps as well as a new range of Tribal Collection shades, that were first unveiled at last year’s show.

    Elsewhere, collaborations from the likes of Barnaby Gates, Kit Kemp and others were on display under what will soon become the Design Centre Avenue, but during Focus was a pop-up exhibition of pure, untouched talent.

    100% Design

    Making its bold, colourful entrance, 100% Design celebrated its 25thbirthday with a bold line-up of speakers, including David Rockwell, Marcel Wonders and Daniel Shofield among others.

    Following last year’s move to London’s Olympia, the show found its feet in historic halls as visitors flocked to see the plethora of interactive installations, cutting edge collections and plenty of products. The Two Lovely Gays unveiled an piece entitled Insta-interiors, which featured a playful mix of pastels. “Social media can has brought design to everyone in a way that we love,” the studio explained on its stand. But it can also be a confusing arena, with so many images and ideas vying for attention. Our hope is that it opens up a new freedom in design, promoting diversity and confidence.”

    With a noticeable shift in behaviours, especially in public areas of the hotel, it is no surprise that there was a significant focus on furniture. Taking centre stage directly opposite the show’s doors was Benchmark with its latest collaboration with design legend David Rockwell. The Sage Collection has a specific focus on human health and wellbeing. Made with natural, sustainable and non-toxic materials, it meets the standards required for well-certified buildings. The collection includes slick sit-stand desks and tables, dining and meeting tables, high-low sofas, benches, occasional tables and storage.

    Hamilton Litestat also exhibited its impressive answer to personalising the hotel experience, by being able to colour-match its products to suit any hotel design brief – something that I saw in person recently when visiting the studio’s Bristol-based hub.

    Image credit: Paul Cocksedge’s Please Be Seated

    designjunction

    In the midst of LDF, just as the feet of the design community start to tire, the VIP party for designjunction comes alive. Offering exclusive access into the show 24 hours before it opens to the public, the event is typically a great opportunity to network as well as catching new products on the market. This year’s event unveiled its catwalk for trends alongside the exclusive Tom Dixon party. Taking place in what I can only describe as LDF’s most interesting design districts, Coals Drop Yard, the event arrived fabulously fashionably late (as ever) to the week-long party.

    While the talent sheltered inside was fresh, the narrative of designing responsibly was solid and synonymous among many if not all brands exhibiting at the show. Furniture brands and lighting manufactures put an equally significant emphasis on utilising recyclable materials. Sixteen3, for example, showcased a dynamic range of contemporary furniture pieces that were made from 99 per cent recycled material, while over in the light tunnel, designer Huw Evans unveiled The CONCERTINA COLLECTION, which comprised of both furniture and lighting. Using natural timbers, English Ash and Cherry, the designer accentuated the drama of the product’s raw form by with carefully positioned up-lighting. Meanwhile, Qiang Huang used inspirations from dissembled bike parts to design an equally precise lighting piece. The product follows research that suggests that by 2020, it is estimated that there will be 10 million shared bikes reaching their scrap age, which equates to a staggering 1.6 million tons of solid waste, which Hauang believes can be reduced by designers looking more outwardly when it comes to recycling products and materials.

    Whether or not designjunction created a larger mid-week statement than last year’s show on The Southbank is down to interpretation. There was, however, no denying that it sheltered something for everyone, including a number of engaging talks. For that reason alone, it is certainly not an event that should be skipped over when navigating around LDF in future.

    London Design Fair

    Keeping an understated mantra in the heart of Shoreditch, London Design Fair was this years’ stand-out show for Hotel Designs, because of its ability to allow the products and exhibitors to do the talking. The show, which took place on the iconic Brick Lane, featured meaningful themes, such as biophilic materials and design as well as showcasing the only bathroom pavilion during London Design Festival – highlights of which included Roca’s new collection with Armani and West One Bathrooms’ eco-themed stand.

    In addition, the show included its worldwide theme, allowing regions in all pockets of the world to exhibit a little bit of their own personalities and creativity.

    As a result, London Design Fair focused on form, function and looking forward, past tomorrow’s trends, to globally identify pieces that will really help to change and shape the landscape of international hotel design.

    While the installations, projects and districts differed in style, the thread between each was very much about confronting convention and offering something different, an abstract reality, if you like, of London through the eyes of the creatives.

    LDF provides a platform like no other that time and time again harbours creative talent and fascinating stories of product design in action. And with variety being the spice of the life, as so many wise bodies have announced before, this year’s exhibitions were in heavy supply of something different, something new and something fresh for everyone.

    Main image credit: designjunction

    ACE Hotels to arrive in Australia

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    ACE Hotels to arrive in Australia

    ACE Hotel Sydney is slated to open in 2021 and will become the brand’s debut property in Australia… 

    Ace Hotel announces their first Australian property with Ace Hotel Sydney, slated to open in 2021. Marking its 20th anniversary this year, Ace Hotel celebrates a double decade with 10 hotels spanning North America, Europe and soon Asia, including hotels in New York City, Los Angeles, London and Kyoto, Japan (Spring 2020).

    Atelier Ace, the agency and operator behind Ace Hotel, also launched two new hotel brands this year: Maison de la Luz, a luxury guest house in New Orleans, and Sister City, a thoughtfully designed hotel in NYC inspired by simplicity and beauty.

    “Opening an Ace Hotel in Sydney, and on our fourth continent, is a project that aligns with our Pacific roots and love of food, art, architecture, design and cultural creatives — things that are in rich abundance in our new Surry Hills neighbourhood ” said Kelly Sawdon, Ace Hotel Group Partner and Chief Brand Officer. “We’re excited to partner with Golden Age, whose vision and sense of collaboration is in kinship with Ace, to build a central gathering place for locals and travelers alike.”

    Jeff Xu, Golden Age Founder and Managing Director commented: “Ace Hotel is one of the best and draws inspiration from the characteristics of the city they operate in. Surry Hills is known for being a culinary hub with a stylish culture and acts as a great canvas to design a hotel from. We’re excited to be bringing the first Ace to Australia and the brand’s fresh approach to the hotel industry is one that has been missing from the local hotel market.”

    Holding space in the global imagination as a singular destination, Sydney balances a relaxed spirit with renowned architecture, design and food, embodying kindness, culture and community in kinship with Ace.

    Opening in the Surry Hills neighbourhood in a part historic, part new build structure built around Tyne House, one of Sydney’s original brick structures. Ace Hotel Sydney will feature 264 rooms, a ground floor lobby bar, restaurant and cafe, as well as a rooftop bar and restaurant. Inspired by the abundance of natural flora, the city’s rich history as a welcoming hub and its generous quality of life, the hotel stands as a unique intersection of culture, commerce, art and community gathering.

    Main image credit: ACE Hotels

    The Annual Hotel Conference kicks off in spectacular fashion

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    The Annual Hotel Conference kicks off in spectacular fashion

    As proud media partners, Hotel Designs was on location in Manchester to witness the engaging opening sessions of The Annual Hotel Conference 2019…

    Hosted by Questex Hospitality Group,the 16thAnnual Hotel Conference (AHC) opened yesterday at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate with 28 per cent more speakers than last year, following popular demand.  In addition, the outstanding conference programme features 65 per cent of speakers new to The AHC stage and one third of these are female.

    New sessions to the programme, covering the most topical conversations include:

    Claire King, Event Director of The AHC said: “Never has there been a more pressing time to come together as a community. The AHC is proud to provide a unique, nurturing and fun platform for the industry to gather and collectively, look to the future. This year’s event features more content, more networking and more speakers to deliver the highest quality conference to the gathered audience. We’ve always stayed fiercely true to our “Learn. Network. Be Inspired.” maxim and we’re looking forward to welcoming the industry to The AHC next week”.

    The AHC is for UK hoteliers, owners, operators and managers as well as investors, developers, designers, architects, consultants, tourism leaders and regional tourist boards.

    Day two of The AHC continues…

    Image credit: Twitter/The AHC

    In Conversation With: Outstanding Property Award London’s Jesper Thomsen

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    In Conversation With: Outstanding Property Award London’s Jesper Thomsen

    Making its debut on the international design stage, Outstanding Property Award London (OPAL) has begun its global search to identify the most innovative design and architecture projects. As the exclusive media partner of the awards, Hotel Designs speaks to OPAL’s  co-founder to understand what sets the initiative aside from others. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes…

    “What makes a building, a project, a person and/or a hotel’s design outstanding,” I ask myself as I weave between some of London’s architectural skyline statements while running embarrassingly late to meet with Jesper Thomsen. It feels like only yesterday we were both sitting down over coffee for the first time discussing the bones of what has now become the Outstanding Property Award London (OPAL).

    Fast-forward to today, and I am on the jury –  as well as at the helm of a very special media partnership -imminently about to be asked to identify the ‘outstanding’ from the ‘extraordinary’ and ‘unique’ – all of which are buzzwords that are overused and I struggle at the best of times to define. Considering the vast amount of innovative architectural gems that have appeared in cityscapes around the world in recent years, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel the entire weight of the industry’s judgement pressing down on my shoulders. It’s an interesting concept becoming a judge, and ironic that what follows is then the feeling – or apprehension at least – of judgement. But it’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone when casting my opinion, as the awards now has significant number of jury members, all of which have been hand-selected to offer different perspectives from all corners of the industry.

    By the time I make it to meet Thomsen, I have decided that, for me, something unconventional will be my winner, which is a word that I feel would best describe Thompson’s ambitions for OPAL, along with ‘bold’, ‘courageous’ and ‘about time.’

    Hamish Kilburn: What was the aim when setting up OPAL? 

    Jesper Thomsen: The aim was created out of a passion for creativity in the property industry. We aim to highlight and celebrate the most exceptional design projects in the world, raising their awareness and honoring its creators. Buildings last for decades, sometimes centuries, they tell our history and legacy, where we come from and where we are now. They are fundamental to our existence, so it’s essential that they are well designed and serves humanity in the best way possible.

    We seek to reveal projects that are not only highly creative but show useful function, provide better living experiences for its users, and meeting the clients’ expectation. Class-leading projects that demonstrate innovation and embracing new technologies, setting new trends, respecting and protecting the environment, and pushing boundaries of human ingenuity.

    OPAL was established with my friend and business partner Hossein Farmani, founder of the Farmani Group of companies, who has vast experience in the design awards industry since 1985. Having worked together in the past, the award feels like a natural progression of our combined experiences.

    HK: Can you tell more about your experience in the industry? What’s your story? 

    JT: I always wanted to become an Architect. Since a young age, I’ve been fascinated by design, and for me, architecture was the ultimate expression of human creativity and design evolution. However, my father was the third-generation owner of a printing and design practice in my native Denmark and got me interested in graphic design. At the time of A-level graduation in Denmark, I wanted to apply for the School of Architecture, but the ministry of education regulating the free admissions had almost no openings for new students due to a slump in that industry.

    Instead, after one year as an apprentice in an architectural firm in Paris, I moved to London and began a Masters degree at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, which related more to graphic design, I also supplemented my studies with photography. Following graduation, I was a creative director, designing websites for major companies during the dot com boom era. Here I gained considerable experience in digital marketing and branding. After a seven-year itch, I became tired of commercial design, and my love for the arts was calling.

    I launched a private art gallery in Londons’ Knightsbridge, including spending one year developing and designing the gallery space. In this process, it felt like all creative aspects came together, and after completion, I would subsequently spend another seven years running the gallery exhibiting artworks by artists such as Damian Hirst and Bill Brandt.

    I decided to move on from the gallery business, and fate got me involved in developing a few properties in Londons Knightsbridge, I spent nearly 3 years responsible for all operations, learning hands-on all the disciplines from interiors to architecture, planning, research, 3D modeling, materials, procuring and team management. It was a very creative period but also learning the hard way how complex the creation of properties really is. So my past really covers hugely varied types of creative practices. I’ve learned that creativity, in all its forms, is about ‘seeing’, sensing, letting your imagination unfold, and this can be applied to all its disciplines.

    HK: Why is London such a significant destination to base these awards? 

    JT: London has always been incredibly important for creativity and design in the built environment, spanning from historical landmarks up to today’s groundbreaking contemporary designs. Some of the most famous developers, architectural firms, and interior designers, have a base here and continue to inspire and influence the global property industry. The OPAL Award is open to entries from around the world, and we want to bring outstanding projects to London and celebrate them in our fantastic capital we are so proud of.

    “OPAL offers a three-way synergy between our three main entry categories; Property Development, Architecture and Interior Design.” – Jesper Thomsen

    HK: What sets OPAL aside from other design awards? 

    JT: Many awards are confined to a single industry within the property sector; An Architecture Award, is for Architects, by Architects. An interior design award, is for interior designers, by interior designers and so on. OPAL reaches fully across the property sector. It offers a three-way synergy between our three main entry categories; Property Development, Architecture and Interior Design. These industries continuously collaborate to create exciting projects, each bringing their expertise, and combined, they deliver outstanding designs. We are also very proud of our talented jury panel who will evaluate the global entries, they are our backbone and aspiration to those who enter our award.

    HK: What other destinations around the globe would you are design hotspots? 

    JT: It’s incredible how major cities in Asia have become design hotspots. Shanghai for example, really pushes boundaries fuelled by a concentration of industrial partners and strong government support. As the countdown to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games draws closer, the Japanese capital is in the middle of a hotel gold rush. Anything from boutique design hotels to glittering skyscrapers, a raft of new establishments are opening or are in the pipeline. Mexico City is also one to watch after being nominated for World Design Capital last year. I love their particular design language, elegantly fusing original colonial architecture with contemporary.

    HK: What’s the number one thing you cannot travel without?

    JT: This is an obvious one; my laptop. It’s glued to my fingertips at all times. I travel extensively, and this enables me to run operations and be connected at all times. Oh, and an online back-up of it too.

    HK: What is your favourite hotel you have ever stayed in and why?

    JT: There are so many. I recently visited Extremadura, a remote and less traveled part of Spain. Here, in the historic town of Cáceres, inside its UNSECO walled city and housed in a beautifully restored 16th-century palace is the stunning hotel Atrio. Striking white minimalist architectural features blends lovingly with the old stone walls and shiny black wooden floors. The surrounding streets have no tourist shops, nor huge crowds with selfie sticks you’d typically find in places of such beauty, just quaint, peaceful alleys defined by sandstone and ivy leaf clad palaces. The rooms and amenities are styled in a fashionable 60s Scandinavian design, Miles Davies’ Blue Note years playing softly in the background, a pleasing opposition to the striking view onto the empty medieval square below. Atrio is also home to a fabulous two-starred Michelin restaurant boasting one of the finest wine cellars in the world. I thoroughly recommend a visit here.

    HK: What do you look for in an outstanding property?

    JT: What really excites me about a great project is when the original vision of a completed building shines like a star, its purpose is evident to the eyes and the senses. Those projects are likely to be those who have seen mostly green lights during the creation process.

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

    JT: My sights are on Mongolia, away from civilisation and buildings. When I take time off, I grab my camera bag and go shooting landscapes, happy to be off-grid. No place is better for me to clear my mind than to connect with solitary, vast open expanses or wild roaring oceans.

    HK: What is your favourite restaurant/bar in London at the moment?

    JT: I like Aquavit in St. James. Maybe I’m a bit impartial due to my Scandinavian roots, here you can eat classic dishes such as gravid lax in a beautiful, sumptuous setting. I also like the buzz of The Ned, the physical scale of it is bars, and restaurants area is incredible. I just had a sneak peek of the yet to be launched upstairs bar and restaurant of the Standard Hotel, a funky design offering fantastic views over Londons’ city to one side and the clock tower of St. Pancras to the other, so close it feels glued onto their windows.

    HK: What trend do you hope never returns?

    JT: Brutalist 60s’ architecture. Its primitive obsession with concrete made an austere generation of buildings where function superseded design, creating discouraging living conditions for its users. I don’t think architects and developers of that time really understood or considered the human factor as part of a design concept, that a building serves to improve peoples lives and its environment, not just a structure to keep you dry from the rain. They are genuine eyesores and should be demolished, and only the best examples should be preserved for the record. I doubt this trend will return anytime soon due to a much better understanding of peoples needs along with technological advancements in the building industry, 3D printing, new materials and simulation methods give designers today far more freedom, flexibility, and individuality to create exciting designs.

    Main image credit: OPAL

    Six Senses to open first hotel in the Galápagos Islands

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Six Senses to open first hotel in the Galápagos Islands

    Opening 2021, Six Senses’ first hotel in the Galápagos Islands will be designed by world-renowned bamboo architect Simon Velez… 

    Following a rise in demand for hotels to open in far-flung destinations around the world, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas has announced that its first resort in the Galápagos Islands will open in 2021. Six Senses Galapagos will be located on San Cristobal Island, in the town of Cerro Verde on the Northeastern coast. This is the quietest of the main islands with a relaxed and tranquil vibe.

    The Galápagos Islands were named by 16th century Spanish sailors after the saddle-shaped shells (“galápago”) of their most famous resident, the giant tortoise. The 19 islands are home to some of the world’s most amazing wildlife and ecology systems. Guests at the upcoming Six Senses Galapagos will therefore experience a one-of-a-kind natural environment.

    UNESCO recognised the Galápagos Islands as a World Heritage Site in 1978 and a Biosphere Reserve in 1985, development is only permitted on three percent of the total area. Permission has been granted to develop the resort on a verdant hill with unspoiled views of the ocean and other topographical landmarks. All building work is in accordance with local laws and with strong involvement from the local community.  The development of this project is being led by Hitesh Mehta of HM Design and will focus on a distinctive planning philosophy which balances economic, environmental, and social impact.

    Chief Executive Officer Neil Jacobs of Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas said: “Sustainability is at the core of our brand, influencing everything from ongoing community engagement and conservation efforts to the local, repurposed materials used in the development. We are excited and delighted to work with the Orgal Group on this extraordinary project in such a special and environmentally sensitive place, staying true to our joint purpose of ecosystem restoration, scientific research of marine species and low-impact tourism.”

    Plans are underway for an Earth Lab and Experience Center. The first will showcase the project’s sustainability efforts and the second will host research and educational activities by well-respected academics and NGOs already working in the Galápagos. There will be a particular focus on restoring the original endemic Miconia ecosystem, eradicating invasive species and maintaining a native plant nursery on site. The almost zero light pollution ensures night skies are some of the most spectacular on earth, and an Observation Post will offer guests stargazing and fine dining experiences. All three facilities have been designed by world-renowned bamboo architect Simon Velez.

    The Six Senses Spa will have a functional fitness centre, yoga studio and Alchemy Bar and will offer comprehensive wellness programmes incorporating  local healing and herbalist treatments. Following the guiding principles of Eat With Six Senses, the food and beverage program will minimise the need to import any produce. The ultimate aim is self-sufficiency, with an organic vegetable garden complementing produce grown by local farmers or caught by local fishermen. There will also be a Fermentation Room where guests can learn about the joys of pickling and preserving.

    The hotel brand currently manages 18 hotels and resorts and 30 spas in 21 countries under the brand names Six Senses, Evason and Six Senses Spas, and has signed a further 19 properties into the development pipeline.

    Main image credit: IHG/Six Senses

    INTERACTIVE HOTEL REVIEW: Monkey Island Estate, Bray-on-Thames

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    INTERACTIVE HOTEL REVIEW: Monkey Island Estate, Bray-on-Thames

    Unearthing eight centuries of history, editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to Bray-on-Thames’ Monkey Island Estate to interactively review a new kind of private countryside luxury…

    Travel upstream from London and you eventually arrive in the quintessentially British surroundings of Bray-on-Thames, a quiet suburban village that is arguably most for harbouring two of the UK’s five restaurants that hold three Michelin stars.

    But before the existence of award-winning gourmet F&B establishment, some 800 years prior, there quietly sat an empty island, which went on to soak up interesting eras. It was firstly an ideal setting for monks seeking peace on the banks of the river. It is said that after the Great Fire of London in 1666, materials from Oxfordshire, such as stone and brick, were transported down the river for rebuilding the city. On the vessels’ return, rubble would be spread around some of the Thames islands, which greatly reduced erosion and helped to strengthen the foundations.

    A few decades later, in 1738, the land was purchased by Charles Spencer, 3rdDuke of Marlborough, who was rumoured to have paid palladian architect Robert Morris £2,277 to erect the first two buildings on the island in order to indulge his hobby of fishing. It took Morri three years to complete, but his work marks an important milestone in the property and island’s history – and it is arguably here where the narrative of what is now known as Monkey Island Estate really begins. But it was only recently when the story took on a new narrative, complete with the introduction of new characters, to become a completely unique boutique hotel.

    In 2016, YTL Hotels acquired the land, and work began to restore the property into a modern and relaxed countryside abode. Inspired by the haunts of monks, monarchs, aristocrats and writers alike, New York-based Champalimaud Design was responsible to sensitively orchestrate the interior design of the hotel. Having completed the interior design of YTL’s debut UK property, The Gainsborough Bath and Spa, and more recently The Academy in London, the studio, while also sensitively restoring Raffles Singapore, was well-poised to develop the relationship further.

    Unlike any hotel project that lead designer Jon Kastl has faced before, the geography of Monkey Island Estate presented its own unique set of challenges. “You have no idea how difficult it is to work on a island that has no direct car access,” he explains. “Everything had to be carried over the footbridge onto the island. And then, the other challenge was the age of the buildings, and dealing with the neglect of the building. They were in pretty rough shape, almost falling into disrepair.”

    Guests’ first impression of the hotel is an understated – almost camouflaged – lobby area in a cosy ‘boathouse’ – the feeling of being taken away from the daily grind does not get much stronger than this so close to the centre of London. “The hotel is relatively small,” adds “

    The short walk over the footbridge from the unassuming lobby to the public areas is one of wonder. Architectural landscape designer AV Design has created a majestic garden that compliments the various buildings.

    Framing what should be in my opinion the postcard picturesque views of the River Thames, the pavilion building, which shelters the majority of the public areas, sets a relaxing setting – and echoes, on a balmy summer afternoon at least, the same peaceful scene that I imagine was once enjoyed by monks centuries ago.

    Caption: The Restaurant | Image credit: ACT Studios

    Although the bar and restaurant is, on the surface, seemingly conventional, the building has a few hidden gems. The Monkey Room, for example, stands true to its original form and structure – and even design. “The only thing we changed was the purple paint colours on the ceiling and add the furnishings,” says Kastl. The eye-catching murals on the panelling is all original which has been there from since when the building was first built.

    Caption: The Monkey Room | Image credit: ACT Studios

    Up the spiral staircase, The Whiskey Room is the latest area that has opened. Designed with the winter months in mind, the cosy and home-from-home atmosphere, complete with tactile wallcoverings, is an expected treat.

    It is because of the fact that the 41 guestrooms and one originally restored suite are sheltered in a grade I-listed building that makes the design story even more fascinating. The design of each and every one of the guestrooms utilises the entire space, with some stretching out onto terraces which look over the river, while carefully blending in a modern style that becomes timeless.  “We just had to accept the smallness of the rooms when designing them,” Kastl explains. “We did things like designing miniature shelves and additional service space. We designed rails that lined the rolls for guests to hang items from. Because there is such a limited closet space, we had to rely on these rails.” The furniture is scaled appropriately so that it fits in the limited space neatly. Meanwhile, the blinds and curtains, supplied by Concept Contract Furnishings are deliberately not heavy, and instead naturally flood the rooms with light to make them look and feel more expansive.

    INTERACTIVE tour of The Wedgwood Suite | Image credit: ACT Studios

    Despite the guestrooms being impressive – and adding to the overall interior design story (and challenges) – the masterpiece of the hotel is perhaps sheltered upstairs in the Wedgewood Suite. “The room, from the panelling to the ceiling, was very much intact,” explains Kastl. “One of the challenges was that it has windows on three sides, so from a layout point of view it created a few headaches.” The ensuite bathroom has been re-gutted and given a fresh and modern look. “ The suite is the coming together of old heritage design and the new.

    Moored on the river bank, the hotel’s spa is unlike any other in or around London. The facilities have been curated by Melissa Mettler who took inspiration from its riverine surrounds, past inhabitants in the form of royalty, liturgy and literary stars, as well as elegant architecture. The floating spa, which features two treatment rooms that are uniquely sheltered within a renovated barge, is a celebration of the power of water blended together with natural wellbeing and wellness.

    Image credit: ACT Studios

    I’m sure, for the designers as much as the operators, that the thought of completing Monkey Island Estate and opening again to the public was a distant day dream. But, considering the drastic rise in demand for wellbeing as well as wellness, the timing of YTL hotel’s countryside retreat could not have been more perfect. Checking out of Monkey Island feeling fully restored in mind, body and spirit myself, following a short by sweet trip to the floating spa before departure, the hotel locks in so many unique and thoughtful moments – and exceeds expectations to become one of the UK’s premium countryside retreats.

    Main image credit: ACT Studios

    The Standard Hotels brand arrives in the Maldives

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    The Standard Hotels brand arrives in the Maldives

    The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives opens as the brand’s second hotel outside America and its debut hotel in Asia… 

    Following the brand’s first venture outside The States to open in London, The Standard brand has spilled into Asia with the arrival of The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives. With 115 stunning private pool villas, The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives is a short sea plane ride away from Male, nestled between the Raa and Baa Atolls, on a naturally protected island.

    The goal of every Standard project — be it a hotel, a rooftop discothèque, or a magazine — is to defy conventions, up the aesthetic stakes, and deliver an experience that can only be had at The Standard. While the Maldives has traditionally been seen as a ‘couple’s destination’, the famed hotel brand has approached the development with a fresh set of eyes. The resort offers an unmatched combination of relaxation, dynamic social life and vibrant cultural programming that also welcomes groups of friends or singles looking to meet others or just reset and recharge in Paradise.

    Each of the 115 villas features its own private lounge deck and plunge pool, and guests can choose from one of six unique culinary offerings. The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives presents culinary options that are inspired by the bounty and beauty of the Indian Ocean and guided by the brand’s commitment to authenticity. Both local and global cuisines are offered, and special, local ingredients – some grown on its very own island farm – are woven throughout the menu.

    The Standard Spa is a haven for recovery or reboot, offering a communal hammam, aroma cypress steam room, chromotherapy and contrast shower, and ten private treatment rooms. Guests are able to drop in to a daily yoga or personal training session, or chill out at the Spa Deck and Tonic Bar plunge pool.

    Of course, no Standard experience would be complete without nightlife, from tribal beats at a beach bonfire to a glass bottom nightclub. And a disco ball above your bath tub, for guests to enjoy their own private party.

    The hotel brand, which was created in 1999, now has six hotels within its portfolio, which includes properties in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London and now the Maldives.

    Main image credit: The Standard Hotels

    100% not-for-profit luxury safari, Lepogo Lodges, opens in South Africa

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    100% not-for-profit luxury safari, Lepogo Lodges, opens in South Africa

    The safari Lepogo Lodges, joins the ‘Not-for-Profit Conservation Tourism’ Movement and pledges to offset each and every guest’s carbon footprint…

    Lepogo Lodges, one of Africa’s few entirely not-for-profit high-end safari lodges, has opened its very first lodge in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, Noka Camp, which is set within the 50,000-hectare, malaria-free Lapalala Wilderness Reserve.

    Lepogo Lodges is the very first luxury camp in Africa to offset the carbon footprint of every visiting guest, from the time they leave their home to the moment they return. Family-owned and operated, the project has been developed as part of a life-long dream to create a sustainable conservation legacy in Africa, with 100 per cent of any financial gains made re-invested back into the reserve for the benefit of wildlife, conservation and the local community.

    Image credit: Lepogo Lodges

    Noka Camp consists of five stilted villas, including one villa especially designed for families. The villas are joined by a main lodge comprised of dining room, bar, lounge area and sprawling outdoor terrace, all perched atop a 100ft cliff overlooking the winding Palala River below and the endless bush ahead. The camp is entirely off-grid, with all energy self-generated by a bespoke, 250msolar walkway.

    Lepogo Lodges have worked with award-winning Japanese Architect Yuji Yamazakion Noka Camp and its five stilted villas, designed to offer the highest level of luxury while bearing the lightest footprint on the surrounding environment. A glass-fronted design for the main lodge and villas maximises the incredible panoramic views seen at every turn, while the entire property has been built on small concrete pads, which ensure that no scars are left on the land.  Each villa is complete with heated plunge pool, unique ‘sky bed’ with glass floor over the ravine, sunken bathtub and underfloor heating.

    Lepogo Lodges have collaborated with Sarah Ord Interiors on the interior design of Noka Camp. Reputed for her use of colour and eclectic designs, Sarah’s vision was to enhance and reflect the natural colours of the reserve. Noka’s light-filled interiors were inspired by the vast horizon of turning leaves on the terracotta-coloured cliffs, where the sky meets Africa. Walls disappear through the use of expansive glass panes, with each vista becoming a framed work of art on a grand scale. Sarah has made use of sustainable and South-African products, crafts and textiles wherever possible.

    Lepogo Lodges will consist of two lodges, with a second property, Melote House, set to open in 2021. Ideal for multi-generational travel, Melote House will be an exclusive-use property sleeping up to 16 guests.

    Entirely energy self-sufficient thanks to the property’s very own solar walkway, Lepogo Lodges will be the first luxury lodge in Africa to offset the carbon emissions from all guests’ travel, from the time they leave their home to the moment they return. Guests can also participate in conservation efforts, community outreach, school visits and more.

    The owning family of Lepogo Lodges is committed to supporting community projects. For example, the Montebello Design Centre in Cape Town was founded by a close relative as a centre to support the disadvantaged, where students can learn valuable crafting skills and generate income to support their livelihoods. It flourishes today and has produced some remarkable talent, some of which Lepogo is proud to be able to showcase. Lepogo Lodges are also working closely with local communities, who have created bespoke soft accessories for the lodges, toys and clothing for the on-site curio shop and custom amenities including hydrating hair oil made from the fabled Baobab and Moringa trees.

    The family is particularly passionate about the conservation of cheetah, pangolin and rhino, having been attracted to Lapalala as one of the leading private rhino sanctuaries in Africa. Lepogo Lodges have funded research and are working with Lapalala to establish the reserve as a centre of excellence for the release of wild captured cheetah in conjunction with The Endangered Wildlife Trust. A pangolin re-introduction programme will also begin in the coming months and the family look forward to supporting and working with the world renowned Lapalala Wilderness School.

     Main image credit: Lepogo Lodges

    The Standard London, Camden’s new kid on the block

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    The Standard London, Camden’s new kid on the block

    In search of a new standard in design, creativity and urban hotels, editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to London’s most talked-about hotels this year to explore another world. The Standard London has opened, making a bold statement on the capital’s new hospitality scene… 

    Something significant is happening in London’s King’s Cross area. It’s been brewing for some time now, but it has only recently erupted.

    During London Design Festival and London Fashion Week, the area was the backdrop of a scene of celebrities, models and the odd design editor or two falling out of parties and onto pavements. Soho and Shoreditch were desolate deserts in comparison. It’s the power of real estate like you have never seen before. Selecting its opening date carefully, The Standard has disrupted everything – and it’s about time too!

    Although, for years, the district has evolved with the time, it was the expansions to King’s Cross and the new St Pancras International stations adjacent to each other that started the catalyst for change. Strangely enough, my father worked on the construction of both. I remember the odd non-official ‘bring your son to work’ day, the oversized hard hat specifically, as we meandered around the expansive building site unable to imagine the finished picture. “Soon, you will be able to travel from London to Paris in just two hours, imagine that” I remember my father saying overexcitedly. “Right here, where you are standing, is going to become London’s major international train station!”

    Whether or not my pops really was one of the first to envision the area’s potential is irrelevant. The station opened and almost instantly the cool, quirky neighbourhood of Camden became even more of a hotspot for the mainstream, without much – if any – loss of its bold and bohemian personality. As a result, the capital’s hotel scene – quick to follow major travel trends – moved outward to put a roof over the raw and rustic scenes that its locals had created.

    And here we are, welcoming the city’s new arrival, The Standard, which has been patiently waiting in the wings for some time now. And while all hotels have a story (some more worth sharing than others), The Standards’ narrative is as unique as the interior design scheme locked within; a perfect meeting of American soul and London’s ostentatious quirk.

    Housed in the former Camden Town Hall Annex in London’s thriving King’s Cross neighbourhood, the 1974 Brutalist building has been meticulously restored by the legendary ORMS Architects in collaboration, in part, with Archer Humphryes Architects.

    The 266-key hotel, which shelters 42 suites, sets the perfect stage for the brand’s first arrival outside America. Uniquely overlooking the iconic St Pancras Station, from street level it’s juxtaposition of architecture that shouldn’t but does work. On the north side is the traditional 19th-century iconic neo-gothic architecture, which has stood the test of time, and two world wars for that matter, unscathed. On the south side is the ultra-modern non-conventional structure, symbolising loudly that times are changing.

    “Three new storeys have been added to the top of the building,” explains Simon Whitaker from ORMS Architects. “The form of which has been derived from the host building below, and clad in new stainless steel and glass panels. Two of these floors provide hotel bedrooms, whilst the top floor is dedicated to the new restaurant and bar, with a roof terrace above.”

    Image credit: The Standard Hotels

    Upon entering, the lobby lounge sets the scene, with a carefully curated library that pays homage to the building’s original use. Further in, sound studio booths host weekly live music and talks. Executive Chef Adam Rawson’s street facing bar, Double Standard, designed by Shawn Hausman, the neighbourhood’s street-facing anchor for lunch, casual drinking and dining throughout the evening.

    Although the colour scheme in the guestrooms and suites may not be to everyone’s taste, it is very much so mine. Not so much because of the tones used, but more so because they have been intertwined together with purpose – and unapologetically so for that matter. Complete with bespoke curved sofas and the King’s rooms featuring outdoor terrace bathtubs, the idiosyncratic charm of the hotel is certainly not limited to the public areas.

    Image credit: The Standard Hotels

    Before it opened, the hotel’s street level, red exterior lift was the ultimate teaser campaign. Now fully open, it shoots guests up directly to the 10th-floor where Chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’ restaurant showcases his live-fire cooking and where guests and visitors alike can enjoy the building’s 360-degree views of the city below all-year round thanks to the retractable awning.

    No longer do party-hard followers of the brand have to travel stateside to experience The Standard’s retro maximalism. First launched in the late 90s with its debut hotel in Hollywood, which for the record remains to this day a go-to destination on the Sunset Strip, the hotel’s urban cool influence is London’s answer to keeping the Camden’s hospitality scene fresh, authentic and designed with purpose.

    It’s next stop? The Maldives, next month in fact, which will be an interesting page to turn in what is an unmistakably climatic chapter for the now international hotel brand.

    Main image credit: The Standard Hotels

    Ruby Hotels to open second hotel in London in 2021

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Ruby Hotels to open second hotel in London in 2021

    The 154-key Ruby Stella will open in London’s Clerkenwell district and is the latest instalment in the ‘Lean Luxury’ hotel brand’s ambitious expansion plan…

    Following a theatrical launch in Dusseldorf, Ruby Hotels, the Munich-based hotel brand and pioneer of the ‘Lean Luxury’ philosophy, today announces plans for a second UK property, in London’s Clerkenwell, to open in the first quarter of 2021. The new hotel, Ruby Stella, will follow the launch of Southbank’s Ruby Lucy in January 2020 and will form part of Ruby Hotels’ plan to unveil a total of 12 new hotels by 2022.

    Set within a modern purpose-built space which will reflect the historic facades of the surrounding buildings, Ruby Stella will be constructed on Clerkenwell’s Eyre Street Hill in collaboration with real estate partners Geneva Management Group and UDevelopments.

    The hotel will shelter 154 rooms, ranging in size from cosy ‘Nest’ rooms (13-15m²) to expansive ‘Loft’ rooms (23-38m²), a stylish bar area, a communal work station and a library. All guest rooms will showcase Ruby Hotels’ sleep-scientist-approved formula for the perfect night’s sleep, with full soundproofing, blackout curtains, high-quality linen and extra-long and wide custom mattresses.

    A laid-back, contemporary design will see quirky touches such as the inclusion of a Marshall guitar amp in each room, which guests can use both with their own guitar or one borrowed from reception, and ‘Ruby Radio’, the hotel group’s own internet radio station.

    Cutting-edge technology will be on offer throughout the property; in each room guests will find a personal tablet PC pre-loaded with Ruby Hotels’ carefully-curated London city guide, social media apps and unlimited data and calls to use throughout their stay. A state-of-the-art self-check-in system will make use of tablets to reduce check-in time to under one minute, leaving guests free to make the most of their stay.

    Just like the group’s other houses, Ruby Stella will follow Ruby Hotels’ ‘Lean Luxury’ philosophy: a top location, high-quality fittings, and outstanding design. All of this is offered at an affordable price by rigorously cutting out the superfluous and focusing on the essential.

    For example, a trendy communal space will serve a healthy, locally-produced breakfast without the need for a kitchen or chef, and instead of overpriced minibars and room service, galley kitchens, vending machines and ironing stations will supply guests with all of their needs. Likewise, a modular design sees Ruby hotels occupying mixed-use and former office buildings in the heart of the city, rather than the traditional, prestigious addresses with sky high rents typically favoured by hoteliers.

    Main image: Ruby Hotels

    Sleep & Eat announces this year’s conference line-up

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Sleep & Eat announces this year’s conference line-up

    Sleep & Eat has revealed a conference programme that is set fair to live up to the show’s reputation as one of Europe’s leading hospitality design and innovation event…

    With some of the speakers yet to be announced, Sleep & Eat’s 2019 programme already scales new heights and reaches new depths, grapples with hospitality’s response to one of our most pressing social issues and features some of the industry’s greatest influencers, dreamers and doers, including directors of  Standard International, Virgin Galactic and NeueHouse.

    The Conference, which is free-to-attend, will run throughout the two days of the show, November 19 – 20 at London’s Olympia.

    Exceptional by Design

    Amar Lalvani, who as CEO of Standard International, has built the company into one of the most innovative hospitality enterprises in the world, will be flying in from New York to deliver the opening keynote. With his latest hotel opening just completed in London, and with plans to quadruple the company’s footprint to 20 properties in the coming years, he will tackle the challenging issue of how to continue running the group as a platform for creativity. If the strength of the brand currently is a clientele that sees value in a specific lifestyle, will that be enough to fuel aggressive growth?

    Hospitality’s Opportunity: Social Connection

    Sleep & Eat’s theme for 2019 is “Social FlexAbility”. In a world full of evidence that people are disconnecting from each other in favour of digital relationships, the event will be exploring if and how the hospitality sector and its designers can be in the vanguard of combatting this interactional shift, providing guests the opportunity to reconnect with others in-person as and when they want to by offering spaces where users can activate the social experience of their choice.

    Josh Wyatt, the driving-force behind NeueHouse, the U.S. based provider of collaborative workspace, and previously the visionary behind Generator Hostels, will share his opinions in conversation with Conference Curator, Heleri Rande, considering how creativity and design can act as financial drivers for investors, and taking a look at how NeueHouse is using these to create a unique and non-replicable company. Wyatt admits to being shocked by the many executives who still don’t appreciate the importance of design. “I think that as we enter into an era of increasing digitisation, design is ever more important. You can build a somewhat successful company without; but you can build a great company with longevity if you understand that design is the physical foundation for your customers’ emotional experience,”he says.

    The trend for hybrid spaces where guests can socialise, work and network will be under the spotlight when a panel of highly respected hotel operators gathers to discuss Social FlexAbility. Nowadays, public areas need to be engaging and inviting with food and drink concepts that complement both room and non-room areas. But what does that mean operationally and how must brands adapt themselves to manage this efficiently and within a reasonable timeframe? In a data-driven world do we still rely on our teams and human interaction to deliver on the brand promise? These are just some of the questions that Dale MacPhee, General Manager of the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh and Business Women Scotland’s Hotelier of the Year 2017 and citizenM’s London Area Manager, Eylem Ozgun, will seek to answer. Veteran hotelier and Chairman of Bespoke Hotels, Robin Sheppard, will moderate this thought-provoking discussion, no doubt peppering the discussion with his own perspectives.

    The design of co-experience environments will also be under the spotlight. Harry Harris of SUSD, the developer behind the Curtain Hotel and Members Club and Devonshire Club, will chair a conversation between leaders in hospitality design, including Alex Michaelis of Michaelis Boyd, Matthew Grzywinski of N.Y. based architecture and design firm, Grzywinski + Pons and Yuna Megre, Founder of Moscow-based Megre Interiors which will look at some of the latest design solutions. In addition, the Sleep & Eat Set designers will be on stage to explain their approach to the design of their “Social flexibility” Sets – concept guestrooms, a restaurant and a bar that experiment with the theme and inspire visitors with what might be in their future projects.

    Above and Below

    The second day of the Conference is promising to boldly go not only into space but into the depths of Earth’s oceans. In the morning, Richard Coutts, Principal of Baca Architects, the UK’s foremost architectural practice designing on, near or under water, and Ben Fitzgerald, Director of Core Marine, the engineering firm which earlier this year worked on the headline-grabbing Underrestaurant share the platform. Ben Fitzgerald says: “At the southernmost point of the Norwegian coastline lies Under – Europe’s first underwater restaurant that also doubles up as a research centre for marine life. The combined efforts of the design practice and the engineers into underwater architecture have pushed the boundaries of hospitality experiences below the waves. Far from being an aquarium for touristy expeditions, the magic of the North Sea wildlife captivates with all its awe, rain or shine. When the land is not enough – how do we design and engineer for the next frontier?”

    The speakers from Virgin Galactic may share the sentiment but disagree with the solution when it’s their turn on stage in the afternoon. As the company is preparing to catapult the hospitality experience into space, Jeremy Brown and Martijn Brouwer will set the scene and talk about the absolute imperative of putting a personal approach to service front and centre of their delivery. The duo will explain how such an approach manifests itself operationally and in design considerations, both on and above ground in a conversation destined to fire imaginations and ensure the bucket list has just got longer.

    Other sessions will include an F&B panel in which Lydia Forte, Group Director of F&B at Rocco Forte Hotels will be joined by a stellar group of her peers, namely: Gustaf Pilebjer of Marriott, Karina Elias from The Langham and, from Hong Kong, Anurag Bali of Shangri-La International. The ingredients for this particular discussion will include the hot new concepts that travellers are craving and the thorny question – have hotels finally caught up with independent restaurants and bars in offering the same amount of social excitement and social media worthy content?

    In addition to the Conference, Sleep & Eat 2019 will include an international exhibition together with six concept room Sets, The Sleeper Bar, The Hub and the VIP Lounge, each designed by a major name hospitality design practice. The show will be open from 10 am on Tuesday 19 November with an evening networking reception until 8.30 pm, and from 10.00 am – 6.00 pm on Wednesday 20 November. For more information and to register for a complimentary pass, please visit registration.

    PRODUCT WATCH: Versa Designed Surfaces’ CABA

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    PRODUCT WATCH: Versa Designed Surfaces’ CABA

    Versa Designed Surfaces’s Caba is a reflection and an adaptation of the times… 

    The versatile design of Versa Designed Surfaces’ Caba changes appearance depending on color selection. Designers can choose the look of pleated fabric in neutral color treatments, flowing water in blues, windswept meadows in golds and greens, and wood bark in deep rich tones. 16 colorways provide endless options and a stream of design possibilities.

    The designers at Versa experimented with the interplay of light and color to create this deep, three-dimensional embossing that projects luxury while withstanding the heavy traffic of corridors, public spaces, and retail and restaurant environments.

    24 oz. Type II low-VOC vinyl on Osnaburg backing, Caba is 52”/54” wide and certified to NSF 342.

    To read our In Conversation With with Versa’s Paul Gibson on sustainable wallcoverings in EMEA hotels, click here

    Versa Designed Surfaces is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.

    Main image credit: Versa Designed Surfaces

    Disneyland Paris hotel portfolio sold for €240m

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Disneyland Paris hotel portfolio sold for €240m

    Benson Elliot and Schroders have acquired the three hotels that sit within the €240m Disneyland Paris hotel portfolio…

    A joint-venture led by UK-based private equity real estate fund manager Benson Elliot Real Estate Partners V, LP (“Benson Elliot”) and Schroder Real Estate Hotels (“SREH”, formerly Algonquin) has acquired three hotels (the “Portfolio”) totalling 1,183 rooms in Disneyland, Paris. The themed hotels, which are adjacent to one another, were acquired off-market in two separate transactions for a total investment of circa €240 million.

    Dream Castle and Magic Circus, both four star hotels, were purchased from Austrian real estate developers Warimpex / UBM, while Explorers was purchased from a JV managed by SREH. The investment is structured as a 50/50 JV between Benson Elliot and a consortium of private investors advised by SREH.

    “The Portfolio represents a collection of high-quality, cash-flowing assets being acquired at a substantial discount to replacement cost,” said Marc-Olivier Assouline from Benson Elliot Principal. “The hotels present opportunities to optimise value and grow income through targeted refurbishment programmes. Benson Elliot has built a strong track record in the hotel sector,with over €1 bn in hotel investments and dispositions in just the last five years. This transaction marks another partnership with the former Algonquin team, with whom we have worked successfully in the past.”

    “The Disney market has experienced almost uninterrupted growth for the last 15 years.”

    Disneyland Paris is Walt Disney’s only European theme park and Europe’s most popular tourist destination. The Disney market has experienced almost uninterrupted growth for the last 15 years, set to be driven further by Disney’s €2 billion expansion plan, which will be rolled out from 2021 and is the most ambitious project undertaken since the park opened in 1992.

    Developed between 2003 and 2007, the Portfolio has a profitable trading profile and generates strong cash flow. Whilst the assets have benefitted from substantial investment, significant opportunities remain for the JV to create further value through the implementation of targeted asset management initiatives.

    Main image credit: Disneyland Paris

    Tivoli Hotels & Resorts to debut in China

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Tivoli Hotels & Resorts to debut in China

    The Portuguese hospitality brand Tivoli Hotels & Resorts has announced plans to diversify its portfolio by introducing the brand into the Chinese market in the capital of Sichuan Province, Chengdu…

    Chengdu serves as the economic, commercial, financial, transportation and communication centre of Southwest China. Renowned for its pleasant climate and popular food, Chengdu is home to the world-renowned breeding and research base for giant pandas which attracts almost 3.5 million visitors annually, along with a wealth of historical attractions.

    The new project is being developed in partnership with Chengdu Qingyang Urban and Rural Construction Development Company Limited.  Sitting on the south-west edge of the commercial and convention hub of Chengdu International Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition Park, the site is located in the western part of Chengdu in close proximity to Nancaoping Ecology Park and the 18-hole Tianfu Golf Club.

    Chengdu International Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibition Park was established to promote cultural exchange, showcasing world cultures in purpose-built exhibition halls. Interactive experiences for visitors include arts and crafts activities such as paper cutting and wood painting. Throughout the year the park also hosts a number of recreational and entertainment activities celebrating cultural diversity.

    Expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2019, Tivoli Chengdu at Cultural Heritage Park is located together with Oaks Chengdu at Cultural Heritage Park adding 400 keys in categories ranging from deluxe rooms to suites to serviced apartments.

    The dual properties will provide eight dynamic food and beverage options, including all-day dining, Chinese cuisine, specialty dining, coffee shops, as well as a lounge and bar area. In addition to quality stay and dining experiences, guests can also enjoy luxury spa and fitness facilities, a children’s club and state of the art banqueting and meeting facilities.

    With a journey that dates back to 1933 in Lisbon, the brand expanded from Portugal to Brazil and more recently to Qatar. 2019 is the year that opens a new chapter with the first opening in Asia, bringing some of the brand’s cosmopolitan atmosphere and lifestyle approach to China.

    Main image credit: Tivoli Hotels & Resorts

    Accor announces six new Mercure hotels by end of 2019 in the UK

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Accor announces six new Mercure hotels by end of 2019 in the UK

    The Mercure Hotels properties are being refurbished to a high standard and combine international standards of quality and service with a locally inspired look and feel…

    Accor has announced that six UK hotels signed by Danish based real estate property group Proark will be opening under the Mercure brand by the end of 2019. The hotels are located in key locations in Birmingham, Nottingham, Cardiff, Bedford, Telford and Harlow.

    Previously operating under the Park Inn brand, these six hotels are in the process of being extensively refurbished by Proark and rebranded to Mercure.

    The first three; Mercure Bedford Centre Hotel, Mercure Telford Centre Hotel and Mercure Nottingham Sherwood Hotel, have this month opened under the Mercure brand, with the extensive redesign and refurbishment of each hotel due to fully complete by the end of October 2019. The remaining three hotels; Mercure Cardiff North Hotel, Mercure Birmingham West Hotel and Mercure Harlow Hotel are set to be branded as Mercure by the end of this year.

    Every Mercure hotel takes its inspiration from the features, traditions and history of its individual location while sharing the consistent quality of an international brand. Each hotel features locally inspired artwork, design, décor and even textures encompassing elements of its area’s cultural and historic past.

    For example, Mercure Birmingham West Hotel is inspired by the industrial and automotive heritage of the West Midlands. The hotel features black powder-coated metal designs fixed to the wall with industrial exposed fixings, alongside pieces of artwork which reflect the region’s automotive history. The hotel offers 168 guestrooms, and provides a convivial eating and drinking experience, alongside full on-site leisure facilities and extensive meeting and banqueting space.

    The theme of Mercure Nottingham Sherwood Hotel meanwhile draws on the city’s historic lace making heritage, having been the world centre for the industry for more than 100 years. This is reflected in the artwork styles throughout the reception and lounge areas, featuring lacemaking artefacts. The hotel has 172 guestrooms, a 42-cover restaurant, bar and meeting lounge spaces.

    Mercure Cardiff North Hotel is based in the docklands district, Tiger Bay, which was key to the export of coal, iron and tin from South Wales during the industrial revolution. The design of the hotel features copper aesthetic lining inspired by the Millennium Centre façade in Cardiff Bay, while curated display items include Welsh love spoons, miners’ hats and Welsh textiles. The hotel offers 132 guestrooms, a 32-cover restaurant and a café and bar lounge area.

    Mercure Bedford Centre Hotel takes the Great Ouse River as its inspiration, which is seen as the jewel in the crown of Bedford and is popular for canoeing and kayaking. The design of the hotel features lots of timber features from canoes, water graphics and rowing illustrations. The hotel has 121 guestrooms available and provides a 20-cover restaurant, bar and café area as well as lounge and meeting spaces.

    Ironbridge, the home of the world’s first iron bridge and a turning point in construction around the globe, provides the focus for the Mercure Telford Centre Hotel. The hotel takes its inspiration from this rich industrial and pioneering heritage and features metallic designs and artwork styles to convey wrought iron manufacturing. The hotel offers 153 guest rooms, a locally inspired eating and drinking experience, plus extensive meeting rooms.

    The New Town of Harlow was built in 1947 as a hub for manufacturing and the technological industry and is where fibre-optic telecommunication was born. Mercure Harlow Hotel takes its inspiration from this pioneering spirit and the development of new technology is reflected in details throughout the hotel. The hotel offers 119 guest rooms and provides 7 meeting rooms, and ample on site car parking.

    We are delighted to be partnering with Proark on these hotels and are proud to brand them as Mercure hotels,” said Jean-Marc Vendioux, Senior Vice President Managed hotels UKI. “ Guests can expect a hotel which provides an incredibly high level of personalised service and the quality they expect from a Mercure, elevated by the look and feel of a hotel rooted in its local community.”

    Michael Brag, Chairman of Proark commented: “We have worked closely with Accor since signing this portfolio of hotels and are extremely pleased with the result of the refurbishments. Each hotel has the Mercure service and features guests expect but they offer local touches too, which we are confident will be well received by business and leisure travellers alike.”

    Main image credit: Accor

    Leading designers, architects and hoteliers to attend The Brit List Awards 2019

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Leading designers, architects and hoteliers to attend The Brit List Awards 2019

    Here are some of the leading names that have confirmed to attend Hotel Designs annual award ceremony, The Brit List Awards 2019…

    It’s been just seven days since Hotel Designs officially unveiled the shortlisted finalists for The Brit List 2019, and already design directors, principals and hoteliers from the UK’s leading firms and hotels have confirmed to attend the exclusive award ceremony, which will take place at Patch East London on November 21.

    Among the leading designers who have already confirmed are design directors and principals from Richmond International, Project Orange, Harriet Forde Design, Harris + Harris, RPW Design, Scott Brownrigg and IHG.

    In regards to architects attending The Brit List Awards 2019, Hotel Designs will welcome associates and directors from the likes of Zaha Hadid Architects, WATG, Jestico + Whiles and Dexter Moren Associates.

    Hoteliers confirmed to attend the annual awards ceremony include, among others, Good Hotel London, Limewood Group and Homegrown Hotels, Rosewood London, Cliveden House, The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences London, The Dixon, Bespoke Hotels, Eccleston Square, Inhabit London and Hotel Gotham.

    The nationwide search to find the most influential designers, architects and hoteliers operating in Britain began months ago when Hotel Designs opened up nominations and applications to readers.

    Since then, an independent panel of expert judges have gathered to select this year’s individual award winners and also to confirm the 75 individuals who have made it into The Brit List 2019.

    Head of Interior Design at IHG, Emma King, attended last year’s event and was one of the 75 names in The Brit List 2018. “The Brit List recognises the UK’s best hotel design talent,” she said at the time. “We at IHG are proud to be recognised for the hard work we have done to the interior design of our brands in recent years.”

    The shortlist is available to read here.

    “The Brit List is an unparalleled networking opportunity for all,” said editor Hamish Kilburn. “Bridging the gap between designers, architects, suppliers, hoteliers, developers, owners and operators has always been – and continues to be – the aim of every decision made by the team at Hotel Designs.”

    How to attend

    Suppliers: Click here if you are a supplier to the industry to secure your ticket for £150 + VAT.
    Designers, architects, hoteliers and developers: Click here if you are either a designer, hotelier, developer or architect to secure your ticket for £20 + VAT.

    If you would like to discuss various sponsorship packages available, please contact Katy Phillips via email, or call 01992 374050.

    #TheBritListAwards2019

    Headline Partner: Crosswater

    Event Partner: Hamilton Litestat

    2019 Industry Partner: BIID

    Ritz-Carlton to debut in Montenegro

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Ritz-Carlton to debut in Montenegro

    Marriott International has signed an agreement to introduce the Ritz-Carlton brand to Montenegro, with the aim to usher in a “new era of elegance” to the chic LuÅ¡tica Peninsula…

    Hotel giant Marriott International has signed a “milestone agreement” with Northstar D.O.O. to bring The Ritz-Carlton brand to Montenegro. Under the plan funded by Al Yasra, The Ritz-Carlton, Montenegro and The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Montenegro are scheduled to bring the brand’s unrivalled elegance and legendary service to the country in 2023.

    “With its striking views of the Adriatic coast, Montenegro has quickly become a favourite Mediterranean destination for global travellers,” said Carlton Ervin, Chief Development Officer – Europe, Marriott International. “The signing of The Ritz-Carlton, Montenegro highlights the demand for our luxury brands in this exciting region. Combining the country’s serene, natural beauty together with the brand’s legendary service makes Montenegro the perfect destination for The Ritz-Carlton guest.”

    Slated to rise in a prime position on the Western tip of the chic Luštica Peninsula, the hotel and residences are expected to boast panoramic views over the glittering Adriatic Sea. Planned to be accessible by car in 30 minutes from Tivat International Airport or two hours from Dubrovnik International Airport, the coastal property is expected to allow guests and residents to make an unforgettable entrance via the sea at a planned private jetty.

    Design plans for the hotel’s 120 elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites envision relaxing sanctuaries for guests, with simple local design planned to merge discreetly with contemporary technology, all with the aim of enhancing the natural beauty of the location. The project’s plans call for low-rise buildings that would blend into the terrain while maximizing sea and sunset views for guests, residents and visitors alike.

    Plans call for expansive outdoor event spaces with unobstructed views to create ideal settings for hosting memorable gatherings, alongside creative pop-up activations offering seasonal bar and restaurant options. Adventurous activities, such as mountain biking and nature trail hikes, are also being planned for guests to enjoy. Ambassadors of the Environment, a hands-on, educational program developed by Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society in collaboration with The Ritz Carlton, is expected to offer programming that highlights the extraordinary natural reserves surrounding the property, striving to encourage guests of all ages to understand how their actions can help preserve natural resources for future generations.

    “The success achieved on this project, bringing the legendary Ritz-Carlton brand to Montenegro, is a result of dedicated work by all parties involved, both from our company, Marriott International, and the Government of Montenegro,” said Mohamed Al Sager, Chairman, Al Yasra. “This is not only a business success, but a personal accomplishment as well. When I first visited Montenegro on holiday, I fell in love with the natural beauty of the country and knew I wanted to be a part of its future development. What began as just a dream has today become a great project on a clear path of execution.”

    The hotel and residences are planned as part of a mixed-use development that is poised to include sprawling villas, manicured gardens, a yacht club and a sparkling beach cove. The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Montenegro is expected to offer 180 apartments and 48 villas and is scheduled to complete the first phase of construction in 2023, with the final phase scheduled for completion by 2028. Residential sales are slated to begin in 2020.

    Main image credit: Marriott International

    Moxy Hotels opens third property in New York City

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Moxy Hotels opens third property in New York City

    Moxy NYC East Village shelters stylish and affordable design-driven guestrooms, co-working spaces, and four new dynamic F&B areas…

    Marriott International’s quirky lifestyle brand, Moxy, which currently has 44 hotels in America, Europe and Asia, makes it a hatrick in New York City, with the unveiling of its third property in the city that never sleeps. Moxy NYC East Village has opened in the heart of East Village, where rock ‘n’ roll, renegade art, LGBTQ+ activism, and generations of immigrants all merged to give birth to American counterculture.

    Located on East 11th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues, directly across from the legendary concert venue Webster Hall, the hotel features 286 design-driven guestrooms, co-working spaces, and tech-savvy amenities, as well as lively restaurants, bars, and cultural programming – all at an affordable price. Part of Marriott International’s experiential Moxy Hotels brand, Moxy East Village marks the third Moxy property developed by Lightstone, following the successful openings of Moxy Times Square and Moxy Chelsea.

    “Moxy East Village is conceived as a vertical timeline, drawing inspiration from various eras in East Village history.”

    With interior design by Rockwell Group and architecture by Stonehill Taylor, Moxy East Village is conceived as a vertical timeline, drawing inspiration from various eras in East Village history, from the earliest settlers to the punk era to today. Interior design is inspired by urban archaeology, with the hotel’s 13 floors loosely conceived as homages to different eras in the East Village’s past and present, as well as its future. Three check-in kiosks just inside the entrance are assemblages by local artist Michael Sanzone, made from found objects and materials. Behind the kiosks, striped tapestries hang on the walls and bleed onto the floors. Their alternating bands of graffiti and graphics recall shredded layers of wheat-pasted posters—the kind you might see peeling off a downtown building façade.

    The guestrooms are, like all Moxy properties, smartly designed featuring the brand’s iconic peg wall. The rooms are completee with trendy hotel bathrooms, which include walk-in rain showers, glazed lava stone sinks and MUK amenities.

    Image credit: Moxy Hotels

    Lightstone has once again teamed up with Tao Group Hospitality who oversees the four brand-new dining and drinking areas at Moxy East Village that offer a multitude of scenes all under one roof: Alphabet Bar & Café, Cathedral, Little Sister and a rooftop bar which will launch in Spring 2020. “I don’t think there are any places in New York where you can get an outdoor café vibe, a coffeehouse vibe, a dimly lit bar, a backyard rooftop party, and a grand dining room all in one,” said Noah Tepperberg, Co-Founder of Tao Group Hospitality.

    Alphabet Bar & Café, situated in the lobby, serves as the social heart of Moxy East Village, comprising a bar, terrace, co-working lounge, and meeting studios that seamlessly transition from day to night. The seating includes plush sofas and swinging chairs; a Skee-Ball game provides a hit of nostalgia for the arcade era.  An interactive real-time graffiti installation lets guests use a tablet to draw their own tag or sketch a bit of street art, like a latter-day Basquiat or Haring, and see it projected on the wall. The iconic Strand Bookstore will have a cart in Alphabet Bar offering free books, and nearby Academy Records will offer free vinyl LPs and curated collections so guests can listen to the sounds of the East Village’s past, present, and future—to play on a retro turntable, provided in-room on request.  Alphabet Café serves an all-day menu of custom artisanal brews by Intelligentsia Coffee, freshly baked goods, composed salads, and seasonal panini and tartines.

    The centrepiece of Moxy East Village is Cathédrale, a French-Mediterranean restaurant conceived by Tao Group Hospitality Chef/Partner Ralph Scamardella, in collaboration with Executive Chef Jason Hall. As diners descend from the lobby—via a staircase that resembles a fire escape between two East Village buildings—they’ll feel like they’re discovering an abandoned architectural treasure. That’s thanks to the show-stopping Rockwell Group-designed main dining room, a triple-height space covered by Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi’s dramatic wire mesh sculpture that looks like the apparition of a grand domed ceiling. Named by Forbes as one of the 30 most influential European artists under 30, Tresoldi is revered for his installations in public spaces, including Etherea at the 2018 Coachella Music Festival. His ethereal sculpture for the ceiling of Cathédrale pays homage to the interior of the Fillmore East, once known as the “Church of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The delicate yet monumental sculpture, called Fillmore, is made from Tresoldi’s signature wire mesh and floats above the main dining room, creating a dramatic dialogue with the restaurant’s architecture. Tresoldi describes Fillmore as an “architectural precious wreck” and a “tribute to the legendary cultural background that influenced not only New York’s culture, but several generations worldwide.”

    Under Cathedrale’s soaring, 26-foot ceilings, the space includes a blue-tiled, open-hearth kitchen hung with copper pots and equipped with a rotisserie grill. An outdoor dining terrace, with a retractable roof, also feels like a hidden surprise: channelling the improvised backyard gardens tucked behind many East Village restaurants. The Poster Room, a private dining space that seats up to 26, immerses guests in the psychedelic rock era, its walls and ceiling lined with backlit screen prints of vintage concert posters from the Fillmore East.  Cathédrale brings elemental cooking and a poised French-Mediterranean sense of hospitality to its striking setting. The menu is focused on well-prepared but simply arranged dishes that pay quiet deference to the cuisine of Southern France with traces of Italy, Spain, and Greece.

    Located on the lower level, adjacent to Moxy East Village, Little Sister is an intimate, seductive, sophisticated lounge – an update from the underground clubs that defined East Village nightlife in the 1990s. Its clandestine, cavern-like feel is enriched by jewel-toned velvet sofas and plush banquettes, embossed leather accents, a glowing copper DJ stand, and a mirrored-copper bar illuminated by an overhead bank of backlit whiskey bottles. Wood-clad, barrel-vaulted ceilings evoke a hidden underground chamber where whiskey might have been stored in the bootlegger era. Legendary doorman Wass Stevens, will conspire to create an exclusive, in-the-know vibe at the ropes.

    Opening in Spring 2020, the rooftop bar is designed to resemble a coveted New York City backyard garden, with strung garden lights, abundant foliage, and colorful patio furniture. A retractable roof allows the bar to be used in all seasons. Behind the bar, liquor bottles will be displayed in stacked plastic milk crates—not unlike those you’d spot on an East Village sidewalk. On one wall, interlaced with crawling ivy, will be a mural that overlays a map of the area with images from the neighbourhood’s musical and artistic history. The venue will be available for private events and hotel programming before its official debut.

    Authentic, local, and experiential have all become buzzwords in the hotel business,” said Hochberg. “With Moxy Times Square and Moxy Chelsea, we’ve seen how putting visitors and New Yorkers in the same space can foster a sense of community. The East Village’s breadth of experiences and layers of history allow us to take that concept to a whole new level. Moxy East Village is multidimensional—a thrilling mashup that lets people honour the past, experience the present, and dream about the future. We’re embracing it all to create a true sense of magic.”

    “Moxy is a brand that has always boldly broken the rules of a conventional hotel experience, and we’re excited to be able to bring our fun and spirited brand to New York’s iconic East Village to help evolve the hospitality scene in the neighborhood,” said Toni Stoeckl, Global Brand Leader, Moxy Hotels, and Vice President, Distinctive Select Brands, Marriott International.

    There are 96 Moxy Hotels in the pipeline opening in North America, Asia, The Caribbean & Latin America, and Europe.

    Main image credit: Moxy Hotels

    The Brit List 2019: Shortlist unveiled

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    The Brit List 2019: Shortlist unveiled

    The shortlisted finalists for The Brit List 2019, who are considered to be the leading interior designers, architects and hoteliers operating in Britain today, have been announced. The annual award ceremony will take place on November 21 at Patch East London (tickets available here)…

    The wait is over. Hotel Designs has exclusively published the shortlist for The Brit List 2019. The finalists listed below will be invited to the annual award ceremony at Patch East London on November 21 where the The Brit List 2019 and the individual awards will be announced.

    It is here where 2019 edition of The List, which is made up of the top 25 interior designers, top 25 hoteliers and the top 25 architects in Britain today, will be unveiled as well as the individual winners crowned.

    The nationwide search to find the most influential designers, architects and hoteliers operating in Britain began months ago when Hotel Designs opened up nominations and applications to readers.

    Since then, an independent panel of expert judges have gathered to select this year’s individual award winners and also to confirm the 75 individuals who have made it into The Brit List 2019. “Yet again, I am overwhelmed by the number and quality of this year’s candidates who have either applied or have been nominated for The Brit List 2019,” said Hamish Kilburn, editor of Hotel Designs. “Despite Britain sailing into some of what I can only describe as ‘uncharted waters’ with Brexit dominating the headlines and conversations, the creative industry – and hotel development in general – continues to be booming in the UK.

    The Brit List was launched three years ago and continues to celebrate the leading figures operating in Britain today. This year’s chosen venue, Patch East London, is the perfect stage for the occasion. Adding an extra layer to the evening will be the currently confirmed 2019 sponsors: Crosswater (headline partner), Hamilton Litestat (event partner) and the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID – industry partner). “I am excited that Hotel Designs will once again provide an unparalleled networking opportunity,” added Kilburn, “further bridging the gap between designers, architects, hoteliers, owners, developers and key-industry suppliers.”

    Britlist_28-800x602

    The shortlisted finalists for The Brit List 2019 are: 

    Interior Designers

    StudioDesigner
    Wimberly InteriorsRachel Johnson
    GA GroupEdward Davies
    Scott BrownriggDavid Mason
    Dexter Moren AssociatesNeil Andrew
    RPW DesignAriane Steinbeck
    DesignLSMLisa Robertson
    CocovaraRebecca Blow
    Nicky Dobree DesignNicky Dobree
    Bright Space DesignSarah Antoniou
    Philip WattsPhilip Watts
    Ana Engelhorn Interior DesignAna Engelhorn
    IHGHenry Reeve
    Sibley GroveJeremy Grove
    WISH LondonCaroline Smith
    Scott BrownriggKate Jarrett
    David Collins StudioSimon Rawlings
    Russell Sage StudioRussell Sage
    GA GroupTerry McGinnity
    EnnismoreCharlie North
    MBDSMartin Brudnizki
    HBA LondonConstantina Tsoutikou
    1508 LondonAkram Fahmi
    MKV DesignMaria Vafiadis
    Rocco ForteOlga Polizzi
    Amanda RosaAmanda Rosa
    Harris & HarrisAlex Harris
    Space InvaderKatie Edgar
    Twenty2 DegreesJoe Stella
    Twenty2 DegreesNick Stoupas
    Goddard LittlefairJo Littlefair
    Project OrangeChristopher Ash
    Project OrangeJames Soane
    Shawn Hausman DesignShawn Hausman
    Muza LabInge Moore
    Richmond InternationalTerry McGillicuddy
    Soho House DesignMarcus Barwell
    Soho House DesignScarlett Supple
    B3 DesignersStephanie Riedl
    Jack Irving StudioJack Irving
    studioisleIlse Crawford

    Architects

    StudioArchitect
    Emil Eve ArchitectsRoss Perkin
    Falconer Chester Hall ArchitectsAdam Hall
    East ArchitectureJulian Lewis
    Ben Adams ArchitectsBen Adams
    EPR ArchitectsGeoff Hull
    Orms ArchitectsSimon Whittaker
    Jestico + WhilesJames Dilley
    WATGGina Langridge
    Foster + PartnersLuke Fox
    Zaha Hadid ArchitectsMichele Salvi
    GenslerTom Lindblom
    Conran + PartnersSimon Kincaid
    Hawkins/BrownDarryl Chen
    Yasmine MahmoudiehYasmine Mahmoudieh
    jmarchitectsLaura Turner
    Holland Harvey ArchitectsRichard Holland
    RPP ArchitectsSimon Robinson
    Tate HarmerLaurence Pinn
    Moxon ArchitectsScott Gibb
    EPR ArchitectsMark Bruce
    Goddard LittlefairDavid Lee-Hood
    LDS ArchitectsCatarina Pina-Bartrum
    Simpson HaughSarah Matheou
    Jane Duncan Architects + InteriorsJane Duncan
    3D ReidGordon Ferrier
    Consarc ArchitectsLiz Pickard
    Dexter Moren AssociatesJohn Harding
    Aukett SwankeNicholas De Klerk
    Divercity ArchitectsDimitris Travasaros
    Allison Pike PartnershipPaul Dunlop
    HOK LondonFemi Oresanya
    ReardonSmith ArchitectsJonny Sin
    ITOLabBarbara Bochnak

    Hoteliers

    HotelHotelier
    The GrandRobert Richardson
    Cliveden HouseFrancisco Macedo
    Bespoke HotelsRobin Sheppard
    Hotel GothamMario Ovsenjek
    Hard Rock Hotel LondonIan Fletcher
    The LanesboroughMarco Novella
    Rosewood LondonMichael Bonsor
    Nadler HotelsRobert Alam
    CuckoozCharlie Rosier
    CuckoozFabienne O’Neill
    Doyle CollectionPat King
    Carbis Bay Hotel & EstateStephen Baker
    Carbis Bay Hotel & EstateJose Baker
    Starwood Capital GroupBarry Sternlicht
    The StandardBruce Robertson
    Wyndham Hotels & ResortsDimitris Manikis
    Café RoyalGuillaume Marly
    Corinthia LondonThomas Kochs
    Eccleston Square HotelOlivia Byrne
    GleneaglesConor O’Leary
    The ConnaughtSandeep Bhalla
    LaLiTKeshav Suri
    Great Scotland Yard HotelSholto Smith
    The DixonHasham Soliman
    Heckfield PlaceOlivia Richli
    Whatley ManorSue Williams
    InhabitNadira Lalji
    Ham Yard Hotel LondonLaura Sharpe
    Cottage In The WoodNick Davies
    The London Bridge HotelJulio Marques
    Limewood Group & Home Grown Hotels (The Pig)Robin Hutson
    Milsom HotelsPaul Milsom
    Sway ManorTim Holloway
    Watergate Bay HotelWill Ashworth
    Exclusive Hotelsdanny Pecorelli
    The GallivantHarry Cragoe
    The Good Hotel GroupMarten Dresen
    The AthenaeumJoanne Taylor-Stagg
    Hotel: Georgian House HotelSerena von der Heyde
    Hotel Indigo Stratford Upon AvonCarl Davies Phillips

    The Eco Award

    Carole Collet
    Harris & Harris
    Heckfield Place
    Inhabit London
    Naturalmat
    Sibley Grove
    Zuri Zanzibar

    Best In Tech

    Criton
    Eccleston Square
    Electric Mirror
    FUTURE Designs
    Hamilton Litestat
    Laufen
    Ruark
    STAAH

    Best in British Product Design

    Anthology
    Bisque
    Chelsom
    FUTURE Designs
    Harlequin
    Knightsbridge
    Panaz
    The Monkey Puzzletree
    Vaughan
    Naturalmat

     

    There is no shortlist for the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry, which will be the final award presented at the exclusive ceremony.

    To purchase tickets to The Brit List 2019 Awards, click here. If you would like to discuss various sponsorship packages available, please contact Katy Phillips via email, or call 01992 374050.

    #TheBritListAwards2019

    Headline Partner: Crosswater

    Event Partner: Hamilton Litestat

    2019 Industry Partner: BIID

    Aman announces its debut in Bangkok

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Aman announces its debut in Bangkok

    Slated to open in 2022, the luxury hotel will be Aman’s debut hotel in Bangkok, and second property in Thailand, further proving that the region is a design and hotel development hotspot… 

    Luxury hotel brand Aman, which has grown to encompass 38 hotels in 22 destinations around the world, has signed a long-term partnership with Nai Lert Group to manage a hotel and branded residences offered under a long-term leasehold ownership, which will mark the brand’s entrance in Bangkok.

    Under the terms of the agreement, Aman and Nai Lert Group will develop a luxury hotel and residences project, with construction works scheduled to commence in the coming months. The project is expected to welcome its first hotel guests and residents in 2022.

    “Aman Nai Lert Bangkok will offer a unique connection to the rich heritage and history of Bangkok” – Vladislav Doronin, Chairman and CEO of Aman

    “Thailand holds a special place in our hearts ever since the conception of Amanpuri, and our brand, in Phuket over 30 years ago,” said Vladislav Doronin, Chairman and CEO of Aman. “Aman Nai Lert Bangkok will be situated in its namesake iconic central city parkland and will further cement our vision to bring the Aman ethos to global cities. Nestled in the century-old tropical gardens of Nai Lert Park, Aman Nai Lert Bangkok will offer a unique connection to the rich heritage and history of Bangkok enhanced by the gracious traditions of Thailand.”

    Pursuing its long-lasting legacy in real estate and hospitality, Nai Lert Group is making its entry into the ultra- luxury segment with the upcoming mixed-use project, Aman Nai Lert Bangkok. Nai Lert Group Managing Director Naphaporn Bodiratnangkura commented: “We are very pleased to be working with world renowned hotel and resort brand Aman, which shares our values of delivering exquisite customer experiences.”

    Aman is the latest group to announce hotel openings in Bangkok. According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), in 2016 more than 32.59 million tourists visited Thailand, which was an almost 20 per cent increase over the year before, and a record number for the country. With recent openings from Rosewood and Avani Hotels, the region is proving to be a hotel development hotspot in the making.

    Main image credit: Amanpuri (Aman’s current hotel offering in Thailand)

    Hotel Summit shortlisted for the EN Indy Awards

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Hotel Summit shortlisted for the EN Indy Awards

    Hotel Summit, the original and leading meet-the-buyer networking event for hotel operators and key-industry suppliers, has been announced as a shortlisted finalists for the EN Indy Awards 2019 under the category of Best Brand Expansion…

    As the result of more than 20 years’ serving the industry with its highly targeted and successful meet-the-buyer concept, Forum Events’ Hotel Summit has been shortlisted among just seven other applications in the Best Brand Expansion category for the 2019 edition of the EN Indy Awards 2019.

    The announcement follows this year’s successful two-day event taking place in Heythrop Park in June, which included live on-stage interviews, moderated by editor Hamish Kilburn, with Marco Novella (Managing Director of The Lanesborough) and Pedro Colaco (CEO of Great Hotels Of The World), among others.

    More than 60 procurement professionals from leading hotels around the UK such as The Beaumont Hotel, The Gainsborough Bath Spa and Cliveden House and 30 supplier partners attended The Summit that was sheltered within the 18thcentury hotel, which combines both elegant heritage design with contemporary areas.

    “The event was amazing. I met some really great people and it’s always good to network and discover hidden secrets of the industries, and you only find them through events such as this. So, thank you for the invite and I am already looking forward to the next one!” – The Beaumont.

    “Hotel Summit is an interesting event, delivering a mix of supplier meetings, seminars and networking opportunities in various areas of hospitality.” – Great Hotels of the World

    “All staff were incredibly polite, friendly and helpful. The hotel was comfortable and very welcoming and I would be delighted to attend again” – Grasmere House

    For more than 20 years, Hotel Summit has delivered tailor-made, unique events to meet both supplier and delegates’ individual requirements. Complete with carefully planned out itineraries for all attendees, The Summit is designed to bridge together relevant business relationships and opportunities between hotel operators/procurement managers and key-industry suppliers.

    The next Hotel Summit takes place on April 27 – 28, 2020, at Five Lakes Resort, Colchester. If you are a supplier and are interested in exhibiting at next year’s event, please contact Jennie Lane by calling 01992 374098 or by emailing j.lane@forumevents.co.uk. If you are hotel operator or procurement manager and are interested in attending next year’s event, please contact Kerry Naumburger by calling 01992 374099 or by emailing k.naumburger@forumevents.co.uk.

    Zaha Hadid Architects to open Concept to Completion exhibition at LDF 2019

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Zaha Hadid Architects to open Concept to Completion exhibition at LDF 2019

    Following our closer look at The Morpheus, Zaha Hadid Architects’ is giving visitors to London Design Festival 2019 an exclusive look at some of its projects on the boards and about to be unveiled…

    During London Design Festival 2019, Zaha Hadid Gallery in London will present ‘Concept to Competition’, an exhibition that will showcase architecture projects by Zaha Hadid Architects set to open in 2020.

    The exhibition, which celebrates and embraces the holistic journey of a live architecture project, will feature Bee’ah HQ in the United Arab Emirates, King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) Metro Station in Saudi Arabia, and One Thousand Museum in the United States.  The projects will be presented through the stages of concept, design, detail and construction, highlighting how the design intentions for a building evolve and develop as a part of the design process.

    Zaha Hadid Gallery is offering two architect-guided tours of ‘Concept to Completion’ on Wednesday, September 18 at 2pm and Thursday, September 19 at 5 pm.

    The Zaha Hadid Gallery showcases the latest in architecture, interiors, furniture, and product design through curated exhibitions, and provides insight into the process, and ethos of the architecture practice, and design studio that was founded by Zaha Hadid more than 40 years ago.

    Main image credit: King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) Metro Station. ©Picture Property of RDA – All Rights Reserved

    Egypt has most active project pipeline in Africa

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Egypt has most active project pipeline in Africa

    The latest data published from TOPHOTELCONSTRUCTION shows Egypt is home to 55 new hotel projects which further adds 15,485 new rooms to the region…

    The hospitality market in Africa has been booming for some time, new statistics from the TOPHOTELCONSTRUCTION database has provided an insight into the region’s future growth in development and overall tourism.

    A recent report from TOPHOTELCONSTRUCTION finds that Egypt is the country with the most active project pipeline on the entire African continent, with currently 55 projects in the pipeline, which is nearly double that of the next closest country, Morocco with 36 hotels on the boards.

    This likely means Africa’s hospitality boom is being powered in part by the rise in tourism in Egypt, where visitors come from across the globe each year to enjoy unique historical sites and landscapes, as luxury travel for most becomes more about experience rather than product.

    Some of the significant hotels currently in the pipeline in Egypt include The St. Regis Cairo, Hilton Secon Nile Tower and Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh.

    Egypt is far from the only country in Africa with many hotels currently in its project pipeline. Below Egypt in the hotel development race (in order) is Morocco, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Algeria, South Africa, Cape Verde, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast.

    On average, Africa’s top ten countries in terms of their hospitality market currently have in the region of 22 hotels in their pipelines, with Egypt standing out its 55 projects on the boards.

    The most recent development data compliments The Egyptian tourism ministry’s strategy to target social media influencers to boost tourism in the area and promote it as a travel hotspot destination.

    Main image credit: Marriott International/St Regis Cairo

    Goa is about to welcome a 17-key luxury hotel designed to shelter holistic wellbeing

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Goa is about to welcome a 17-key luxury hotel designed to shelter holistic wellbeing

    Slated to open in early 2020, Kings Mansion, Goa will combine heritage, architecture, design, Ayurvedic philosophies, state-of-the-art medical aesthetics and a global approach to holistic wellbeing…

    Located in northern Goa, an area rich in tropical forests, historic Portuguese architecture, avenues of Banyan Trees, and vast, unpopulated sandy beaches, King’s Mansion will open early next year.

    Recognising that today, wellness refers to a holistic state of being, where one’s mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health are in balance, the defining experience of King’s Mansion will be one of mindfulness, transformation, recovery and wellbeing.

    Modern yet sympathetic architecture and interior design are key elements at the boutique hotel that not only honour Goa’s legacy and culture, but also serve as a welcoming nod to the growing international interest in India as an exciting and evolving luxury and wellness destination.

    Image credit: Red Architects

    The Indian entrepreneur and Bollywood star, Sachiin Joshi, bought the property in 2017. He is also the Chairman of corporate company, Viiking Ventures, a multi-faceted business working across various industries including film production, fin-tech and charter aviation; Moss Wellness, a leading spa consultancy with experience developing international five-star brands including Aman resorts and Four Seasons. Responsible for the overall design is Indian film producer and interior designer Gauri Khan and Rajiv Parekh, founder of Red Architects, who is bringing a new energy to a modern day India with his past and future projects on the boards.

    The 17 luxury suites, which are set over 2,800m2, are being designed as private retreats. Each room will utilise the natural light with floor to ceiling windows, which will stretch out to views of private lush gardens. The large ensuite bathrooms will continue to balance a timeless and luxurious look and feel with the renderings showing a strong use of marble as well as statement matt-black fittings.

    Covered pavilions and thickets of Frangipani Trees create pockets of rest and shade in the landscaped gardens, which are set against 50 metres of unspoiled golden coastline and the Arabian Sea.

    Five dining and social areas offer guests the chance to explore India’s Ayurvedic culinary culture and international fusions. The hotel’s chefs will create daily menu plans for internal health and harmony, but with an understanding that food and satisfaction are not mutually exclusive. Continuing the theme, food will be cooked using fresh, locally sourced produce.

    At the heart of the wellbeing experience will be the spa, which will open as a hidden oasis within the property. With five luxury spa suites, a large hydrotherapy pool, and indoor and outdoor relaxation areas, guests will discover a safe space to surrender, gain awareness and achieve conscious rest and peace.

    Image credit: King’s Mansion

    Designed to offer personalised, results-focused wellness programmes, the hotel will aim to further help travellers rejuvenate, reset and recover.

    Main image credit: King’s Mansion

    The Luxury Collection announces opening of eighth hotel in China

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    The Luxury Collection announces opening of eighth hotel in China

    With a design narrative that celebrates Chinese culture, the 290-key Na Lotus Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, has opened… 

    Following Marriott International’s plans to open more than 30 luxury hotels in 2019, the hotel group, which has recently debuted the W Hotels brand in Oman, has announced the opening of Na Lotus Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nanning. Strategically located in the business district of the Guangxi Province, the opening marks the global brand’s eighth property in China.

    The contemporary setting merges the rich heritage of the Zhuang Minority Group and showcases their history through beautiful décor, evocative catering and magnificent surroundings.

    “The hotel’s interiors echo strong elements of the Zhuang culture.”

    “We are excited to introduce Nanning to our Global Explorers, allowing them to discover the destination, also known as the Green City and it’s abundance of lush foliage,” said Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader, The Luxury Collection. “As a culturally rich ethnic minority area in Guangxi Province, the destination is a perfect gateway for travellers to experience through the lens of The Luxury Collection.”

    Each of the 290 guestrooms, including 26 suites, takes inspiration from the lotus flower, and feature floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the city as well as the Yong River and Qingxiu mountain. The hotel’s interiors echo strong elements of the Zhuang culture such as farmlands, symbolizing happiness and prosperity. Na Lotus Hotel also features a 1,100 square metre Ballroom, state-of-the-art fitness centre, and an indoor pool overlooking the skyline.

    Indigenous and international cuisines are celebrated at Na Lotus Hotel’s four signature dining venues, including Na Lian, a Chinese restaurant offering a journey of flavors with an emphasis on fresh Guangxi and Cantonese cuisines. Sky Lounge is a popular social hub serves exclusive cocktails, wines and spirits accompanied by distinctive sweet treats. Elsewhere, The Clouds features an all-day dining experience showcasing international delights, while Yun Yue, a Thai and Vietnamese fusion restaurant,  focuses on signature seafood and meat dishes prepared with local and seasonal produce.

    Image credit: Marriott International

    “As the first Marriott International luxury hotel in Guangxi Province Na Lotus hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel invites the guests to explore the charm of Nanning,” said Henry Lee, Chief Operations Officer and Managing Director, Greater China, Marriott International. “Na Lotus Hotel is a rare gem of the Zhuang Minority, and we are thrilled to uncover this hidden treasure for our global travelers who are sure to develop a deep connection with this fascinating destination.”

    The opening of the hotel follows the hotel group unveiling its three year plan in March of this year. The strategy included adding 1,700 hotels, which would result in between 275,000 and 295,000 more rooms by 2021, supported by the strength of its record 478,000-room pipeline, including roughly 214,000 rooms that were already under construction when the press release was published.

    Main image credit: Marriott International

    TUI Blue to expand in Asia with debut hotel in Vietnam to open in Spring 2020

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    TUI Blue to expand in Asia with debut hotel in Vietnam to open in Spring 2020

    TUI’s flagship hotel group, TUI Blu, has announced plans to expand its portfolio in Asia, debuting in Vietnam next year with TUI Blue Nam Hoi An hotel…

    With the opening of TUI Blue Nam Hoi An hotel slated to take place in March 2020, the hotel brand is set to become the world’s largest leisure hotel brand, slated to expand its portfolio to more than 100 hotels by 2020:

    TUI Group’s existing portfolio of own hotels in Asia includes three Robinson Clubs in the Maldives and in Thailand and three Riu hotels in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. In addition, TUI operates three concept hotels in the region. TUI Blue Nam Hoi An is the first hotel of the world’s leading tourism group in Vietnam. The resort, to be converted and extended in the style of the flagship brand, will expand TUI Group’s portfolio of long-haul destinations for European travellers.

    “We see great potential for TUI Blue in Asia and have already started to pursue further growth plans. South East Asian destinations enable us to operate our hotels all year round, reducing our seasonal swing, and to tap into new target groups,” said Sebastian Ebel, TUI Group Executive Board member is charge of Hotels & Resorts. “We also work with local partners”, said Thomas Pietzka, Managing Director TUI Hotels & Resorts. “We are investing in our first hotel in Vietnam in cooperation with our new joint venture partner TMG, a company with many years of experience in the tourism and hospitality sector in Asia. They ideally complement the expertise held by TUI Blue, which will be in charge operating the new hotel.”

    The TUI Blue Nam Hoi An hotel features 318 rooms and is situated in a beachfront location on the fine sandy Tam Tien beach on the Central Vietnamese coast. Holidaymakers can combine their stay with a visit to the coastal town Hoi An. Its well-preserved old town with numerous canals and diverse architecture is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. “Vietnam is a perfect hotel location for travellers interested in culture”, said Artur Gerber, Managing Director TUI Blue. “The country offers ideal conditions for guests wishing to combine their stay with authentic experiences in the region. From 2020, we will label corresponding hotel offerings as ‘TUI Blue For All‘.”

    Main image credit: TUI Group

    Orchard Hotel Singapore opens 360-degree experience in 1950s shell

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Orchard Hotel Singapore opens 360-degree experience in 1950s shell

    Following a multimillion-dollar nine-month refurbishment across the hotel, Orchard Hotel Singapore has unveiled an enhanced 360-degree guest experience with reimagined dining, events and accommodation offerings…

    Orchard Hotel Singapore has reopened with upgraded areas include the hotel’s 260 grand deluxe rooms, a grand ballroom, conference centre, lobby and F&B areas.

    The history of Orchard Hotel Singapore dates back to late 1950s, where it began as a humble four-storey, 34-key hotel, complete with The Golden Venus home to popular tea dances and emerging musicians of the 1960s. Redeveloped in the 1970s to cater to the tourist boom, the original building was demolished in 1978, and the first inkling of the 656-key, twin-tower Orchard Hotel Singapore as it exists today, took its shape.

    Guests are greeted with a new experience from the moment they step through the door and into the bright and enlivened lobby. The hotel’s iconic clock tower has been updated for the modern age with a contemporary chandelier-inspired art sculpture, bordered by two upgraded dining and drinking destinations. The Orchard Cafe renews itslegacy as a local dining icon with a vibrant new style and Signature Class buffet showcasing heritage-inspiredcreations and chef-curated classics. Bar Intermezzo has an air of sophistication with new and inviting interiors andcontemporary botanical-influenced cocktails that toast to Orchard Road’s past. Overlooking the lobby from thesecond floor is Cantonese restaurant Hua Ting Restaurant, which was also given its own extensive makeover in 2018. 

    Modern cafe in the lobby

    Image caption/credit: The Orchard Cafe | Millennium Hotels/Orchard Hotel Singapore

    The 260 Grand Deluxe guestrooms in the hotel’s Orchard Wing have also been updated. Each well- appointed roomhas been elegantly designed to provide maximum comfort and easy living. With today’s sophisticated traveller in mind, the newly refurbished rooms are equipped with upgraded amenities including; six USB ports, both wired andwireless high-speed internet to ensure 24/7 connectivity and a Smart TV loaded with a variety of channels to keepthem plugged into current affairs. Unwind after a long day of shopping along the famed Orchard Road with a relaxingbath in the luxurious Japanese soaking tub (select room configurations) or call for one of 12 signature spice-based cocktails from Bar Intermezzo to be delivered right to the room.

    Trends and technology favoured by the modern hotelier are now also included in the enhanced Orchard Hotel Singapore. Step into the future of hospitality with AURA and AUSCA – the hotel’s resident room service and chefassociate robots. While AURA (front-of-house Autonomous Service Delivery Robot) are in charge of delivering roomamenities, as well as the occasional mingling with guests in the lobby, AUSCA (the world’s first Autonomous ServiceChef Associate) is responsible for whipping up perfect eggs during breakfast service at The Orchard Cafe. Responding to the needs of today’s connected travellers, Bar Intermezzo transforms into a coffee bar during the day,providing a tropical co-working oasis for those seeking new connections, fresh ideas or simply a great cup of coffee.

    New and improved event spaces for every occasion – the 11 refurbished conference and function rooms andspaces are now more versatile than ever. A key highlight includes one of Singapore’s largest pillar-free grandballrooms, occupying more than 10,000 square feet and six metres high, refitted with a luxurious fresh new look, two floor-to-ceiling LED walls (a first in Singapore), statement lighting, state-of-the-art audio-visual capabilities, an impressive foyer lined with floating orchid-inspired chandeliers and exclusive spaces divided for various uses. The conference centre has also been redesigned with five intimate meeting rooms and upgraded meeting facilities.Event planners will now have the luxury of choice with creative catering options from the hotel’s four award-winningculinary concepts – Hua Ting Restaurant, The Orchard Cafe, Mon Bijou and Bar Intermezzoas well as a Halal-certified kitchen, ensuring that all tastes and diets are catered for.

    Main image credit: Millenium Hotels/Orchard Hotel Singapore

    Curio Collection by Hilton debuts in South East Asia with hotel in the Maldives

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Curio Collection by Hilton debuts in South East Asia with hotel in the Maldives

    The new 198-key property will form part of the first integrated resort in the Maldives…

    Hilton has announced the opening of SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, a free-spirited tropical escape that offers sun, sea, style and sustainability, creating a playful getaway for groups of fun-seeking friends, couples and families. Nestled within the idyllic Emboodhoo Lagoon, SAii Lagoon Maldives forms part of CROSSROADS Maldives, the country’s first and only integrated resort and game-changing retreat.

    The opening of SAii Lagoon Maldives also marks the debut of Curio Collection by Hilton in South East Asia, and the fifth Curio Collection by Hilton property in Asia Pacific. With a total of 198 guestrooms and villas, the resort will be Hilton’s third property in the Maldives, making the global hospitality company the largest and longest-running international hotel operator in the Maldives. Hilton opened the country’s first internationally branded resort in 1997, and today, it operates Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, which features 151 villas, suites and THE MURAKA Residence, as well as the 122-villa Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, which was recently unveiled in July 2019.

    “For more than 20 years, through the many firsts that Hilton has introduced in the Maldives, we have been sparking travellers’ imagination of waking up right above the Indian Ocean, or dining and even sleeping beneath the crystal-blue sea,” said Alan Watts, president, Asia Pacific, Hilton. “In addition to putting the Maldives on the global map, we have brought meaningful opportunities for employment and we continue to make positive contributions to the livelihood and well-being of local communities. With the launch of SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, we are looking to further deepen ‘The Hilton Effect’ in the Maldives and continue to set new benchmarks for hospitality through innovation.”

    “We are excited to welcome the world to SAii Lagoon Maldives,” said Martin van der Reijden, General Manager of SAii Lagoon Maldives and Vice President of Operations of CROSSROADS Maldives. “Guests will be able to experience the exquisite beauty of this destination, with plenty of places to stay and play. The architecture is quirky, and the interiors are daring. And yet, the resort also has a wonderfully inspiring ambience. We want everyone to walk into the resort and instantly feel a sense of excitement and exploration.”

    “Every room at SAii Lagoon Maldives is adorned with a bright, contemporarily eclectic design that reflects the archipelago’s maritime heritage.”

    “The Maldives is a dream destination for global travelers and we are thrilled to pair its tropical charm with Curio Collection’s spirit of discovery,” said Mark Nogal, global head, Curio Collection by Hilton. “SAii Lagoon Maldives is a breathtaking resort with distinct character and direct access to the fantastic facilities at CROSSROADS Maldives. Supported by Hilton’s 100 years of hospitality, guests of this resort are guaranteed memorable experiences in one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.”

    Every room at SAii Lagoon Maldives is adorned with a bright, contemporarily eclectic design that reflects the archipelago’s maritime heritage, complete with natural textures, driftwood décor and marine-inspired hues and views. Guests can choose from a series of rooms and villas, including overwater pool villas.

    The resort’s innovation is also showcased at its restaurants and bars. Miss Olive Oyl is a vibrant poolside Mediterranean seafood grill and bar, while Mr. Tomyam is an exciting Thai fusion eatery with an open kitchen and alfresco dining areas.

    The resort’s ocean-view infinity pool and fitness centre will allow guests to refresh and recharge in paradise. A wide range of water sports and recreational facilities will also be available at The Marina @ CROSSROADS, a 30-berth marina and vibrant lifestyle district.

    Main image credit: Hilton Hotels

    Boom in UK hotel sector drives supply growth

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Boom in UK hotel sector drives supply growth

    Recent data shows that Edinburgh, London, Brighton, York and Birmingham are the five most attractive cities for hotel investment and development…

    The UK hotel industry saw the opening of 15,500 new hotel rooms in 2018, representing a 2.4 per cent increase in UK hotel supply, with 2019 expected to continue this uplift in development, with 19,300 new rooms forecast to open, an increase of 2.9 per cent, according to the latest research by global property adviser Knight Frank.

    The annual UK Hotel Development Opportunities 2019 report, which was published after it was reported that the UK had the third most hotels in the pipeline in Europe, reveals that the composition of new supply is altering. Whilst the development of new build hotel rooms constitutes the greatest proportion of new supply, during 2018 there was a significant rise in hotel conversion, with a 42 per cent year-on-year uplift.

    Hotel conversion constituted 34 per cent of new bedroom stock, as developers capitalised on increased vacancy rates from other asset classes, resulting in the greater availability of assets deemed suitable for hotel conversion. Nevertheless, for the full year 2019, hotel conversions are set to constitute only 20 per cent of new supply, whilst programmes of asset management, in the form of hotel extensions and refurbishments, will constitute a further 17 per cent of the UK’s new hotel supply, and new build hotel rooms expected to continue to form the majority of construction projects, making up 63 per cent of the new supply.

    The budget hotel sector continues to dominate the market, with 7,500 new rooms expected to open by the end of 2019, which equates to a five per cent increase on the previous year. However, the continued rise of both branded and independent mid and upscale hotels, partially as a result of the growing trend for lifestyle hotels, has led to a continued decline in the market share of new budget hotel rooms. As such, the market share for new hotel rooms opening in the budget sector accounted for 49 per cent of total new supply in 2016, which is set to decline to 39 per cent for the full year forecast 2019.

    There was over £1.1 billion of investment in hotel development projects in 2018 owing to increased investor confidence and the desire for long-term secure income. London attracted 60 per cent of investment volumes, which is fuelling its future pipeline, with supply set to increase by 4.2 per cent in 2019, constituting 38 per cent of the total UK pipeline.

    “The hotel sector is undergoing robust levels of development activity, despite the continued uncertainty that Brexit brings,” said Shaun Roy, Head of Hotels at Knight Frank. “This is occurring both in London and the UK more generally and is particularly evident in those markets which have a diverse business mix, with a thriving leisure market such as Edinburgh, Birmingham and Brighton.

    “There are clear opportunities for investors in the hotel sector nationwide at the development stage, which presents a long-term strategy providing a guaranteed stream of secure income.”

    The Knight Frank UK Hotel Development Index identifies which major UK towns and cities pose the best prospects for hotel investment and development and has named Edinburgh, London, Brighton, York and Birmingham as the UK’s top five most attractive cities.

    Unsurprisingly, Edinburgh topped the rankings whilst London leapfrogged the index, climbing ten places up the rankings to second, owing to its solid fundamentals and long-term market strength. Brighton retained its place in the top three whilst York represents this year’s rising star, jumping up 15 positions to enter the top five, as a result of its growth of supply and high occupancy rates of 80 per cent, followed by Birmingham, ranked in fifth place, which is set to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

    Main image credit: Pixabay

    INDUSTRY INSIGHT: The changing colour of hotel bathrooms – going greener

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    INDUSTRY INSIGHT: The changing colour of hotel bathrooms – going greener

    In the second part of our colour series (click here for part one), Recommended Supplier UKBathrooms explain how and why designers should opt for greener designs in bathrooms…

    Bathrooms make up a huge proportion of a hotel’s water and energy usage, which on average is 84 to 173 gallons per room per day, far higher than the average daily household usage of 66 gallons per day.

    This explains why they’ve become the focus for many hoteliers looking not only to save money, but also to minimise their impact on the environment.

    However, any environmental worries have to be balanced with the needs of guests. The seamless blend of sustainability and luxury, with little compromise to guest experience is the aim for hotel owners and trends show that this will be the case in the years to come. And ‘green’ considerations go way beyond the bathroom space, with materials used in bathroom products, transportation, waste produced during manufacture and subsequent biodegradable components all being important.

    UK Bathrooms, is the leading, independent supplier of designer bathroom products and as such is seeing a change in trends of sales to hoteliers in the UK and internationally. “We’re seeing a trend to natural materials, as well as reclaimed and recycled, such as timber from sustainable forests and stone,” said Graeme Borchard, director of UKBathrooms. “We’re a leading supplier of premium brands. As a company they are ‘a champion of the value of water’, pioneers in environmentally friendly, luxury, bathroom products. Their ongoing research, and development in technology and design, means that hansgrohe produces superb products which are beautifully designed, highly efficient and sustainable.”

    A great example of this is EcoSmart. Hansgrohe showers and taps equipped with EcoSmart technology use up to 60 per cent less water than traditional products, not only using less water, but also needing less energy to heat the water.  The Hansgrohe Raindance EcoSmart overhead shower provides guests with a relaxing and therapeutic experience whilst being eco-friendly.

    By implementing greener practices, and ensuring guests are aware of these, hotels can make being eco-friendly even more attractive. Hotel bathrooms have a certain ‘luxury’ which people then like to emulate in their own homes, the choices that hotels make end up being reflected in homes around the world.

    UKBathrooms is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email  Katy Phillips by clicking here.

    HOTEL DEVELOPMENT: Palm Springs is heating up for 2020

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    HOTEL DEVELOPMENT: Palm Springs is heating up for 2020

    The desert oasis of Palm Springs is slated to welcome a series of exciting openings in 2020, including two new hotels and a cultural plaza, alongside celebrating the 15th anniversary of its iconic Modernism Week event, offering even more to see for visitors to the sun-soaked city and further boosting the destination as a hotel development hotspot…

    Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza – Set to open in 2020
    Set to open in 2020, the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza in downtown Palm Springs will feature a cultural museum, art gallery, gathering plaza, landscaped gardens and a walkable outdoor Oasis Trail complete with meditation labyrinth. The site will also be home to the Agua Caliente Spa and Bathhouse, which will offer treatment rooms, outdoor mineral pools, men’s and women’s bathhouses, a tranquillity garden, fitness centre and salon.

    Encompassing a wide-range of experiences and learning opportunities, which will convey the values and legacy ofthe Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the new cultural plaza will build on the traditions of the Agua Caliente people, as well as the renowned natural features of the ancestral lands.

    For more information about the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, visit www.aguacaliente-nsn.gov.

    Modernism Week – 15-year anniversary
    2020 marks the 15th anniversary of the city’s world-renowned Modernism Week festival, which showcases Palm Springs’ design heritage and modernist culture with a series of impressive events. Highlights of the festival, which will run from February 13 – 23, 2020, are expected to include the Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tour, the Frey House II Tour, Frank Sinatra’s “Twin Palms” Estate Tour and The Best of Mod with a Twist series.

    The full schedule for February’s 11-day festival will be announced on the 25th October 2019, with tickets available from the 1st November 2019.

    Those looking to get a taste of what the 2020 Modernism Week event has in store, can attend the annual four-day Modernism Week Fall Preview, this October (17-20). Tickets for Modernism Week Fall Preview are on sale now.

    For more information on Modernism Week, visit www.modernismweek.com.

    Andaz Palm Springs – 2020 hotel opening
    Expected to open in early 2020 the Andaz Palm Springs, which will boast panoramic views of the city and the San Jacinto Mountains, will be located in the heart of the city’s downtown. On the doorstep of the Palm Springs’ vibrant uptown design district, the hotel will serve as a perfect option for those wanting to explore the city’s trendy boutiques, award-winning restaurants and renowned galleries.

    The 150-key, 13-suite hotel will be built as a collection of small buildings and guestroom bungalows featuring two outdoor pools, garden areas on an elevated patio terrace, full-service spa and signature restaurant.
    For more information, visit https://palmsprings.andaz.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html.

    Welwood Hotel – 2020 hotel opening
    Paying homage to the city’s first hotelier, Dr Welwood Murray, the Welwood Hotel in Palm Springs is set to open its doors to guests in 2020. Previously known as the Ivy Palm Resort, the hotel is currently undergoing a full renovation under the new ownership of Oxygen Hospitality.

    Inspired by the mid-twentieth century modernist architecture that Palm Springs is renowned for, the hotel’s redesign is described as angular and artistic, featuring colourful motifs. Renovations of the 100-room, three-acre property will include new guest rooms and suites, featuring clean palettes of neutral and aqua shades, complemented with sleek, rich, modern furnishings. Completing the property’s enhanced offering will be a new restaurant / bar concept and two remodelled pools with cabanas.
    For more information on the Welwood Hotel, visit welwoodhotel.com.

    Main image credit: Agua Caliente Cultural Centre (Image Credit – Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians)

    Super 8 by Wyndham Continues announces six new hotels in Germany

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Super 8 by Wyndham Continues announces six new hotels in Germany

    Wyndham’s stylish economy brand has announced to further expand its German footprint by 2021…

    In the wake of latest statistics showing that Germany is leading the hotel development race in Europe, with 382 projects in the pipeline, Wyndham Hotels has announced that it, too, will to expand its footprint in the region, with the opening of new Super 8 by Wyndham hotels in Hamburg, Berlin, Mainz, Koblenz and Augsburg by the end of 2021.

    Super 8 by Wyndham, which has recently launched Super 8 by Wyndham in Dresden, is one of the world’s largest economy hotel brands with nearly 2,900 hotels around the world. The brand is designed to elevate the economy hotel experience for the new generation of travellers with contemporary design, modern facilities, friendly service, and convenient locations.

    Wyndham Hotels & Resorts introduced Super 8 by Wyndham in Germany in 2016, in partnership with leading hotel management company Gorgeous Smiling Hotels GmbH, Grünwald. From two initial hotels in Munich, the two companies have continued to expand the brand in Freiburg, Oberhausen and recently in Dresden, with plans to reach 10 hotels and over 1,800 rooms by the end of 2021.

    “We are extremely proud of the strong momentum of Super 8 by Wyndham in Germany,” said Christian Michel, Vice President Development Europe for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “With a growing demand for more affordable accommodation, the brand’s expansion perfectly fits our ambition to make hotel travel possible for all. Gorgeous Smiling Hotels GmbH is a trusted and like-minded partner, and we are delighted to continue to grow Super 8 by Wyndham together in this important market.”

    A recent opening for Super 8 by Wyndham included Super 8 by Wyndham Dresden. Opened in June 2019, the 176-key hotel is centrally located near the old and new Green Vault and close to major sights. Its stylish rooms feature modern design and amenities such as flat-screen TVs, safes, free high-speed Wi-Fi and heated bathroom floors. The hotel also features an on-site breakfast restaurant with a live cooking area, a Dallmayr coffee shop, as well as a 24/7 reception desk.

    Anticipated Super 8 by Wyndham hotels openings in Germany include:

    • Super 8 by Wyndham Hamburg City: Less than a five-minute ride from the city centre, the hotel boasts 274 bright rooms with comfortable box-spring beds, walk-in showers, smart TVs and safes. Each room comes with a SmartKey, which enables guests to easily check in and check out with their phones. The hotel is expected to open at the end of September 2019.
    •  Super 8 by Wyndham Mainz: The 216-room hotel will be located in the newly-developed urban area of Zollhafen with easy access to the famous old town with its half-timbered houses and medieval market squares. The hotel is set to open in early 2020.
    •  Super 8 by Wyndham Augsburg: Set in the medieval streets of one of the oldest cities in Germany, the new hotel will offer 154 well-appointed rooms with plenty of comfortable space to feel at home. The hotel is estimated to open by the end of 2020.
    •  Super 8 by Wyndham Berlin-Spandau: Set in in the bustling capital of Berlin, the hotel is expected to open in 2021, and will feature 200 rooms with stylish amenities, an on-site breakfast restaurant with a live cooking station, a Dallmayr coffee shop as well as a 24/7 reception desk.
    •  Super 8 by Wyndham Koblenz: Situated on the rivers Moselle and Rhine, Koblenz is the perfect gateway to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley with its terraced vineyards and old castle ruins. The new property, set to open its doors in 2021, will features 112 stylish rooms and a partially green facade.

    Heiko Grote, CEO of Gorgeous Smiling Hotels GmbH, added: “Whether it’s for a business trip or a weekend break, we know that today’s travellers look for a quality experience, but at an affordable price point – which is exactly what Super 8 by Wyndham stands for. We are delighted to further leverage the potential of this outstanding brand together with our partner Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and further expand the portfolio in the country.”

    Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ presence in Germany, Austria and Switzerland includes more than 100 hotels and 10 hotel brands, ranging from upper-upscale to economy, to suit any traveller’s needs.

    Main image credit: Wyndham Hotels/Marcelo Barbosa

    Hard Rock Hotels arrives in the Maldives

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Hard Rock Hotels arrives in the Maldives

    The iconic music and lifestyle brand hits the high note with Hard Rock Hotel Maldives, which marks the brand’s 30th property… 

    Following the opening of its first London hotel, Hard Rock International has announced its arrival in the Maldives, which marks the brand’s 30th property worldwide. Opening as part of CROSSROADS Maldives, the 178-key hotel is the country’s first and only integrated resort and is situated across the Emboodhoo lagoon.

    “Hard Rock Hotel Maldives offers the beauty and serenity of the destination perfectly paired with the lifestyle and energy that only the Hard Rock brand can deliver,” said Dale Hipsh, senior vice president of Hard Rock Hotels. “We’re excited to showcase the property’s unique experience and signature brand amenities to locals and visitors from around the world.”

    Image credit: Hard Rock Hotels

    Offering a variety of dining options, Hard Rock Hotel Maldives appeals to all appetites with a variety of food and beverage offerings, including the brand signature Sessions, where diners are treated to a world of contemporary flavors with indoor and outdoor seating, while The Elephant and The Butterfly presents Latin American-inspired cuisine in a picturesque oceanfront setting. Just steps away, the Hard Rock Cafe at the Marina CROSSROADS offers world-famous, all-American cuisine, live music, events and music memorabilia.

    “Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world’s most valuable collection of music memorabilia.”

    Inspired by local Maldivian culture, Hard Rock Hotel Maldives infuses contemporary design features with tropical architecture throughout the property, alongside regionally-inspired, authentic music memorabilia, including items from regional sensations Chun Xioa and Khun Asanee Chotikul, as well as international superstars like Shakira and Justin Timberlake. Unique to this hotel, the two-bedroom Silver Family Suite allows parents and kids to stay together in style with bunk beds and direct beach access, while the 4,950 square foot Rock Star Villa features spacious outdoor living areas, an infinity pool, a tuk-tuk bar on the terrace, panoramic ocean views and even a private boat jetty.

    Image credit: Hard Rock Hotels

    With venues in 75 countries, including 188 Hard Rock Cafes, 241 Rock Shops, 30 hotels and 11 casinos, Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognised companies. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world’s most valuable collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the globe.

    Vibrant lobby design

    7 unconventional hotel lobby designs

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    7 unconventional hotel lobby designs

    To launch this month’s spotlight on Lobby Design, Hotel Designs’ editorial team has scoured the globe to identify some of the world’s most unconventional – and most fascinating – hotel lobbies… 

    A first impression is a lasting impression, especially when it comes to checking in to the modern-day hotel. And considering it takes the average person just seven seconds for their opinion to be anchored, ultimately right up until they cast their feedback after checking out, designing a hotel lobby is a balancing act worth getting right.

    Vibrant lobby design

    Regardless of a hotel’s theme, style and to a certain extent target audience, a well-designed lobby is an effortlessly functioning space – and in most cases considered to be the most vital working organ in the hotel’s body that is most relied.

    Today’s modern traveller demands for the lobby to be an all-encompassing flexible portal; a home-from-home meeting place, which shelters a social atmosphere. And yet it must also include private break-out areas and accents of personality and sense of place in its design – just enough for something to catch their eye and be included in their first impression. While it is important to ensure that the lobby is multifunctional, ensuring that its design stays in its lane regarding its style is fundamental.

    Here are some hotels that have gone further to challenge the conventional lobby design – and as a result designed their own lane.

    1) Rosewood Bangkok

    Earlier this year, Hotel Designs exclusively unveiled the design story of Rosewood Bangkok. Designed by Celia Chu, her task to design the 159-key hotel was made that much more daunting when having to create a hotel lobby that creates as large of an impression as the exterior does. Instead of competing with the architecture to be bold, Chu looked inwards to sensitively tell the story of Thailand in the words of locals. “The reception space is relatively small,” explains Chu, “but in this area we layer different eras from a timeline that represents Thai culture, with antique craftsmanship, modern polished luxury and artistic contemporary elements all piled up into one cohesive and welcoming space.”

    2) Hard Rock Hotel London

    Hotel lobby with memorabilia hanging on the wall

    Image credit: Philip Durrant

    Designed by Scott Brownrigg, The hotel lobby’s walls are plastered with memorabilia that reference the legacy of legends who stayed in Hard Rock Hotels in decades past, including Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross and Madonna. Balancing the history and heritage of the brand in a timeless style to avoid cliché moments was the first task for the design firm when confronting the motifs that will be sheltered in the new hotel. “We knew we had to represent the Hard Rock brand in an innovative way for the contemporary London market,” Senior Designer Kate Jarrett explains. “The hotel scene here is competitive so we knew we had to create something that tied into London and Hard Rock’s music heritage, while still being completely contemporary.”

    3) Matetsi Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

    soft lobby area, which is open to the elements - and full of natural materials

    Image credit: Matetsi Victoria Falls

    There are two entrances at Matetsi Victoria Falls, East Camp and West Camp. Both are framed by three traditional Mokoro (dug-out) canoes, which hang from wooden beams and sway in harmony with the soft Zambezi breeze. With no need for a traditional lobby, guests are immediately welcomed into the indoor-outdoor public areas complete with a copper bar and durable outdoor sofas and chairs scattered in a home-from-home setting that has been designed around nature, and not the other way round. “We didn’t take out a single tree when designing these camps, because we wanted these areas to remain as close to nature as we could,” said interior designer Kerry van Leenhoff , a previous graduate from Cape Town University of Technology who was hand-selected by Gardiner and totally supported in all her decisions. Using the striking vista of the Zambezi River, which flows towards the tremendous Victoria Falls, dining tables are placed in such a way to make every meal one to remember. “The lobby areas have been designed in order to encourage guests to connect with people and nature,” adds van Leenhoff.

    4) Plaza 18, Vejer, Spain

    Almost one year after Hotel Designs started following designer Nicky Dobree’s journey to complete her first ever hotel design, Plaza 18 is now open. With a distinct residential style, the lobby sheltered inside the six-key boutique hotel is unlike any other in the world. “This entrance challenges the conventional ‘hotel lobby’ because there is no check-in at Plaza 18,” Dobree explains. “Instead, check in is done at the adjoining Hotel Casa del Califa enabling guests at Plaza 18 to enjoy the space as if it were their own home, which was my aim.”

    5) 1K Paris

    Strong vibrant colours and plants in modern and quirky hotel lobby

    Image credit: 1K Paris

    Bringing the lush forests of South America’s Andes Mountains to Paris, 1K Paris has a hotel lobby that will take guests into a new world. Complete with vibrant walls, ceilings, floors and furniture – and finished with tropical plants and timeless Peruvian artefacts – the area is cleverly also flooded with natural light. The lobby’s strong blue backdrop sets the ultimate tone for the abundance of colours that await guest’s unique journey ahead.

    6) Raffles Singapore

    Light and bright grand lobby

    Image credit: Raffles Singapore

    Reminiscent of extravagant parties that were once held there, The Grand Lobby inside Raffles Singapore, which has been sensitively designed by the New York-based Champalimaud Design, is a truly a legend reborn. The lobby includes floor-to-ceiling Victorian pillars and is bathed in soft daylight streaming through the skylight.

    7) Ruby Leni, Dusseldorf

    Darkly lit modern public areas

    Image credit: Ruby Hotels

    Taking inspiration from the theatre that With large, expansive public spaces that filter into plush private break-out areas, the hotel is designed for both locals and guests checking in. The character and soul has been channelled into the lobby/lounge, where the real story of the iconic 1900s building, which sheltered the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus theatre, comes to life. “We looked at the materials, shapes and forms that you would associate to a theatre of that era,” says Lead Designer Matthew Balon. “We then separated that into front-of-house and back-of-house. We wanted to challenge that idea by merging those areas. For example, we have included stage cases in the lobby to really create an authentic feeling of being part of the production, behind the scenes.”

    Hotel Designs is spending this month with Lobby Design and Furniture in the spotlight. If you have a story, or would like to submit a comment, please contact the editorial team. 

    Main image credit: 1K Paris

    Four Seasons opens in Philadelphia’s tallest building

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Four Seasons opens in Philadelphia’s tallest building

    Foster + Partners’ Norman Foster is responsible for the architecture and interior design of Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Centre, which is sheltered in the 48th and 60th floors of the city’s tallest building…

    The newly opened Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center is located on the uppermost floors of what is now the city’s tallest building and 10th highest in the United States.

    The entire building and the interiors and furnishings of the hotel have been designed by world-renowned architect Norman Foster of Foster + Partners, while artistic director Jeff Leatham has created stunning floral art in his signature style. His designs are found throughout the property from the ground floor entry to the 60th floor hotel lobby. In addition, Tokyo-based teamLab has envisioned a giant digital floral experience as a modern expression of traditional Japanese painting techniques in the hotel’s arrival lobby.

    Image credit: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

    “This exceptional new property represents the very best of Four Seasons,” said Christian Clerc, President, Worldwide Hotel Operations, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “From architecture to design, artistry and innovation, culinary mastery and wellness expertise, we have worked closely with our visionary partners at Comcast and Liberty Property Trust to assemble an all-star team of virtuosos who are elevating Four Seasons service, quality and artistry to new heights.”

    Framing what are arguably the best vistas over the city, the 180 guestrooms and 39 suites have been designed to reflect a timeless and relaxed style, while also to adding thoughtful and hidden technology throughout. For example, in partnership with Comcast, all guestrooms and suites also offer the award winning X1 Video Experience.

    The hotel’s dining scene is on the 59th floor inside the Jean-Georges Philadelphia restaurant and the 60th floor inside JG SkyHigh cocktail bar. Norman Foster’s soaring space showcases the internationally acclaimed French-American chef’s signature cuisine within an atrium featuring 40 foot (12 metre) glass walls and a cleverly mirrored ceiling that reflects both diners and the city below.

    Taking wellness and wellbeing to new height, the hotel’s 57th floor is a haven of health and wellness that includes an enormous indoor pool that “spills” into the sky; a state-of-the-art fitness centre.

    Main image credit: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

    Accor’s JO&JOE brand moves in with IKEA in Vienna

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Accor’s JO&JOE brand moves in with IKEA in Vienna

    Construction work will commence in January 2020 on the seven-storey IKEA in Vienna, which will shelter a 345-key hotel…

    Accor’s JO&JOE lifestyle brand is partnering with IKEA to open an innovative hospitality concept: the two upper floors of the building will contain an Open House by JO&JOE. After openings in Paris and Hossegor and with seven signed projects, this is the first JO&JOE in the German-speaking region and is slated to open in 2021.

    “The JO&JOE brand is characterised by a combination of hostel and traditional hotel elements.”

    “The modern architecture and the unique location of the new City IKEA harmonise perfectly with the exciting new world offered by JO&JOE,” said Volkmar Pfaff, Managing Director of Accor Austria. “We are working together to create an inviting, well-connected environment that reflects the lifestyle trends of a young, urban clientele. We are delighted with this strategic partnership with IKEA and welcome further cooperation in the future.”

    The JO&JOE brand is characterised by a combination of hostel and traditional hotel elements, impressing guests with its novel accommodation experience, modern design and attractive array of restaurants and services. The Open House concept is equally suited to business and leisure guests who appreciate both a central location and a platform for interaction with the local community.

    Image credit: ZoomVP/Accor

    “Our first JO&JOE Open Houses have already proven to be wildly popular, as the concept blends the best of private-rental, hostel and hotel formats,” said Francois Leclerc, VP Brand & Operations, JO&JOE. “We are very enthusiastic about our partnership with IKEA and our newest location in Vienna, where we feel our commitment to freedom, autonomy and brilliant design will fit right in with the city’s aesthetic and the guests who travel here.”  

    With its modern architecture and the innovative ideas for the interiors, the furniture store on Äussere Mariahilferstrasse will offer customers a unique shopping experience. The shopping concept specifically responds to current megatrends and takes into account changing shopping patterns and new forms of mobility that do not involve cars. For example, customers can have major purchases delivered to their homes within 24 hours. Living facades of greenery and a publicly accessible park on the roof terrace also provide an inviting ambience and a pleasant microclimate.

    “By collaborating with JO&JOE, we have found a partner who is an ideal match for our urban target group and who, like us, offers customers unique, new experiences and innovative concepts”, says IKEA Austria Managing Director Viera Juzova.

    JO&JOE’s entry into Austria underpins the brand’s international expansion plan. The brand was launched by Accor in September 2016 to cater to millennials and all who value a culture of sharing, spontaneity and individual experiences. JO&JOE is part of Accor’s lifestyle division and rounds out the Group’s portfolio of economy brands.

    Main image credit: ZoomVP/Accor

    Main image credit: Accor/IKEA

    W Hotels debuts first luxury hotel in Aspen in 25 years

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    W Hotels debuts first luxury hotel in Aspen in 25 years

    The 88-key luxury W Aspen, designed by interior design firm NEMAWORKSHOP and architects Rowland + Broughton, is the town’s only year-round mountainside rooftop venue…

    Following the opening of W Hotels first hotel in Oman, Marriott International Inc. has announced the much-anticipated opening of W Aspen & The Sky Residences at W Aspen, located at the base of the world-renowned, eponymous mountain.

    With ski-in/ski-out access to some of the world’s most coveted slopes, 360° mountain views and striking architectural and interior design, W Aspen is the second W Mountain Escape globally, following W Verbier in the Swiss Alps. Poised to carve out a new era of luxury in Aspen, the brand is bringing its bold point of view to the iconic mountain town for year-round access to alpine adventure.

    “Aspen’s people, vibrancy and natural beauty make this year-round mountain town the perfect place for the W lifestyle,” said Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide. “W Aspen reimagines the traditional ski chalet and allows people to experience the town in a way they never have before, through evocative design, inclusive programming and a social scene that is sure to become an essential stop on the global jet-setting calendar. The first new build W Escape in the USA for 10 years, W Aspen marks a milestone in the brand’s reinvigorated focus on North America.”

    W Aspen & The Sky Residences at W Aspen are owned by Northridge Capital of Washington, DC, the owner for 16 years of the former Sky Hotel situated on the same site, and co-developed by Northridge and local partner Sarpa Development. “After more than five years of hard work,” commented Northridge’s owner and president Dave Jackson, “we are thrilled to finally be opening the W Aspen for the enjoyment of its guests and the local community, and grateful to our partners at W Hotels, Haselden Construction, and too many other team members to name for their tireless efforts to reach this goal.”

    “W Aspen centres on the natural beauty and bounty of the mountains and the historical context of the city it surrounds.”

    W Aspen brings a luxurious, playful style to the historically-rich town of Aspen. Designed by global interior design firm NEMAWORKSHOP and Aspen-based architects Rowland + Broughton, alongside the W Brand’s award-winning design team, W Aspen centres on the natural beauty and bounty of the mountains and the historical context of the city it surrounds.

    It begins with the exterior: a modern mountain chalet with long, sloping roof lines that draw inspiration from the Rocky Mountain landscape. The essence of the outdoors continues throughout the interior, where the Welcome Desk wood formations echo the Rocky Mountains and intricately-detailed terrariums represent seasonal Aspen activities from hiking and biking to skiing and snowboarding.

    On the second floor is The Living Room, which serves as the central point of the Escape experience and showcases a grid-pattern display on the bar – a nod to traditional millwork structures used to create mine tunnels in Aspen during the silver boom. Seating in The Living Room features brass and polished rods that surround plush, velvety cushions synonymous with Aspen’s bohemian counterculture of the early ’70s. Along the side, stadium seating leads to an iconic suspended DJ booth that takes its cue from the largest silver nugget discovered in Aspen at the turn of the century. Continuing to honor Aspen’s role in the Colorado Silver Boom, light fixtures are informed by the look of a miner’s headlamp and floors are swept with curving patterns that echo the soil found at the bottom of a smuggler’s cove. At sundown, The Living Room’s outdoor fire pit acts as a beacon at the base of the mountain – signaling to the skiers above it is time to après.

    Art reminiscent of iconic Americana paintings of the Rocky Mountains layer the walls of W Aspen. Commissioned artists impart a more modern vision through the lens of classic landscape paintings like those done by Albert Bierstad and other greats. Longtime W collaborator Gaia showcases a series of works throughout the Escape that tease an infatuation with American landscape paintings but are superimposed with local millennial fragmented culture spirit guides – adding a contemporary veil to the traditional. Accent pillows in the Living Room and guestrooms are inspired by artists Herbert Bayer and Thomas Benton and pay homage to the historical residents of Durant Street, named the ‘Soiled Doves of Durant’.

    “Selected rooms feature a W design first, quad-queen bunk beds, which can sleep up to eight to cater to a younger adult clientele.”

    W Aspen features 88 guestrooms and 11 W-branded residences, along with four WOW suites and one Extreme WOW suite that can be a one, two or three bedroom, all of which offer modern takes on Ute patterns and furniture inspired by the decadence of ‘70s Aspen “pleasure palaces.” All guestrooms and suites are playfully marked with room plates in a style reminiscent of the pop culture icon Bob Ross, while interiors reference the cozy warmth of Swiss chalet architecture through the use of rustic wood finishes, sloped rooflines and a fireplace-inspired W MixBar. Each guestroom features pit and platform lounge seating that nods to the plasticity of mile-high bohemia and is complete with Ute-inspired accent pillows. Selected rooms feature a W design first, quad-queen bunk beds, which can sleep up to eight to cater to a younger adult clientele, as well as offer a wink to the more hedonistic qualities of Aspen’s past.

    The two-bedroom Extreme WOW Suite is inspired by Aspen’s mountain culture and is the quintessential location to play and stay. The suite features modern industrial touches, rich ski-wear fabrics, a central fire pit surrounded by curved pit seating, a hot tub open to the living area, a crystal and glass barrier embracing a circular bed on a pivoting platform, and a DJ booth with a mini LP vinyl player and curated music library – all playing on vintage luxury. The plush reds, blues and oranges in addition to psychedelic detailing add extra electricity to this warm mountain escape.

    39 Degrees, a legendary après ski bar in the former Sky Hotel, returns as an underground ultra-lounge cocktail bar and grotto inspired by the famed Red-Light District of Aspen. Outfitted with platform and pit seating, crushed velvet touches, cheeky Gonzo-style posters and pillows and a W-commissioned, Gabriel Alcala mural that portrays an Aspen landscape through the lens of ‘excess,’ this hidden spot will keep the energy going late into the night.

    “The buzz and excitement for the debut of W Aspen has been building for some time and we could not be readier to bring the infectious energy, spirit and programming of W to this iconic American town,” says Greg Durrer, General Manager, W Aspen. “We know that W Aspen will not only serve as a year-round destination for travellers but that it will bring a bold new point of view to the local social scene and become the latest player in the legacy of this incredible cultural mecca.”

    Image credit: Marriott International

    The Sky Residences at W Aspen offer an exclusive shared ownership opportunity with 11 W-branded Residences located slope-side on Aspen Mountain. With a limited collection of only six three-bedroom and five two-bedroom Residences, owners have access to a private, owners-only roof deck with a spa, lounge seating, BBQ grills, outdoor kitchen and fire pit. In addition, owners can enjoy all of the Escape’s amenities and services at W Aspen, including Welcome Ambassadors and round the clock security; in-residence dining and STYLE housekeeping services; WHEELS valet service; FIT® state-of-art fitness facilities; two WET® Deck pools; and W’s signature Whatever/Whenever® service promise, providing residents and hotel guests alike with whatever they want, whenever they want it! The Sky Residences at W Aspen are currently offered for sale by Forte Aspen. “The Sky Residences at W Aspen feature compelling statements of space and design that defy expectations,” said R.J. Gallagher, Jr. of Forte Aspen. “It’s where an owner can get away from it all, while having it all. Effortless ownership, where quality time with family and friends is the only order of the day. And night.”

    The hotel’s opening further marks W Hotels and Marriot International’s commitment to add more than 30 luxury properties to its portfolio this year. W, a significant element to the planned expansion, is defying expectations and breaking the norms of traditional luxury wherever the iconic W sign lands. With a mission to fuel guests’ lust for life, W ignites an obsessive desire to soak it in, live it up and hit repeat. The brand’s provocative design, iconic Whatever/Whenever service and buzzing Living Rooms create an experience that is often copied but never matched.

    Main image credit: Marriott International

    Chelsom creates bespoke lighting scheme for chic Miami hotel

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Chelsom creates bespoke lighting scheme for chic Miami hotel

    Chelsom worked with Martin Brudnizki Design Studio (MBDS) to create a bespoke lighting scheme for the guestrooms and public areas of one of Miami’s coolest hotels, Mr.C Coconut Grove

    The overall design scheme of Mr. C Coconut Grove was completely individual in its entirety as to be expected from MBDS and the lighting pieces designed for the project were no exception.

    A selection of Art Deco inspired fittings were created for the public areas including the reception and lobby and Bellini’s, the main restaurant and bar area. Channelling Miami chic at its finest, fittings for the restaurant include delicate glass wall lights with Brass detailing, decorative Art Deco table lamps with domed glass shades and Brass metalwork adorn the banquet seating teamed with classic Brass picture lights to frame the artwork. Toadstool shaped Art Deco lights with perforated Brass shades adorn the main bar area with a statement pendant above the bar making a dramatic visual impact. The custom designed fitting is an oversized shade style pendant in cream with Brass trim detail suspended from a Brass canopy. Oversized floor lamps adorn the lobby area with Brushed Brass and walnut table lamps with delicately concaved domed shades specified for the reception desk.

    Key pieces for the guestrooms and suites includestatement bespoke ceiling pendants in Antique Brass with six opalglass globes branching from a central stem with larger double tiered versions specified for the suites. Bespoke floor lamps in Brushed Brass with a curved arm and decorative locking key joint are teamed with tapered cylindrical shades in cream linen supplemented by Art Decotable lampsand wall lights perfectly in-keeping with both the flawless interior scheme created by the team at MBDS and the historic building itself.

    Chelsom is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email  Katy Phillips by clicking here.

    Main image credit: Mr C Coconut Grove/James McDonald

    1 Hotels to debut in Canada

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    1 Hotels to debut in Canada

    1 Hotel Toronto, which is being designed using reclaimed materials, will be unveiled next year as a design-led, sustainable urban retreat…

    Barry Sternlicht, 1 Hotels Founder and CEO & Chairman of Starwood Capital Group, who earlier this year announced a new lifestyle hotel brand, has confirmed plans for 1 Hotel Toronto. The hotel, which is slated to open next year, is inspired by Canada’s natural beauty, the vibrant character of King Street West and the Toronto marketplace.

    The hotel is being developed in partnership with Mohari Hospitality, a global real estate investment company and owner of the building which is currently operated as the Thompson Toronto. The downtown property will undergo an extensive transformation into a relaxing luxury sustainable 1 retreat.

    “The hotel group purposefully reuses existing structural and reclaimed materials gathered from the local community, including timber, driftwood and local limestone.”

    1 Hotels brings its sustainable vision to life by incorporating nature in its design and culinary collaborations, connecting with the local community to make a meaningful impact in the way people travel, eat, live and work. The hotel group purposefully reuses existing structural and reclaimed materials gathered from the local community, including timber, driftwood and local limestone. The hotel’s design balances refined elements with a comfortably curated atmosphere, inspired by the creativity and craftsmanship of local artists, builders, chefs, and others. Its operating philosophy reflects our commitment to sustainability. 1 Toronto is not just a place to stay; it’s a place to get inspired, focus, grow, connect and recharge.

    “1 Hotel Toronto will introduce the city to a new standard for an eco-conscious luxury experience, and is the first of its kind in Canada,” said Sternlicht. We look forward to sharing our mission to inspire conscious consumption with guests from across the globe as well as the local community. Our partnership with Mohari is key to the re-development of the project, and we are pleased to be collaborating with them.”

    “1 Toronto is not just a place to stay; it’s a place to get inspired, focus, grow, connect and recharge.”

    Mark Scheinberg, founder of Mohari Hospitality, said: “We’re excited to be partnering with 1 Hotels to open this luxury hotel and brand in the heart of Toronto. At Mohari, we look for innovative projects that are changing the hospitality market and 1 Hotel Toronto perfectly fits that mould.”

    1 Toronto will be enhanced by a level of luxury and personalisation that puts guests in an urban oasis. It’s expected to become a place to unwind, connect, eat well, and discover warmth and community in an environment which embraces nature, making it a luxurious and welcome respite for business travellers and world wanderers alike.

    Main image credit: 1 Hotels

    Germany, France and the UK lead European hotel project development

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Germany, France and the UK lead European hotel project development

    Latest hotel development statistics from the TOPHOTELCONSTRUCTION database show the three nations account for 50 per cent of the 1,514 projects that are currently in the pipeline for the region…

    Germany, the UK, and France are currently dominating a “booming European hospitality market”, as stated in a report by TOPHOTELCONSTRUCTION. The latest data to be published indicates that the three nations account for 50 per cent of the 1,514 projects currently in the pipeline in Europe.

    Germany currently has 382 projects in its own pipeline, which means that it alone is accounting for around one quarter of the upcoming hotels in Europe. The UK, meanwhile, is hot on its heels, with 287 projects in its own pipeline. Meanwhile, there is a significant dropoff between the U.K. and third place France, which has 91 projects in its own pipeline.

    Other destinations in the top 10 include Spain (72 projects in the pipeline) and Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, and Ireland, all of which have less than 70 hotels each in their project pipeline.

    The report concludes that Europe’s strong performance is due to Germany being a significant driving force in the hospitality space, as well as globally dominant tourist destinations such as France, Spain, and the UK.

    According to TOPHOTELCONSTRUCTION, the 1,541 hotels currently in the pipeline for Europe will ultimately yield as many as 251,730 new guestrooms.

    Main image credit: Pixabay

    InterContinental Hotels debuts first luxury hotel in renowned hot spring destination

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    InterContinental Hotels debuts first luxury hotel in renowned hot spring destination

    InterContinental Hotels & Resorts continues to pioneer new luxury destinations with the opening of ANA InterContinental Beppu Resort & Spa, which is injected with local design and architecture references throughout… 

    Located in the Oita Prefecture in Southwestern Japan, ANA InterContinental Beppu Resort & Spa has opened as the region’s first international luxury resort.

    The opening strengthens the long-term venture with ANA and IHG in Japan and joins more than 200 InterContinental Hotels & Resorts worldwide. Leading the way in luxury, the resort isone of four immersive resorts to open in 2019, with InterContinental Hayman Island Resort opened on 1 July and InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort and InterContinental Phuket Resort opening in September.

    “On behalf of IHG and IHG/ANA Japan, we are extremely proud to open the first international luxury hot spring resort and spa in Beppu,” said Hans Heijligers, Head of Japan, IHG, and IHG ANA Hotels Group Japan. “InterContinental has been pioneers in luxury travel for more than 70 years, delivering the allure of the InterContinental Life in all corners of the world. We are delighted to continue bringing the brand’s iconic hospitality, combining international know-how and local wisdom to new destinations as IHG continues to grow its luxury presence across the globe and in Japan.”

    Image credit: IHG

    Renowned for its rich culture and distinguished local craftsmanship, Beppu lends itself to offering guests rare access into authentic Japanese experiences. As the world’s second largest volume of hot spring water, the onsen tradition is a synonymous part of the guest experience in Beppu. The resort offers two large outdoor onsens, each meticulously designed with the selection and arrangement of Beppu stones selected by skilled masons, and placed to create a waterfall effect as if the hot spring water is overflowing from the mountain.

    The private onsen rooms offer a modern onsen experience within an exclusive space complete with a luxurious day bed, bathroom and minimalist design. The heart of the resort is the iconic infinity pool, designed to unite the sky with the view overlooking Beppu’s hot springs below.

    “Featured across the resort is work from local artists and craftsmen.”

    Elevating the cleansing and healing powers of myobanwater is the resort spa. In partnership with luxury Thai spa brand HARNN, the spa offers a selection of tailor-made treatments and therapies using materials derived from nature, along with rich aroma scent to rejuvenate the mind and body. The spa offers five treatment rooms with private en suites and outdoor garden, and two double massage rooms featuring a jacuzzi made from Japanese cypress.

    Imagined by the in-house design team at IHG, the resort shelters a distinct design philosophy, steeped in tradition and inspired by the elements. Featured across the resort is work from local artists and craftsmen, using traditional materials from various parts of Kyushu and local Oita prefecture. Beginning in the resort’s lobby, the soaring space is reminiscent of an art gallery with its high-quality bamboo art work, ancient pottery and wooden furniture with bold designs.

    Traditionally designed Japanese guest room, with low-level bed

    Image credit: IHG

    Elsewhere, the 89 guestrooms, including 10 suites, range from a luxurious 62-212 square meters, including large onsen or hot baths, spacious design and an abundance of natural materials for a sense of relaxation. All Suites and Club InterContinental rooms feature private open-air baths on the terrace with views sweeping the Beppu Bay.

    Continuing the philosophy of harmonious nature and design, the resort features five restaurants and bars inspired by Japan’s five elements: earth, water, fire, wind and void.

    The latest addition to the IHG portfolio proves further its continues its legacy of pioneering luxury travel in emerging destinations. 

    Main image credit: IHG

    Hammerson launches latest City Quarters concept, in Leeds, England

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Hammerson launches latest City Quarters concept, in Leeds, England

    The revealed plans for a 14-storey, 205-key hotel adjacent to Victoria Gate in Leeds aims to enhance Leeds cultural quarter by driving additional footfall and spend to the city…

    Hammerson, which owns and manages Victoria Leeds, has today launched plans for the regeneration of a 1,670 sq m site in Leeds City Centre, adjacent to its flagship destination, Victoria Gate.

    The plans will see the site, which is currently a temporary surface car park, redeveloped to provide a 14-storey hotel catering for business and leisure guests.

    The Victoria Gate Hotel is one of the first schemes Hammerson has brought forward as part of its new City Quarters concept: creating vibrant mixed-use neighbourhoods surroundingHammerson’s existing flagship destinations, in thriving locations in the UK. The concept will see Hammerson transform many of its city venues beyond pure retail into successful neighbourhoods providing homes, workspace, hotel space and accessible public realm. This announcement follows the recent submission of mixed-use masterplan applications for both Martineau Galleries in Birmingham and the Goodsyard in Shoreditch.

    The iconic building would sit adjacent to Victoria Gate in Leeds City Centre and see the regeneration of the land between the existing Victoria Gate multi-storey car park and St Peter’sStreet (A61). Designed by architects Acme, who delivered Victoria Gate, the façade takes inspiration from the surrounding architecture and the city’s rich merchandising and textilehistory. The hotel will feature 205 spacious rooms, an on-site gym and conferencing facilities.

    A new contemporary bar and restaurant on the ground floor will welcome both guests and visitors to the City’s Cultural Quarter.

    “We are pleased to be able to share plans for a new hotel within the Victoria Estate as we continue the roll out of our City Quarters concept in thriving locations around the UK and Ireland,” said Robin Dobson, UK Director of Development and Project Management at Hammerson. “Hammerson has a strong track record of delivery in Leeds City Centre and these plans for a new, contemporary hotel represent the next step in our wider regeneration plans, creating a mixed-use destination where people can live, work and relax, centered around our premium flagship destination, Victoria Leeds.”

    The proposed hotel marks the next step in the continued regeneration of this part of the City Centre, following the development of Victoria Gate by the group in 2016. Hammerson also owns a 10 acre site just north of Victoria Leeds which will be brought forward for development in due course, creating a new mixed-use City Quarters neighbourhood.

    Main image: Hammerson

     

    Seven-figure refurb begins at City Quay Hotel, Dundee

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Seven-figure refurb begins at City Quay Hotel, Dundee

    Work has commenced on a £1.4 million refurbishment programme at Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa in the heart of Dundee…

    Over the coming months the Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa‘s public spaces – including the reception and conference areas, as well as the hotel’s Metro Bar & Brasserie and Yu Spa – will be transformed, bringing a spectacular new look and feel to the hotel. The significant investment comes less than one year after the completion of a £2.4 million bedroom refurbishment.

    The full programme of improvements is set to be completed in the New Year, with the hotel operating business as usual throughout the period.

    “We’re absolutely thrilled to see work starting on the latest round of refurbishment work at the hotel,” said Ronnie MacKay, the general manager at Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa. “The feedback from guests following the bedroom refurbishment has been exceptionally positive and, given that the plans in place for the public areas look absolutely fantastic, we’re confident our guests will be impressed with the finished result.

    “The significant investment in the hotel over the past twelve months or so really underlines Apex’s commitment to constantly raising the bar and ensuring first-class standards for guests across the board. We’ll keep our guests informed of our plans every step of the way, but as the works continue over the coming months, we fully intend to operate business as usual until we unveil the finished product.”

    Since late 2017, Apex Hotels has invested approximately £12 million in refurbishment works across its 10 UK hotels.

    Main image credit: Apex Hotels

    Modern, fresh and vibrant interiors of a guest room

    W Hotels Debuts in Oman

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    W Hotels Debuts in Oman

    The “lavish playground” of W Muscat is set to shake up the coastal haven with bold design, eclectic programming and Oman’s First Siddharta Lounge By Buddha-Bar…

    W Hotels Worldwide, part of Marriott International Inc., has announced the opening of W Muscat, the brand’s newest beachfront W Escape and the second to open in the Middle East this year. Set against the backdrop of the rugged Al Hajar Mountains, which form a stark contrast to the historic capital city’s lively waterfront, W Muscat sits at the intersection of the bustling Shatti Al Qurum area.

    Modern, fresh and vibrant interiors of a guest room

    The hotel opens as part of Marriott International’s plans add more than 30 luxury hotels to its portfolio this year, furthering the company’s global perspective on luxury travel with its ensemble of eight distinct luxury brands.

    “Muscat is a fascinating and exciting city. Its cultural DNA honors millennia of tradition while looking to what’s new and next – an ideal match for the W brand,” said Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide. “The arrival of W in Muscat marks a new chapter for both the brand and this buzzing metropolis. The hotel reinterprets Omani design and cultural traditions to create a modern, energetic and stylish Escape unlike anything the sultanate has seen before.”

    “Its striking design is inspired by the diverse and vibrant natural locale – from the rugged mountain range to the vast Omani desert, the sparkling bay to the azure waters of the Arabian Sea.”

    The architectural narrative of W Muscat immerses guests in the concept of exploration and the illustrious storytelling tradition of the nomadic Bedouin traveller. Its striking design is inspired by the diverse and vibrant natural locale – from the rugged mountain range to the vast Omani desert, the sparkling bay to the azure waters of the Arabian Sea. Colorful hints of Muscat’s vibrant culture are interspersed throughout the spaces to evoke the mystery and adventure of the city’s rich heritage and storied past. W Muscat is a bold remix of traditional charm, natural beauty and the disruptive W DNA.

    Bold design with Arabian themed interiors in the lobby lounge

    Image credit: W Hotels

    Welcoming guests upon arrival is a striking, nine-ton frankincense tree sculpture designed by renowned artist Pongsatat Uaiklang that pays tribute to Omani culture. Standing at an impressive 10 meters tall, the piece is made of solid stainless steel, welded from 28 winding pieces. In traditional Omani culture, frankincense was used to bless and welcome weary travelers after their long journeys. In that same tradition, guests are then ushered into the inviting Living Room (W’s signature take on the lobby) where they can relax and unwind in an Arabic Majlis, beneath an oversized installation of the Omani Kummas, chic headgears that are unmistakable marks of the Omani attire. Whether looking for a re-energizing iced tea or a cocktail, The Living Room is the perfect venue to see and be seen.

    “Asymmetrical corridors across the floors depict an artistic theme of ‘every girl has a story’ through locally commissioned holographic artworks.”

    All of the 279 guestrooms and suites at W Muscat provide uninterrupted views of the glistening blue water, with their design drawing inspiration from the ocean as well as the asymmetrical lines of the nearby mountains, caves and desert. These are contrasted with art deco detailing, reminiscent of traditional Omani charm. Asymmetrical corridors across the floors depict an artistic theme of ‘every girl has a story’ through locally commissioned holographic artworks depicting a female perspective of power, love, peace and beauty. Designed for an extra spacious and edgy stay is the EWOW suite (the brand’s take on the traditional Presidential Suite) which features subtle Arabic characteristics with a distinctive W edge. The corner Majlis seating showcases a Zanzibar-inspired print, a nod to the Omani Kumma or headgear, set against an inviting coffee table in celebration of Arabic coffee or Qahwa. The ceiling features tilted white paneling, evoking the intimacy of relaxing inside a tent. A saddle-like leather chair, bold mustard yellow stool, and faux fur wall are inspired by horse or camelback travel. Stacked luggage trunks comprise the MIXBAR (the W spin on the minibar) while a trunk closet lined with exotic silk links back to the narrative of the nomad.

    An 1800 sqm beachfront pool offers unparalleled views of the Gulf of Oman and forms part of the W brand’s iconic WET experience. Here, guests can swim, soak up the sun and enjoy signature beverages while listening to live DJ performances. WET is the hottest place to cool off, take a dip, make a splash, and get your glow on. W Muscat will be hosting a FUEL Weekend in October – the W brand’s signature fitness and wellness retreat – where WET will take center stage. FUEL guests can expect next level, energy-soaked celebrity workouts, killer parties and delicious beverage and food offerings all celebrating the brand’s DETOX. RETOX. REPEAT. philosophy.

    Elsewhere, the Escape’s AWAY® Spa offers 10 treatment rooms, a steam room, a hammam and a couples’ treatment room. The design is inspired by the ancient ritual of stargazing where guests are enveloped under a bejeweled night sky with the intimacy of cave-like comfort.

    The highly anticipated Siddharta Lounge By Buddha-Bar makes an Oman debut at W Muscat, bringing its signature flair for culinary prowess and inventive mixology to the rooftop restaurant and lounge. Overlooking the sweeping coastline of Shatti Al Qurum, the space interlocks both indoor and outdoor venues and celebrates the story of Bedouin travellers through innovative design and artistic representation. Ocean vistas are framed by an extraordinary rooftop infinity pool that invites guests to literally dive into the action and order a cocktail at the swim up bar. Siddharta Lounge By Buddha-Bar transforms from a daytime respite for lounging and relaxing amongst gorgeous views to a scene-setting hotspot when the sun goes down and the music turns up.

    Trailblazing its way around the globe, with more than 50 hotels, W is defying expectations and breaking the norms of traditional luxury wherever the iconic W sign lands. With a mission to fuel guests’ lust for life, W ignites an obsessive desire to soak it in, live it up and hit repeat. The brand’s provocative design, iconic Whatever/Whenever service and buzzing Living Rooms create an experience that is often copied but never matched.

    Main image credit: W Hotels

    4 reasons why hotels should consider 3D photography

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    4 reasons why hotels should consider 3D photography

    In a response to the industry insight on styling a hotel for design press article, Hotel Designs’ official hotel review photographer, ACT Studios, argues that 3D photography is where the future of hotel marketing is heading…

    Predictions for trends over the next couple of years in the hotel and hospitality sector abound. But there is general consensus that technology will continue to play a greater role in both the stay of a guest as well as the booking process itself.

    Virtual tour photography has an essential part to play here, enhancing the anticipatory experience of the traveller in advance of their stay, as well quickly and easily answering guest’s questions and concerns about location, layout and facilities.

    So just how exactly can virtual tour photography enhance the guest experience? And what value can it add to your website?

    What is virtual tour photography?

    Virtual tour photography is essentially an immersive, three dimensional digital means of bringing a room to life for the viewer. 3d tours are created using a special type of Matterport camera, which produces a 360 degree image of a room, which users can then browse online at their leisure.

    Users simply click on the image itself to then ‘step in’ to the picture, with the option to turn in any direction to explore a feature in more detail. Want to view the room from the other side of the bed? It’s Easy. Using your mouse (or a touch screen) you can simply click (or tap) on the picture and spin the view in a direction to suit you. Fancy a peek in the bathroom? Maybe to check if it has a walk in shower? Again, just click or tap on the direction you would like to take.

    3D photography even lets you leave the room to explore different rooms on another floor. And essentially look round the whole property, which can be really helpful if you need to check if the bedroom is on the ground floor. Or see if the bathroom has a shower over it. Or where your nearest fire exit is.

    The real beauty of 3D virtual tours is that they are incredibly simple to use. And extremely intuitive.

    4 ways in which 3D photography can help your hotel business

    1) 3D photography can improve your guest experience and ratings

    Image credit: Hotel Designs’ interactive hotel review of Oddfellows On The Park. Read full review here.

    Positive feedback and ratings count and anything that helps improve the customer journey for a guest deserves serious thought. And when it comes to the hotel guest’s customer journey, 3D photography can play a pivotal role in the consideration phase.

    Once a customer is aware that you exist – perhaps via a touch point such as a post on social media or an article in a third party publication – the next phase in the customer journey is consideration. This is when they arrive at your website and look through it in detail before deciding to make a purchase.

    It is well known how financially competitive the hospitality industry is and not every accommodation provider wishes to differentiate on price. Therefore, having the ability to see a building in all its dimensions – from a floor plan, to a dollhouse view to stepping into any of the key rooms – can positively influence their decision to buy in your favour. And most importantly, take them away from your competitors.

    2) 360 photography can refresh your brand image

    Image credit: Hotel Designs’ interactive hotel review of University Arms, Cambridge. Read full review here.

    “The quality of the imagery is second to none.” – Mario Ovsenjak, General Manager, Hotel Gotham.

    Guests have long come to expect well composed, professionally taken, high resolution photography when it comes to browsing both on and offline.

    Which is why the supply of high quality hospitality photography remains a core service for ACT Studios, taking us throughout the UK and Europe to photograph some of the most incredible accommodation providers.

    But brands that already have great photography are rightly asking “what’s next?” when it comes to updating their brand image, differentiating their offering and setting themselves apart from the competition.

    The answer is 3d photography. Offering guests the ability to virtually ‘step into’ a hotel bedroom, dining room or lounge. To explore an area in minute detail. Or just get an overall feel for what they are about to book.

    “Adding a fully immersive experience by adding virtual tour photography can increase occupancy by 14 per cent.”

    3) 360 virtual tour photography can help improve your occupancy rates

    Image credit: Hotel Designs’ interactive hotel review of Hotel Gotham. Read the full review here.

    Recent research by TripAdviser shows that having at least one photo of your property on a property page actually increases the likelihood of a booking enquiry by 225 per cent. And that for properties with at least 100 photos, engagement levels rise to 151 per cent and likelihood of a booking inquiry rises to 238 per cent compared to properties with no photos

    In addition, a study by Matterport concluded that adding a fully immersive experience by adding virtual tour photography can increase occupancy by 14 per cent and yield a 15 per cent increase in online engagement.

    4) Virtual tours are an honest complement to photography that encourages trust

    By offering guests the option of seeing and freely exploring a given room or area in its entirety before they buy, guests can more easily and more quickly judge for themselves how suitable (or not) a hotel is for them. There is therefore genuine honestly in a 3d virtual tour. And as marketers know, honesty breeds trust, which then sees guests returning time after time.

    If you would like to find out more about how 3D photography can work alongside your existing photography – or perhaps how you can refresh both your still photography and your virtual tours, to produce a more consistent brand image – then contact ACT Studios here.

    Main image credit: ACT Studios

    Downtown Manhattan inspires new guestrooms inside Andaz Wall Street

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Downtown Manhattan inspires new guestrooms inside Andaz Wall Street

    Hospitality-focused architecture and interior design firm Stonehill Taylor recently completed the interior design renovation of the Andaz Wall Street’s 253 guest rooms in Manhattan…

    Inspired by downtown Manhattan, the new interior design sheltered within Andaz Wall Street is modern, crisp and includes a number of twists. The designers at Stonewall Taylor contemplated what an artist loft and studio might look like for a Wall Street Executive turned artist.

    The design team took great care to inject personal touches into the guestroom design, incorporating art pieces, distinct furniture and lighting, and the space’s signature moment: hand-sketched wall coverings and line work that reflects downtown Manhattan’s evocative and rich architectural forms. Sketched in-house, the overall concept adds a personal touch to the design that seems to come almost from the hands of the creatives who live and work in the neighborhood.

    Clean and modern guestroom

    Image credit: Andaz Wall Street

    Starting at 345-square-feet in size, the guestrooms are among the most spacious in New York City. Each room offers modern design, hardwood floors, walk-in rain showers and 12-foot ceilings with oversized windows to let in ample amounts of light. Each room features veined quartz, end-grain bamboo, and grey wood finishes, plus elegant bay window seating for reading and relaxation.

    Main image credit: Andaz Wall Street

    Editor Checks In: Home comforts in hotel design

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Editor Checks In: Home comforts in hotel design

    In August 2019, editor Hamish Kilburn concludes that trends are overrated when a project close to his heart reaches its highly anticipated conclusion…

    I can’t quite believe it has been almost one year since we first started following the award-winning designer Nicky Dobree on her journey to complete her debut hotel design project. Before now, her undisputed talent was recognised for designing the interiors of 007-esqe luxury mountain retreats (Kevin McCloud’s words, not mine unfortunately).

    But this year, she has injected her effortless style to restore a 19thcentury building in Vejer, Spain, which is known as Plaza 18 – and Hotel Designs has been there every step of the way.

    Now that the season has ramped up to reach its peak, there’s no better time to put down the measuring tape, take a step back and reward Dobree’s “labour of love” as we cut the ribbon. More than 1,300 miles from Andalucia, the team in the London office are gathered around my computer screen as they impatiently wait for the folder to download, of which contains the final images of the new boutique hotel. Until now, you see, we have had to settle for shakey behind-the-scenes, unquestionably raw, photographs taken on location, as well as renders and sketches, which merely tease the luxury home-from-home concept in the making.

    You’d be wrong to assume it’s an easy task working on a project of this scale. What the hotel lacks in the number of guestrooms (six to be precise) it makes up for in personality. And if anyone could sensitively re-establish the heritage property in order to give it a new lease of life, it would be Dobree.

    “All that is missing is a luxury design-led hotel,” I think to myself as I run past the colourful beach huts (place your bids).

    ‘Home comforts’ feels like an appropriate theme for this month’s column. Four years after capturing my first solo metropolis memory, which then drove me to chase my career in a number of cities in the UK, I’ve hit a crossroads and have decided to take the right-hand turn, which has result in me hurtling back towards my hometown of Whitstable in Kent. Nestled on the north-east tip of the Garden of England, where home comforts – think sea views that stretch over the horizon and unparalleled sunsets – are never in short supply, this feels like ‘home’ to me. “All that is missing is a luxury design-led hotel,” I think to myself as I run past the colourful beach huts (place your bids).

    It seems I am not alone in chasing home comfort. Last year, a study published by Forbes showed that in the 10 cities with the largest Airbnb market share in the US, the entry of Airbnb resulted in 1.3 per cent fewer hotel nights booked and a 1.5 per cent loss in hotel revenue. But as damning as this statistic may seem, hotels are fighting back to offer more home-from-home comforts married together with one-off experiences to capture travellers’ attention.

    Examples of this can be found all over the Hotel Designs website this month, from our Miniview of room2’s ‘hometel’ concept in Southampton to a new ‘private members’ bar’-styled hotel that will open in London next year – and not forgetting the exceptional Plaza 18. Perhaps subconsciously, my year-long project with Dobree has led me to positively seek comfort in timeless style as opposed to chasing the short-term thrills of seasonal trends.

    Main image credit: ACT Studios

    Hilton Munich City completes $50 million renovation

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Hilton Munich City completes $50 million renovation

    Hilton Munich City is placing the finishing touches on a $50 million hotel transformation project, which includes a full refurbishment of the hotel, including all public areas, guestrooms, fitness centre and F&B areas…

    Hilton Munich City, which opened a new F&B area called Juliet Rose earlier this year, has now been completed a full $50 million renovation. “We are thrilled to present this amazing, refreshed hotel to all our guests and clients,” said Dagmar Muhle, the general manager of Hilton Munich City.

    “This way we are able to continue to innovate in the way we deliver our signature hospitality and provide our guests with an enhanced experience here at Hilton Munich City. We are also very excited to have been recognized as ‘Germany’s Leading City Hotel 2019’ at the World Travel Awards Europe 2019, a great achievement and confirmation of the services our team delivers on a daily basis.”

    Juliet Rose is made up of four different seating zones, each with different stand-out features, plus two bars. The main ‘ceremony bar’ is a stunning, monolithic U-shaped design that guests coming from the hotel entrance see as soon as they enter the space, at the far end of a central approach. A second, smaller-scale coffee bar is made of the same dramatic moss-green and highly-polished granite, with the choice of material referencing the earthiness of botanical ingredients. The granite for the main bar has been book-matched to ensure dramatic textural veining from the front. Above and behind the main bar, the gantry structure is made up of brass sections, with an industrial/lab feel, underscored by an apothecary-style bottle display. The barman prepares cocktails at its centre, making full use of dry ice, bell jars and a sense of reveal.

    Image credit: Hilton Hotels

    “The overall design approach for the space was based on form and order, with drama, freedom and an opposing sense of randomness created by the furniture and accessorising’, architect David Lee Hood, Associate at Goddard Littlefair, explained. ‘When it came to structure, we added a number of new elements to the space to give a feeling of overall order and symmetry, whilst also ensuring playful visibility between zones via glazed screens offering varying privacy levels.”

    The hotel provides a complement of services and brand amenities, including 483 guestrooms, nine meeting rooms, MONA restaurant, Juliet Rose Bar and a fitness centre.

    Main image credit: Hilton Hotels

    Meet the design team behind Monkey Island Estate and Raffles Singapore

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Meet the design team behind Monkey Island Estate and Raffles Singapore

    Following the opening of both Monkey Island Estate (review coming soon) and Raffles Singapore, Hotel Designs spends time to get to know the world-renowned design team who led both visions into reality…

    Based in New York City, Champalimaud Design is an award-winning multi-disciplinary firm recognised for its visionary concepts, which span both hospitality and residential projects.

    Founded almost 30 years ago by Lisbon-born Alexandra Champalimaud, the studio is now run by five Partners who are all specialists in their respective fields. In addition to Alexandra Champalimaud, Partners include CEO Ed Bakos, Jon Kastl, Winston Kong, and most recently, Anna Beeber.

    Celebrated for creating luxury environments for a global client list which includes the likes of The Plaza New York, the legendary Troutbeck hotel in Upstate New York and The Gainsborough Bath Spa, Champalimaud Design was approached in 2013 by Raffles Singapore and tasked with the monumental goal of a complete redesign of Singapore’s oldest and most iconic hotel. The studio was presented with a unique challenge of maintaining an ambience intrinsically tied to the hotel’s unique 130 year long history, whilst at the same time taking the hotel in a renewed design direction through a meticulous update and refresh.

    The newly restored property offers a reinvigorated and charming environment familiar to the original Raffles Singapore hotel, but which now introduces renovated dining options, updated accommodations, and a new suite category. By incorporating local influences throughout and remaining true to its heritage, Champalimaud Design thoughtfully layers a memory of old Singapore with a contemporary and artful approach.

    As a national monument, special attention was paid to the preservation of the original colonial architecture throughout the renovation. All of the public areas are re-planned to increase social engagement and create an ease of flow between spaces. With a sensibility that is much more contemporary than its previous design iterations, there’s an emphasis on maximising scale through the careful curation of custom furniture in sumptuous shapes, ornate screens, locally sourced heritage antiques, and impactful lighting. The new reception and lobby lounge – once iconic places frequently visited by dignitaries and diplomats – is transformed into an elegant reception with a curated dining menu and now serves as the gateway to the hotel’s alluring spaces for dining and imbibing: Tiffin Room, Writer’s Bar, La Dame de Pic, Long Bar, and Butcher’s Block. The palate is composed of the original black and white contrasts juxtaposed with caramel, shades of green, and creamy neutrals. Light floral references and gilded trimming along with a bejewelled chandelier add a layer of refinement to the overall vision.

    The coming year will see Champalimaud Design take on a number of high profile openings. In addition to Raffles Singapore, the studio has recently unveiled its highly-anticipated design for Halekulani in Okinawa, Japan; a hotel that fuses luxury with the island’s energy, as well as the Monkey Island, a picturesque retreat with a charming history in Bray-On-Thames, England. Other projects include One Waterline Square, a luxury high-rise development on the Hudson River in Manhattan which represents an unprecedented approach to urban living, as well as Su Casa, a private retreat nestled in Puerto Rico’s most exclusive resort which has undergone a complete renovation by Champalimaud Design following Hurricane Maria which ravaged the island in 2017.

    Main image credit: Champalimaud Design

    CitizenM has announced fourth arrival in London

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    CitizenM has announced fourth arrival in London

    Global hotel group, citizenM, announces the acquisition of a Victoria property for its fourth London hotel, opening in 2021…

    citizenM has announced that construction will commence in May 2020 for a new hotel in London, following the demolition of the existing Denison House. The 226-room hotel, designed by concrete with architecture by ICA, will comprise basement and ground floor levels, with ten upper floors and will be built using citizenM’s innovative modular construction method.

    Each of the rooms will be built and furnished one-by-one in an offsite factory and then moved to the site where they will be assembled to make up the hotel. Prefabrication enables faster construction and easier quality control, and also guides the architectural aesthetic of all citizenM locations. No matter how they’re assembled, citizenM buildings are recognisable in their surroundings for their identifiably square units, clean lines, and artwork on the facades.

    citizenM’s hybrid hotels offer travellers luxury accommodation at affordable prices in hyper-busy urban centres. This latest addition, situated in the heart of London, will be close to major London tourist attractions such as Buckingham Palace and Tate Britain, and offer great transport links within Greater London and Gatwick Airport – perfect for all mobile citizens.

    “We are excited to have completed this transaction after securing planning consent in a prime location in Westminster. With three hotels already operating successfully in London, this new property will offer a fantastic addition to our existing portfolio and confirms our commitment to expand further in London’s most desirable neighbourhoods,” said Klaas van Lookeren Campagne, CEO of citizenM hotels.

    The hotel’s interiors will be designed by citizenM’s Amsterdam-based partner Concrete, and will feature furniture from long-term collaborator Vitra. The guestrooms will include citizenM’s famous XL king-sized beds, powerful rain showers and large flat screen TVs. Guests will be able to enjoy the same creative technology that has marked citizenM as an innovative force in hospitality, from online check in to in-room mood pads.

    The new Victoria-based hotel will be located at 292 Vauxhall Bridge Road and will be the fourth stand post of citizenM in London, following openings in Bankside (2012), Tower of London (2016) and Shoreditch (2016).

    In Europe, the key target cities for new sites are London, Paris, Milan, Rome, Dublin, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Zurich, Geneva, and Barcelona.

    Main image credit: citizenM

    Empty room with various styles of seating

    In Conversation With: Matthew Balon at Ruby Leni’s first showing

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    In Conversation With: Matthew Balon at Ruby Leni’s first showing

    Ruby Hotels has re-entered the stage to take a second bow in Dusseldorf, Germany. The 170-key Ruby Leni, which takes shelter in a former 1950s theatre, is the hotel group’s seventh hotel to harness ‘lean luxury’. Editor Hamish Kilburn travels just south of the city’s fashion district to meet the group’s lead designer, Matthew Balon, the morning after the night before’s launch party to discuss design details, the significance of paper puppets and the brand’s highly anticipated 2020 arrival in London…

    Empty room with various styles of seating

    They say that to make any act truly memorable, the performer must enter the stage armed with a spectacular encore up his or her sleeve. In the case of Ruby Hotels in Dusseldorf, the main performance took place last year with the arrival Ruby Coco. The dynamic property is a contemporary urban hub that is nestled within the city’s main shopping district, just off Königsallee – AKA a fashionista’s heaven. The interiors inside are sharp, considered and give more than an apt nod to the fashion quarters that surround it.

    [CURTAIN UP]

    If Coco was used in the opening scene, engaging its captivated audience with the allure of couture costumes, then the encore is Ruby Leni, which is situated a mere 10 minutes down the road. Although the neighbourhood may feel quieter, its entrance certainly isn’t: a large marquee sign with the words ‘make it your own stay’ frames an appropriate first impression.

    Exterior shot of the hotel, showing a colourful courtyard

    Image credit: Ruby Leni

    [PUBLIC AREAS ENTER FROM STAGE RIGHT]

    With large, expansive public spaces that filter into plush private break-out areas, the hotel is designed for both locals and guests checking in. The character and soul has been channelled into the lobby/lounge, where the real story of the iconic 1900s building, which sheltered the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus theatre, comes to life. “We looked at the materials, shapes and forms that you would associate to a theatre of that era,” says Lead Designer Matthew Balon. “We then separated that into front-of-house and back-of-house. We wanted to challenge that idea by merging those areas. For example, we have included stage cases in the lobby to really create an authentic feeling of being part of the production, behind the scenes.”

    [GUESTROOMS ENTER FROM STAGE LEFT]

    Upstairs, the sharp and stylish guestrooms have been designed around the original peculiar structure of the building, creating an interesting layout in each. The design and general make-up of the room, though, is a reflection of the others in the entire hotel group’s portfolio: crisp white beds, refillable toiletries and eco-friendly rain showers to match. The brand calls it ‘lean luxury’, which is posh for ‘uncomplicated, laid-back comfort’ – and it works, especially for bleisure travellers.

    White, bright and contemporary guestroom

    Image credit: Ruby Leni

    Although you would recognise the rooms as ‘Ruby Rooms’ guests with eagle eyes will notice subtle differences, like the wood panelling for example.  “It’s been designed to also reference the story of the hotel,” explains Balon. “I looked into how sets were built and was inspired by the fact that guests in the theatre only ever see the pretty side. I wanted to show the back of the sets, the flats. I was interested to know how these things stood up and how they were constructed. That provided the inspiration for the wall panelling and the reinforced corner detailing.

    Another quirky touch that sensitively helps set the theatrical scene is the art above the beds. Bolan initially wanted to do something with shadow puppets, which evolved into creating an immersive and playful paper puppet stage. “I really love introducing interior design elements that are fun and interactive,” says Balon. “We like to have fun with it and make an interesting element to guests’ stay.”

    [APPLAUSE]

    Image caption: Editor Hamish Kilburn (left) dragged the Lead Designer for Ruby Hotels, Michael Bolan (right), out on ‘stage’ the morning after the launch party before…

    Quick-fire round:

    Hamish Kilburn: What can you not travel without?
    Matthew Bolan: My Darth Vader suitcase. I just love it!

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

    HK: What’s your biggest bugbear when checking in to a hotel?
    MB: Queuing!

    HK: What is the number-one tool for success?
    MB: You have to create an emotional connection.

    HK: What is the last thing that showed up on your credit card transactions?
    MB: A round of drinks I bought last night. It’s your round at the next launch, I’m told…

    Most hotel designers are working with many several brands and brand standards, and so it is interesting how Bolan, within his creative realms, can piece together many different stories with the same Ruby strand running through each. “It is all-encompassing,” he says. “What the brand stands for in regards to design is something I can really get behind. When I think about Ruby, I think of all the people who bring the brand to life.”

    [CURTAIN CALL]

    The brand’s design is spilling out of the seams and leaving a permanent stain on new destinations. The next hotel design hotspot to welcome the arrival of Ruby Hotels is London – to the Southbank to be more specific. “We have done a lot of research into the location, which is a really interesting corner of London,” Balon explains. “I can tell you that Ruby Lucy is going to be fun, colourful, unexpected and I am really looking forward to the opening party!”

    Ruby Hotels first unveiled its unique concept with Vienna hotel Ruby Sofie in 2014, before opening two further hotels in Vienna, Ruby Marie and Ruby Lissi, as well as Ruby Lilly in Munich, Ruby Coco in Dusseldorf and most recently Ruby Lotti in Hamburg. In response to the success of these properties, the brand plans further openings including Ruby Lucy in London’s bustling Southbank in early 2020, as well as hotels in Zurich, Cologne, Frankfurt and Shanghai before the end of 2020.

    [CURTAIN CLOSED]

    Hyatt Regency arrives in East Shenzhen

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Hyatt Regency arrives in East Shenzhen

    The 298-room hotel, Hyatt Regency Shenzhen Yantian, aims to bring the Hyatt Regency brand’s signature intuitive service and energizing experiences to business and leisure guests alike…

    Hyatt Regency Shenzhen Yantian in the east Guangdong Province, China. The new hotel aims to bring the Hyatt Regency brand’s signature intuitive service and energising experiences to business and leisure guests alike.

    As part of a newly concepted Recreational Business District, the property is located in the heart of Yantian District, neighboring Dameisha Beach and Overseas Chinese Town East along a 12 mile (19.5 kilometer) golden coast.

    “We sincerely appreciate the support from our owner Shenzhen Vanke Binhai Real Estate Ltd. and are excited to see the Hyatt Regency brand footprint grow in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA),” said Stephen Ho, president, Greater China, global operations at Hyatt. “We look forward to welcoming our guests to Hyatt Regency Shenzhen Yantian with confidence for a world-class hospitality experience.”

    Hyatt Regency Shenzhen Yantian was designed by the renowned HEITZ PARSONS SADEK and features 298 contemporary guestrooms with varied dimensions ranging from 462 square feet to more than 2,300 square feet (43 square meters to 215 square meters). There are 20 suites, four Regency Executive Suites and one Presidential Suite, all of which are spacious and located on the 41st to the 50th floor. Select rooms offer gorgeous ocean views and all rooms feature high-quality amenities and panoramic French windows. Guests staying in Club Access Rooms and Suites can enjoy the exclusive Regency Club benefits on the 49th floor.

    Modern and clean hotel guest room

    Image credit: Hyatt Hotels

    The hotel offers several fine dining restaurants that cater to varying tastes and group sizes, including XIANGYUE, a comfortable experience that is said to feel like dining in a country village and Market Café is a stylish all-day dining restaurant.

    The hotel offers nearly 25,000 square feet (2,321 square meters) of meeting and event space in total, including a 12,916 square foot (1,200-square meter) pillar-free grand ballroom and five salons equipped with high-tech audio and video systems. Additionally, the ballroom foyer provides more than 6,500 square feet (612 square meters) of flexible pre-functional space to perfectly showcase the creativity of any event.

    Guests can relax in the hotel’s refreshing outdoor pool or work out anytime at the hotel’s fully equipped fitness center featuring state-of-the-art equipment.

    “Inspired by the hotel’s surroundings, the hotel was built with the concept of bringing the forest into the city, offering guests a place to take a deep breath of fresh air and bask in the beautiful scenery,” said Mary Liu, general manager of Hyatt Regency Shenzhen Yantian. “As a bridge between GBA and the Pearl River Delta area, Shenzhen is at the core of this booming region. We are delighted to deliver Hyatt’s well-known expertise in food and beverage and full range of services and amenities for a productive stay.”

    More than 190 conveniently located Hyatt Regency urban and resort locations in more than 30 countries around the world serve as the go-to gathering space for every occasion – from efficient personalised, high-touch business meetings to energizing family vacations.

    Main image: Hyatt Hotels

    Large and expansive public area that is designed to look very residential

    MINIVIEW: Discreet luxury unveiled by Nicky Dobree in the heart of Vejer

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MINIVIEW: Discreet luxury unveiled by Nicky Dobree in the heart of Vejer

    To complete the Concept to Completion series with Nicky Dobree, Hotel Designs is given the keys to finally unlock the majestic heavy doors of pure luxury inside Plaza 18… 

    Up until now, the designer Nicky Dobree has been synonymous with luxury Alpine chalet design and most recently very high end residential design. Most recently she has turned her attention to Plaza 18, her debut hotel design project in collaboration with Vejer’s Hotel La Casa del Califa.

    Large and expansive public area that is designed to look very residential

    Set in the former 19th C merchant’s house Nicky Dobree has taken inspiration from this elegant building and brought new life back into this Grand Dame by respecting its history, but also lifting its character to provide an enriched experience for the modern traveller. Working with local trades and craftsmen, the building, which dates back to 1896 and stands on the foundations of an ancient 13th C Arab house, has been entirely restored using authentic organic building materials where ever possible.

    “Meticulous care and attention to detail has been maintained throughout the refurbishment of this important historic property.”

    Exterior of the hotel

    Image credit: Plaza 18/Philip Vile

    Dobree was determined to restore and re-use as many of its existing features as possible. The original black and white floor tiles were therefore lifted and re-laid on newly levelled floors. The Montera (large glazed roof lantern over the entrance patio) was carefully dismantled and repaired to its former glory, which now floods the entrance foyer with light. The stone staircase and balustrade were also completely restored, as was all the metal work around the entrance gate. Many of the original shutters and windows were restored along with the front door. Meticulous care and attention to detail has been maintained throughout the refurbishment of this important historic property.

    Extremely reclined interiors with personal interiors

    Image credit: Plaza 18/Philip Vile

    The designer felt that her role was to curate this elegant old building and to bring it a new lease of life, enhancing its beauty with style and a subtle creative twist.

    Plaza 18 has been a true labour of love with the inevitable obstacles of planning, working abroad and within a listed building. The trials and tribulations of restoring an old building and the rules and regulations that needed to be adhered to, to convert it into a commercial venture, has meant that the project took two years to get through planning and a further two years to compete.

    The hotel is now the secret second home that one has always dreamed of, warm and welcoming with a strong sense of place, an oasis within an oasis.

    Whilst the details adhere to the classical principles of the house, there is comfort and elegance through every door. Every room has a story to tell and contains pieces that have been lovingly curated by Dobree from around the world. This is evident from the moment you enter with the oversized black and white mirror by a South African artist which makes a dramatic statement in the entrance.  Dobree designed the bespoke console to sit beneath the mirror that complements the monochromatic entrance scheme.

    In the patio whilst your eye is drawn up to the montera and the wonderful central staircase you cannot miss the large scale butterfly painting sourced from an antiques fair.

    Stepping into the sitting room, there is nothing more welcoming than a well stocked drinks trolley, an honesty bar, that can be enjoyed by guests at Plaza 18. Standing proud above it is a painting of Admiral Lord de Saumarez who fought at the Battle of Trafalgar (a short drive from the hotel) alongside Admiral Lord Nelson.

    “On a clear day the North African coast is visible.”

    Leading off the sitting room is the main terrace with views across the old town, sierras and coast line. On a clear day the North African coast is visible. It is here that guests can enjoy breakfast, sitting on olive wicker chairs with outdoor fabrics that complement the vintage printed crockery. No detail has been missed.

    Tall black bespoke doors with circular brass handles designed by Dobree create drama and continuity throughout. Behind each of these doors are interiors that are intensely layered and so inviting that everywhere you turn is a visual delight.   Here you will discover more of Dobree’s curated pieces such as a Japanese Boro Kimono or collage painting by Peter Clarke.

    All the bathrooms have been beautifully designed using Spanish floor tiles and bespoke marble vanities with Lefroy Brooks deco style fittings echoing the elegance of the house.

    The attention to detail is reflected in every aspect of one’s experience here. Dobree worked with a renowned perfumer to provide bespoke toiletries that have been specially formulated to create a signature scent for Plaza 18 and that are soft and subtle on the skin. The scent is inspired by the aromas that perfume Vejer, orange, bergamot, lavender and geranium. The base of olive oil and almond that nourishes the skin is local too.

    Plaza 18 has a true home from home feeling that brings Dobree’s collective chic and timeless elegant style to Vejer. It is a place to feel at home, a place to disconnect and re-discover.

    Hotel Designs has followed the construction of Plaza 18, Dobree’s first hotel project, from concept to competition. Click here to read part one. Click here to read part two. Click here to read part three

    Main image credit: Plaza 18/Philip Vile

    Checking In: Wyndham Grand Athens

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Checking In: Wyndham Grand Athens

    With unparalleled views casting over the ancient city below, Wyndham Grand Athens opened in 2017 to capture the city from a unique perspective. Editor Hamish Kilburn checks in two years later to explore just how timeless the interiors really are…

    It seems to me that Greece – and Athens in particular – is a magnet this year for influencers – my Instagram feed for starters is bursting at the seams with the hashtag #VisitGreece. And so, like all consumers, slaves to the travel trends, I felt obliged to check in on the action to discover hotel design Greek style.

    Despite the destination’s pockets of derelict and forgotten-in-time in places, Athens’ authentic charm amplifies through the streets and outwards towards the barefoot-luxury islands. And with a recent report published by GBR Consulting revealing that at least 40 new accommodation units (hotels and room-to-let properties) arrived in the city in the first half of this year, it seems as if my social media is, after all, an accurate tool for measuring travel hotspots.

    With the vast number of archaeological sites dotted around – and the 5th Century BC landmarks – I would argue that a good place to start is up high, soaking in the establishing shot from a rooftop bar, which features panoramic views stretching from the ancient acropolis right through to the port of Piraeus. Luckily for me, and after the recommendation from the hotel group’s President and Managing Director, Wyndham Grand Athens offers all of this and more.

    The hotel, which is the hotel group’s first property in Greece, is situated on Karaiskaki Place, an area that was once seen as an area to avoid for tourists. However, following a stream of newly opened art galleries, modern coffee shops and restaurants, it became one of the destination’s most up-and-coming neighborhoods – a reputation that Wyndham Hotels only strengthened when it arrived in 2017.

    Zeus International transformed the building owned by VIOHALCO, which formerly housed the Hotel Athens Imperial. The now 276-key hotel shelters timeless and dynamic interiors, balancing a healthy mix of warm and sharp public spaces combined with calming guestrooms and suites.

    Upon entering, guests are welcomed into a neutral yet inviting lobby, which leads up to FOS Restaurant on the ground floor. The interiors inside FOS, which is the Greek for ‘light’, create an appropriate scene. The contemporary F&B scene sits under a large chandelier that is suspended from an expansive floor-to-ceiling atrium.

    From one unforgettable public area to another, located on the rooftop of the hotel is the Above Bar and Restaurant. Complete with unobstructed views over the acropolis, making it one of the best roof-top restaurants in the city, this area is quirky and relaxed. Blue, mustard, grey and black contemporary Enka furniture confidently contrast the geometric flooring, creating a strong mise en scéne for any scenario.

    Adjacent to the subdued design-led restaurant and bar is a modest pool, which also captures the same Insta-worthy panoramic views over the city.

    The majority of the 249 guestrooms and 27 suites include views over the city and the Acropolis or Lycabettus Hill. The interiors feature soft silvery-toned wallpaper with accents of colour in the furniture and soft furnishings and some include windows that wrap around the room, adding further natural light in.

    Image credit: Marcelo Barbosa

    The stripped-back modern décor of the guestrooms and suites continues in the marble bathrooms. The yellow glow in the suites’ furniture becomes a motif as it is also echoed on the soft reflective surface behind the wide bathroom mirror, creating an ambiance of subtle contemporary luxury.

    Although Wyndham Grand Athens is not the latest hotel to emerge on the hotel design scene recently, it is certainly a strong example of how a design-led hotel can significantly lift a destination to become a major go-to travel hotspot.

    Main image credit: Marcelo Barbosa

    Independent Hotel Show 2019 announces this year’s talks

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Independent Hotel Show 2019 announces this year’s talks

    Editor Hamish Kilburn will host The Conscious Bedroom Report on the Innovation Stage at Independent Hotel Show 2019, which takes place October 15 – 16… 

    As proud a long-standing media partner, Hotel Designs, which recently lifted the lid on which trends will emerge during the event, shares this year’s major topics and sessions that will be explored during the Independent Hotel Show 2019, which takes place October 15 – 16 at Olympia London.

    October 15

    Innovation Stage

    Title: The No Commission Mission, presented by eviivo
    Time: 10:30am – 11:15am
    Host: eviio
    Description: Web tools have levelled the playing field for independent hoteliers when it comes to competing for bookings online, enabling savvy businesses to get more of their bookings direct and save on commission. However, with so many options available, how do you know which are the most effective and how can you ensure that your website is working as efficiently as possible? Ideal for: Owner-operators, Marketing Directors, Business Development

    Title: The Conscious Bedroom Report 
    Time: 11:30am – 12:10pm
    Host: Hamish Kilburn (Hotel Designs)
    Speakers Alex Harris (Harris & Harris), Olivia Richli (Heckfield Place), Sue Williams (Whatley Manor), Xenia zu Hohenlohe (Considerate Group)
    Description: In line with the emerging trends of modern, environmentally savvy hotel guests, we’re introducing a futuristic and boundary pushing hotel room – The Conscious Bedroom. Here our panel will review the feasibility of this statement room and discuss the accompanying research piece to provide insight on capitalising on the thoughtful guest. Ideal for: Guest Relation Managers, Design Directors, Owner-operators

    Three men on the Hotel Vision stage

    Image caption: Editor Hamish Kilburn leading panel discussion entitled ‘Designing for Bleisure’ at Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam 2019

    Title: Social Media 2020
    Time: 12:40pm – 1:20pm
    Host: Alison Battisby (Acocado Social)
    Description: We all know the world of communication evolves rapidly, so join our session to explore what you need to know to make your social media impactful and economical in 2020. With plenty of best practice examples, we’ll delve in to chatbots, stories and the latest advice on influencers! Ideal for: Marketing Directors, Owner-operators, Sales Managers

    Title: Unpacking the Wellness Traveller 
    Time: 1:50pm – 2:30pm
    Speakers: David Connell (South Lodge), Harry Cragoe (The Gallivant), Nadira Lalji (Inhabit Hotels), Rohaise Rose-Bristow (The Torridon)
    Description: As travellers show an increasing desire to maintain a healthy lifestyle whether they’re at home, on a holiday, or on the road for business, catering for guest well-being can also lead to a healthier bottom line for you. Discover how to make wellness a revenue stream without having to open a spa, and learn how guest well-being and customer engagement are intrinsically linked.

    Title: Discussing Design with SPACE 
    Time: 3:00pm – 3:40pm
    Speakers: Can Faik (SPACE Magazine), Russell Sage (Russell Sage Studio)

    Hotel Vision Stage 

    Title: Mental Health: Breaking the Taboo
    Time: 11:00am – 11:40am
    Speakers: TBC
    Description: Long hours, high-pressure working environments and increasingly worrying statistics, and yet mental health continues to be a largely silent issue across the hospitality industry. Thankfully, people are starting to talk about their experiences. Join us as Mitch Collier recounts his own battle and recovery under the employment of Raymond Blanc OBE. Ideal for: HR Directors, General Managers, Owners-operators

    Title: Hotel Dynasties 
    Time: 12:00pm – 12:40pm
    Speakers: Will Ashworth (Watergate Bay Hotel), Peter Hancock (Pride of Britain Hotels), Paul Milsom, (The Milsom Hotels)
    Description: There’s no denying that family businesses carry with them a special essence, unique and distinct from competitors. So, whether you own a family-run hotel or not, make sure to be a part of the discussion, to get access to vital intel on how to create a family culture, gain trust and loyalty from your employees and build a strong company ethos. Ideal for: General Managers, Owners-operators, Front of House, Customer Service Staff

    Title: Collaboration is Key: Building Successful Partnerships
    Time: 1:00pm – 1:40pm
    Speakers: Petra Clayton (Custard Communications), Laura Sharpe (Ham Yard Hotel), Chris Ward (Hotel Makers UK)
    Description: Brand partnerships, that’s clever collabs with other like-minded businesses, are a valuable way to accelerate the growth of your brand and uncover lucrative new revenue streams. But how do you find the ‘best fit’ and work together to create value? Our panel will discuss the opportunities, so you’re pre-armed with strategies for your own hotel business. Ideal for: Marketing Directors, Owners-operators, Guest Relations Managers, General Managers

    October 16

    Innovation Stage

    Title: How to Drive Direct Bookings, from those winning on the web
    Time: 11:30 – 12:10pm
    Speakers: TBC
    Description: Our panel of industry experts will provide practical tips on exactly how to present yourself online to maximise your direct bookings, and pioneering hoteliers highlight how taking the theory and putting it in to practice really works. No jargon, nothing too techy, just stuff you can go back and do straight away!’ Ideal for: Owner-operators, Marketing Directors, Business Development

    Title: The Dark Art of Digital
    Time: 12:40 – 1:20pm
    Speakers: Olivia Byrne (Eccleston Square Hotel), Julie Grieve (Criton), Steve Lowy (The Hotel Marketing Association)
    Description: Hospitality has long been one of the most underserved industries in terms of digital transformation, but now is the time for change. Join our expert panel to unpick how the hotel industry is embracing new digital products and technologies; from AI and automation, to biometics and virtual concierges, this A-Z of opportunity is sure to leave you inspired. Best for: Marketing Directors, IT Directors, General Managers

    Title: The Main Ingredients: Digesting the latest trends in F&B
    Time: 1.50pm – 2.30pm
    Speaker: Juan Diego
    Description: With the dining sector facing its own struggles, it’s harder than ever for hotel restaurants to rustle up the winning formula. We’ll be exploring the top trends in food and drink for 2020, as well as the management styles and mindsets that can help hotel restaurants thrive in the modern age. Best for: F&B Directors, Restaurant Managers, Bar Managers, Marketing Directors

    Hotel Vision Stage

    Title: Community Business 
    Time: 11:00 – 11:40am
    Speakers: Nick Davies (Cottage in the Woods), Tim Holloway (The Manor at Sway), Julio Marques (The London Bridge Hotel)
    Description: Owners and executives share how supporting and working with your local community can help you be an employer of choice, source talent nearby and support the local economy – and what to do when it backfires! Ideal for: Owners, General Managers, Heads of Operations, HR Professionals

    Title: Company Culture
    Time: 1:00pm – 1:40pm
    Speakers: Liz McGivern (Red Carnation Hotels), Julia Murrell (Firmdale Hotels), Adam Rowledge (Rowledge Associates)
    Description: New research by jobs website Glassdoor suggests most people believe a strong company culture will make them happier at work than earning a high salary. But if the solutions to the staffing crisis is as simple as having an engaged company culture, how do you actually creat and maintain one that works for your hotel? Ideal for: General Managers, HR Professionals, Heads of Department

    Main image credit: Independent Hotel Show 2018

    Hotel Indigo arrives in Italy’s fashion capital – Milan

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Hotel Indigo arrives in Italy’s fashion capital – Milan

    Hotel Indigo Milan – Corso Monforte becomes the hotel brand’s third hotel in Italy… 

    Milan, known as the birthplace of some of the world’s most recognised high-end fashion designers including Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, has welcomed Hotel Indigo Milan – Corso Monforte to the mix of hotels in the area. The new design-led hotel is centrally located close to the notable fashion district – the perfect location for those looking to explore one of the world’s fashion capitals.

    Hotel Indigo properties offer a gateway to discover some of the world’s most inspiring neighbourhoodsand locations. Each hotel brings the outside in; drawing from the local area to inspire every aspect of each hotel, from intriguing design to locally inspired menus.

    Hotel Indigo® Milan – Corso Monforte takes inspiration from the surrounding neighbourhood, mixing elements from 1950’s Italian vintage fashion with contemporary cues intrinsically weaved into one seamless interior design theme of fashion through the ages. Throughout the hotel’s 75 rooms, bold prints and colour splash the walls and feature artwork and sketches from Biki, one of the most notable names of the Milan fashion scene in the 30s, 40s and 50s. Opening her first atelier (studio) in 1934 in Milan, Biki paved the way in the development of prét-a-porte fashion (ready-to wear). Her style wastypically classic Italian, specially made for the Milanese ‘vita’ – the high life. Throughout the hotel you can see nods to this through elements such as the large vintage leather-bound classic trunks embossed with the hotel’s initials.

    “The hotel boasts unique design features that are recognisable to the fashion connoisseur.”

    From ‘hat box’ bedside tables, bowler hat lamps and sewing machines desks, the hotel boasts unique design features that are recognisable to the fashion connoisseur whilst ensuring they blend with thebuilding’s original architecture. Throughout the historic palace, intricately detailed classically coffered ceilings and panelled walls can be seen, lending to the classical era of the hotel. Large arches dominate throughout and surround the interior courtyard, making it the perfect place for an afternoon coffee or drink.

    “Set to double its portfolio over the next three to five years, Hotel Indigo continues its strong growth as one of the largest boutique brands in this fast-growing segment,” said Eric Viale, Managing Director Southern Europe, IHG. “The brand is now at home in over 100 different and vibrant neighbourhoods globally, which is an incredibly exciting milestone. We provide guests with the best of both worlds – the promise of a design-led hotel and the reassurance of a consistently upscale experience with the IHG name behind it.” 

    There are more than 109 Hotel Indigo properties open globally with more than 103 in the hotel pipeline, including Japan’s first Hotel Indigo, Hotel Indigo® Hakone Gora due to open later this year. In Europe alone, there are 32 hotels open in key neighbourhoods with a further 19 due to open in the next three – five years, depending on forecasts.

    Recently, IHG opened the highly anticipated Hotel Indigo® Venice – Saint’Elena, the first IHG branded property on the island of Venice and Hotel Indigo® Stratford upon Avon, in the heart of Shakespeare’s home town. 

    Main image credit: IHG

    SNEAK PEEK: B3 Designers lifts the lid on The Prince Akatoki Hotel London

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    SNEAK PEEK: B3 Designers lifts the lid on The Prince Akatoki Hotel London

    London-based hospitality interior design specialist B3 Designers is heading towards the finish line of completing the interiors for The Prince Akatoki London, a new hotel located on Great Cumberland Place near Marble Arch…

    Opening mid-September, The Prince Akatoki London’s newly designed spaces include 82 guestrooms and suites, a reception and sanctuary, a communal workspace for hotel guests, a Japanese restaurant featuring a sushi counter and robata grill, as well as a lounge and bar offering a tea ceremony room by day and a whiskey bar by night.

    The Japanese-owned Prince Akatoki London, the first of its kind, will bring Japanese luxury design and hospitality to the heart of the West End, and this will be reflected in the design throughout the entire hotel. The brief to B3 Designers was to create spaces that encourage guests to relax and recharge in a light, tranquil, mindful and minimalist environment that champions Japanese craftsmanship and unparalleled attention to detail.

    B3 Designers has fused quintessentially Japanese touchpoints into its minimalist and modern design to enhance and complete a luxury Japanese experience. The team has drawn inspiration from well-crafted simple joinery details, and has applied a strong use of natural materials, muted and light yet durable fabrics, crafted but modern seating, sleek metallic lighting, modern ceramics with rustic touches, and abundant use of stone and slate.

    Image credit: B3 Designers/The Prince Akatoki London

    The look and feel of the bedrooms, hotel reception and sanctuary (located adjacent to the reception) evoke a sense of calm through the use of lighter-coloured, fresh and tranquil materials. The use of decorative panels featuring Japanese landscapes, whether dark or light, help guests enjoy a unique, refined incarnation of Japanese hospitality and culture in the heart on London.

    The destinational public spaces including the restaurant and a tea ceremony room that transforms into a whiskey bar for evening guests, flaunt a darker colour palette yet still boast natural, well-crafted materials.

    The hotel is currently gearing up for its official unveiling, which is slated to take place next month.

    Main image credit: B3 Designers/The Prince Akatoki London

    Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House opens in Rwanda

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House opens in Rwanda

    The new hotel in Rwanda, designed by GAPP Architects in collaboration with the interior design teams Cécile & Boyd and Hesse Kleinloog (HK) Studio, opens to uniquely provide sanctuary for 320 endangered mountain gorillas on 178 acres of land… 

    Multi-award winning conservation brand Singita has officially opened its doors to Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House in Rwanda.

    Set on 178 acres of lush land on the edge of Volcanoes National Park, Singita Kwitonda Lodge is home to eight luxurious suites and resides alongside Kataza House – an exclusive use four-bedroom villa.

    For the past 26 years, Singita has operated iconic ecotourism lodges and camps across three regions in Africa. The brand’s expansion into Rwanda supports the company’s 100-year purpose to preserve and protect large areas of African wilderness for future generations. To this end, Singita has committed to extensive reforestation initiatives in Rwanda, helping to increase the range and numbers of endangered mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. The presence of Singita Kwitonda Lodge on the park border will help to create a natural space between agricultural plots and the habitat of the estimated 320 mountain gorillas that find sanctuary here. The property itself has been named after named after a legendary silverback gorilla known for his humility and gentle nature – Kwitonda.

    Singita has been inspired by the warm and welcoming spirit of the people of Rwanda which embodies a sense of goodwill and encapsulates their remarkable recovery from a painful past – this energy has driven them forward in their country’s rebirth. For this reason, Singita feels enormously privileged to open just ten minutes from Singita Volcanoes National Park and will contribute significantly to conservation, community partnerships and ecotourism. The lodge’s on-site nursery, Akarabo has to date provided approximately 250,000 indigenous forest shrubs, bamboo shoots and trees for an extensive reforestation initiative.

    The design of Singita Kwitonda Lodge was conceptualised by GAPP Architects in collaboration with the interior design teams Cécile & Boyd and Hesse Kleinloog (HK) Studio. The design takes its cue from Rwanda’s cultural heritage and the enormous responsibility of protecting the strong, yet vulnerable gorillas. Bold, striking interiors, which are simultaneously nurturing, reflect the duality of the gorillas’ nature; and this is also seen in the interplay of surprisingly strong art and furniture with pared-back modernity.

    “It’s an absolute dream to expand our conservation footprint in Rwanda – a beautiful country with a remarkable conservation success story,” said Singita Founder and Executive Chairman, Luke Bailes. “Contributing to the Government’s enormous efforts to protect the country’s wildlife is both a privilege and a serious responsibility. We’re thrilled with the elegant, exceptionally sustainable lodges we’ve created here. They allow guests to connect deeply with nature in the heart of Africa, after a humbling encounter with the gorillas.