• Covid-19 – click here for the latest updates from Forum Events & Media Group Ltd

Posts Tagged :

hotel opening

In Conversation With: Mark Kelly, Partner at PLP Architecture

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In Conversation With: Mark Kelly, Partner at PLP Architecture

Looking ahead, past the pandemic, editor Hamish Kilburn sits down with Mark Kelly, Partner at PLP Architecture, to understand how to build a meaningful hotel landscape…

With the world the way it is at the moment, the conversation in the industry has steered sharply towards how architecture and design will be affected in the post-pandemic world.

PLP Architecture is a firm behind some of the world’s smartest and most sustainable buildings, which will soon include Pan Pacific London. Expected to be completed in 2021 – and already being described as an ‘architectural marvel’ – the project’s vision is to balance a design that is sensitive to the Asian heritage of the brand whilst creating an ultra-modern, timeless hotel and complex that challenges conventional architecture.

As a result of the firms sustainable mission, the building will shelter mix of 42 native wildflower and some sedum species populate levels 34 and 42 – 44, protruding above the structure’s rooftop, seeking to create a sense of continuity between the tower and the outdoor public spaces and gardens on the ground floor. 

Representing a number of firsts for London, such as being the first tower development in the City of London to harmoniously fuse private apartments with a luxury hotel, PLP Architecture’s collaborative approach with Yabu Pushelberg and developers UOL and Stanhope ensures the delivery of an integrated and seamless design at every level of building, helping to bring to life a bold, emblematic and creative new embodiment of urban expression for the capital. Most importantly, though, it has been built with tomorrow’s consumers and travellers in mind.

So how are architects evolving to meet the hefty demands of modern travellers and budget conscious clients in the post-pandemic world? I spoke to Mark Kelly, Partner at PLP Architecture, to find out.

Hamish Kilburn: How will coronavirus reshape architecture?

Mark Kelly: Architecture is an inherently flexible process – always evolving while constantly questioning and reinventing itself. As such, it is well placed to respond to the current and seemingly ever-changing Covid crisis and, for that matter, other current and future global concerns such as the climate emergency. Covid has specifically put extra focus on the health of the architectural spaces we inhabit – not just in the way they operate, but in the way they make occupants behave and feel.

We are already seeing a shift towards greater implementation of technology to reduce levels of contact. There is also now a greater recognition of the benefits of architecture enhancing a state of health and wellbeing – achieved through more natural lighting and ventilation, improved climate control, larger areas of personal space more robust and cleanable surfaces, increased sizes and more options for circulation, clearer signage and better management of wayfinding – as well as more pragmatic inclusions like well-designed and integrated places for washing / sanitising hands and select use of screens and shields where required in areas of frequent interaction.

“The current environment is a perfect opportunity for hotels to think creatively about ways to not just reconsider and reactivate their existing spaces.” – Mark Kelly, Partner, PLP Architecture.

HK: How should the hospitality industry prepare for post-pandemic work in terms of architecture and design?

MK: Though we are in very challenging times at the moment, we see opportunities for an exciting future across the industry – one that addresses the requirements of a post-pandemic world and also reinvents itself into a more dynamic, safe and inclusive environment for people to use and enjoy. Ultimately hospitality, as a service-based industry, has the goal of accommodating and providing comfort – not just for guests, although they are a clear priority – but for staff as well. Everyone involved has a right to feel safe and protected at all times.

Image caption: Final mock-up room inside Pan Pacific London

During the pandemic, we have seen some creative uses for hotels being implemented – including people using them as remote offices, exercise studios and other support for a newly mobile workforce. This has not only helped to counteract the problems associated with lower occupancy levels but started to address other issues that were present before the pandemic. The current environment is a perfect opportunity for hotels to think creatively about ways to not just reconsider and reactivate their existing spaces, but transform their business models to help further diversify and futureproof their assets.

We see a real need to shift towards the inclusion of more local target groups, with a new and expanded reliance on the local population to add authenticity and ensure year-round activation and use of hotels. The pandemic has provided, and in some cases necessitated, an opportunity for the industry to expand from a more straightforward offering of overnight accommodation with perhaps a restaurant and gymnasium, into a truly community-minded hub where locals, tourists and business men and women alike interact and intermingle in an environment that entices each.

Premium hospitality can remain a core function in hotels, but it will need to be flexible enough to adapt to take advantage of this exciting and beneficial adaptation into a Hospitality Integrated Business that brings together the workplace, wellness and placemaking.

HK: What kinds of spaces will we be willing to live, travel and work in now?

MK: Everyone’s goal is and will be to avoid contamination with the virus. As a whole, many of the types of spaces we will be willing to live, travel and work in already exist in limited quantities and going forward their designs will become more widespread through the adaptation and retrofitting of existing spaces and the creation of new ones.

Image caption: Render of the hotel entrance at Pan Pacific London

Density control is easier than ever now, and in hotels we believe that good design for the management of arrivals and departures in a reception space, for instance, can be easily integrated with new goals for sustainability to achieve environments that actively help prevent the spread of the virus and, ultimately, are healthier and more invigorating for everyone.

The inclusion of more natural light, better ventilation, clearer wayfinding, more generous sizing, and adaptable personal spaces – all things we as a practice have been incorporating into our designs for many years – have become crucial visual indicators of safety that allow us to feel comfortable and protected at our homes, in our places of work, and while moving around outside of both.

“No longer a futuristic dream, loop circulation systems with horizontal movement will help optimise people movement across levels.” – Mark Kelly, Partner, PLP Architecture.

HK: How can architecture mitigate pathogenic risks in an interconnected world?

MK: Architecture will play a crucial role in supporting our control of pathogenic risks in our increasingly globalised world. Natural ventilation and better air management, including the use of HEPA filters, for instance, are already recognised for their ability to reduce infection rates and virus spread. Easy-to-clean materials, such as high-pressure laminates and other smooth, anti-microbial surfaces, enabling efficient management of contagion mitigation measures.

Spatial use and organisation are also important, including the ways in which shared spaces (corridors, lounges, lobbies, dining areas) are activated. New developments in vertical circulation are poised to be a game-changer for taller structures in our cities. No longer a futuristic dream, loop circulation systems with horizontal movement will help optimise people movement across levels, spaces, and even buildings and reduce risk associated with unnecessary interaction.

Crucially, we believe that changes in architecture can be carried out subtly and effectively, preserving a sense of design identity and uniqueness, accommodating luxury and comfort, while embracing risk reduction and contagion prevention to ensure we can get back to close to what we define as our normal lives as possible.

Main image credit: PLP Architecture/Pan Pacific London

Hyatt Regency Lanzhou Opens as “new architectural landmark”

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hyatt Regency Lanzhou Opens as “new architectural landmark”

The 711-foot-tall (217-metre-tall) landmark, which shelters the first Hyatt hotel in Lanzhou, is located beside the city’s famous Yellow River and becomes the brand’s debut property in the Lanzhou…

Hyatt Hotels has announced the opening of Hyatt Regency Lanzhou, Hyatt’s debut hotel in the city of Lanzhou, China.

Located in a city that is considered a gateway to China’s west region, the hotel is designed for productivity and peace of mind through its anticipatory service for which the Hyatt Regency brand is known.

Welcoming guests into a revitalising sanctuary above the bustling city, the 300-key hotel has been designed to enhance productivity and peace of mind. The spacious guestrooms and 15 suites, feature contemporary decor in soothing tones of blue and soft grey, with expansive views through floor-to-ceiling windows.

To promote wellbeing for guests and the environment, the hotel utilises smart, eco-friendly systems. Infrared sensors automatically activate control settings when guests enter or leave the room, and smart sunshades auto-adjust for a comfortable environment and power savings.

Hyatt Regency Lanzhou’s creative dining scene caters to Lanzhou’s multi-ethnic community as well as domestic and international travellers with three superb halal restaurants and a lounge. The all-day Market Café serves East-West-themed buffet selections showcasing seasonal ingredients, including made-to-order Lanzhou beef noodles. Xiang Yue is a contemporary Chinese restaurant specialising in authentic Gansu and Cantonese cuisines, with 10 private dining rooms. YUN – Hot Pot Restaurant offers personal seafood hot pots highlighting premium delicacies and nutritious slow-cooked broths. On the 16th floor, the lounge is an inviting urban retreat for meetings, socialising or relaxing over elegant high teas and light refreshments.

Image credit: Hyatt Hotels

Two floors of the hotel are dedicated to recreational and wellbeing facilities. In the pool sanctuary, the indoor, temperature-controlled swimming pool uses a leading glass-fibre quartz sand filter system for a natural, eco-friendly swimming experience enhanced by sixth-floor city views.

Elsewhere, the hotel also shelters creative event space. More than 16,145 square feet (1,500 square metres) of sophisticated spaces comprise a ballroom, eight multifunction meeting rooms and three VIP lounges. State-of-the-art technology includes HD high-speed cameras and 65-inch gesture-control smart screens supporting full-scene video synchronisation, rebroadcasting and live-streaming. Natural light and river views create a refreshing and inspiring ambience, with meetings and events supported by experienced hotel event planners.

The Hyatt Regency brand has more than 200 conveniently located urban and resort properties locations in more than 30 countries around the world. The opening of Hyatt Regency Lanzhou is part of the brand’s ongoing efforts to expand its presence globally in places that matter.

Main image credit: Hyatt Hotels

Inside Moxy Hotels’ third property to open in Japan

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Inside Moxy Hotels’ third property to open in Japan

Located in one of the main hubs of Osaka City, the new Moxy hotel will provide guests with what Marriott is describing as “a fun and playful experience” through lively communal spaces…

In a city that is buzzing with an attitude that does not always follow the rules, the 288-room Moxy Osaka Shin Umeda has officially opened its doors. As Marriott International’s bold experiential brand, the new hotel features fun, playful and stylish experiences, designed to give guests everything they want and nothing they don’t.

Render of outside of the Moxy hotel

Image credit: Marriott International/Moxy Hotels

“We are thrilled to be opening Moxy Osaka Shin Umeda, which marks the third Moxy branded hotel to open in Japan,” said Rajeev Menon, President, Asia Pacific (excluding Greater China), Marriott International. “This opening is a testament to Marriott International’s commitment to continue expanding its footprint across Japan and Asia Pacific with the experiential lifestyle portfolio catering to the next generation of travellers.”

Creating an environment that appeals to today’s modern traveller as well as locals,  the hotel’s chic design pays homage to the vibrant city of Osaka. The aesthetics of the hotel are inspired by a combination of the fashionable art of Umeda and the unique expressions of local Fukushima, known as the “mechanical arcade” that once supported the development of Japan’s electronic industry.

Upstairs, the 288 guestrooms are cleverly designed to maximise space and allow guests the flexibility to adapt the room to their needs. Each room is equipped with the latest technology featuring a 55-inch flat screen television with screen casting ability, furiously fast and free Wi-fi, abundant USB ports, motion activated LED guidelight and backlighted glass panels to add ambience.

The hotel also features several of the Moxy brand’s cheeky lifestyle touches. The signature Bar Moxy doubles as the hotel’s check-in counter, where guests are greeted upon arrival with a complimentary ‘Got Moxy’ cocktail. Buzzing with high-energy is The Terrace, an outdoor area where ‘Fun Hunters’ can eat, drink and socialise. The Lounge calls its charms through its graffiti art walls, modern furniture and ambient lighting, ideal for gatherings, special events or crafted cocktails, while Grab and Go allows guests to satisfy their cravings day or night. Guests can plug in and tune out in the Library or re-energise using the pink Moxy punching bag in the hotel’s 24-hour fitness centre that also features gymnastic equipment, spinning bikes and a full-circuit gym.

With the opening of Moxy Osaka Shin Umeda, the animated brand, which now has more than 60 experiential hotels open across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, continues to make design-led hotel experiences accessible and affordable.

Main image credit: Marriott International/Moxy Hotels

Inside Hart Shoreditch, London’s latest lifestyle hotel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Inside Hart Shoreditch, London’s latest lifestyle hotel

The 126-key hotel, which is in the heart of Shoreditch, has been designed by Fabled Studio and draws inspiration from East London’s past as a centre of craftspeople and makers. Hotel Designs takes a peek inside…

East London lifestyle hotel, Hart Shoreditch Hotel London from Curio Collection by Hilton, which has recently opened, was designed in collaboration with London-based interior design consultancy Fabled Studio. The 126-key property seamlessly blends the vibrant heritage and modern-day creativity of East London, through its thoughtfully designed spaces.

“Gone is the tired aesthetic of exposed graffitied brick walls, filament lightbulbs and mis-matched furniture to create a bright, fresh and life-affirming space.” – Steven Saunders, co-founder and director of Fabled Studio.

Image credit: Hart Shoreditch/Gary Edwards

Drawing inspiration from East London’s past as a centre for craftspeople and makers, the hotel’s design narrative is deeply rooted in showcasing the industries that thrived there including furniture makers, metal workers and silk weavers. In keeping with the Curio Collection by Hilton portfolio, the hotel will give visitors to London the chance to experience one of the city’s most sought-after neighbourhoods and discover its unique history.

Image caption: The lobby | Image credit: Hart Shoreditch/Gary Edwards

“We set out to create a brand-new identity for a Shoreditch hotel and restaurant/ bar by delving deeper into the stories and history that the East End has to tell,” said Steven Saunders, co-founder and director of Fabled Studio. “Gone is the tired aesthetic of exposed graffitied brick walls, filament lightbulbs and mis-matched furniture to create a bright, fresh and life-affirming space. Natural textures and a muted architectural colour palette create a crisp canvas which we have dressed with soft sage velvets, woven linens and Kilim patterns to offer an elegant and mature space to enjoy.”

Luxe guestroom

Image credit: Hart Shoreditch/Gary Edwards

Hart Shoreditch takes its name from one of the building’s previous occupants, The Harts, who were cabinetmakers in the 1800’s. The distinctive space encapsulates East London’s rich industrial and artisan past. Design details including a steel re-bar and copper staircase, and contemporary, bespoke mahogany lights have been designed to replicate cabinetmaker’s boxes and pay homage to the building’s earlier artisan life.

Soft textures, furnishings and warm lighting will guide guests through to Tavla, the hotel’s bar where guests and locals alike will be encouraged to relax and spend time throughout the day and into the evening. Here, textured woven stools are mixed in with lounge chairs in muted tones and softened textures giving the space a modern, residential feel. The restaurant BARBOUN, boasts an industrial-luxe aesthetic with rattan and Thonet-style chairs and partitions inspired by the Victorian furniture makers workshops of Great Eastern Street. Warmth and softness is brought into the space through natural linen café curtains, drapery in deep oxblood and upholstery in nude leather; as well as the asymmetric architecture of the vast timber ceiling replicating the beamed structure of a factory warehouse. A striking steel re-bar and copper staircase sits towards the back of the space along with a central cascade of moon chandeliers.

Guests can choose from nine room and suite categories, all of which feature a soft and elegant colour palette of white and grey with striking burnt orange and deep green accents. Predominantly contemporary in style with copper mirror detailing and simplistic modern furnishings, the guestrooms are warm and inviting with subtle design details throughout such as saddle-stitched leather strapping and copper rendered marmorino textures. Copper leafed bedside mirrors are embossed with woven lace etchings in a nod to the deep-rooted Huguenot history of nearby Spitalfields. Bathrooms feature a combination of materials which come together to create a sophisticated, urban space. Luxurious marble showers and rolltop baths with impressive views across Shoreditch are complimented by contrasting concrete vanities, herringbone flooring, bold geometric tiling and paired back brass detailing.

Hart Shoreditch is also home to two unique meeting spaces which have been designed to emulate the look and feel of 18th century Huguenot townhouses synonymous with East London and its silk weaving past. A classic London aesthetic intertwined with modern textures and details set against soft green walls.

Image credit: Hart Shoreditch

Located in the heart of Shoreditch on Great Eastern Street, the hotel is conveniently situated just a moment’s walk from Shoreditch High Street underground station and within walking distance of the neighbourhood’s independent boutiques, vibrant bars, restaurants and famous markets such as Brick Lane and Spitalfields.

Main image credit: Hart Shoreditch

Render of high-rise building

Hotel opening // Marriott opens duel-branded hotel in Yinchaun, China

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel opening // Marriott opens duel-branded hotel in Yinchaun, China

The building that shelters the duel-branded JW Marriott and Courtyard by Marriott hotel has been described as a new elegant landmark in Northwest China…

Render of high-rise building

Marriott International, Inc. has announced the opening of its dual-branded hotel, JW Marriott Hotel Yinchuan and Courtyard by Marriott Yinchuan in Northwest China, recognised as an oasis in China’s hinterland, a historical and distinctive destination surrounded by deserts and the Helan Mountains.

Invested and established by Ningxia Genyuan Real Estate Development Co., Ltd., the dual-branded hotel is an architectural masterpiece depicting a grand sailing ship boasting a total of 513 rooms. The property will deliver purposeful and memorable service to guests, from the warm luxury experience signature to the JW Marriott brand to the innovative and passionate offerings from Courtyard by Marriott.

Located in the cultural center of Yinchuan, JW Marriott Hotel Yinchuan and Courtyard by Marriott Yinchuan are adjacent to Yinchuan International Convention and Exhibition Center, Ningxia Museum and Ningxia Grand Theatre.

We are excited to welcome JW Marriott Hotel Yinchuan and Courtyard by Marriott Yinchuan to our expanding portfolio in the northwest of China. The opening of this dual-branded hotel demonstrates the growing demand for travel as more travelers seek to discover new and emerging cities all across China,” said Henry Lee, President, Greater China, Marriott International. “This milestone opening signals a new chapter in the dynamic hospitality industry of Yinchuan, and we look forward to bringing our signature offerings to our guests through thoughtfully-curated experiences, leaving them with unforgettable memories from our brands.”

JW Marriott Hotel Yinchuan offers 247 guestrooms and 32 suites featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with dramatic views of Yinchuan skyline. All rooms are thoughtfully decorated, equipped with the latest in-room technology and modern amenities, including a 55-inch LCD TV and capsule coffee machine. Embracing a sense of modern luxury, JW Marriott Hotel Yinchuan promises a haven designed to allow guests to focus on feeling whole – present in mind, nourished in body, and revitalised in soul.

A luxe dining set up inside residence

Image credit: Marriott International

JW Marriott Hotel Yinchuan features signature offerings centred on encouraging guests to celebrate being in the present, foster connections and revitalise the mind. JW Garden, a farm-to-table program, ensures sustainable sourcing of fresh herbs and vegetables for guests. Guests who want to maintain their wellness routines during their stay will enjoy the 24-hour Fitness Centre, which is complete with an indoor heated pool and is flooded with natural sunlight.

An indoor pool

Image credit: Marriott International

Designed to meet the diverse needs of business events, conferences and banquets, JW Marriott Hotel Yinchuan is able to accommodate large-scale event with the pillar-free JW Grand Ballroom. Covering a total area of 1,400 sqm and equipped with a 90 sqm LED screen, the ballroom can accommodate 1,300 guests and be divided into four independent areas. For more intimate events, the 500 sqm JW Ballroom is equipped with a 50 sqm LED screen, and can be repurposed as three independent multifunctional ballrooms. In addition, 10 multi-functional Meeting Rooms of varying sizes will meet the diverse needs of guests.

Courtyard by Marriott Yinchuan features 234 stylish and contemporary guestrooms that cater to passion-driven guests looking to pursue their personal and professional ambitions whilst on the road. Showcasing modern design and decor, as well as a vivacious and inspiring ambience, all guestrooms are equipped with flexible work areas, high-speed Internet, and high-definition televisions for discerning business travellers.

Main image credit: Marriott International

Inside Selina Brighton, a new rough-edged boutique jewel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Inside Selina Brighton, a new rough-edged boutique jewel

Selina Brighton is a 31-key boutique hotel that is about to open its doors to an experience-led hospitality adventure on the South Coast. Ahead of its opening, editor Hamish Kilburn takes a peek inside…

Selina, the experience-led hospitality group for the modern nomadic traveller, has opened its third property this summer with the launch of Selina Brighton in the heart of the vibrant, boho city centre.

The timely arrival of Selina Brighton offers what is describes as the ‘ultimate staycation in 2020 and beyond’, and boasts unparalleled sea views from each of its 31 uniquely designed private rooms, suites and shared rooms. 

Playful, colourful and just a little bit cheeky is what we seem to be gathering from the hotel’s style – we’ve also been told to expect the unconventional.

Image credit: Selina

“We’re thrilled to bring our unique Selina concept to one of the most exciting cities in the UK, and in such a thriving and bohemian neighbourhood full of culture, individuality and a place to cultivate hedonism and escape social restrictions,” said General Manager, Hugo Carvalho. “We can’t wait to open our doors and provide a new hub for the Brighton community; a fairground for daring and unadulterated fun.” 

Selina sign above the entrance

Image credit: Selina

Designed to reflect Brighton’s ocean-front location and the city’s creative spirit, interior designer Tola Ojuolape collaborated closely with Selina’s workshop team, using materials that represent and embrace the community. As a result, each of the rooms has been given a quirky and whimsical twist, offering something new and unique to the accommodation sector in the city.

31 rooms range of categories including lofts, suites, family rooms that accommodate up to four, standard and micro-sized double rooms, with a further 19 opening in 2021 including shared community rooms which fit up to six guests. 

Social spaces are inherent in each of Seina’s properties, and the brand will be hosting specially curated programming, engaging workshops and unique pop-ups throughout the year in its Brighton property that are in-line with new social distancing guidelines.

The aptly named restaurant, The Old Pier, is set to become a Brighton favourite, serving a range of delicious dishes with a side of sea views, including sourdough focaccia with whipped burrata and fermented honey, Mexican style cactus salad and mac’n’cheese croquettes with truffle mayo. 

The understated lobby area will also be utilised as a social space for guests and locals alike, offering a grab and go coffee shop for your morning pick-me-up, as well as a sizable retail space selling products from local brands.

In addition, and to answer modern demands, a co-working space will also be launching for locals to use as a community hub with artwork created and curated by local artist Amy Isles Freeman, whose work themes around female sexuality, freedom and joy.

Selina currently operates +70 urban, beach, jungle and mountain-side locations across 20 countries worldwide and is developing a global infrastructure for nomads and remote workers who want to make the world their classroom, office, and playground.

Main image credit: Selina

5 minutes with: the founders of Avenue Interior Design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
5 minutes with: the founders of Avenue Interior Design

Following the completion of a handful of luxury hospitality projects in the States, Avenue Interior Design has become known for its refusal to be defined by any one style, as editor Hamish Kilburn learns when he interviews the firm’s founders…

Avenue Interior Design, led by founders Andrea DeRosa and Ashley Manhan, has positioned itself as a small yet mighty powerhouse in an industry full of giants.

Most recently, the firm spearheaded the design for Palms Casino & Resort’ renovation ‘From Dust to Gold’, and brought their skills to boutique properties such as The Ramble in Denver, La Serena Villas in Palm Springs as well as SLS Baha Mar.

With the world of hospitality slowly re-opening, there remain concerns and hesitations among operators and travellers on what will become of the industry. I speak to DeRosa and Manhan, two level-headed designers who understand and respect how design evolves around cultural shifts, in order to explore how the pandemic has affected hotel design decisions.

Hamish Kilburn: Let’s dive straight in, how will public areas look in the post-pandemic world?

Ashley Manhan: Business and convention travel will likely lag compared to leisure travel as we see safer at home orders lift. Convention travel has been a critical component for many hotels as occupancy and F&B revenue are strongly tied to properties located near convention venues or for properties that have large meeting facilities.

A luxury F&B interior area with plants and cute seating

Image credit: SLS Baha Mar

Andrea DeRosa: Accommodating large groups and conventions may require smaller breakout rooms with improved air circulation and potentially live streaming speakers to these smaller rooms. On the F&B front, buffets and family-style plating will likely be put aside for individual plates or packaged meals.

HK: What new/different materials might go into hotel builds now?

AD: Given that COVID-19 transmission has found to be primarily airborne, much consideration is going into upgraded air filtration systems. Increased ventilation and better filtration will be essential components of healthy building strategies. Additionally, we may see the use of mobile and handled UV disinfection systems for sterilisation and disinfecting of high use spaces. In terms of interior finishes and materials, and those selected for FF&E, designers will face the added challenge of selecting materials that can withstand more frequent cleaning and disinfecting.

AM: In terms of lobbies, our current clients are requesting short-term solutions for partitions and countertop shields at transaction points, check-ins, and other places social distancing may not be feasible.

Fitness spaces will likely decrease in size- a trend for some properties already in major urban areas with access to specialised gyms and studios. Look for more in-room fitness options and equipment like yoga mats and lightweight dumbbells.

Restaurants face some of the largest obstacles in terms of social distancing and the use of PPE by diners. Restaurants will surely seat fewer guests to accommodate for social distancing protocol. Menus may go digital or restaurants may offer apps to place orders from your own device. Larger service counters for pickups or extended “grab and go” options maybe also be more prevalent as people warm up to the idea of eating out again.

Modern interior design in a clean open bar area

Image credit: SLS Baha Mar

AD: In the short term, we are seeing many hotel brands unrolling programs to build guest confidence and implementing quick, sometimes temporary solutions now while permanent solutions are analyzed and explored. Long term, we anticipate pandemic related measures to be modifiable to give operators the option of adjusting to meet current health risk levels. Such modifications may include digital occupancy signage, movable partitions, and digital projections indicating recommended social distances in queuing areas. A large part of the equation is understanding guests’ demands, expectations, and associations with these changes. There will certainly be varying levels of concern depending on where in the country/world the guest is traveling from. Those guests from the hardest-hit areas are likely to expect greater measures than those traveling from areas less affected. Ongoing observation of guest behavior will inform decisions owners and operators make for long term modifications to their properties.

HK: How can hotels shelter these new hygiene protocols without disrupting the design or the experience?

AM: Taking into consideration that guest safety and wellbeing is, and always has been, a top priority for any property, the next priority remains firmly rooted in good design. Ownership teams require that our commitment to creating a hospitality quality experience remains the top priority just as it was pre-pandemic. Modifications to properties should be subtle, flexible and well-intentioned. This includes careful consideration to the function of the space, the circulation of guests through the space as well as more obvious elements like materials, furnishings and even wayfinding. Creating more space for guests to comfortably, and naturally, socially distance may be as simple as removing a few clusters of lounge chairs in a lobby or replacing a communal table with a series of smaller, movable tables that can be situated individually or easily paired together.

AD: Incorporating decorative, movable screens or drapery also allows for social distancing flexibility while providing a thoughtful, well-designed element to the space. Graphics, signage, and font styles can be utilised in a way that provides informative guidance on precautions or protocol in a way that is consistent with the design language of the brand or property. For new build properties, especially food and beverage venues, you will likely see more fluid floor plans with fewer permanent features to allow for flexibility in furniture layouts and the function of a space.

A blue interior scheme inside a junior king room

Image credit: The Ramble Hotel

HK: Have you already begun incorporating any changes into the hospitality projects you’re working on?

AD: Many of the modifications we’ve made for our current projects have been temporary or short term solutions that will allow our clients to adhere to guidelines as outlined by local jurisdictions. Before making more costly or broad-sweeping modifications, our clients are waiting to gauge guests’ expectations and behaviours to ascertain what long term modifications should look like. For instance, the addition of automated faucets and hand soap dispensers seem like a logical move, however, for many properties that have been without revenue for the last few months, the expense of a modification requiring any construction or electrical work may be out of the budget. Scale is a monumental consideration as well. The cost of making such a change in a hotel with 50 keys is likely more feasible than making that change in a hotel with more than 1,000 keys.

HK: Have you made any changes to guestrooms in the projects you are working on?

AM: Guestroom size, function, and programming have also been a hot topic amongst designers and Ownership teams. In recent years the emphasis was on creating public spaces so dynamic and engaging it drew people out of their rooms and into the lobby, restaurant, bar, pool, etc. Guestroom sizes were generally shrinking and the furnishings were becoming paired down and multi-purpose in their design. It will be interesting to see if guestroom sizes increase to become more of a mini-sanctuaries that offer personalised guest experiences.

Hotel Designs will be discussing topics such as adding personality in public areas and reassuring the post-corona consumer at Hotel Designs LIVE on October 13. If you are a designer, architect or hotelier, click here to participate for free.

Main image credit: Avenue Interior Design

Inside Bermonds Locke – an alternative hotel experience

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Inside Bermonds Locke – an alternative hotel experience

Ahead of speaking at Hotel Designs LIVE in October, Lifestyle hospitality brand Locke will open its third London property this September. Before then, Hotel Designs has managed to get a behind-the-scenes glance at the interiors inside Bermonds Locke

Designed to be lived in, and offering an alternative to traditional hotels in the post-pandemic world, each individual studio apartment inside Bermonds Locke is equipped with fully fitted kitchens and modern living space.

Combined with activated public spaces and a locally-led cultural programme, Bermonds Locke will simultaneously allow guests to enjoy the benefits of a lifestyle hotel. The flexibility of the home-meets-hotel format appeals to a broad range of travellers across the leisure and business markets, for both extended and short stays. As the demands of contemporary travellers rapidly change, Locke’s burgeoning success and European expansion plans put it at the centre of the future of travel.

“We are delighted to open our third property in London with Bermonds Locke,” said Stephen McCall, CEO of edyn. “Locke aims to liberate guests from the confines of a typical hotel room by creating beautiful apartments that are designed to be lived in. The type of guest we’re accommodating wants to explore life as a local, and so the Bermondsey neighbourhood has played a significant role in defining the aesthetic, partners and programming.”

“Concrete testing cubes destined for landfill find new purpose serving as a plinth for a six-metre long terrazzo tables in the ground floor workspaces.”

Image credit: Locke

Bermonds Locke marks the first collaboration for the brand with London-based interior architecture studio Holloway Li. Paying homage to nature’s wonder in both aesthetic and eco-responsibility, Holloway Li have created a living experience out of re-purposed construction materials in both the public areas and private apartments. Concrete testing cubes destined for landfill find new purpose serving as a plinth for a six-metre long terrazzo tables in the ground floor workspaces; whilst in the rooms bespoke bed frames woven out of blackened rebar are accented with linen canopies to infuse old ideas of the concrete jungle with a new sense of sanctuary.

“We are really excited to be partnering with Locke to pave a new design direction for the brand’s home-meets-hotel concept,” explained Alex Holloway and Na Li, Co-Founders Holloway Li. “By challenging the purpose of materials, we hope to highlight how a circular material economy can generate an incredibly unique aesthetic and a new kind of living experience – doing more, with less.”

Image credit: Locke

Bringing the changing gradient of the desert sunset to south London, Locke’s signature studios on the upper floors will be dipped in blue, beige and grey hues and saturated vibrant pinks on the lower floors. Responding to a narrative and concept developed by Heather Tierney from Wanderlust (the visionary behind cult US restaurant The Butcher’s Daughter), Bermonds Locke evokes the Southern California cool of Joshua Tree, the Mojave Dessert and Abbott Kinney – a culture and food destination comparable to Bermondsey Street.

Rendering of bar with lots of plants around it

Image credit: Locke

Situated within walking distance of some of London’s favourite spots, guests can enjoy the energetic Bermondsey Street – home to some of the best bars, restaurants and art galleries in London. To the north of the property, guests can meander through the cobbled streets of Shad Thames and Maltby Street Market– the smaller, slightly more charming younger sister of Borough Market. As with all Locke properties, Bermonds Locke comes fully staffed by a team of House Hosts, offering excellent insight to ensure both long and short-term visitors have access to the best local knowledge and insider tips.

The opening of Bermonds Locke comes as the brand continues to expand both within the UK and internationally. With further openings planned in Dublin, Berlin, Lisbon, Munich and Copenhagen, Locke is also slated to open its fourth London outpost in Dalston in late 2020.

Main image credit: Locke/Nicholas Worley

Hyatt Regency brand arrives in Qatar

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hyatt Regency brand arrives in Qatar

Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha, scheduled to open next month, is set to strengthen Hyatt’s brand footprint in Qatar and the Middle East…

Opening in September 2020 and marking a significant milestone for the hotel group, Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha will become the third Hyatt hotel in Qatar.

Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha will be joining Hyatt’s portfolio in Qatar, alongside Park Hyatt Doha and Grand Hyatt Doha Hotel & Villas.

The 400-key hotel will be strategically located close to Hamad International Airport and a few minutes from the heart of the city, the palm-fringed corniche and Doha’s vibrant business district.

The property itself was the first to join Dhiafatina, which has been owned by Qatar Airways since 2010 and received the 2019 World Luxury Hotel Award as the best ‘Luxury Business Hotel in the Middle East and North Africa.

“We are thrilled with our relationship with Dhiafatina Hotels, and we look forward to growing Hyatt’s portfolio in Doha,” said Srdjan Milekovic, senior vice president operations EAME, Hyatt. “We believe that Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha will become a key destination in the city, satisfying the needs of on-the-go business travellers with an exemplary setting for meetings and leisure, and attracting local guests looking for modern dining experiences.”

With 12 luxury suites, the hotel offers a multitude of social spaces designed for seamless gatherings, including a Regency Club and several food and beverage concepts including three restaurants, a pool bar, two lounges and a Jazz Club. In addition, the property shelters 10,700-square-foot (1,000-square-meter) of meeting and event facilities, including a state-of-the-art business centre, two ballrooms and eleven modern meeting and conference rooms.

“We are delighted to work with Hyatt on the first Hyatt Regency hotel in Qatar, a global brand with the caliber of offerings suited for this market,” commented Philippe Anric, director of operations Dhiafatina Hotels. “The Hyatt Regency brand perfectly aligns with both the business and leisure culture of the dynamic city of Doha and we look forward to providing an exceptional hospitality experience.”

Of the more than 900 Hyatt-branded hotels around the world, more than 200 of them in more than 30 countries are Hyatt Regency properties. The opening of Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha is part of a wider expansion strategy for the brand and group in the Middle East.

Main image credit: Hyatt Hotels

Inside the first ‘luxe lifestyle wellness resort’ in Grenada

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Inside the first ‘luxe lifestyle wellness resort’ in Grenada

Opening on October 1 2020, The Point at Petite Calvigny will be the first dedicated luxury lifestyle and wellness resort on the island of Grenada in the Caribbean. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes…

With just three design-led villas and 12 suites nestled on an 11-acre estate on the south coast of Grenada, The Point at Petite Calvigny is the island’s new ultra-luxury resort.

The resort, which slopes down to Benji Bay, features a privately accessed secluded beach, a state of the art gym and wellness centre including The Petite Spa, five swimming pools, a beach bar and restaurant and a private marina.

Chris Ashby, the property’s owner who, in collaboration with Adriana Hoyos Hospitality, took it upon himself to design the interiors following his extensive travel experience, fell in love with the raw, natural beauty of this part of Grenada and its stunning views. This ultimately inspired him to create the luxury ‘cloistered sanctuary’ where the outside world is left at the ‘entrance/gate’. “The Point is the first luxury resort in Grenada that is totally focussed on wellness,” Ashby explains. “We offer discerning travellers the perfect combination of luxury accommodation in a peaceful setting with the ability to design their stay exactly as they wish. I am proud to say that The Point is owned by a Grenadian, was built by Grenadians and is staffed by Grenadians.”

No effort was spared in creating the perfect ambiance, which included changing the orientation of the buildings following recommendations from a Feng Shui consultant who advised that they be aligned ‘with water in front and mountains in the background’. As a result, all the buildings stand in an optimum location in order to capture uninterrupted views of the waters of Benji Bay, the unspoilt marine sanctuary of Woburn Bay and the private resort of Calvigny Island.

Image caption: The hotel has been configured to capture uninterrupted views of the waters of Benji Bay, Woburn Bay and the private resort of Calvigny Island. | Image credit: The Point at Petite Calvigny

The Point at Petite Calvigny, which was developed by C.A.C Partners Ltd., has been built to the highest eco standards without compromising on comfort or luxury. There are many hidden eco-friendly elements such as environmentally compliant building materials; super insulated walls, UV filters on windows and doors to minimise energy consumption; rainwater harvesting to provide drinking water and a wastewater treatment system that produces water to irrigate the gardens.  All toiletries are vegan friendly and free from parabens, sulphates and phosphates while the spa incorporates local products such as scrubs made using natural, local ingredients.

“Designed in a contemporary West Indian style with warm wood finishes, all the rooms are spacious and bathed in natural light.”

Reflecting the wellness focus of the resort and Grenada, all accommodation has been named after crystals such as Citrine and Blue Lace. Designed in a contemporary West Indian style with warm wood finishes, all the rooms are spacious and bathed in natural light from floor to ceiling windows that allow for magnificent, unobstructed views of the bay and nearby islands. Inside the rooms, nautical artwork further reflects the property’s unique sense of location, as does the lighting and sensitively designed furnishings.

Image caption: The clean design of the interiors feature interesting lighting, natural materials and a large nautical map of the region. | Image credit: The Point

Image caption: The clean design of the interiors feature interesting lighting, natural materials and a large nautical map of the region. | Image credit: The Point at Petite Calvigny

Each of the three split level villas have three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a private infinity pool and deck with a grilling station. The 12 single-floor suites have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, private balconies and share two large free form swimming pools, a swim up bar and outdoor grilling station.  A selection of fresh herbs are available for guests wishing to add a little extra flavour to their barbecue.

Image caption: Exterior image of one of three villas available at the resort. | Image credit: The Point.

Image caption: Exterior image of one of three villas available at the resort. | Image credit: The Point at Petite Calvigny

Both the villas and suites have fully custom kitchens, dining and living rooms and internet-based TV. Extra touches such as oil diffusers, mood lighting, high quality hypo allergenic bedding, insulation to reduce sound and black out curtains help to enhance sleep performance.

The Point is specially designed to promote rest and rejuvenation. To take this up a level, and in order for the service to match Ashby’s aim, a complimentary consultation with the hotel’s ‘Vibe Director’ is available to each guest in order to create a stay that is perfectly attuned to their specific needs.

Places like this sanctuary within the Caribbean are highly coveted. The Point Private Residence Club is the first and only luxury residence club on the island of Grenada.

In conclusion, every detail of The Point has been specially designed and curated for the discerning eye – from the location and architecture of the residences to the carefully manicured tropical gardens and exceptional experiences – it is a paradise that is naturally self-isolating in its own unique corner of the world.

Main image credit: The Point at Petite Calvigny

Byblos Hotel on Spain’s Costa Del Sol to join The Unbound Collection by Hyatt

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Byblos Hotel on Spain’s Costa Del Sol to join The Unbound Collection by Hyatt

Following extensive renovations, the iconic Andalusian resort will join The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand and mark the first Hyatt-branded hotel in Southern Spain…

The former iconic Byblos Hotel in Mijas on the Costa del sol, which has been closed since 2010, will be redeveloped to join The Unbound Collection by Hyatt.

The news was announced after a Hyatt affiliate entered into a franchise agreement with a wholly owned subsidiary of Intriva Capital European Principal Investment Fund I LP (“Intriva”), a European private equity fund.

Expected to open in early 2022 (the same year as Conrad Hotels & Resorts is slated to debut in the Costa del Sol) in one of the country’s most visited regions, Andalusia, the luxury 200-key resort will mark the first Hyatt-branded hotel in Southern Spain.

“The illustrious past and distinctive architecture of the hotel make it a perfect fit for the brand.” – Nuno Galvao Pinto, regional vice president of development Europe, Hyatt.

“We are delighted to collaborate with Intriva to redevelop and rediscover the splendour of this famous building and welcome it into The Unbound Collection by Hyatt portfolio,” said Nuno Galvao Pinto, regional vice president of development Europe, Hyatt. “The illustrious past and distinctive architecture of the hotel make it a perfect fit for the brand and we expect it to be a truly exceptional addition this collection of storied hotels. We look forward to further growing this exciting independent brand across Europe, inviting guests to create story-worthy experiences at unforgettable properties.”

Traditional Spanish interiors inside guestroom

Image credit: Hyatt Hotels

Since its original opening in 1986, the hotel has been known as a hideaway for jet setters and royalty alike. The iconic blue and white building will be restored as a luxury resort reflecting memories from a golden age of travel, attracting independent-minded guests seeking a sophisticated yet unscripted experience. Behind its new Andalusian latticework, the Byblos Hotel will offer moments that inspire visitors to create their own stories and enjoy Southern Spain’s distinctive lifestyle with its lush gardens, pools, bright spaces, and unique interiors. The hotel will offer an abundance of luxury amenities including a health club and spa, indoor and outdoor pools, a cinema, and a night club, family facilities including a kid’s club, and exceptional conference spaces for private events and business meetings.

The food and beverage venues at the hotel will incorporate and reflect Andalusian culture with a rooftop bar offering guests stunning views of the Sierra de Mijas mountain range. It will be located adjacent to two 18-hole golf courses, originally designed by Robert Trent Jones, making the resort an excellent base for guests looking for a golfing retreat.

Image credit: Hyatt Hotels

“We are thrilled to team-up with Hyatt on this exciting project, restoring the iconic hotel to its former grandeur on the Andalusian coast,” said Tom Saunders, head of post-acquisition, Intriva. “We look forward to working with the local community to bring a new luxury resort to the area, underlining our commitment to the European leisure and hospitality sector at this challenging time. The hotel has a rich and exciting past that we intend to bring it to life once again supported by Hyatt.”

The announcement signifies a major addition to The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand in Europe and marks the first Hyatt-branded hotel in Southern Spain. As the third most visited region in Spain in 2019[1], Andalusia represents a key opportunity to expand the Hyatt brand’s footprint in Southern Europe and to tap into the growing popularity of the region with tourists.

The resort will join other Hyatt-branded hotels in Spain, including Hyatt Centric Grand Vía MadridHyatt Regency Hesperia MadridHyatt Regency Barcelona Tower, and Hotel SOFIA Barcelona, which is part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand.

The Unbound Collection by Hyatt gives guests the freedom to create their own story-worthy experiences at unique properties around the world, whether it’s a historic gem tucked in the heart of Paris, like Hôtel du Louvre, or a spectacular architectural monument such as Parisi Udvar Hotel Budapest. Additional properties within The Unbound Collection by Hyatt in Europe include Hôtel Martinez in Cannes, Hôtel du Palais Biarritz, Nish Palas in Istanbul and Great Scotland Yard Hotel in London.

Main image credit: Hyatt Hotels

Feature: a new era of luxury hospitality has begun

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Feature: a new era of luxury hospitality has begun

To coincide with the opening of Birch, which has been described as a ‘next-generation escape’ hotel just outside London, editor Hamish Kilburn considers how Covid-19 has challenged the luxury hotel market by hearing from international architecture and interior design firm Red Deer on the luxury hotel’s design story…

Even after lockdown, Covid-19 has created a distance between us, which is predicted to last for a while. Although we will meet again as we did before, architecture firm Red Deer believes that a new shift in the luxury market will emerge from our time apart.

“For Red Deer, luxury comes from the creation of a meaningful emotional connection between the hotel guest and the space they inhabit.”

Red Deer considers the term ‘luxury’ as degraded through overuse, and the parameters of what constitutes a ‘luxury hotel’ can be difficult to define. The concept can be specific to each individual guest, based on their own expectation, habits and culture. For Red Deer, luxury comes from the creation of a meaningful emotional connection between the hotel guest and the space they inhabit.

Image credit: Birch/Red Deer/Adam Firman

“Millennials represent only about 32 per cent of spending in the personal luxury market, but by 2025 they are expected to make up 50 per cent of the total market,” writes Forbes contributor Pamela N. Danziger. “Some 130 per cent of market growth in the next seven years will be attributed to the Millennial generation.”

Rejecting traditional wealth values

The luxury industry has often been aligned with indulgence and excess rather than sustainability and connections. Quality craftsmanship and experiences may continue to command a premium price tag, however, Millennials are creating a new focus towards sustainability. Both Millennial and Gen Z groups’ expectations from luxury brands are very different from those of Gen X and Baby Boomers who favour traditional wealth values. Social connections and insider knowledge are of more importance to these younger consumers who are more likely to make value-based acquisitions and purchases. Luxury weaves its way through their experiences, free time, travel, community, self-growth and security.

For the Birch hotel project, a 140-key hotel that is set within 55 acres of nature just outside of London, Red Deer deconstructed the meaning of a hotel and pieced it back together to ensure that no element was intrinsic without careful consideration. The obvious need for a bed and bathroom are present, however, more attention was given to the contemporary ‘luxuries’ such as a TV, telephone and smart lighting systems to ascertain their place in a luxury hotel for an increasingly younger generation of guests.

“With Birch, the firm felt it crucial to collaborate with local artists and makers to create some unique pieces in the rooms.”

Image credit: Birch/Red Deer/Adam Firman

As the landscape for luxury hospitality has evolved, the onus is now focused on creating a unique and personalised one-to-one experience for guests. This bespoke experience is a key driver throughout the design of Red Deer’s projects. With Birch, the firm felt it crucial to collaborate with local artists and makers to create some unique pieces in the rooms and challenge the idea that uniformity was essential for large batch furniture specification.

The most prominent of these pieces is a bespoke valet stand constructed by Jan Hendzel Studio, utilising recycled plastic orbs by sustainable material designer Charlotte Kidger, textured vases by ceramicist Emma Louise Payne and hand-beaten copper bowls by metalsmith Lucie Naujalis. It’s a piece that is intimate and personal, telling a story of three different elements brought together in a single form that is simultaneously light and robust, whilst able to be easily taken apart when required and updated over time. It’s a piece designed to stimulate the guest’s senses and spark their curiosity.

Before the pandemic, the global luxury market was predicted to reach €1.3 trillion by 2025. As the hospitality industry enters a challenging period in Q2/3 2020 it is ever-important for the designers and hotel investors to consider the changing market needs and place social connections and insider knowledge alongside premium experiences at the forefront of their business models. Hotels aren’t just bedrooms with smart technology, but memory-making experiences that create value and loyalty.

Image credit: Birch/Red Deer/Adam Firman

Red Deer believes Birch to be an example of how hospitality projects should be approached, considering a long-term commitment to sustainability within a renovation or new build as a crucial component of architectural design.

Main image credit: Birch/Red Deer/Adam Firman

Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester to re-open in August

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester to re-open in August

Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester, which will host MEET UP North on May 6, 2021, has sensibly decided to delay its reopening until August 28, allowing its team to put…

Following the government announcement on June 23, which highlighted that the hospitality sector could re-open once more from July 4, The Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester started to work on its re-opening plan.

The Manchester-based luxury hotel, which will host MEET UP North on May 6 2021, was among one of the first hotels in the UK to close its door to the public and offer its rooms to NHS key workers during the Covid-19 crisis. Having operated throughout the Covid-19 lockdown period due to hosting NHS professionals, the hotel has already had first-hand experience of operating under rigorous guidelines and processes in order to protect the NHS team and its own volunteers in the building. In a statement, the hotel said: “This has given us valuable insight to how to do things even more safely than we used to before the virus outbreak.

In order to adapt its protocols to face the post-pandemic world, the hotel released a statement, which said: “Even though our doors are not officially open, members of our sales and commercial team have returned to the business and will be dealing with any guest enquiries as we head towards our re-opening date of the August 28.” 

Within the statement, the hotel outlined some of its new health and safety measures, including increasing the frequency of sanitising all public areas and facilities, PPE, increased signage and contactless check-in.

MEET UP North, which was forced to postpone this year due to the Covid-19 spread, will take place in Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester on May 6. To find out more about the event, and how to secure you tickets, click here.

Main image credit: Stock Exchange Hotel

FEATURE: inside Hilton Garden Inn at Heathrow airport’s £4.2m renovation

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
FEATURE: inside Hilton Garden Inn at Heathrow airport’s £4.2m renovation

For optimists, the timing couldn’t be better for Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow Airport Hotel to unveil the result of its £4.2m renovation, which now shelters new guestrooms, meeting areas and a few Covid-friendly adaptations. Editor Hamish Kilburn takes a look inside…

Following a number of openings and completed projects that have emerged since lockdown, I, like many, am feeling optimistic about the future of hospitality post-pandemic.

The latest significant project that has opened its doors following an extensive renovation is Hilton Garden Inn London Heathroom Airport Hotel – and I am pleasantly surprised by the attention to detail in the design scheme as I step inside to have a look round.

Although Hilton Garden Inn sits below some of the more desirable brands in the Hilton cluster, the hotel is fit for purpose – it is positioned steps from Hatton Cross Station, and offers easy access to all terminals at Heathrow Airport. What’s more, the newly refurbished hotel, which is the brainchild of Swedish design team DOOS, is warm, comfortable and even knocks on the door of luxury. 

Image credit: Hilton Hotels

As part of the £4.2 million renovation, all guestrooms have been refurbished, with 205 undergoing a light refurbishment and 159 undergoing a full refurbishment and upgrade to Deluxe King Rooms. Additional areas of focus include the reception, restaurant, bar, and gym. Four innovatively designed meeting rooms within the pavilion conferencing area in the gardens of the property have also been completely renovated. Further enhancements to the MICE offering include the creation of three additional meeting rooms within the main building and the renovation of a further three meeting rooms, creating a total of 10 bespoke meeting areas. 

Each guestroom boasts the brand’s signature bedding featuring fresh, white duvets and crisp linens creating the perfect balance between comfort and support.  All bedrooms are fitted with optimum design elements to create a restful stay with stylish headboards, sophisticated lighting fixtures that fill the open space and soft furnishings. The theme is maintained through the upgraded Deluxe King Rooms which offer a larger en-suite bathroom and more luxurious settings, with additional plush sofa and unique lounge design features. The new bathrooms have been completely renovated and now feature large walk-in showers and modern, spacious vanity countertops.

A total of 10 new and newly refurbished meeting and conference rooms have been added to the hotel’s offering. Three brand new distinctive meeting rooms are available in the hotel’s main event space, with the existing three rooms boasting full renovations. The refurbishment continues through the outdoor Pavilion event space located in the gardens of the hotel, where four modern and professional rooms with their own personalities have been created. With these built-for-purpose event amenities, Hilton’s professional spaces offer slick technology, modern menus and expert planners and service teams who are on hand to help guests create special and memorable experiences for up to 300 people. A new shop area has also been completed offering grab & go food, freshly brewed Piacetto coffee, refreshing cold drinks and convenient amenity travel items.

In-house guests at Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow Airport will find greater convenience and more personalised experiences with Hilton’s refurbished health and wellness facilities, including a light and spacious purpose-built gym with state of art cardio and strength equipment by Technogym including the new high-intensity Technogym Bike where you can join interactive live spin classes from One Rebel studios in London.

In response to the impact of Covid-19, the property has responded by implementing key protocols relating to cleanliness and hygiene. This has been done with the protection of customers, employees and collaborators in mind. The hotel is the first in the UK to receive the Certificate of Assurance from Bureau Veritas for its measures in response to Covid-19 prevention, as well as being a part of the rigorous Hilton CleanStay programme.

Owned by Pandox AB, Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Airport offers amenities including complimentary WiFi throughout the hotel, a 24-hour business centre, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, full cooked-to-order breakfast, craft cocktails and shareable plates for dinner, that appeal to those travelling for business or leisure.

Main image credit: Hilton Hotels

Marriott International opens 800th property in Asia Pacific

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Marriott International opens 800th property in Asia Pacific

A milestone opening underscores the continued development of the Marriott International portfolio in Asia Pacific with brand debuts expected across the region throughout 2020…

Months after claiming to open more than 30 luxury properties in 2020, Marriott International has announced the opening of its 800th property in Asia Pacific, the JW Marriott Nara, marking the brand’s the entry into Japan.

The company also expects the EDITION and Aloft brands to debut in Japan before the end of the year. Across the Asia Pacific region throughout 2020, the Moxy brand anticipates its first hotel opening in China.

“We are encouraged by recent trends, especially in China, where demand has been driven primarily by domestic tourism.” – Craig S. Smith, Group President, Asia Pacific for Marriott International

“We remain confident in the resilience of travel, our owners and franchisees, guests and associates as well as the future prospects of lodging in Asia Pacific, our second largest market, ” said Craig S. Smith, Group President, Asia Pacific for Marriott International. “We are encouraged by recent trends, especially in China, where demand has been driven primarily by domestic tourism, and we will continue to focus on strengthening our footprint in this important, growing market.”

The group in Asia Pacific has, on average, added close to 80 hotels per year in the last three years, with its pipeline growing by nearly 10 percent annually over the same time period. In the first half of 2020 alone, the company recorded 73 new signings, including 43 in the Greater China region.

“These highly anticipated brand debuts are a testament to the confidence that the owner and franchisee community has in Asia Pacific, as well as Marriott International’s long-term vision, especially in today’s challenging business climate,” said Paul Foskey, Chief Development Officer, Marriott International, Asia Pacific. “Our owners and franchisees trust and choose Marriott International because of our overall reputation for product quality, our powerful and differentiated portfolio of brands, our Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program with more than 142 million global members, and our proven track record of operational excellence.”

In the last three years, the hotel group in Asia Pacific saw a 20 per cent increase in the number of conversion hotels added to the portfolio on an annual basis. Conversions allow owners and franchisees to plug into the Marriott system at a quicker pace compared to opening a new build hotel. This year, the company signed Singapore’s first two Autograph Collection hotels – Marriott International’s dynamic collection of independent hotels that champions individuality – both anticipated to fly the Autograph Collection brand flag in 2021.

With six billion domestic trips made to China in 2019 alone, largely attributed to a rise in average disposable income, demand for brands positioned at a moderate price-point has gained momentum among both travellers and hotel owners. To meet this growing demand and support franchisees, the group has introduced an “Enhanced Franchise” model. Under this model, Marriott will appoint a general manager for the first year of a hotel’s opening to help train and equip franchisees to leverage Marriott’s powerful systems.

Marriott International recently debuted the AC Hotels by Marriott brand in Asia Pacific with three AC by Marriott hotels in Malaysia earlier this year and the AC Hotels Tokyo Ginza earlier this month. AC Hotels by Marriott celebrates the beauty of modern design with its European soul and Spanish roots with hotels that are intuitively designed. Also in Japan and situated on the edge of a 1,300-year-old garden set on former royal palace grounds, the 158-room JW Marriott Nara is the first offering from the JW Marriott brand in the country. Additionally, expected to open by the end of this year, the EDITION Toranomon in Tokyo is slated to be the brand’s debut in the country.

With millennials expected to return to travel first, the anticipated opening of the Moxy Shanghai Xujiahui this year is expected to be an ideal addition to the vibrant cosmopolitan city. The millennial-focused Moxy brand features lively public spaces, minimalist design elements and rooms fitted with custom furniture that offers a playful style of traveling.

Note from the editor: while milestones like these should be celebrated as exceptional achievements, it’s also worth understanding that, as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, the demand for hotel development, hospitality and tourism in this region specifically is expected to suffer. It is therefore my hope that familiar hotel brands, like the ones that Marriott International shelters, will re-engage with the modern traveller, giving them much needed assurance to explore destinations beyond their reach once more in the post-pandemic world.

Main image credit: Marriott International

Hyatt to expand Alila Brand in Americas

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hyatt to expand Alila Brand in Americas

Expected to open in early 2021, Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas will become the brand’s debut new-build resort and will shelter innovative eco-design and authentic destination experiences…

Hyatt has announced plans for the first new-build Alila resort in the Americas, which will be located in Encinitas, Calif., a quintessential beach town in San Diego’s North County Coastal region.

Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas is being designed by San Diego-based Joseph Wong Design Associates with interior design by Mark Zeff Associates. Developed by JMI Realty and Fenway Capital Advisors, the hotel will add to Hyatt’s growing Alila brand portfolio, joining Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort, as the brand’s second hotel in California and the U.S., along with 14 other luxury properties worldwide.

“We are thrilled to announce the development of the first new-build Alila resort in the Americas, marking a significant milestone for Hyatt,” said Susan Santiago, Global Head of Lifestyle and Miraval Operations at Hyatt. “The Alila brand has long been a leader in crafted luxury and responsible tourism, and Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas will embody that same ethos when it debuts in Southern California.”

Situated along coastal bluffs and overlooking Grandview and South Ponto Beaches, Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas will be a luxury oceanfront hotel with 130 guestrooms, including 16 suites. The resort will offer an ocean-view restaurant with rooftop patio, a pool with pool bar and an infinity-edge hot tub, a luxury Spa Alila and spectacular wedding and events venues, all with panoramic Pacific Ocean and lagoon views.

The hotel will seamlessly blend into the bluffs with natural building materials and native plants, delivering on the brand’s reputation of innovative eco-design. With the hotel’s namesake, “Marea,” meaning “tide” in Italian and Spanish, the resort will provide a distinctly Southern California feel, with bespoke experiences inspired by the area’s natural landscape, as well as its vibrant surf and beach culture.

Main image credit: Hyatt/Alila

Luxury outdoor area at Sopwell House

MINIVIEW: Designing a ‘bare foot luxury spa’ at Sopwell House

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
MINIVIEW: Designing a ‘bare foot luxury spa’ at Sopwell House

Design studio Sparcstudio created a relaxed, yet elegant design concept to the recently refurbished £14 million Cottonmill Club spa within Sopwell House in St Albans, Hertfordshire…

Set in the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside, on the outskirts of historic St Albans in England, the Club at Cottonmill within Sopwell House was unveiled to the public in August last year.

Luxury outdoor area at Sopwell House

With an eye on the luxury guest market, the £14 million project covered an extensive development period of six years. Owned since 1986 by the family-run AB Hotels, Sopwell House retains its original Georgian grandeur with the main building sheltering the majority of the hotel’s accommodation, its restaurants and the spa, which now has a two-tiered membership that offers a new level of exclusivity in the shape of The Club at Cottonmill.

Image credit: Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, designed by Sparcstudio

Image credit: Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, designed by Sparcstudio Design

Sparcstudio developed the interiors and architectural design for the project which included a total refurbishment of the existing spa areas and the addition of a large, sleek glazed three-storey extension linking on to a new private spa garden (designed by Ann Marie Powell). Sparcstudio worked with Debi Green to develop the operational details and ISA Architects were appointed to assist with the delivery of the building itself.

Tasked with creating a premium aesthetic throughout the spa, Sparcstudio employed a rich, natural palette of materials, including marble and carved limestone relief tiles in the reception’s column cladding, as well as end-grain timbers to create a tactile feel.

Image credit: Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, designed by Sparcstudio

Clever space planning with bespoke designed elements and experiences create moments of surprise for the guest as Beverley Bayes, Creative Director, Sparcstudio explains: “The unique feel of Cottonmill is largely down to space-planning and the inclusion of so many bespoke aspects and experiences.

Image credit: Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, designed by Sparcstudio

Image credit: Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, designed by Sparcstudio

“We hope there is an element of surprise in the guest journey, which begins in the spaces carved out of original rooms within the Georgian building, but ends in an amazing contemporary new build over three levels with full-height glazing and direct links to the glamorous spa garden.”

The project features bespoke furniture design and fittings, from the small oval glass, brass and stone tables in the ‘sitting room’, the luxurious bespoke double loungers for the Garden Relaxation and Whisper rooms to bronze privacy screens, as well as the glazed critical screens between reception and the ‘sitting room’ with ‘cotton-reel’ installation.

Image credit: Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, designed by Sparcstudio

Image credit: Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, designed by Sparcstudio

Bayes elaborates: “We are very lucky to have worked with a visionary client who has been involved in every detail. AB Hotels managed the implementation of this huge project themselves and we respect the extra mile they went to ensure the design was beautifully implemented, from the ‘sunray’ veneered doors with their Calacatta-lined architraves to the etched glass doors and bespoke cast metal handles of the heat cabins.”

Image credit: Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, designed by Sparcstudio

Barefoot luxury

The overall feel of the interiors is über luxurious and is driven by the guest experience and the desire to create a beautiful spa journey that is stimulating as well as ‘Relaxed and Informal’, combining glamour and a sense of ‘Barefoot luxury’ that you might enjoy in a luxury resort outside of the UK. Bayes explains: “The swinging woven suspended seats around the bespoke fireplaces (clad with blocks of end grain willow) provide a playful touch and the social centre piece of each of the main relaxation spaces.

Image credit: Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, designed by Sparcstudio

Image credit: Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, designed by Sparcstudio

“We are particularly proud of the variety of bespoke designed heat cabins that we created which range from the organic sauna which is formed from Aspen, a white timber, and with the natural light flooding in, feels like you are sitting in the garden, to the glamorously lit Quartz lined salt stream room, and the first floor angular Panoramic that provides dramatic views on two sides of the grounds. ‘The jewel in the crown’ is the green slate lined outdoor Hydro-pool which is designed to provide an experience akin to ‘wild swimming’.

Comfort was key in the design of aspects and elements throughout the spa which boasts deep bespoke sofas laden with cushions in grey green and aqua shades crafted from fabrics including washed cotton and linen. Interiors feature a rich and sumptuous, but natural palette of materials, which includes smerelda marble, carved limestone relief tiles (reception column cladding) and end grain timbers to create a tactile feel. Bayes concludes: “We think the overall outcome is luxurious, warm and welcoming, definitely relaxing and conducive to contemplation and wellbeing.”

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

Main image credit: SparcStudio/Sopwell House

IN PICTURES: inside the new Villa Copenhagen

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
IN PICTURES: inside the new Villa Copenhagen

The 390-key luxury hotel, Villa Copenhagen, has officially opened. Hotel Designs takes a peek inside…

It has been one of the most anticipated openings of 2020, with architecture and design from award-winning studios such as Universal Design Studio and Goddard Littlefair, Villa Copenhagen has officially opened its doors.

Housed in the century-old Danish Post and Telegraph office, adjacent to Tivoli Gardens, Villa Copenhagen is a Grande Dame hotel for the 21st century, offering approachable, conscious luxury through a commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and meaningful experiences that connect guests to the landscape, culture, and energy of the city.

Exterior of the building in Copenhagen

Image credit: Villa Copenhagen

To ensure that the new interiors matched the grandeur of the 1912 Neo-Baroque architecture, and to keep the building at the forefront of Scandinavian design for another hundred years, the hotel appointed several design and architecture firms. The overall look and feel is credit to Universal Design Studio, which was appointed to create 381 guestrooms across the hotel’s five floors and Goddard Littlefair, which, following a number of recent award-winning projects, was responsible for the design of no less than five F&B areas sheltered within the hotel, as well as the wellness areas and meeting areas and conference rooms.

light modern room inside Villa Copenhagen

Image credit: Villa Copenhagen

Evoking the ambiance of a sophisticated Danish residence, rooms feature high ceilings, herringbone floors, restored original windows, gold accents, and muted colour palettes that pay homage to paintings by 19th century Danish master Vilhelm Hammershøi. Thoughtful touches include keyless entry and remote check-in, virtual check-out, and an optional white glove service.

The two-storey Universal Penthouse Suite features a grand walnut and steel spiral staircase leading up to lounge space and a master bedroom. Other contributors include Danish architect Eva Harlou, who designed the sought-after Earth Suite, a fully sustainable suite entirely comprised of recycled materials and textiles with eco-friendly furniture by Mater Design; and Shamballa Jewels, a Danish fine jewellery brand that designed the remaining seven suites, including The Shamballa Master Suite, which is the most expensive suite in Denmark at US$8,100 per night, as well as two other spaces within the hotel, specifically The Courtyard and Old Boardroom.

Image caption: The Courtyard | Image credit: Villa Copenhagen/Stine Christiansen

Image caption: The Courtyard | Image credit: Villa Copenhagen/Stine Christiansen

Villa Copenhagen is also home to the city’s finest private art collection valued at more than US$2 million. With celebrated art curator Sune Nordgren at the helm, current artworks on display include pieces by local talent and celebrated international artists, including Jaume Plensa, Per Kirkeby, and Ian McKeever.

The new luxury address features ample outdoor and interior green spaces, including a generous rooftop pool, to promote a sense of wellbeing and tranquillity across its public areas, going above and beyond current government health and sanitation regulations while maintaining its vision of delivering an inspiring and playful ambiance.

Rooftop pool on top of Villa Copenhagen

Image credit: Villa Copenhagen/Stine Christiansen

Executive Chef Tore Gustafsson is responsible for Villa Copenhagen’s sustainable food profile, which focuses on ‘carbon-free’ dining and zero food waste. He worked with Epicurean, an F&B design studio from celebrated interior design house Goddard Littlefair, to develop all five of the hotel’s food and beverage outlets.

Located on the ground floor in the former sorting room of the Post House, the Public and Rug Bakery outlets make up a spacious breakfast and flexible event space with an open kitchen, where guests are provided with personalised options for fresh bread, pastries, and coffee, including individually sealed to-go ‘FIKA’ bags, as well as à la carte options that can be served via in-room dining.

The T37 Bar & Lounge offers a menu of tongue-in-cheek aesthetic, craft cocktails, and light dishes in a beautifully restored corner with original marble columns.

Image caption: Kontrast | Image credit: Villa Copenhagen/Stine Christiansen

Next door, the Playroom is stocked with table and board games, books, and plush furniture for laidback evenings. Kontrast brasserie has its own street entrance facing Central Station, and provides a cosy all-day restaurant open to city residents with contemporary takes on mid-century décor. Fresh, flavourful dishes made with organic ingredients from the hidden garden and local suppliers are served by Gustafsson and his team from a bustling open kitchen.

Image caption: The Brasserie inside Villa Copenhagen

Image caption: The Brasserie | Image credit: Villa Copenhagen

Opening in the post-pandemic world, in this new era for hospitality, the 390-room hotel has developed its health and hygiene policies in tandem with operational procedures to ensure travellers and local visitors enjoy a seamless guest journey, finding comfort in every corner– from the private sanctuary of the guestrooms and suites, to social hubs and dining outlets.

Main image credit: Villa Copenhagen/Stine Christiansen

Inside IHG’s debut Hotel Indigo property in Cyprus

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Inside IHG’s debut Hotel Indigo property in Cyprus

The 40-key Hotel Indigo Larnaca marks IHG Hotels & Resorts first Hotel Indigo and the second IHG property in Cyprus…

Days after announcing its arrival in Verona, IHG Hotels & Resorts opens Hotel Indigo Larnaca, which is the first and only Hotel Indigo in Cyprus. 

Each of the hotel’s 40 guestrooms are all uniquely designed and inspired by Cyprus’s craft heritage with balconies overlooking the picturesque city of Larnaca. Just a five-minute drive from the airport, the hotel is centrally located in one of Larnaca’s most historic areas, near the church of St. Lazarus and close to Finikoudes and Mackenzie beaches.

Image credit: Hotel Indigo

Within walking distance to the beach, the hotel combined two traditional Cypriot beach homes into a new hotel, marrying design elements from both old and new. The guestrooms have a modern yet contemporary feel by merging raw concrete with locally – made, brightly – coloured traditional textiles and light wooden furnishings. The en-suite bathrooms have spa-like rain showers, with brushed concrete flooring and original Cypriot tiling. All the balconies are fitted with traditional Mediterranean yellow shutters, reminiscent of old Cyprus, and mimicking the sunset amongst the surrounding mountains.

Hotel Indigo Larnaca also offers a stunning rooftop pool and Kampana Pool Bar with breathtaking views of the sea. The regionally inspired onsite restaurant, Avli, and the Oinotelia wine bar, are conveniently situated on the ground floor and are a destination for locals, tourists, and guests.

Image credit: Hotel Indigo

Mr. Savvas Kakos, President and CEO of Quality Group, said: “At Quality Group we are extremely happy and proud to welcome one of the most renowned hotel groups to the city of Larnaca. Unique and intriguing by definition, and one of the world’s largest boutique brands, Hotel Indigo is now part of the wider area of Saint Lazarus and a perfect addition to the heart of the city. On behalf of Quality Group, I convey my strong faith and certainty that this brand-new and organic collaboration with IHG and Hotel Indigo will leave its mark on the hotel industry in Cyprus.”

Inspired by the neighbourhood around each property, just as no places are alike, no two Hotel Indigo properties are the same. Each Hotel Indigo property features thoughtful design touches and vibrant restaurants and bars connected to the spirit of the local neighbourhood. Hotel Indigo Larnaca takes in the rich history of the Agios Lazaros area and is ideal for romantic getaways and caters to the most seasoned traveller. 

Hotel Indigo Larnaca will operate under the international agreement between IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), one of the largest hotel groups in the world, Sunnyseeker Hospitality which is the fastest growing hotel management company and Quality Group, one of the largest companies of land development and investment on the island.

There are currently 119 Hotel Indigo properties open globally including the recently opened Hotel Indigo Verona – Grand Hotel Des Arts, with another 104 in the pipeline to open in the next three to five years. 

Main image credit: Hotel Indigo/IHG

Render of the hotel property

Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts to open debut property in Rome

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts to open debut property in Rome

Bvlgari Hotel Roma, which is slated to open in 2022, will occupy a magnificent building in the heart of the Campo Marzio neighbourhood, a stone’s throw from the iconic Spanish Steps and the signature Bvlgari flagship on Via Condotti…

Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts has announced that it will open its first hotel in Rome.

Render of the hotel property

The decision to debut in capital of Italy has been described as a “full circle moment” for the Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts, but also a significant one, opening a hotel an iconic destination that is rooted in the luxury brand’s heritage.

The Bvlgari Hotel Roma, which is slated to open as early as 2022, will be strategically located in the central Piazza Augusto Imperatore. This is in the very heart of the Campo Marzio neighbourhood, a stone’s throw from Via del Corso and Via del Babuino, the iconic Spanish Steps and the signature Bvlgari flagship on Via Condotti.

Render of the new Bvlgari Hotel Roma

Image credit: Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts

It will be sheltered in a magnificent building, which was built between 1936 and 1938 to a design by architect Vittorio Ballio Morpurgo, is owned by Edizione Properties who was assisted by CBRE Hotels for the tenant selection activity.

The rationalist building faces two of the most iconic Roman landmarks, the Ara Pacis and the Mausoleum of Augustus, the first Roman Imperator. It is currently under renovation and will reveal a monumental, modern architecture emphasised by the use of traditional Roman materials and colours, such as ochre Travertine marble and burnt red brick. The rigorous rationalist architectural appeal of the building is counterbalanced by Antonio Barrera’s frescos, running in the via della Frezza atrium and offering different views of the Mausoleum of Augustus, while the Southern face is decorated with a 70-square-metre mosaic by Ferruccio Ferrazzi, who offered his personal interpretation of the Roman foundation myth.

“Italian architectural firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel will be in charge of both the architectural project and the interior design of the new Bvlgari Hotel Roma.”

As for the other Bvlgari Hotels in the world, Italian architectural firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel will be in charge of both the architectural project and the interior design of the new Bvlgari Hotel Roma, which will count more than 100 rooms, most of them suites. In addition, the firm will design the prestigious “Il Ristorante” curated by Michelin-starred chef Niko Romito and “The Bvlgari Bar,” both located on the top floor to guarantee an unparalleled view of the Eternal City. The luxury hotel will also include a range of additional facilities, including a high-end spa with an indoor swimming pool, and a state-of-the-art gym, offering Bvlgari’s exclusive Workshop training method.

As unique feature, the Bvlgari Hotel Roma will also present a Reading Room containing a collection of precious volumes dedicated to the history of jewellery.

Standing out on the building’s façade, on top of a splendid fountain, a Latin inscription says: “This is the place where the Emperor Augustus’ soul flies through the air.”

This unique link between the new Bvlgari Hotel Roma and Emperor Augustus’ vision will be highlighted with an interior design balancing the rigor of the stones used in Imperial Rome, concise yet powerful details, as well as rich textures contrasting with the architectural essentiality of the building.

Seamlessly blending different references to the unique Roman heritage with the contemporary and timeless Bvlgari style, the new Bvlgari Hotel Roma will celebrate the extraordinary magnificence of its hometown, and will welcome its guests in an outstanding and unique environment.

“This hotel, to be opened in 2022, represents a remarkable achievement for Bvlgari that will finally have its own ‘temple’ right in the city where the Company was founded and that still represents nowadays the beating heart of the brand.” – Bvlgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin.

“We are particularly proud to have secured such an extraordinary location for the new Bvlgari Hotel in Rome,” explained Bvlgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin. “This hotel, to be opened in 2022, represents a remarkable achievement for Bvlgari that will finally have its own ‘temple’ right in the city where the Company was founded and that still represents nowadays the beating heart of the brand. It will be by far Roma most luxurious hospitality experience ever”.

“Together with all parties, public and private, involved in this important project, we are proud to have planned and executed this large, world class real estate investment in Rome, a key place for Edizione Property”, added Mauro Montagner CEO of Edizione Property SpA.

Rome being Bvlgari’s hometown, this opening will be a remarkable addition to the Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts Collection, which already counts six properties in Milan, London, Bali, Beijing, Dubai, Shanghai and which will be further extended, between 2021 and 2023, with inaugurations in Paris, Moscow and Tokyo.

Main image credit: Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts

Rosewood brand to arrive in Spain in 2021 as part of European expansion

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Rosewood brand to arrive in Spain in 2021 as part of European expansion

The iconic Hotel Villa Magna in Madrid is, in 2021, to become the first hotel in Spain to operate under Rosewood Hotels & Resorts…

Following the group’s recent announcement to take over Le Guanahani in St. Barth, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has been selected by RLH Properties to manage the iconic Hotel Villa Magna in Madrid, Spain.

The hotel, which is situated in the heart of Madrid, on the revered Paseo de la Castellana, will  become Rosewood Hotels & Resorts’ first property in Spain and the fourth operation in Europe, where the group is sensitively expanding into other prime locations.

The beloved property will debut as Rosewood Villa Magna following a refurbishment, during which the property will remain open, that will incorporate a contemporary design, displaying an inspired interpretation of Spain’s capital city.

Exterior of Hotel Villa Magns

Image credit: Hotel Villa Magns

The hotel is centrally located, immediately neighbouring the prestigious Serrano shopping district, and other well-known nearby landmarks such as the Golden Triangle of Art, home to the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía Museums. Villa Magna is currently closed as a precautionary measure due to COVID-19 and will reopen on September 1, 2020 operating independently until Rosewood assumes management once the refurbishment works have come to an end towards late 2021.

“As one of the world’s most alluring cultural capitals, Madrid is an ideal destination in which to raise the Rosewood flag, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to join together with our valued partners at RLH to breathe new life into one of the city’s most prolific properties, Villa Magna,” said Sonia Cheng, chief executive officer of Rosewood Hotel Group.  “A mecca for arts, culture and cuisine that perfectly balances the old with the new, Madrid offers the perfect canvas for our guiding A Sense of Place philosophy. We look forward to bringing our differentiated approach to ultra-luxury hospitality to Spain with this special hotel.”

With a refreshed contemporary sense of style and service that speaks to today’s travellers, Rosewood Villa Magna will feature 150 thoughtfully appointed guestrooms and suites, distinct dining experiences and an inspired Sense, A Rosewood Spa.

“The iconic Villa Magna plays an important part in Madrid’s history, and as such we are proud to embark on this new journey with our exceptional team at the Villa Magna and together with Rosewood Hotel Group towards enhancing this unique asset that enjoys an irreplaceable location and taking it to the next level of luxury. We are excited to add our third Rosewood property to the RLH portfolio, alongside sister resorts Rosewood Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico and the upcoming Rosewood Mandarina in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico,” said Borja Escalada, CEO of RLH Properties.

Rosewood Villa Magna will add to Rosewood’s network of distinctive European properties, which currently includes Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany, Rosewood London and Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel in Paris.  Additional properties set to open within the next three years include Rosewood Vienna (2022), Rosewood Munich (2023), Rosewood Venice (2023) and Rosewood Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London (TBD).

Main image credit: Hotel Villa Magna

IN PICTURES: Sneak peek of Four Seasons Hotel Madrid

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
IN PICTURES: Sneak peek of Four Seasons Hotel Madrid

Opening this September, after being on the drawing boards for nearly a decade, Four Seasons Hotel Madrid has been designed in collaboration between designers from BAMO, BG Architecture, Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, AvroKO and Luis Bustamante…

After a seven-year reconceptualisation and meticulous restoration of a collection of seven historic buildings, the new Four Seasons Hotel Madrid will open September 15, 2020.

With a soaring grand lobby welcoming guests at its heart, the hotel is located within Madrid’s Centro Canalejas, also home to 22 Four Seasons Private Residences and the Galería Canalejas luxury shopping centre. Architects Estudio Lamela led the restoration, preserving more than 3,700 artefacts throughout. Inside, interiors are by an international team of designers including BAMO, BG Architecture, Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, AvroKO and Luis Bustamante.

Exterior of the hotel

Image credit: Four Seasons Hotel Madrid

“It’s truly been a labour of passion and love as these beautiful buildings transform into a fantastic setting for a new chapter in their histories,” says Christoph Schmidinger, Four Seasons Regional Vice President and the Hotel’s General Manager. “Our owner partners OHL Desarrollos and Mohari Hospitality, and our all-star team of artisans, culinarians and hoteliers, share our vision for offering a very personalised Four Seasons experience in a truly extraordinary setting.”

In a city that is ever changing but always welcoming, visitors will discover something new with every return visit. Four Seasons is just steps from Kilómetro Cerothe central point from which all distances in Spain are measured. In this truly pedestrian-friendly city, most of the main points of interest are within a 20-minute walk, including the 125 hectare (300 acre) Retiro Park with its incredible Glass Palace and endless pathways amid trees, fountains and ponds. Three of the world’s best museums – the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía – form a Golden Triangle in the neighbourhood around Four Seasons.

Luxe, eclectic interiors to reference Madrid's vibrancy in public area

Image credit: Four Seasons Hotel Madrid

Spanish celebrity Chef Dani Garcia will unveil Dani, a new dining concept from the three Michelin-starred chef, with an unmatched rooftop setting envisioned by acclaimed London and New York-based designer Martin Brudnizki. Expect a bright and vivid brasserie with a sophisticated touch, where guests will savour Andalusian cuisine and panoramic views throughout the day and evening, both in the spacious indoors and out in the sunshine on the terrace.

Image credit: Four Seasons Hotel Madrid

Isa, a gastrobar located on the first floor, will continue to move forward the tapas trend that began in Spain, adding modern Asian flavours paired with cutting-edge cocktails in a space created by global design studio AvroKO.  Adjacent to the Hotel’s lobby, El Patio also invites relaxed drinks and dining.

Image credit: Four Seasons Hotel Madrid

The hotel will shelter 200 guestrooms and suites – among them an exceptional triangular Royal Suite with double-height ceilings and numerous historic details.

Staircase in Four Seasons Madrid

Image credit: Four Seasons Hotel Madrid

Elsewhere, the luxury property will also boast the largest spa in the city, offering eight treatment rooms plus a salon and 24/7 fitness centre. It will also offer more than 1,400 square metres (15,400 square feet) of flexible function spaces – including the glamorous oval-shaped Sol Ballroom – can accommodate both business meetings and social events.

Main image credit: Four Seasons Hotel Madrid

IN PICTURES: Italy’s Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa opens

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
IN PICTURES: Italy’s Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa opens

The sensitively designed 11-key boutique jewel has opened in the heart of Italy’s White City, Ostuni, Puglia…

With Covid-19 stalling its inaugural opening, the team at Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa are finally able to officially open the doors.  The elegantly restored red palace in the heart of Puglia’s White City, Ostuni, has been meticulously restored to boast 11 individually curated rooms, meaning guest numbers are naturally limited and exclusive takeovers are possible. 

Standing in stark contrast to the whitewashed buildings of Ostuni, Paragon 700’s red brick façade cocoons a lush garden and swimming pool, a rare green space in the heart of the city, offering a spacious, tranquil and exclusive oasis, just a five-minute walk from the main square. 

The Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa team painstakingly restored every inch of the former Italian palace using traditional handcrafted techniques, while injecting a splash of modern flair. French parquet flooring extends throughout all 11 rooms and suites, which feature stonewashed bed linen, cathedral ceilings, period frescos and fireplaces.

Image credit: 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Naturally, each guestroom is different, some offering terraces, balconies or in the case of the Paragon Suite, a sunken bathtub and private terrace with sun loungers. Guests who fall in love with the chic interiors will be delighted to discover that they can buy select furniture and décor to take home as the ultimate holiday memento. Any sold pieces will be replaced by the boutique hotel’s stylish owners, who will be happy of an excuse to indulge their passion for sourcing eclectic items.  

The hotel brings a fresh taste to Ostuni, with the opening of Restaurant 700. Head chef Giovanni Cerroni, the protégé of Michelin-starred Paulo Airaudo, offers an enticing menu that celebrates outstanding local ingredients and cuisine. Open to guests and locals alike, this new venue, including the quirky Bar 700, will offer an intimate dining experience, with impeccable service and the finest local vintages from the hotel’s impressive wine cellar.

As the only hotel in the heart of the White City to offer a swimming pool and garden, Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa will also be an unrivalled haven for guests looking to unwind and recharge. The palace’s former water chamber has been transformed into a unique spa offering a Turkish bath, Himalayan salt wall, multi-sensory shower and a natural whirlpool dug into the ground. 

Image credit: 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

The team at the hotel have put in place a full range of cleanliness and safety measures in light of Covid-19, including daily temperature checks for staff and for guests on arrival, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all those who wish to enjoy this exciting new boutique hotel. 

Main image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Hotel Indigo arrives in Verona

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel Indigo arrives in Verona

The 62-key property has stood as one of the most prestigious hotels in Verona for years, and was reopened following an exciting redesign under the Hotel Indigo brand…

IHG’s Hotel Indigo brand currently has 119 properties open globally, and a further 104 in the pipeline. It’s latest unveiling, following a tense lockdown period for the entire industry, is located in the heart of Verona, Italy, a destination that continues to attract travellers from around the world with its links to Shakesphere’s Romeo and Juliet.  

With 62 uniquely designed rooms, Hotel Indigo Verona – Grand Hotel Des Arts draws inspiration from the city’s passion of preserving history. With headboards throughout the bedrooms mimicking the beautifully preserved fresco paintings in the city, and the back panelling in the lobby that plays to the garden of Romeo and Juliet, guests will be able to find nods to the surrounding neighbourhood in the hotel’s design. Red marble native to Verona (Marmo rosso di Verona) throughout the public areas creates an elevated feel of a grand Italian residence – inspired by the most famous love story ever told. Hotel Indigo Verona – Grand Hotel Des Arts is a beautiful tribute to the city it calls home. 

Right when you enter, the reception area combines two elements that characterise the city: The Arena and the Shakespeare theatre. The architecture draws inspiration from the theatrical facades, its draperies, the arches of the Arena, and Juliet’s terrace. The Arena in Verona is a Roman amphitheatre built in the 1st century and is one of the best conserved amphitheatres in Italy. Made up of 44 levels holding up to 22,000 spectators, it is still used today and is internationally famous for hosting some of the world’s most spectacular large-scale opera performances.

“We are very proud to announce the renovation and reopening of Hotel Indigo Verona – Grand Hotel Des Arts, thanks to our affiliation with IHG and the Hotel Indigo brand of boutique hotels in the chain, commented Luca Boccato, CEO of HNH Hospitality Group. “This new opening joins art, culture and comfort at a top level and is the perfect destination for both Italian and international tourists, thanks to the attractions in Verona. In a difficult moment for our sector, we look toward the future with faith, confident that a good project in such an important location will be a success.”

Image credit: IHG/Hotel Indigo

Perhaps the quirkiest Shakespearean touch is the meeting rooms named after the duelling families in Romeo and Juliet, Montechhi, and Capuleti. The event spaces are easily adjustable for different uses – conferences and small functions. The hotel also has an onsite bar, Arya Bar & Mixology, with a selection of locally inspired cocktails and nibbles, perfect for guests to have an aperitif and relax after a day exploring the neighbourhood.

Eric Viale, Managing Director, Southern Europe, IHG, added: “With its iconic architecture and historical charm, Verona is the perfect neighbourhood for Hotel Indigo’s unique design and distinctive guest experience. Hotel Indigo Verona – Grand Hotel Des Arts is the fourth location for the brand in Italy, signalling significant interest in boutique, design-led hotels in the region. Partnering once more with HNH Hospitality, we look forward to being part of the tourism recovery in Italy and welcoming guests from across the country and beyond.” 

Image credit: IHG/Hotel Indigo

Inspired by the neighbourhood around each property, just as no places are alike, no two Hotel Indigo properties are the same. Each Hotel Indigo property features thoughtful design touches and vibrant restaurants and bars connected to the spirit of the local neighbourhood.

Main image credit: IHG/Hotel Indigo

In (Lockdown) Conversation With: Dean Winter, Managing Director, Swire Hotels

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In (Lockdown) Conversation With: Dean Winter, Managing Director, Swire Hotels

Following his recent appointment as Managing Director of Swire Hotels, Dean Winter sits down (virtually) with editor Hamish Kilburn to explain the brand’s change of direction…

Swire Hotels, which shelters luxury and lifestyle brands The House Collective and EAST, has recently announced a new Managing Director.

Dean Winter, who first started working with the hotel group in 2006, has more than 25 years’ experience as a hotelier and restaurateur in destinations such as London, Hong Kong and Singapore. Taking over from Toby Smith, who will now sit as Deputy Chairman for the group, Winter’s new role is part of a wider internal restructuring of management for the group with the aim to continue to inspire teams across the brands.

Following his appointment, I caught up with winter.

Hamish Kilburn: Dean, congratulations on your new role! What are you most looking forward to as Managing Director at Swire Hotels?

Dean Winter: People are central to what we do at Swire Hotels – both our guests and our dedicated team members – and their personal satisfaction is a main priority for me. By training our team and then empowering them to make decisions, we enable them to exceed expectations and build personal relationships with guests and other team members.

This dedication to service is core to our ethos at The House Collective and EAST, Hotels and I couldn’t be more excited to continue to support the people and guide the beliefs of a company that I’ve been part of for over a decade.

woman walking down modern staircase

Image credit: The Middle House, Shanghai

HK: How much does the design of the hotel affect the guest experience of Swire Hotels?

DW: Design lies at the heart of Swire Hotels and its brands. First impressions matter to our guests. When you walk into a hotel, its interior design can affect the way you feel and can influence your mood.

Each hotel within The House Collective all have their own identity, which boast some of the best design signatures in the industry. For example, behind The Opposite House’s unique design as an art gallery-inspired hotel there is visionary architect Kengo Kuma, who made our hotel one of Beijing’s hottest spots to visit.

HK: What are the key characteristic differences between Swire Hotels’ brands, The House Collective and EAST?

DW: All our hotels provide an extremely personalised service with each guest treated as a valued individual. The House Collective is all about design-led homes away from home, each with its own identity rooted in the destination, and a spirited, cultural soul. EAST is adapted to the new business traveller experience in destinations like Hong Kong, Beijing and Miami, blurring the line between business and leisure and enabling authentic experiences through art and design. At EAST, creating spaces that effectively accommodate guests at various points of life or of their day is also and important element. Examples of this would be the Domain spaces at our EAST hotels which function as cafés, meeting spaces, co-working zones and early evening bars; Sugar the rooftop bar is a popular nightspot for guests as well as locals and BEAST with well equipped gym, pool and wellness programmes helps keep our guest fit.

HK: Can you give us an overview of Swire Hotels’ commitment to sustainability?

DW: Swire Hotels is committed to making a positive impact on the environment and in order to manifest this change, we start from our people. What we envision is creating a healthy ecosystem of people who embody our values and care about our impact on the environment. We’re always looking to create meaningful initiative across our properties focusing on reducing water wastage, energy savings and better waste management. Some of these initiatives include removal of single-use packaging, amenities made of recyclable or biodegradable materials, paperless check-in and at EAST Miami, we have a smart pump that regulates water pressure throughout the hotel in order to reduce water usage. We are determined to find new ways to improve the sustainability of our properties, for our guests and the community around us. This way, we can continue delivering wonderful experiences not just for right now, but for many years to come.

“We have been taking advantage to accelerate some planned projects for both in terms of rooms and restaurants enhancements or systems development.” – Dean Winter, Managing Director, Swire Hotels

HK: What does 2021 look like for Swire Hotels?

DW: Overall I think everyone will have a more positive attitude towards travelling given how 2020 has unfolded. This year we’re celebrating the 10th Anniversary of EAST Hong Kong with new packages available to book directly from the hotel’s website and The Opposite House exciting new relaunch with the completion of an extensive renovation of the restaurant and bar spaces will have the celebration continue into the new year.

During the recent downtime, we have been taking advantage to accelerate some planned projects for both in terms of rooms and restaurants enhancements or systems development. So there will be more new spaces to reveal in 2021. We have also embarked on an expansion plan to grow both our brands, The House Collective and EAST, through management contracts throughout Asia Pacific and hope to have some announcement in 2021.

HK: Are you able to give us an insight into any new openings?

DW: We do have some evolving plans for new restaurant spaces next year. I’m excited by these opportunities and how we can continue to demonstrate our creativity on what is a core competency for the group.

QUICK-FIRE ROUND

HK: Where’s next on your travel bucket list?
DW:
Montenegro; I’m facinated by the history and the architecture. Followed by a drive along The Adriatic; ideally in a classic sports car!

HK: What’s one item you cannot travel without? 
DW: A great novel!

HK: Can you describe the Swire Hotels ethos in three words?
DW: Innovation, design, people.

HK: How have Swire Hotels and its two brands been preparing to welcome guests back following the health crisis?

DW: The relationship between The House Collective and EAST, Hotels and our guests have always been centred around trust – we are dedicated to providing the best for our guests, and will continue to uphold our standard of service moving forward from this pandemic. We have already been hosting guests from neighbouring cities to our destinations and are looking forward to welcoming guests from all over the world again. We have introduced various prevention and control measures since the very beginning of the health crisis, such as temperature and travel history checks for all guests upon arrival including our staff members, increased frequency of deep cleaning as well as preparing care kits for our guests with hygiene wet wipes, hand sanitiser and face masks.

Main image credit: Swire Hotels

It’s a hat-trick! Ruby Hotels announces third hotel in London

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
It’s a hat-trick! Ruby Hotels announces third hotel in London

Ruby Hotels, which only recently entered into the UK hospitality market, has announced that it will open a 173-key property in London’s Notting Hill area in 2023…

Just months after making its London debut with the launch of Ruby Lucy on London’s Southbank, and while construction is underway to open a 153-key hotel in Clerkenwell next year, Ruby Hotels has announced that its third property in London will be based in Notting Hill.

Ruby Zoe, which is being built in conjunction with UK investor and developer Frogmore, will shelter 173 rooms.

Led by founder and CEO Michael Struck, Ruby Hotels has set its sights on further international expansion with a third hotel planned for London. The new-build, 173-bed property will be in the heart of colourful Notting Hill and will include a spacious street-front public area combining retail and hotel elements.

“Based on the model of modern luxury yachts, we accommodate our luxury in a relatively small area and simply leave out the unimportant,” explains Struck. “We also organise ourselves using our own technical solutions in a very different way to the rest of the industry. We plan and build in a modular way, centralise more, and automate consistently behind the scenes. As well as helping us to make a luxurious and unique hotel experience affordable for our guests, this approach gives us a leaner and more adaptable cost structure and means lower risks for our real estate partners. This combination of advantages helps us especially in these unpredictable times.”

After the successful opening of Ruby Lucy on the South Bank earlier this year and Ruby Stella set to open in 2022 in Clerkenwell, expanding to the west of the city is the next logical step for Ruby in the thriving London hotel market.

Jo Allen, Chief Executive of Frogmore commented: “We are delighted to have secured Ruby Hotels as an occupier on our Notting Hill Gate Estate. When we asked Gerard Nolan and Partners to market the hotel opportunity in our West Block we received 13 bids from 10 different hotel operators. We really love Ruby’s approach and vision for the project which we believe will complement the area. The Ruby Team have been fabulous to work with, have convincing development and construction competence together with the financial resources to deliver something special which I hope will be enjoyed by many.”

Ruby Zoe follows Ruby Group’s 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.

Main image credit: Ruby Hotels

LOCATION WATCH: Hot hotels opening soon in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
LOCATION WATCH: Hot hotels opening soon in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Ever since Hotel Designs started the concept-to-completion article series with SB Architects to cover the honest journey to design and build Conrad Punta Mita, Riviera Nayarit has been on our editorial team’s radar. Here editor Hamish Kilburn discovers which other hotels are opening in the area soon…

Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, a remote 192-mile-long coastline that frames the majestic Sierra Madre mountains, is tipped to be in hot demand once travel restrictions have lifted. Later this year, the region will welcome two new five-star luxury properties for those looking for isolated remote escapes whilst keeping hygiene, health, and wellness front of mind.

Riviera Nayarit is welcoming two unrivalled luxury hotel openings (Conrad Punta Mita and One & Only Mandarina), that will complete its extensive luxury hotel offering, in preparation to be one of the most anticipated destinations of 2021.

Conrad Punta de Mita

Accepting reservations now and opening in October, Conrad Punta de Mita is a new 325-key property that will offer a tranquil retreat for guests, surrounded by palm trees and the Pacific Ocean. Explored by our team throughout its design and build, the hotel draws influence from Mexico’s rich history and unique culture, indigenous artwork integrates with the luxurious amenities to create an environment that will allow visitors to connect authentically to nature and to the sophisticated, contemporary architectural design.

Image credit: Conrad Hotels/SB Architects

Dovetailing with the dramatic scenery, resort bungalows, pavilions, and cabanas are nestled in coastal vegetation and all boast views of the aquamarine ocean, with suites offering fully-furnished kitchens and living rooms, perfect for larger groups, large patios, plunge pools, freestanding soaking tubs and outdoor showers.

Hilton’s first Conrad-branded resort property in Mexico will be set in the same private development as the Litibu Golf Course, an 18-hole experience designed by Greg Norman. 

One&Only Madarina

One&Only Mandarina is located just north of Punta Mita, on a spectacular cliff-side overlooking the Pacific Ocean with dramatic vistas and a lush rainforest setting. Blending chic interiors amid the lush jungle wilderness, the resort offers a combination of 104 free-standing villas that float above the treetops or perch against the cliffs – each with their own private plunge pool. 

Image credit: One&Only

Allowing nature to take centre stage, One&Only Mandarina has been designed and built to respect and blend with the environment. Experts were consulted on the development of the resort to minimise the effect on the existing natural landscape, and careful low-density planning has preserved the ecological importance of the destination. 

In addition, the resort will feature 54 Private Homes, among the first One&Only residences in the world. Available to own, One&Only Mandarina Private Homes offer privacy, seclusion, and comfort with unparalleled service – offering luxury resort living for a privileged few. 

The hotels will join an already thriving luxury hospitality scene and will sit alongside St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, Imanta Resorts Punta de Mita and other luxury hotels and villas.

Main image credit: One&Only

In (Lockdown) Conversation With: Design legend Jean-Michel Gathy

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In (Lockdown) Conversation With: Design legend Jean-Michel Gathy

If the renders on the boards are anything to go by, Jean-Michel Gathy, who is widely considered as one of the industry’s finest, has embarked on one of his most ambitious hospitality projects to date, to design Amaala Island. Editor Hamish Kilburn learns more…

There is not a hotel designer or architect alive today who has not heard of the name Jean-Michel Gathy, and for good reason. The creative mastermind, who doesn’t just design but more reinvents hotel experiences, has been repainting the backdrop of luxury for what is coming up to three decades.

Not shy of his ambition – he once stated that he wanted to be the first person to design a hotel on the moon – Gathy’s approach to a project is all-encompassing, allowing him to further push (and at times break through) conventional barriers.

Arrival experience, luxury

Image credit: Capella Sanya, designed by Jean-Michel Gathy/Denniston

His latest project, Amaala Island will be an ultra luxury resort destination spanning three sites, a first for the region of Saudi Arabia. Designed to evolve and elevate the very best in travel, the island is an ultra-luxury destination that focuses on curating transformative personal journeys inspired by arts, wellness and the purity of the Red Sea.

To find out more about the project, and in homage to the designer’s award-winning career, I managed to speak to the architect/designer.

Hamish Kilburn: Jean-Michel, how will the ultra-luxe Amaala Island – aka the “Diamond of the Red Sea” – challenge conventional island developments?

Jean-Michel Gathy: The development of ‘The Island’ will be an immersive and interactive art-inspired jewel. Its lifestyle components, its landscaping, the museums, and art installations together with the art community will transform this island into the “Diamond of the Red Sea”. It will feature many different venues for permanent installations or temporary exhibitions and artistic performances. The graphic layout of its spine will be distinctive from the air and will be recognised internationally as an iconic landmark. The project features all elements programmed and reflects the areas, numbers and facilities. This is truly unique, nothing like it has ever been planned before.

“It’s not a matter of a specific place; it is the fact that when you travel, your mind is continually challenged by the happenings around you.” – Jean-Michel Gathy

HK: How does your approach differ when designing a destination from you’re designing a hotel?

JMG: Constant travel is a huge part of the job. It allows me to observe and to be constantly inquisitive about my surroundings. Travelling builds a subconscious library of ideas, which are expressed in my work and helps my ideas remain innovative and fresh. It’s not a matter of a specific place; it is the fact that when you travel, your mind is continually challenged by the happenings around you. It’s not about where you travel, either – what counts is that you explore. No matter where you are, every country has something new to offer in terms of inspiration.

Luxury spa area that frames unspoilt view through rustic blinds

Image credit: Image credit: The Chedi Muscat, Oman, designed by Jean-Michel Gathy/Denniston

HK: What have been some of your design highlights in your career?

JMG: Perhaps the one for which I am most renowned is the overwater hammocks or ‘basking nets’, which I initiated in the Maldives at the One&Only Reethi Rah in 2000. Until then, you would find balustrades around the terraces of villas. I decided to alter that – if anyone was going to fall off the terrace, they could fall on to the nets. And I put scatter cushions on them.

Image credit: One&Only Reethi Rah Maldives, designed by Jean-Michel Gathy/Denniston

Today, just about every hotel uses this idea. Another pioneering step was turning standalone tents for safari-style camps into a commodity. The accommodation at these hotels used to be basic but this started to change after I designed luxurious tents for the Amanwana in 1990. I am also known for my oversized, dramatic swimming pools such as the one on the roof of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

Large, oversized swimming pool

Image credit: The Setai Miami, designed by Jean-Michel Gathy/Denniston

QUICK-FIRE ROUND

HK: What has been the most demanding request you have received from a client to date?

JMG: I guess I take every client that I work with as a challenge more than a demanding request.

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

JMG: I would love to travel to Iceland to see its rugged landscapes, glaciers, rough seas, hot springs and volcanoes. I’d also like to visit the south of Chile and the peninsula of Kamchatka in Russia, which has extraordinary wildlife and endless forests.

HK: What’s your biggest indulgence when travelling?

JMG: Collecting art – I like to collect and invest in local artwork whilst on my travels.

HK: What lesson would you teach to your younger self?

JMG: The pathway to success is never easy, it takes hard work, dedication and passion.

HK: If you could design a hotel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

JMG: I’d love to design a hotel in Antarctica. There’s an ice hotel in Sweden, but that’s only open four months a year, so I want to do one that permanently remains ice.

HK: What’s been your favourite year on the international design scene?

JMG: To be honest, every year working with my team at Denniston has been and is special to me.

HK: What’s one item you cannot travel without?

JMG: I travel light, but I always ensure I have a cashmere scarf for the plane, and a sweater (I’m a big cashmere fan). I also travel with my camera, a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

“The hotels where you arrive and lay on the beach and do nothing have progressively disappeared.” – Jean-Michel Gathy.

HK: How is the perception of luxury changing – and how is this evolving the way in which you create spaces in the luxury arena?

JMG: Before, hotels were just a place where you go and relax. Today, guests are connected: they want spas, they want food and beverage, they want activities, they want things to do. The hotels where you arrive and lay on the beach and do nothing have progressively disappeared, because life is such that people have become more and more active. I think luxury property clients are now asking for more than simply great rooms. They want retail facilities, a cinema, an extraordinary spa, award-winning F&B offerings and outdoor activities all integrated into the hotel.

“In terms of reliability, price strategy, and brand positioning, Toyota is a fantastic commercial car – but I prefer a Bentley.” – Jean-Michel Gathy.

HK: What’s the value of having designers and architects in your practice?

JMG: There are many good architects, but we have a specific niche. I’m going to compare us to branding: thousands of people buy Toyotas, but few people buy Bentleys. I believe that we are more Bentley than Toyota. This doesn’t mean that a Toyota is not a good car. In terms of reliability, price strategy, and brand positioning, Toyota is a fantastic commercial car – but I prefer a Bentley. Designers are the same; many prefer commercial projects and properties, because their interest is financial. They just want to make money, which means they’re not romantic about their projects. Then you have other designers, which is where I belong, who are more interested in the success of the project, the excitement of the journey of designing a hotel, and having the pride of making something fantastic, even though you earn less money.

Restaurant overlooking ocean in the Maldives

Image credit: One&Only Maldives, designed by Jean-Michel Gathy/Denniston

HK: Has the way in which you source inspiration changed over the years?

JMG: I’m someone who designs from the heart so my style is one that’s charismatic. It’s not an ego trip like the architects who design for themselves. I design elements that are a composition of dramatic effect; I create large and dramatic space, in opposition to intimate areas, so the space is always dynamic. Secondly, I design for the sensation you get out of it. I want every space in the hotel to be comfortable and for my clients to come back and say, I like this space. Sometimes they don’t know why they like it, but if they walk in and feel good, I know I’ve succeeded.

And succeeded Gathy has in widening the path of innovative hotel experiences in far-flung destinations around the world. While his past hotel projects have firmly etched his name into the architecture, design and luxury hospitality history books, his latest ideas and concepts that are currently on the boards highlight Gathy and Denniston’s ambitions. Inspired by his worldly perspective of design and architecture, I believe that Gathy’s aspiration is yet to peak as he continues to think big with the future landscape of luxury international hotel design patiently waiting in his sketchbook for its cue to emerge.

Main image credit: Jean-Michel Gathy/Denniston

IHG to open InterContinental in Rome

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
IHG to open InterContinental in Rome

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announces the signing of a franchise agreement with Westmont Hospitality Group and funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P., for a captivating property in the heart of Rome…

As the industry prepares to rebuild following the destruction caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and while hotel chains are predicted to announce signings and growth plans in new destinations, IHG has announced the signing to open a new 160-key InterContinental-branded hotel in Rome.

A multi-million-euro investment is behind IHG’s plans to open InterContinental Rome in 2022, marking a welcome sign of confidence in the Italian tourism industry at this challenging time.

“The palazzo building was originally home to ambassadors staying in Rome, opening as a hotel in 1993.”

The luxury hotel will be set on the iconic Via Veneto, in the Ludovisi area of the city, close to the Villa Borghese. The existing property – which includes 160 guestrooms and suites, a restaurant, bar, spa and public areas – will be restored to create a sense of discreet, modern luxury for visitors and locals alike.

Designed in the early 1900s by architect Carlo Busiri Vici in the neo-renaissance style, the palazzo building was originally home to ambassadors staying in Rome, opening as a hotel in 1993. Guests will benefit from its proximity to the city’s wealth of art and history, thanks to a prime position less than a kilometre walk from the Galleria Borghese, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. The hotel can be easily reached from Rome’s Ciampino or Fiumicino international airports and is less than 10 minutes from the city’s main rail station.

IHG joins a strong consortium including the US-based fund, Oaktree, Westmont Hospitality Group, strategic investment partner and operator, and UniCredit S.p.A, the project’s senior lending bank. The project is held by a newly established real estate investment fund managed by Milan-based Castello SGR, one of Italy’s premier real estate management companies. 

Willemijn Geels, Vice President of Development, Europe, IHG, commented: “The signing of an InterContinental in Rome represents an important moment in the growth of our luxury portfolio and brand presence across Europe. In these challenging and unprecedented times, this signing shows the continued trust our Owners and partners place in IHG and our brands. We are delighted to partner with Oaktree Capital and Westmont Hospitality Group and look forward to offering InterContinental guests a rich and unforgettable experience in the Eternal City.”

“Confirmation by primary international investors of their commitment to Italy even in this difficult time is a strong signal of the country’s unimpaired attractiveness as a cultural, tourist and business destination,” added  Alfredo Maria De Falco, Deputy Head of CIB and Head of CIB Italy at UniCredit. “UniCredit is a strategic partner for the development of large real estate projects and we are happy to support this important initiative in a sector, such as the luxury hotel industry, which can be a driving force for the recovery of tourism in Italy.”

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts is the world’s largest luxury travel hotel brand. Each of its 213 hotels is a destination in its own right with a distinctive style and ambience, from historic buildings to city landmarks and immersive resorts in every corner of the globe. The InterContinental in Rome will join a family of 34 iconic InterContinental properties in Europe, including InterContinental London – Park Lane, InterContinental Paris – Le Grand and InterContinental Berlin, many of which are undergoing multi-million-euro refurbishment programmes.

This announcement comes weeks after the signing of the Six Senses Rome, which is set to open in late 2021. IHG currently has 44 luxury hotels in Europe, with another 17 luxury hotels in the pipeline to open in the next three – five years. In Italy IHG has a portfolio of 29 hotels – across brands including Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express – and further four in the pipeline.

These recent signings in Rome are the latest in a string of developments for IHG’s global luxury portfolio, including InterContinental Khao Yai Swan Lake Resort in Central Thailand, InterContinental Chiang Mai Mae Ping Hotel and Regent Shanghai Pudong.

Main image credit: Pixabay

Europe’s hotel construction pipeline continues to expand despite pandemic

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Europe’s hotel construction pipeline continues to expand despite pandemic

Analysts at Lodging Econometrics (LE) report that at the close of the first quarter of 2020, Europe’s hotel construction pipeline expanded to near-record highs with 1,840 projects and 294,047 rooms, a 10 per cent increase in projects and a 15 per cent increase in rooms, year-over-year (YOY)…

Projects under construction in Europe stand at 878 projects, with an all-time high of 142,185 rooms; while projects scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months stand at 522 projects with a record-high 82,229 rooms. Projects in the early planning stage have 440 projects/69,633 rooms; up significantly at 27 per cent and 44 per cent respectively, YOY. During the first quarter of 2020, Europe opened 84 new hotels with 10,469 rooms.

The United Kingdom leads the construction pipeline with 342 projects with an all-time high of 52,231 rooms, and then Germany with 323 projects/58,935 rooms. France follows with 172 projects/21,070 rooms. Next is Portugal with 120 projects and a record 13,049 rooms and then Poland with 92 projects/14,529 rooms. 

The cities in Europe with the largest pipelines are London with 96 projects and an all-time high 18,055 rooms, Dusseldorf at 58 projects/11,290 rooms, and Paris at 39 projects/6,108 rooms. Next is Hamburg, with 34 projects/7,294 rooms and then Lisbon with 33 projects/3,116 rooms. 

Accor Hotels is the leading franchise company with the largest European pipeline by projects with 238 projects/32,763 rooms; followed closely by Marriott International, with 227 projects/37,764 rooms. Hilton Worldwide is next with an all-time high of 195 projects/30,289 rooms, then InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) with 160 projects/25,632 rooms. These four global franchise companies account for 45 per cent of all projects in Europe’s pipeline.

The leading brands for these four companies are Accor Hotel’s Ibis brands with 108 projects/13,779 rooms and then Novotel and Mercure Hotels with 25 projects/3,890 rooms and 25 projects/3,177 rooms, respectively. Marriott International’s top brands are Moxy with 75 projects/13,386 rooms, Courtyard by Marriott has 28 projects/4,892 rooms, and Autograph Collection with 20 projects, and an all-time high 1,909 rooms.

Hilton Worldwide is led by Hampton by Hilton at an all-time high of 81 projects/ 12,736 rooms, Hilton Garden Inn with 42 projects/7,093 rooms, and DoubleTree by Hilton with an all-time high 28 projects having 3,354 rooms. IHG’s top brands include Holiday Inn Express with 70 projects/10,844 rooms, Holiday Inn with 31 projects/7,196 rooms, and Hotel Indigo with 16 projects/1,661 rooms.

Similar to other pipelines around the world, Europe’s hotel construction pipeline is experiencing temporary delays of approximately two to four months. Hotel construction across the region varies by country; some countries have resumed construction while others are still waiting for guidance on precautionary measures, guidelines and start dates. 

Countries across Europe are working on plans to safely reopen existing hotels, with plans varying by country. Some countries have partially reopened under strict guidelines, while others plan to roll out “phased reopenings” through June and into July. 

Main image credit: Pixabay

Work begins on Hotel Brooklyn’s second property

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Work begins on Hotel Brooklyn’s second property

It is being described as the city’s new ‘lair’, Bespoke Hotels’ Hotel Brooklyn is slated to open in Leicester in 2022…

Hotel Brooklyn is set to open its second design-led hotel in Leicester in summer 2022, following the successful launch of its Manchester sibling in February.

Located beside the expanded Welford Road Stadium – home to the famous Leicester Tigers rugby team – Hotel Brooklyn, Leicester will boast 191 stylish guestrooms and once again push the bar when it comes to beautifully-designed accessibility for all.

Image credit: Bespoke Hotels

“We are thrilled to have secured this fantastic site in Leicester – right next door to the Welford Road Stadium”, commented Robin Sheppard, Chairman of Bespoke Hotels. “Being built by our trusted partners Marshall CDP, with whom we have worked several times before, we believe Hotel Brooklyn is a perfect fit for Leicester. It will bring a destination hotel into the heart of the city, attract a new audience of customers and, we hope, become a business of which the city will be truly proud’.

Designed by Squid Inc – the team behind renowned Hotel Gotham and Hotel Brooklyn, Manchester – the new Hotel Brooklyn will offer high-class corporate hospitality, versatile dining showcasing both European and American influences, and atmospheric accommodation with a number of skyline suites. Inclusive design of the hotel will again be driven by the design statement capability of Motionspot, the UK’s leading accessible design company, unashamedly positioning itself as Leicester’s most accessible hotel. 

Hotel Brooklyn is a pioneer in accessible design – leading the way in Europe with its adaptability features: a trailblazer in accessible, sexy and modern design for all. Public spaces, including the reception, restaurant, bars, lifts and communal loos, will also entail an accessible design element.

“This hotel has a very unique neighbour in the form of ‘Leicester Tigers’ rugby club and will most definitely add a little extra inspiration into the design,” explained Oliver Redfern, Lead Interior Designer of Squid Inc. “Architectural features, such as the striking central atrium stretching over five floors, will allow us to take the Brooklyn ethos – a palpable anti-slick, anti-corporate sensibility – to a whole new level. This hotel will be irresistibly familiar: a place where outsiders become insiders, and a destination of true hospitality.”

Main image credit: Bespoke Hotels

Osaka Hotel sets sights on a summer unveiling

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Osaka Hotel sets sights on a summer unveiling

Palace Hotel Management Company’s first property to open under a new hospitality brand Zentis is being designed by Tara Bernerd of Tara Bernerd & Partners

With a pedigree that flows from the acclaimed Palace Hotel Tokyo and designs on rewriting the playbook for lifestyle brands, the management arm of Palace Hotel Co. Ltd. has announced plans for a Q3 opening of Zentis Osaka, the first property of its new hospitality brand.

Internationally renowned UK designer, Tara Bernerd of Tara Bernerd & Partners, has been tapped for the property’s modern interiors while Café Co. – the esteemed Japanese food & beverage operator behind the one Michelin-starred CRAFTALE in Tokyo – will develop and operate the hotel’s restaurant, bar and lounge. A top-flight team of seasoned staffers from Palace Hotel Tokyo, the first Japanese-brand hotel to achieve the prestigious Forbes Five-Star rating, will guide the standards of service.

“We see an opportunity to really elevate expectations for service, accommodations and F&B in the upper reaches of the select-service category,” said Daisuke Yoshihara, president of Palace Hotel Co. Ltd. “We believe those critical aspects of the stay experience are what will emerge as key standouts to our guests, truly differentiating our brand from those already in the market.”

Image credit: Palace Hotel Management Company

With Zentis’ strong focus on design, the new property is a member of Design Hotels – a curated selection of independent hotels with a passion for genuine hospitality, cultural authenticity, thought-provoking design and architecture. “We are truly privileged to collaborate with Palace Hotel Management Company to bring Zentis to the Design Hotels community. I am certain that our trend-forward and design-conscious travelers will be inspired by this sophisticated lifestyle addition to our portfolio – and our first for Osaka,” said Jinou Park, Vice President of Asia Pacific.

An entirely new build, the 16-storey property’s contemporary yet laid-back feel flows from a natural colour palette of raw materials, including exposed brickwork and timber beams. A stone staircase anchors a lobby wrapped in floor-to-ceiling windows where a double-sided fireplace creates a focal point and connects an intimate lounge space with the landscaped green space that surrounds.

One floor above is the hotel’s bar and main dining area as well as an airy lounge and outdoor terrace featuring lofty, seven-meter-tall ceilings. Also on the second floor is the hotel’s fitness center – outfitted with Life Fitness equipment and accessible 24 hours.

Taking inspiration from the modular design and intuitive functionality of bento boxes, the 212 guestrooms feature the same fresh palettes that are found throughout the hotel. Polished wooden floors, muted tones and splashes of mustard as well as art on the walls commissioned from a local Japanese artist define spaces that make ingenious use of otherwise snug square footage.

At the helm of UPSTAIRZ – the hotel’s dining venue that is likely to emerge as a destination not only for guests, but also discerning locals – will be Executive Chef Shinya Otsuchihashi, who, after having honed his culinary skills over the last two decades in both Japan and France, will be closely overseeing the eatery’s concept and menus from his base at CRAFTALE.

Zentis Osaka is situated where the picturesque, riverside area of Dojimahama and the high-end business entertainment district of Kita-shinchi meet. Nakanoshima, an islet home to some of the city’s premium attractions – including the Osaka Science Museum and the National Museum of Art, Osaka – is a leisurely three-minute stroll from the hotel while Osaka Station, the city’s main rail hub, is a mere five-minute taxi ride away. The two major airports that service Japan’s third largest city – Kansai International Airport and Itami Airport (Osaka International Airport) – are located less than an hour’s drive away.

Main image credit: Palace Hotel Management Company

INDUSTRY INSIGHT: Striving for a more sustainable future in hotel design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
INDUSTRY INSIGHT: Striving for a more sustainable future in hotel design

With Covid-19 taking up much of the industry’s attention at the moment, it’s important to keep sustainable design high on the agenda, as Senior Associate at HBA EMEA Erica Pritchard explains…

It wasn’t all that long ago that hotels could be praised for putting in LED lights, or banishing plastic bottled water from the mini bar. Yet in more recent times, the world has become focused on sustainability in an insistent way, and in no other industry has this been more apparent than in the world of travel and hospitality. Modern day travellers are seeking to travel more sustainably, and for hoteliers, sustainable credentials have become a necessity. But whilst offering eco-friendly straws and reducing towel washing is certainly commendable, ensuring sustainability is at the core of a hotel or restaurants design vision, and is fundamental in futureproofing it for generations to come.

Broadly, to be sustainable means to organise all human activity in support of the natural systems that ultimately give us life. In our field, to be sustainable means to integrate the processes of development planning, architecture, engineering, interior design, and construction in a way that will also support the natural systems in which we live. As such, sustainable design simply cannot come as an afterthought. Rather it requires intensive forethought to emerge from being an aspirational trend to having sustainability credentials that stand up. The most successful projects are those that have sustainability written into the brief as a core objective and where the whole design team are working together in carbon lifecycle thinking, along with the help of a dedicated sustainability consultant.

Image credit: HBA EMEA

Often simple planning decisions that need to be thought through early in the design process can be make or break for how sustainable a building is. For example, if you open-up aspects that are southern facing, you minimise the need for artificial heating. Similarly, look at optimising natural ventilation to reduce the need for mechanical cooling – it may be obvious to us as designers, but it is all too easily overlooked.

I’ve already touched on the dreaded plastic bottle – a permanent fixture at the hotel bedside and in every mini bar for the last few decades. Not so in vogue anymore but quite difficult to phase out given guests need for fresh water. Hospitality spaces are more commonly adding water stations now, which of course negates the need for plastic bottles but also gives the guest a feeling of generosity. The same goes for the mini bar: in its current iteration it is surely a prime example of unsustainability and has reached its lifespan. However, by stocking it with earth-friendly products that are prepared and purchased locally it becomes an eco-warrior and champion of locale. And let’s face it, not everyone wants Pringles!

Image credit: HBA EMEA

As designers we are just one piece of the puzzle and it is important to acknowledge the value of suppliers in the quest for eco-friendly design. We rely heavily on having strong relationships with suppliers and procurement, and the expert knowledge they provide. There are some amazing companies doing the heavy lifting of research for designers and such partnerships with these enterprises are invaluable as we work together to deliver sustainable hospitality spaces.

Companies offering a level of bespoke craftsmanship that hold their suppliers accountable will hopefully enforce the cause. For example, Christophe Delcourt a Parisian furniture designer offers pieces that are made from natural materials, timber, ceramic, metals and because of the quality they have an extended lifespan, aging with integrity. Like Christian Liagre’s furniture, they are instantly contemporary heirlooms. In the genre of lighting, Alison Berger Glass Works creates lighting that is based on, “the visual vocabulary that societies create to manifest their beliefs, desires and rituals…Like memory itself, these glass objects, sculptures and furnishings transcend time and place.”

Dodds&Shute, a furniture procurement company, are leading the way in putting the carbon footprint of their products at the heart of their work. They have also partnered with Cordillera Azul National Park project in Peru and are offsetting their carbon on projects by buying forest credits. Other companies are offering a level of bespoke craftsmanship that Having companies hold their suppliers accountable will hopefully enforce the cause.

Of course, the mechanics and materials of a building are fundamental in how sustainable it is, however we are also responsible for making such spaces beautiful and inspiring, particularly in the luxury sector. The key here is timeless design. Much like fast fashion, designing for trends is undoubtedly one of the biggest contributors to the world’s sustainability issues. Trends are disposable and thus, so are the materials that are used. The focus should always be on designing for quality and longevity, and recyclability.

Whilst sustainability has been high on the agenda for some time now, the current pandemic has meant it has acquired a new meaning for us all. Hoteliers, restaurant owners and operators find that the sustainability of their business model itself is being radically challenged. Looking ahead beyond the current shutdown future guests will, first and foremost, expect assurances that a hotel or restaurant can sustain the basic health and wellbeing of patrons and staff. In this complex context, interior designers alone cannot ensure a project is sustainable. However, interior designers can play a crucial role in reassuring guests, helping solve the problems of the ‘new normal’ and futureproof such buildings.

It strikes me that we are entering the Age of Responsibility, forced into sharp focus by this pandemic. It includes a principle of life cycle assessment: cleaner production, sustainable consumption, and cradle to cradle concepts. This is not wishful thinking, but a practical strategy for achieving sustainability and responsibility, economically, socially, and environmentally. We know how to green deserts, purify air, seed the rain, and create an abundance of food. We know how to enhance soils rapidly and build healthy and completely natural shelters. How can we, as the present generation, weave regenerative life methodologies together to enable future generations to enjoy a more sustainable environment?

 

One example, albeit extreme, of regenerative values are the Bridges of the Khasi people located in Northeast India. High in the mountainous plateau near the border with Bangladesh, this matrilineal society has been growing and stewarding living root bridges grown from the roots of the banyan tree. These bridges over their high mountain gorges and rushing rivers grow stronger with time, unlike our modern-day concrete and rebar structures. It takes 15 – 20 years just to cross one of these gorges, and maybe another decade before the bridge can bear the regular weight of a passing human. While many of the bridges that are planted are by people who will never walk on them in their lifetime, they are planted and tended to for future generations.

Sustainability clearly isn’t a one-step equation, but a multifaceted process towards making a lasting change. The 7th Generation Principle of Design is a lens through which to measure a design’s effectiveness at maintaining continuity through time – in other words, will it still be performing its intended functions 150 years from today when your grandchildren’s grandchildren’s children are born?

On the surface, to create a sustainable design appears to be a longer and more expensive process, but it doesn’t have to be. The more we adopt sustainable designs, the more such an approach becomes normalised. Sustainable design can be achieved in a way that takes it beyond that of an aspirational trend and towards an embedded cultural change. This is something we need to both inspire and educate our clients on. As designers, we research our market, the setting, and its context. The market will soon be pushing us even further in terms of sustainability as we re-enter a world post-pandemic and we need to be ambassadors of this information, feeding it to clients so that it becomes a core objective for all the stakeholders involved. We must be rigorous in creating holistic hospitality spaces, places that inspire, are differentiated in the marketplace but most importantly, can thrive for generations to come.

Main image credit: HBA EMEA

INDUSTRY INSIGHT: Photographing a hotel for design press

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
INDUSTRY INSIGHT: Photographing a hotel for design press

Following on from the popular feature that explained how to style a hotel’s narrative for design press, Hotel Designs asks photographer Brenden Cox of The Towner  what to consider when framing and capturing a hotel’s interior design scheme…

One of the first questions I always ask a client when I’m photographing is: ‘what are you trying to say’ and ‘who is your target audience’. These questions play a vital role in dictating what these images will look like.

If your hotel has a strong and consistent message, why not express this with your photography?

Image caption: A luxury villa in Ibiza | Image credit: Image credit: Brendan Cox/The Tower

Image caption: A luxury villa in Ibiza | Image credit: Image credit: Brendan Cox/The Towner

People will choose a hotel as they want to be part of the story that the hotel has created. Joseph Campbell wrote that all good stories start with a ‘Call To Adventure’ which is exactly what these photos need to be. Unique angles of rooms or communal spaces makes you want to explore what is around the next corner. Framing an image through a doorway or partly into a room draws the viewer in and excites their imagination. This can also help hide some unflattering but necessary utilities, make these angles work for you! Draw your viewer in and capture their attention with what they find.

Showing what a space looks like is a very important part of advertising your hotel, but as with any great story it comes down to the details. Showing off interesting and unique textures, fabrics and finishes in a hotel gives a taste of what the customer can experience. The great thing is these images can be shot all year round. When booking photoshoots, walking the line of wanting to have beautiful weather but not wanting to disrupt your clientele can be extremely difficult. That is why focusing on detail shots can help increase your content and will compliment beautifully those ‘Hero Shots’ you capture when you have nice weather.

Image caption: Luxury villa in Ibiza: Image credit: Brendan Cox/The Tower

Image caption: Luxury villa in Ibiza: Image credit: Brendan Cox/The Towner

Customers are also usually looking for a certain type of atmosphere when choosing a hotel. Is your hotel in a busy area, surrounded by the lights of the city and the noise and romance of late night dinner spots? Then a dark and moody photograph, showing off the rich textures and colours of your hotel’s interiors, suggests the perfect intimate hideaway. Fitting perfectly with the holiday experience your customer is piecing together in their mind. This is all about playing a role in the story that they are trying to create.

Image caption: The Giri, Ibiza | Image credit: Brendan Cox/The Tower

Image caption: The Giri, Ibiza | Image credit: Brendan Cox/The Towner

Conversely, are you trying to appeal to young families, big groups or people just travelling for business. Having your images wide and bright gives comfort to parents that they will be able to see where their children are playing. Groups know there is space for everyone and there will be no shock about what it looks like when arriving. A photograph is there to put the viewers mind at ease, that the hotel will deliver on what their message says. A dark and rich photograph of a hotel restaurant has the same importance as a wide and well-lit image of that hotels conference room. It is all about what you are trying to say!

Image caption: Inside Eilean Shona Hotel, Vanessa Branson's island, Scotland | Image credit: Brendan Cox/The Tower

Image caption: Inside Eilean Shona Hotel, Vanessa Branson’s island, Scotland | Image credit: Brendan Cox/The Towner

Colour plays a very significant role in expressing what a space has to offer. A photographer will usually take the lead of the interior designer or stylist who has decorated a room by trying to reiterate what it is they are trying to say. Dark woods and rich upholstery will compliment beautifully with a warm light and deep saturation. Reds and oranges are associated with hunger and desire, drawing the viewer in and leaving them wanting more.

When showcasing a rooftop pool or beautiful garden and outdoor area, blues and greens express relaxation, nature and freshness. Using these colours has the added benefit of really making an image stand out. Colours are incredibly versatile and are there to be used to your advantage. Try and keep your branding in mind when discussing with your photographer as well. Most companies have a style guide which all their promotional materials reside within, so why wouldn’t your photos?

Image caption: Luxury villa in Ibiza | Image credit: Brendan Cox/The Tower

Image caption: Luxury villa in Ibiza | Image credit: Brendan Cox/The Towner

One of the best ways to tell a story with photographs, is juxtaposing them in a way that celebrates not only your beautiful hotel but also the area in which it is located. This again will be closely tied to the interior designers approach and how they have tied the styling into the look and history of the surrounding area. Images of white towels and large glass windows, complimented next to rolling surf and white sandy beaches, tell your potential customers all they need to know to convince them to stay!

This is also a great opportunity to really make you hotel stand out from the crowd. How is your space interesting and unique to the area it inhabits. Images of a busy London street next to a photo of a chic Japanese inspired interior excites the imagination and curiosity. As well as images of an open African savannah adjacent to a secluded glass room overhanging it, tells such a vivid story with only two images.

With all this in mind, the most important thing is to really try and explore what you can achieve with your imagery. Due to the rise of social media people are always on the lookout for what is new and exciting. Staying in a hotel can be luxurious and full of adventure, and that should be taken advantage of when planning a photoshoot.

Main image credit: The Towner/Brendan Cox

INDUSTRY INSIGHT: The art of designing safari tents

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
INDUSTRY INSIGHT: The art of designing safari tents

For more than 16 years, and with international celebrities, boutique resorts and government departments as its customers and friends, Exclusive Tents International has become one of the leading global suppliers of safari style camps and accommodation in every shape and size. Writer Donnie Rust, the founder of Lost Executive, explores the family business…

This wonderful family business, Exclusive Tents International has reached this level by the simplest approach of style, quality and authenticity and as founder Paul Zway reveals, there is very little stopping them.

Image credit: Exclusive Tents international

That one inspiring idea

“The creative process begins with getting one solid idea and building on that,” Zway explains. “Everything else is just decoration and details until you have that one brilliant and inspiring idea that makes you want to start to build something. That is where everything begins.”

This period of the project, where ideas are harnessed, is Zway’s favourite part, and has become a fundamental part of his business around which all that Exclusive Tents offer revolves. The man is, by nature, an incredibly forthcoming and friendly person who takes the time to know his clients, his staff and suppliers on a first name basis. He is a man who loves the details of things and thrives on the challenge that an ever increasing and developing hospitality world throw at him and his company.

“Whether a project needs a tent to be constructed entirely from scratch, or if a tent style we already have meets the physical requirements, each and every project is unique because a client’s dream is unique. And dreams always come with challenges,” he adds. “Some of these challenges can be spotted and solved ahead of time. This is where experience is crucial because it allows us to spot challenges before they become problems for clients. It also makes you very able to handle issues when they pop up unexpectedly.”

Image credit: Exclusive Tents International

Living the life

Clients of Exclusive Tents International have described the company with words such as “industry leader” and “pioneer” and they have the results to back up such praise. They’ve been involved in designing and setting up tent structures for as varied a client base as glamping sites, safari lodges, five star award winning hotels and environmentally fastidious eco-lodges.  It could be argued that their “never say never” approach to challenges has helped such industries as glamping and safari to reach their lofty standards on “out-of-the-ordinary-accommodation”. An entire industry has sprouted around the idea that safe, eco-conscious and versatile accommodation can exist anywhere on the planet and one man’s inability to turn down a challenge is partly to blame.

This may seem hyperbolic, but Zway spends a great deal of time flying across the world and speaking to CEOs, hospitality moguls and millionaires who have an idea that seems impossible but they want it made into reality.

“You can never mislead a client or tell them something can be done just to make them happy,” he says, “Truth and transparency is something my whole company values. However, you have to believe that there is a way to get to the end result. It may take a bit longer than a client would like or it may be more expensive, but there is always a way.”

Zway has spent most of his adult life in or around tents. As a professional game ranger specialising in anti-poaching, a career he devoted seventeen years of his life to, he spent many nights sleeping in tents. Some would say that the founding of Exclusive Tents International was almost inevitable. His son, Zane, is also a vital part of the business which revolves around thinking differently and always looking at things from a different perspective.

“This is why we can offer revolutionary designs and superior products,” Zway explains, “We all travel extensively and I live in one of my own tents! So, call it an insider’s perspective, but while a client may be thinking of their vision we’re thinking about the material needed to survive the weather conditions, or what sort of wear and tear can be expected. How will all the details affect the final result and how well it will age?”

It’s no surprise that the company offers over sixty designs and customisable options which is one of the largest selections in the market today. Always fabricated with the finest materials, erected with the best expertise and then backed up with the best after-sales service. Something that he is proud of is that their products are not produced on a soulless conveyer belt and that he has been able to craft a business where quality and that personal touch counts for so much.

“We’ve never had a problem with aftersales service,” Zway remarks, “We treat our clients like family and every client feels that they’ve got the full strength of Exclusive Tents International behind them. Every one of our engineers, interior designers, architects, set up specialists and consultants are there for them to see their vision through.”

Image credit: Exclusive Tents International

Bringing people and nature together

“There is a romance that comes with sleeping in a luxury tent that you will not find anywhere else,” Zway says, “It can bring you right up against nature without actually dropping you in it.”

The ultimate ‘have your cake and eat it’ scenario, Paul is passionate about helping people connect with nature and to better understand their parts of the world. He reveals that a big part of his business has always been to find ways of marrying living spaces with nature and the environment. He believes that this is a fundamental human need that we naturally seek out whenever we can and that industries like glamping were destined to grow. Glamping offers peace, space, tranquility and the chance to connect with nature without being engulfed in a crowd.

Thanks to this he believes that these boutique and creativity-driven sectors like glamping and eco-camping, are in a great position to see a resurgence of popularity post Lockdown that will outclass other groups in hospitality.

“Travel is going to be centred around escaping cities and apartment buildings for a while with people wanting to get back into nature,” he says, “Glamping offers a great chance for this to happen as well as offering the freedom of space.”

Additionally, thanks to many glamping sites promoting privacy and solitude as part of their offering, Paul points out that social distancing will be able to be affected without seeming to be enforced.

“People will be able to enjoy open space, reconnect with nature and spend some precious time looking up at that massive sky and just breathe in the fresh air,” he says.

Image credit: Exclusive Tents International

New designs

Innovation as a tool to meet a client’s current needs and to predict and prepare for their future ones is important. Zway is a big advocate for natural product evolution and change based upon the research and responses from clients. He is also a big believer in making hay while the sun shines. During Lockdown they made time to innovate and craft a new family tent design that has a new look and feel. The tent, named Mabarule after one of the legendary wild African elephants will be available by the end of May and it’s going to be a gamechanger.

In the same regard as this period has all been about keeping the family safe Marabule is a continuation of that. Paul explains that they have the most robust roof frames on the market to handle snow and wind loads and the best performing acoustic and thermal insulation available. Master planning and expert interior design is available for the inside living space which also comes with a number of containerised solutions including hybrid power, kitchens, sanitation, water purification and desalination.

“Marabule really is a masterpiece, and a credit to the incredible resilience and flexibility of the Exclusive Tents team,” Zway says, “There is an endless list of innovation that has gone into this new design which has made it easier to erect yet more secure. The metal components are even more rust resistant yet still being aesthetically pleasing. The material is completely flame retardant and, using unique sandwiching techniques is extra insulated to keep out the elements and keep the comfort in. It is a marvellous accomplishment by a team I am very proud to be involved with.”

Exclusive Tents International is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here. And, if you are interested in also benefitting from this three-month editorial package, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Main image credit: Exclusive Tents International

SPA SPECIAL: A new age of sub-zero wellness travel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
SPA SPECIAL: A new age of sub-zero wellness travel

As Hotel Designs continues May by positioning Spas and Outdoor Style under the spotlight, editor Hamish Kilburn learns more about a new pioneering spa concept, located in the Arctic Circle, which is expected to open in 2022…

Last week, the editorial desk was appropriately focusing its attention on the present, with an unprecedented pandemic shaking the industry to inspire us to look at the hotel spas around the globe that are naturally self-isolating in style.

As we continue our month discovering the flowing world of spas extraordinary outdoor style, we are looking ahead (towards uncharted waters, if you like) to the possibilities and the role of wellness in tomorrow’s luxury hotels. And there is no better example of pioneering wellness hotels on the boards than Svart, the 99-key hotel in Norway’s Artic Circle that has created waves in the luxury travel press recently as it is billed to become the world’s first energy-positive hotel.

More than ever before, by 2022, consumers are predicted to value and seek sustainable travel which incorporates health awareness, mindfulness and wellness. Designed by architecture firm Snøhetta, Svart will aim to offer travellers a new means of conscious escapism. 

Image credit: Snøhetta/Plompmozes/Miris

The Svart Spa and Wellness Clinic will provide a personalised, outcome-focused wellness plan which will underpin the guest experience. Taking individuals on a journey to ‘Climatise, Condition and Evolve’, programmes will target the mind, body and skin and will be individually-tailored to support, strengthen and optimise the outdoor pursuits of the adventurer. 

The 1,000 square metre indoor-outdoor wellness hub will comprise of treatment rooms with outdoor bathing facilities, a relaxation lounge, swimming pool, fully equipped yoga and sound-healing studio, steam rooms and state-of-the-art gym.

Treatments and therapies will range from massages and facials using locally-sourced, sustainable ingredients and indigenous Nordic elements, to sound-healing, reflexology, cryotherapy and transformative health and nutrition coaching incorporating cutting-edge wearable technology.  

A variety of holistic treatments will be on offer, from the traditionally Norwegian – encompassing native Nordic methods – to the medically and technologically cutting-edge. All Svart therapies will use 100 per cent locally-grown natural products, herbs and marine ingredients. 

Upon arrival, guests will have a one-to-one consultation with the expert Spa team and resident health concierge to discuss and select a unique programme of services, therapies and supplements. The treatment plan will be individually-tailored to support and enhance the outdoor activities guests wish to pursue during their stay.

From the cutting-edge spa and adventurous activities offering – which will target physical and mental wellbeing – to the nutritional-focused dining offering, wellness will flow through every element of the hotel. 

A balanced and considered blend of human interaction and sensory attention, within an immersive and comforting atmosphere will aid guests to optimum success in their evolution of wellbeing.

With non-invasive technology available such as wearable devices, guests will also have access to useful data to better understand themselves and enhance goal-orientated efforts. 

“Our aim was to create a truly immersive and purpose driven experience for guests, enabling them to become more in tune with themselves as they take in the natural wonders of Norway’s incredible Svartisen,” explained Felicity Leahy, Svart’s appointed Spa & Wellness Consultant and Co-Founder of iMPACT-Business Health, a leading management consultancy to the medical aesthetics and private healthcare sectors.  

Image credit: Snøhetta/Plompmozes/Miris

A collaboration between property firm MIRIS and leading Norwegian companies, Svart will be the world’s first ‘energy-positive’ hotel, meaning it will produce more energy than it uses. It aims to be fully off-grid, carbon neutral and zero waste within the first five years of operation.

To add to its stellar eco-credentials, the project will be funded by Green Bond, a sustainable investment fund recently launched by MIRIS.

Green Bond provides an opportunity for investors to build wealth responsibly, investing in the future of travel, property and technology while safeguarding the planet for generations to come.

Main image credit: Svart/Snøhetta/Plompmozes Miris

Hotel being formed from train carriages on bridge in Africa

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel being formed from train carriages on bridge in Africa

The train hotel, which will be called Kruger Shalati, is under construction on the Selati Bridge in South Africa’s Kruger National Park…

Talk about a one-off travel experience. Unmatched views of the South African wildlife in Kruger National Park will soon be spectacularly framed from the vantage point of a new 31-key luxury hotel that will be formed from a set of 13 restored train carriages on a disused bridge.

Kruger Shalati is expected to offer a unique luxury accommodation in the re-envisioned train which will pay homage to the guests who explored the park nearly 100 years ago while welcoming new explorers from near and far. The hotel’s location marks where the first visits to the iconic park were allowed in the early 1920s (the train would park overnight in the exact spot where Kruger Shalati will be positioned.)

Render of train on bridge

Image credit: Kruger Shalati

Renderings of the new hotel show how the carriages will merge together and perch over the Sabie River on the Selati Bridge. The glass-walled, large train rooms will allow for infinite views along the length of the majestic river below, while the style of the train is a celebration of African design in collaboration with local art and crafting skills. Despite the architectural challenges, its renderings suggest that the hotel will feature decking, carious view points and even a private plunge pool.

African-inspired Interior design in luxury guestroom.

Image credit: Kruger Shalati

“Even though we’re experiencing a nationwide lockdown, the excitement of the outdoors grows stronger and stronger,” the hotel wrote in a statement on Instagram. “We’re looking forward to heading back to construction on the Kruger Shalati Train on a Bridge. and experiencing the beauty of its surroundings.”

The hotel, which is described on its website as “an express entryway to freedom, relaxation and meaningful connection,” is still under construction.

Main image credit: Kruger Shalati

IN PICTURES: New photography emerges of ME Dubai at the Opus

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
IN PICTURES: New photography emerges of ME Dubai at the Opus

Photographer Laurian Ghinitoiu has shared new images of Opus, an innovative glass-façade building that was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects…

Home to newly opened ME Dubai, the Opus, which conceptualised in 2007 by Zaha Hadid Architects, explores the balance between solid and void, opaque and transparent, interior and exterior.

The late Zaha Hadid herself presented this project as the only hotel in which she created both its architecture and interiors, which gives it a special significance among the architecture firm’s portfolio of work.

“The cube has been ‘eroded’ in its centre, creating a free-form void that is an important volume of the design in its own right.”

Spanning 84,300 square metres (907,400 square feet), the Opus was designed as two separate towers that coalesce into a singular whole – taking the form of a cube. The cube has been ‘eroded’ in its centre, creating a free-form void that is an important volume of the design in its own right. The two halves of the building on either side of the void are linked by a four-storey atrium at ground level and also connected by an asymmetric 38 metre wide, three-storey bridge 71 metres above the ground.

Striking architecture of the cube like building

Image credit: Laurian Ghinitoiu

“The precise orthogonal geometries of the Opus’ elemental glass cube contrast dramatically with the fluidity of the eight-storey void at its centre,” explained Christos Passas, project director at Zaha Hadid Architects.

The cube’s double-glazed insulating façades incorporate a UV coating and a mirrored frit pattern to reduce solar gain. Applied around the entire building, this dotted frit patterning emphasises the clarity of the building’s orthogonal form, while at the same time, dissolving its volume through the continuous play of light varying between ever-changing reflections and transparency.

Image credit: Laurian Ghinitoiu

The void’s 6,000 square metre façade is created from 4,300 individual units of flat, single-curved or double-curved glass. The high-efficiency glazing units are comprised of 8mm Low-E glass (coated on the inside), a 16mm cavity between the panes and two layers of 6mm clear glass with a 1.52mm PVB resin laminate. This curved façade was designed using digital 3D modelling that also identified specific zones which required tempered glass.

During the day, the cube’s façade reflects the sky, the sun and the surrounding city; whilst at night, the void is illuminated by a dynamic light installation of individually controllable LEDs within each glass panel.

Furniture by Zaha Hadid Design is installed throughout the hotel, including the ‘Petalinas’ sofas and ‘Ottomans’ pods in the lobby that are fabricated from materials ensuring a long lifecycle and its components can be recycled. The ‘Opus’ beds are featured in each guestrooms, while the ‘Work & Play’ combination sofa with desk are installed in the suites. The bathrooms incorporate the ‘Vitae’ bathroom collection, designed by Hadid in 2015 for Noken Porcelanosa, continuing her fluid architectural language throughout the hotel’s interiors.

Modern, angular guestroom

Image credit: Laurian Ghinitoiu

The ME Dubai hotel incorporates 74 rooms and 19 suites, while the Opus building also houses offices floors, serviced residences and restaurants, cafes and bars including ROKA, the contemporary Japanese robatayaki restaurant and the MAINE Land Brasserie.

modern bathroom

Image credit: Laurian Ghinitoiu

Sensors throughout the Opus automatically adjust the ventilation and lighting according to occupancy to conserve energy while ME Dubai follows Meliá Hotels International initiatives for sustainable practices. Hotel guests will receive stainless-steel water bottles to use during their stay with drinking water dispensers installed throughout the hotel. With no plastic bottles in guest rooms, and a program to become entirely plastic free in all areas, the hotel is also reducing food waste by not serving buffets and has composters to recycle discarded organics.

Main image credit: Laurian Ghinitoiu

SPOTLIGHT ON: Hotel spas that naturally self-isolate in style

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
SPOTLIGHT ON: Hotel spas that naturally self-isolate in style

Throughout May, Hotel Designs is putting Spas and Outdoor Style under the spotlight. We continue with an editor’s round-up of some of the world’s most awe-inspiring spas. Hamish Kilburn writes…

Before the COVID–19 pandemic, and I am guessing long after the turbulent waters become calm again, architects and designers globally will question and creatively challenge the conventional spa and wellness experience in and out of hotels.

Despite pretty much all travel around the globe currently being on hold, the desire for quality treatments and checking in to relaxing escapes will return. With more and more hotel groups and brands developing their strategy around the rise in demand for wellness and wellbeing, Hotel Designs takes a look at the most dynamically designed hotel spas around the world.

Arctic Bath, Sweden

Establishing shot of the spa on a frozen lake

Image credit: Arctic Bath Hotel, Sweden

Designed by architects Bertil Harström and Johan Kauppi, the Arctic Bath in Sweden was opened recently following much anticipation. The spa, sheltered in the bath house that floats on the frozen River Lule, was designed using natural woods and stone to create an eye-catching ‘birds nest style’ structure.

W Ibiza, Spain

Outdoor pool

Image credit: Marriott Hotels/W Hotels

“When we first entered the building, which is positioned on the beach front, we couldn’t even see the sea,” the founders of  BARANOWITZ + KRONENBERG, Irene Kronenberg and Alon Baranowitz, told Hotel Designs when explaining how the concept of W Ibiza was born. “There had been no thought as to how guests would and should use these public spaces.” The energy of the water, unsurprisingly, became the design concept of the 167-key hotel’s public areas. By opening up the space to become a flexible social hub, the hotel becomes a place that nurtures human connections, and through the use of subtle levels creates touchable distance between each functional area. “The idea is that the energy descends into the unconventional pool area,” adds Baranowitz. “As you move up levels, the lobby/lounge area becomes more reclined, but the open architecture scheme allows for a clever connection between all spaces.”

Equinox Hotel New York

Light and bright pool area in the spa

Image credit: Equinox Hotels

In the summer of last year, Equinox – the brand that made its name for opening and managing a tight-knit community of exceptional fitness and wellbeing clubs in major cities dotted around the world – opened its first ever hotel. Designed by David Rockwell and Joyce Wang to evoke comfort, creativity and focus, the ‘world’s fittest hotel’, as Hotel Designs labelled it ahead of its opening, is sheltered in a 14-storey limestone and glass skyscraper designed by architecture firm SOM. The hotel’s immersive 27,000 square foot spa area, which was the brainchild of Joyce Wang Studio and spa design and consultancy firm TLEE, maximises the most valuable commodity, time. The luxury wellness facilities include tailored treatments, an indoor salt water pool, hot and cold plunge pools, and our E.scape Pods — private relaxation areas that capture unparalleled views of the Hudson River.

Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, England

Outdoor pool

Image credit: Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House

Following a £14m investment, Cottonmill’s three-storey, state-of-the-art, private members’ spa at Sopwell House in Hertfordshire is a break away from the conventional hotel spa. Designed by Sparcstudio, the spa has embraced the growing role of technology in the wellness world, with both the Dornbracht luxury shower, Sensory Sky, which recreates the sensation of showering in the open air, and the ELEMIS Biotec machine, which works to switch skin back on, increasing its natural cellular energy. Outside, award-winning garden designer Ann-Marie Powell created a space to enrich the soul. The botanical theme works around three secluded outdoor hot tubs and a swim-in/out hydrotherapy infinity pool.

COMO Shambhala Estate, Bali

Outdoor pool surrounded by jungle

Image credit: COMO Hotels & Resorts

Set in a tropical rainforest in Bali – the hotel is nestled in a clearing above a jungle-covered gorge beside the River Ayung – COMO Shambhala Estate remains unmatched, major player on the world’s wellness scene for its effortless approach to wellbeing. Architect Cheong Yew Kuan worked with interior designer Koichiro Ikebuchi to create the estate, combining local stone, wood and traditional alang-alang roofing to build sophisticated spaces that are at once contemporary and thoroughly traditional.

7123 Hotel, Switzerland

thermal bath overlooking mountains

Image credit: 7132 Hotel

7132 Hotel, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, is described best as a ‘luxury hotel and design hotel wrapped into one’, and was designed by world-famous architects including Tadao Ando, Kengo Kuma, Thom Mayne of Morphosis, and Zumthor. The crown jewel of the hotel is the award-winning thermal spa by Peter Zumthor, constructed from 60,000 slabs of local quartzite. The unique atmosphere and the highly mineralised water that comes out of the St. Peter spring at a pleasant 30° Celsius creates a deeply relaxing and natural experience.

Kagi Maldives Spa Island, Maldives

Birds eye view of villa with pool by the ocean

Image credit: Kagi Maldives Spa Island

The 1,500-square-metre wellness centre, slated to open in September 2020, is designed by architect Yuji Yamazaki, who was the mastermind behind the world’s first underwater villa. The 50-villa property is said to provide “a 360-degree wellness experience” with a fully-integrated wellness hub that sits at the centre of the island. This area will be complete with an open-air, teardrop-shaped sky roof its core, and will appear to float atop the island’s turquoise lagoon waters.

Hôtel Chais Monet, France

luxury hotel pool

Image credit: Hôtel Chais Monet

The luxury spa hotel was described as a “modern take on traditional French luxe” when Hotel Designs first caught wind of the project in 2016. In simple terms, an extensive restoration project to convert the wine cellars into a luxury hotel has given the buildings on site a new lease of life. Beneath the guestrooms and suites, the hotel’s spa wellness facilities include an impressive 25-metre indoor and outdoor pool, which allows guests to soak in the natural landscape while enjoying R&R from exploring the city. In addition, the spa also features a modern jacuzzi, a sauna, a handful of massage therapy rooms and a state-of-the-art gym.

Main image credit: COMO Hotels & Resorts

Ruby Hotels to open first property in Stuttgart, Germany

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Ruby Hotels to open first property in Stuttgart, Germany

Ruby Hotels‘ 10th property in Germany, which is slated to open in the spring of 2023, will shelter 1,700 square-metres of co-working space…

Following its recent London debut, Ruby Hotels has announced that it will open its first property in Stuttgart, which will take the brand’s portfolio in Germany into double figures.

The 150-key hotel, which is slated to open in the spring of 2023, will be situated in Central Stuttgart’s Gerber Shopping Mall, and has been designed with both the modern traveller and the city’s locals in mind. For the first time since the brand launched in 2013, Ruby will combine its lean luxury philosophy for a hotel and a co-working space under one roof. The new urban hotel and ‘Ruby Works’ co-working space (with approx. 190 workstations) forms part of an ambitious expansion plan to unveil a total of seventeen new properties by 2023, which will include new properties in Munich, Hamburg and Asia. 

Lounge area

Image credit: Ruby Hotels

It is the second time a Ruby Hotel has been integrated into a shopping mall and the first time actual retail space has been converted for this purpose. The challenging conversion work of the 8,000 metre-squared space is scheduled to start in the autumn of 2021 in collaboration with the Stuttgart architecture firm, BWK Architekten, and will be designed sensitively by the brands Head of Design, Matthew Balon

Image credit: Gerber Shopping Mall/Ruby Hotels

 “As a conversion of former retail space right in the heart of the city, the Gerber project represents a ground-breaking milestone for us,” commented Michael Struck, CEO and founder of Ruby Group. “We have created completely new room types for this project, adapted to the challenging floor layouts. The excellent location, high ceilings and unusual style of the building are a perfect match for our lean luxury philosophy and the project therefore represents an attractive new addition to the Stuttgart hotel market.”

All of the 150 guestrooms, from ‘Nest’ rooms to expansive ‘Loft’ rooms, will showcase the brand’s sleep-scientist-approved formula for a peaceful night’s sleep, with full soundproofing, blackout curtains, high-quality linen and extra-long and wide custom mattresses.

White and simple guestroom

Image credit: Ruby Hotels

Ruby, which currently operates eight hotels, will apply its signature lean luxury philosophy to the Gerber project; a location in the heart of the city that will soon connect locals and modern travellers together as the Ruby brand expands at rapid speed in Europe and beyond.

Main image credit: Ruby Hotels/BWK Architekten

Editor Checks In: Emerging from pandemic paralysis

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Editor Checks In: Emerging from pandemic paralysis

As the lockdown measures continue to the halt the industry’s reawakening from its slumber, editor Hamish Kilburn confronts the pandemic from a new vantage point…

The front cover of this month’s US Condé Nast Traveler has managed to harmonise the opinions of the uncertain, and no-doubt anxious, hospitality, design and travel industries worldwide.

“See the world in a new light” was the entirely relevant theme that the always forward-thinking Editor-in-Chief, Melinda Stevens, chose to run. I like to imagine the decision was made while working from home, after a new-found mindset enabled the self-isolating editorial desk to take a deep exhale before thinking about future issues, both in print as well as the complexities that lie ahead for the now-suffering travel industry.

“My role, I feel, is to identify how we, the international hotel design and hospitality industry, can emerge from the hibernation with a positive mental attitude when looking towards the future with (dare I say it) optimism.”

I say this because, as well as cheerleading Stevens’ sharp and at-times eccentric writing style from afar, I too am trying to broaden my horizons to look past the pandemic paralysis. My role, I feel, is to identify how we, the international hotel design and hospitality industry, can emerge from the hibernation with a positive mental attitude when looking towards the future with (dare I say it) optimism. As I write this, I am reminded by a friend that Issac Newton discovered the law of gravity while in self-isolation from the Great Plague of London. The point being that a change of focus – a welcome break from studio life, commuting hell and general disruption from our typical weekly routine – may just allow us to bury our heads into new drawings to metaphorically sketch the route towards a fresh, creative destination that is waiting on the other side.

Going back to drawing board is not only relevant for designers and architects, but also hoteliers in order to maximise service with design. In this month’s exclusive roundtable, it was mentioned that many hotels are using this time to enter a ‘re-opening’ mindset. For some leading luxury establishments, which opened nearly a decade ago, their doors being forced shut is an opportunity to confront challenges and to tweak and enhance the hotel’s design and service so that when it reopens, it is more relevant to tomorrow’s travellers and their hefty demands.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about how the pandemic will impact the industry in the long-term. But one thing, among others, is  crystal clear: post-pandemic, the definition of hospitality as we know it will change, perhaps permanently, to become more of an inclusive lifestyle where formalities are dissolved. Many designers, of course, such Geraldine Dohogne, the former Head of Design at Zannier Hotels, have caught on to this already, and are using this time to plot the ambiance of hospitality and lifestyle brands that will arrive in the future to challenge the conventional shells of yesterday’s luxury hotels.

Exhibitions, as we know them, are being forced to confront the inevitable change of scenery that lies ahead in the next chapter. HIX, for example, has themed its debut event ‘All together now’. The all-new interiors event that takes place in November at the Business Design Centre is encouraging designers to go as far as “unlearning what they know about industry” in order to explore new behavioural patterns and shifting perceptions that are dictating tomorrow’s hotel design landscape. The aim, with a dynamic exhibition line-up and inspirational speakers, is to inspire new and meaningful concepts to allow our industry the freedom to continue churning out boundless possibilities for tomorrow’s hotel guests. Sleep & Eat has also announced its return to London Olympia in November with its focus being on collaborations. “As we emerge from the crisis, there will be a vital need for new collaborations, new engagements and different ways of doing things,” explained the show’s director, Mark Gordon.

During the turbulent times that we are currently self-isolating in, Hotel Designs is committed to ensure that the industry is supported. Therefore, in direct response to the COVID–19 pandemic, we have launched an ‘Industry Support Package’ to help brands to engage with the hospitality sector spanning designers, architects, hoteliers, developers and those that supply to the industry. The exclusive package includes, among other benefits, three pieces of editorial content. If you would like to learn more on how you can take advantage of this one-time offer, please email Katy Phillips.

As the pandemic forces us to get used to a ‘new normal’ and to, as Stevens puts it: “see the world in a new light”, Hotel Designs has launched its official podcast. Six months in planning, DESIGN POD is the contemporary podcast for all on-the-go interior designers and architects globally– and will launch episode 1 shortly after the lockdown measures are relaxed.

In the meantime, the editorial team will keep you updated on all the latest developments in the COVID–19 crisis, while also supplying you with some inspirational content to speed up that much-needed change of perception. And, just for laughs, here are some images that capture freer times…

We will be released back into the wild again shortly… In the meantime, feel free to keep in touch with our team on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, because we are all in this fight together.

Editor, Hotel Designs

Main image credit: Zannier Hotels/tibodhermy

Hotel construction in the United States hit all-time high in March

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel construction in the United States hit all-time high in March

The hotel industry in the United States recorded more than 200,000 rooms under construction last month, the highest end-of-month total ever reported by STR

Despite the pandemic grounding the hospitality and travel industry, the United States recorded 214,704 hotel rooms under construction in March 2020.

“Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the industry is no longer operating in a record-setting demand environment.” – Jan Freitag, STR’s senior VP of lodging insights.

“The number of rooms in construction will likely remain high, just as it did during the pre-recession peak,” said Jan Freitag, STR’s senior VP of lodging insights. “Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the industry is no longer operating in a record-setting demand environment, so there isn’t the same rush to open hotels and tap into that business. In addition to a lack of guests awaiting new hotels, there are also limitations around building materials and potential labor limitations from social distancing. With all of that considered, projects are likely to remain under construction for a longer period.”

Also during March 2020, nine projects from the final planning stage of the pipeline moved to deferred status, as did 21 projects from the planning phase. Additionally, one project in final planning and seven projects in planning were abandoned.

“It’s worth remembering—in 2008, the projects that were in the ground continued to get built, while the projects that were in the planning or final planning stages were most likely shelved,” added Freitag. “We expect the current pipeline to follow a similar pattern and will continue the monitor the number of projects that are halted in the coming months.”

Four major markets reported more than 6,000 rooms under construction between new builds and expansion projects. New York led with 14,051 rooms, which represented 11.0 per cent of the market’s existing supply, followed by Las Vegas (9,082 rooms, 5.5 per cent of existing supply).

1. New York: 14,051 rooms (11.0 per cent)
2. Las Vegas: 9,082 rooms (5.5 per cent)
3. Orlando: 8,737 rooms (6.7 per cent)
4. Los Angeles/Long Beach: 6,640 rooms (6.3 per cent)

Main image credit: Pixabay

VIRTUAL ROUNDTABLE: COVID–19’s impact on hospitality and hotel design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
VIRTUAL ROUNDTABLE: COVID–19’s impact on hospitality and hotel design

To understand the long-term impact COVID–19 will have on the hospitality and hotel design industry, editor Hamish Kilburn asked a handful of leading designers, architects and hoteliers to remotely partake in Hotel Designs’ debut virtual roundtable…

Meet the panel

There is no doubt about it, the industry is suffering as the COVID–19 pandemic forces businesses around the world to either close entirely or adopt working remotely into studio life. With many questions emerging around the current crisis, Hotel Designs puts the pandemic under the harsh editorial spotlight in its debut virtual roundtable. Editor Hamish Kilburn confronts some of the industry’s leaders in order to gain some perspective over how hospitality and hotel design will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the long-term.

Hamish Kilburn: How has the pandemic affected working life?

Fiona Thompson: Design is all about collaboration, and we are learning a whole new way of doing that. We typically work in an open studio, for example, and we experience the projects as they are being designed. In the physical sense, our team is not able to do to that at the moment. We moved out of London a few days before the ‘lockdown’ was introduced, and we are all currently very well connected. I can’t say it’s the same, but it is working and we are adapting.

Michael Bonsor: To put it bluntly , this [COVID–19] has decimated the industry. The concept of hospitality, which is third largest employer in the UK, has stopped. We are now questioning how long this will last for. The government stepped in with the incredible furlough package, which has protected so many jobs.

Conor O’Leary: Hospitality is what we do – we look after people. Guests from all over the world stay with us, eat with us and enjoy the plethora of outdoors activities that we offer. Well, we are not doing any of that at the moment. None of our team want to be sitting at home on any furlough arrangements. We totally understand the frustration, but we are where we are.

Geoff Hull: From an architect’s perspective, while on-site activity has been put on hold, there is a lot of design work, and collaboration work with specialists, that is ongoing. We are hoping that we can come out of this, in three months, with some dynamically designed projects planned so that we are ahead when we are allowed back on site.

James Dilley: As a designer, the backdrop of wallpapers and artwork in colleagues and clients kitchens, bedrooms and lofts is sometimes inspiring and sometimes sobering. On a serious level, I personally miss the face-to-face and often serendipitous interaction of a physical studio. 

“This pandemic will reset how we think about travel and will require us to confront problems such as mass tourism and over tourism in many destinations around the world.” – Michael Bonsor, Managing Director, Rosewood London.

HK: How has working-from-home changed your mindset on communication? 

GH: I think we are communicating better at the moment, and how people have come together is awe-inspiring. We work with a lot of non-UK designers at EPR Architects who would usually insist on flying over on a first-class ticket to see us. However, with these meetings being able to happen virtually instead, there is a question on the need of so much travel. I genuinely am looking at this positively.

JD: I have recently been pre-occupied with the way that people “home” themselves has been rapidly evolving, and layering this revolution in how we work, particularly from home, will make this even more exciting. If life is evolution peppered with revolution, this is the latter.

MB: Prior to this happening we were over communicating with the team, to ensure that everyone had all the information they needed. With those employees that have been put on furlough packages, we may not be engaging with them to work, but we are engaging with them to keep everyone updated. We have a core team of 30 people in the hotel who are making the property safe and they are doing fun things in the hotel to keep everyone engaged and informed.

HK: When do you expect your hotels to re-open?

MB: The global market has to be stable for a hotel like Rosewood London to re-open. We can’t just rely on the local market because there is not enough demand to go around. For me, I would rather the government measures were prolonged a little while longer so that it gives time for the world to reset.

CO: Not only does the world need to reset, but we also have to understand how happy people are to travel.

MB: We might open a part of the hotel, like the the bar and restaurant, in June or July. Things are getting pushed back as the social season is cancelling in the UK. Meanwhile, Austria has just announced that they will begin to slowly reopen some businesses, which could be an indication of things to come, but hotels and restaurants are at the end of that cycle.

CO: We don’t see a hotel bedroom being open until July. It’s slightly different for us here. We don’t see there being much point in having the restaurants and bars open without having guests in – we don’t have that passing traffic and footfall. We may get some of our activities open for our members, but it’s not a game-changer for us. We will know more after Easter, but the second question to that is what that looks like when we open. It’s going to be focused on local custom which will be a lower volume level. Suddenly our entire business model changes.

HK: Generally speaking, hotels are targeting an international audiences. Will this change post-pandemic? 

CO: Our business model is built on a summer of international guests, and that may be different going forward. We are privileged in our geographical location – Gleneagles is built on an 850-acre estate. For now, all our strategies are short-term and everything is changing all the time. We are staying in touch with the team. We have always been conscious about where we sit in the community, and that’s great in the good times, but also more important in the times like these to ensure we stay in touch and support.

MB: 40 per cent of our market comes from America. This pandemic will reset how we think about travel and will require us to confront problems such as mass tourism and over tourism in many destinations around the world. That may be a small silver lining in this global crisis. We are re-forecasting and re-strategising every four hours right now, because who knows how this is going to go?

“I cannot see how the business take-up of those rooms will not drop significantly, because it will be luxury and almost indulgent to have this face-to-face time when we have learned to cope without it.” – James Dilley, Director, Jestico + Whiles.

HK: How will hotels catering to ‘bleisure’ travellers be impacted from the pandemic?

JD: The ‘business hotels’ will come out looking very different. I have spent many years just hopping on a plane to a destination to see a client or a site. Over three months, working from home will start to feel normal. I cannot see how the business take-up of those rooms will not drop significantly, because it will be luxury and almost indulgent to have this face-to-face time when we have learned to cope without it. That is the biggest impact.

In terms of leisure, when this passes I predict there will a spike because people will be anxious about being coped up and will want to compensate. After that, people will settle down and I predict that people will question whether they need to travel as much as they were. I think there will be a spike in leisure hospitality experiences closer to home.

HK: What about the way in which we design public areas, will this change?

FT: Perhaps in the short-term. Of course people will be conscious of hygiene and numbers of people in meetings may end up being limited. It’s very difficult to tell how quickly it will reset, and whether or not it will go back to normal. I certainly don’t have the answer right now. In business travel, we are utilising the internet and technology at the moment, so there will arguably be less need to travel as much at the end of this.

“Sustainability is such an important topic and it should be engrained into mindsets enough now that there is no reason for it to be shelved, especially when it comes to designing projects.” – Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International.

HK: Has COVID–19 taken sustainability off the radar?

CO: One of the core aspects for me with sustainability is to think local. I think there will be huge shift in supporting and buying local, which is one of the pillars of sustainability. There has to be an element of trust, and I predict that consumers will want to know more about where things have come from.

MB: I would say that any good operator will continue with more gusto now in eliminating single-use plastics, reducing energy consumption and looking local for products and services. Respecting the world around us has never been so important.

FT: I would hope the focus hasn’t shifted. Sustainability is such an important topic and it should be engrained into mindsets enough now that there is no reason for it to be shelved, especially when it comes to designing projects. It almost calls for it to be more apparent.

Image caption: The Old War Office in Whitechapel. Executive Architect for this high-profile Restoration and Conversion mixed use project was EPR Architects

HK: What’s social media’s role in all of this? 

CO: Gleneagles is being cautious when it comes to social media. We are trying to be positive without being glib. We are very aware that the wider Gleneagles family is suffering. Our messaging has shifted to be more focused around the community with zero selling and zero brand promotion. Our team is working with local councils in order to help amplify their messages.

MB: At one point, we wanted to create content around what you could do at home , such as cooking recipes and fitness workouts etc. However, as the story has evolved, we have decided to pause messaging and just wait. What we are doing has more of a charity angle. We have just teamed up with James & Cranwell for its Hospitality 4 Heroes campaign to raise money for the NHS during the crisis. You have to be so careful with tone right now in everything you do. It’s wise to be slightly quieter than normal. But we are looking at markets that are coming back. Five or six properties in Asia, for example, are re-opening, and we are looking at how we can engage with those markets, but it is a slow process – and while some areas around the world are recovering, others are being hit hard.

“It’s a good time to look at everything and to not just set things back to how they were.” – Michael Bonsor, Managing Director, Rosewood London.

HK: Will any sector come out looking stronger at the end of the COVID–19 crisis?

MB: We were speaking before the closure with a company that fogs large areas of public spaces. The fogging treatment protects the area for up to 30 days. This product lands on surfaces and protects them. I think we will utilise the same technology going forward. Also, from a positive point of view, there will be more emphasis on re-training staff regarding sanitisation and anti-viral measures and the courses they can complete.

To put it another way, we are back at the ‘opening stage’ again. We opened the hotel eight years ago and we are at that moment again. It’s a good time to look at everything and to not just set things back to how they were. We have been talking in great deal about this. Those cities that will come out of this stronger will be the ones that have sharp responses to this problem.

“To have lots of unnecessary elements in a room design has had its day! Clients and guests will have expectations when it comes to easy-to-clean surfaces.” – Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International.

Image caption: A suite inside Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel, designed by Richmond International

Image caption: A suite inside Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel, designed by Richmond International

HK: Will this pandemic create a desire for more minimalist design?

FT: It will certainly be a design driver. After all, space is luxury. To have lots of unnecessary elements in a room design has had its day! Clients and guests will have expectations when it comes to easy-to-clean surfaces. It will be interesting to see how long concerns last when this is all over, because people’s behaviour does tend to revert back to how they used to use spaces.

“This is going to further loosen the modern definition of hotels and hospitality.” – James Dilley, Director, Jestico + Whiles.

Image caption: Concept render of W Edinburgh, designed by Jestico + Whiles

HK: How will the industry rebuild itself from this?

CO: We’ve had evolutions and revolutions in the past. People want to leave their houses and there will be spike in demand for hospitality products when we are able. Well-managed businesses will survive. The risk is in the mid-sectors. Equally, innovation comes through during hardships.

JD: We were in a position before all of this when hospitality was changing; the industry was not the hotel with the capital ‘H’ everywhere. Yes we have the grandeur five-star hotels, and they had their plan, but hospitality was and is generally becoming more universal and accessible.

There was a phenomenon that was happening that was very exciting: hotels were becoming continuous with other uses, such as a cinema or a radio station as well as other things. They were becoming more open and permeable.

As well as entertainment, we have seen hotels opening co-working spaces. They were becoming conjoined with this long line of what you might call ways of living. The merging of those ways of living was becoming blurred. The fluid boundaries were becoming exciting. I think this revolution is going to be layered on top of that where the hotel has to morph to become much more extended and fluid. This is going to further loosen the modern definition of hotels and hospitality.

If you would like to respond to some of the areas we have discussed in this virtual roundtable, please do so by tweeting @HotelDesigns.

“COVID-19 pandemic will put sustainability on hold,” experts warn

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
“COVID-19 pandemic will put sustainability on hold,” experts warn

Analysts at GlobalData have predicted that the global outbreak of COVID-19 will steer the UK consumer’s attention off sustainability…

Sustainability was the buzz word of 2019 and would have continued to increase in prominence in 2020. However, the COVID–19 pandemic will bring progress to a halt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

“Making changes to materials, logistics and production processes to improve the sustainability of products and operations will slow, as sustainability is no longer top of retailers’ and consumers’ agendas,” commented Emily Salter, Analyst at GlobalData. “This is due to long-term adjustments being costly and many non-food retailers will be financially unstable as they emerge from this crisis after a significant period of low or no sales.”

Sustainability and single-use plastic will be less important to many consumers in the short term where hygiene and cleanliness is more of a priority to prevent the spread of the virus. Prior to the outbreak, shopping habits were starting to shift – 74 per cent of nationally representative UK consumers surveyed in 2019 said they would prefer to shop at a retailer that has more loose fruit and vegetables. However, the prioritisation of health over the environment has led to a drastic increase in sales of anti-bacterial gel and hand wash in plastic bottles, with little regard for plastic-free alternatives or refills that may be available.

Salter continues: “Another issue is the problem of unsold stock that retailers will be stuck with, as all non-essential stores and some websites have ceased trading temporarily. Some items and ranges could be able to be sold at a later date, but this may not be the case for highly seasonal and trend-led pieces, raising questions about how these items will be disposed. Given Burberry came under fire for burning stock in 2018, retailers must be careful how they deal with this issue. Acting quickly, Kurt Geiger has announced it plans to donate some of its stock to NHS staff, clearing through the excess while also generating positive press.”

Additionally, during the outbreak consumers will be less likely or unable to buy second hand items – sales via some Facebook neighbourhood groups for instance are being discouraged or stopped, and willingness may decline after the crisis is over due to lingering concerns about the hygiene of used products.

Salter concludes: “Although sustainability will slowly become more important again once the spread of COVID-19 has ceased, the increased awareness of cleanliness and germs is likely to remain at the forefront of shoppers’ minds and will continue to hinder the growth of sustainability initiatives, such as refill stores.”

Image credit: Pixabay

Inside JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Inside JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa

Hotel Designs has gained virtual access inside JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa, which is expected to open in May as the brand’s second hotel to arrive in Orlando… 

Ideally situated on the doorstep Walt Disney World Florida, JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa has been appropriately designed with warm interiors that are suitable and accessible to all.

The resort’s calm, inviting social spaces and amenities will include a Spa by JW, resort pool with splash pad, specialty restaurants, as well as a rooftop terrace boasting nightly views of theme park firework displays.

Render of outside terrace

Image credit: Marriott International

Inspired by its natural surroundings, the expansive 516-key JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa has been thoughtfully designed to promote a sense of wellbeing and relaxation. The sophisticated décor includes indigenous woods, wicker, reeds and stone features from the inviting lobby to the airy guestrooms and suites.

“We are truly delighted to continue to expand our JW Marriott portfolio in Orlando, Florida,” said Mitzi Gaskins, Vice President & Global Brand Leader, JW Marriott when the hotel’s opening date was announced. “The new JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa will bring a modern, luxurious and wellness-focused setting to our guests in Orlando, inviting them on an enriching journey of relaxation with experiences crafted with their holistic well-being in mind.”

Render of modern, light guestroom

Image credit: Marriott International

The guestrooms and suites feature lofted beds for an array of sleeping arrangements, spa-like bathrooms, and larger living areas, Family Suites are designed specially to make stays more comfortable and convenient for multi-generational families traveling with young children or any guests looking to come together and foster a true connection.

When the hotel opens, JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa will provide guests with warm, uplifting service and experiences designed to deepen their journeys. The new resort is said to offer a luxury escape for travellers who come to feel present in mind, nourished in body and revitalised.

Main image credit: Marriott International

Aloft Hotels arrives in Bali with new ‘future-proof design’

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Aloft Hotels arrives in Bali with new ‘future-proof design’

Aloft Hotels’ First property on the Island of Bali introduces the brand’s new ‘future-proof design formula’…

Aloft Hotels, Marriott International’s hotel brand for music enthusiasts and tech-savvy travellers, has announced the opening of Aloft Bali Seminyak.

Located in the heart of vibrant Seminyak, within walking distance to the beachm, the urban-inspired hotel features interactive social spaces and modern style, along with a fresh new social scene to Bali as the first Aloft hotel to open on the island.

“We are excited to be unveiling the Aloft Hotels brand in Bali,” said Mike Fulkerson, Vice President, Brand & Marketing, Asia-Pacific, Marriott International. “The new Aloft Bali Seminyak is set to own the stage as the hottest gathering hub for travellers visiting the well-known social scene of Seminyak. From its bold design to its live music programming, locals and guests alike can experience the next generation of hotels that will enhance their stay while vacationing on island paradise.”

Aloft Bali Seminyak embodies the brand’s new tech-forward design philosophy with a lively, industrial-inspired aesthetic intermixed with distinct local touches that complement the free-flowing open spaces. The hotel is home to 80 modern and stylish guestrooms, all of which have been designed with the brand’s signature artful and innovative loft layout in mind. They feature airy nine-foot-ceilings, Aloft’s ultra-comfortable beds and contemporary décor with Balinese accents. In addition, the hotel features eight guestrooms with direct access to a lap pool, complete with stunning views of a tropical hanging garden.

render of luxury guestroom

Image credit: Aloft hotels/Marriott International

The hotel features a variety of dining and social spaces including its main attraction: The Kahuna rooftop restaurant, which serves up a fusion of eclectic fare with a playful twist on international and local cuisine complemented by mesmerising sea views as a backdrop.

The open and expressive lobby is adjacent to Re:mix lounge that provides locals and travellers a space to mix and mingle. The brand’s signature W XYZ bar offers signature cocktails and light bites for guests to enjoy over live music as part of the brand’s iconic Live At Aloft Hotels music series which offers emerging local artists a platform to showcase their musical talent.

Business travellers can make use of the two multi-functional, tech-forward meeting spaces equipped with fast and free Wi-Fi, which can also be transformed into an intimate event venue accommodating up to 66 people.

Aloft currently operates 176 lifestyle hotels globally. There are 132 Aloft hotels in the signed pipeline expected to open in North America, Caribbean & Latin America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Asia Pacific.

Main image credit: Marriott International/Aloft Hotels

MINIVIEW: A story of sustainable design inside Heritance Aarah, Maldives

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
MINIVIEW: A story of sustainable design inside Heritance Aarah, Maldives

The recently opened Heritance Aarah resort was the first property to be awarded gold for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Hotel Designs takes a peak inside the sustainable masterpiece…

Opened last year in the  Raa Atoll of the Maldives, Heritance Aarah has not sacrificed style or design in its quest to become the most sustainable hotel in the region.

The resort is owned and managed by Aitken Spence Hotels, which currently operates 23 hotels and resorts across Sri Lanka, Maldives, Oman and India, which are reflected under the Heritance, Adaaran and Turyaa brands.

Image credit: Heritance Aarah

Four years in the making, the 150-key Maldivian resort shelters a design scheme that compliments the uninterrupted views that stretch across the horizon. The overall aesthetic, created by architect Mohamed Shafeeq, follows a strict approach of sustainability. With the aim to outshine other luxury hotels in the area, the hotel has implemented components such as fuel-saving generators, energy-saving LED lighting, water-saving fixtures and energy-efficient air conditioning.

Image caption: Beach Villa, complete with energy-saving technology | Image credit: Heritance Aarah

These operational achievements, married with thoughtful design, enabled Heritance Aarah to become the first ever property in the Maldives to be awarded the internationally recognised Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, which complies with the US Green Building Council rating system and is awarded to properties that save energy, water and resources; generate less waste; and support human health.

“We are honoured that Heritance Aarah has been presented with numerous accolades after just a few months of opening,” said Stasshani Jayawardena, Executive Director of Aitken Spence PLC and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels. “Aitken Spence Hotels are known for distinction in the culinary field and Heritance Aarah’s 11 dining and drinking outlets introduces guests to flavours from across the world.

“Furthermore, our strategies to expand are led by guests’ expectations and design- led refurbishments to enrich the experience at our properties. A key priority is to ensure our resorts contribute positively to protect and preserve the environment and the ecosystems we operate in so we are proud that Heritance Aarah has been named as the first LEED Gold certified property in the Maldives.”

The resort’s 150 villas allow guests to wake up either atop of the turquoise ocean or beside it on the soft, sun-drenched shores – either way, the ocean is never far away. The intimate villas and suites, each with thatched roofs and calming interiors, seamlessly blend indulgent comforts with traditional aesthetics, adding a further layer to the unique sense-of-place.

Scattered around the property are the dynamically designed, contemporary F&B areas. The six restaurants and five bars, which have collectively won a total of 130 medals, house open-air dining options to once again frame the postcard-perfect views.

Image caption: The interiors inside Falhu Bar, one of the 11 F&B options in the resort | Image credit: Heritance Aarah

The Medi Spa, with six treatment rooms, is situated Situated above tranquil lagoon waters. Its scaled-back design not only compliments the laid-back luxury approach of the resort, but also allows nature in to offer a holistic wellness experience.

Image caption: The main pool | Image credit: Image caption: The interiors inside Falhu Bar, one of the 11 F&B options in the resort | Image credit: Heritance Aarah

Image caption: The main pool | Image credit: Image caption: The interiors inside Falhu Bar, one of the 11 F&B options in the resort | Image credit: Heritance Aarah

Like all hotels at the moment (in all sectors), Heritance Aarah is feeling the effects of the COVID–19 pandemic – and recently released a statement on its website on this. In these no-doubt turbulent times, one thing is as clear as the waters that surround Heritance Aarah: the luxury nest, situated in one of the world’s most desired far-flung destinations, is waiting to welcome its next sea plane of luxury travellers (whenever that may be).

Main image credit: Heritance Aarah

Marriott debuts multi-purpose-built property in South Africa

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Marriott debuts multi-purpose-built property in South Africa

Marriott International grows its footprint in South Africa with the opening of Johannesburg Marriott Hotel Melrose Arch, the chain’s first multi-purpose-built hotel in the country… 

Marriott International has announced the opening of Johannesburg Marriott Hotel Melrose Arch, which marks the first purpose-built Marriott Hotel in the country.

Owned and developed by the Amdec Group, the hotel and apartments are situated in the bustling Melrose Arch Precinct and provide a premium destination for business travelers and a fully serviced extended stay destination.

“We are thrilled to open Johannesburg Marriott Hotel Melrose Arch and Marriott Executive Apartments Johannesburg Melrose Arch, further strengthening our relationship with the Amdec Group in South Africa,” said Sandra Schulze–Potgieter, Vice President Premium & Select Brands, Marriott International Middle East and Africa. “The openings are part of Marriott International’s commitment to expand our footprint in Africa and deepen our brand portfolio in South Africa. The property is a strong representation of two brands which will deliver tailored services, sophisticated spaces and enriching experiences.”

Johannesburg Marriott Hotel Melrose Arch is the first Marriott Hotel in South Africa to showcase the brand’s new design touchpoints. The property features 306 guest rooms, including 10 Junior Suites. Each of the spacious rooms are thoughtfully designed with a balance of tailored utility and contemporary style for the traveler who believes that form is just as important as function. Local accents add a sense of place to the sleek aesthetic, while open workspaces allow for flexibility to connect anytime.

The hotel is home to spaces that spark brilliance and seamlessly blend work and play with state-of-the-art business facilities, such as the Greatroom – a contemporary space located in the hotel lobby designed for socialising, relaxing and working. Guests can enjoy an elevated experience through the Mobile Guest Services, delivered with the warm and professional service for which the brand is globally renowned.

The F&B areas include Archer Bar and Eatery – a charismatic social space, part bar and part coffee hangout, serving local craft beers, specialty coffee and creative mixology, and Keystone Bistro – a stylish restaurant serving international cuisine with a South African flair. In addition, the hotel features seven meeting rooms, a ballroom, pre-function space and a 24-hour fitness centre, complete with outdoor heated swimming pool and pool bar.

On the upper floors of the new build, Marriott Executive Apartments Johannesburg Melrose Arch features 84 fully sized and equipped apartments, ranging from one-, two- and three-bedroom units, for travellers seeking a trusted, longer stay.

Main image credit: Marriott International

Radisson signs debut beach resort in Dubai

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Radisson signs debut beach resort in Dubai

Radisson Hotel Group has announced the signing of the Radisson Resort Dubai Palm Jumeirah, its first beach resort in Dubai and third Radisson hotel in the United Arab Emirates…

Located on the Jumeirah shoreline, Radisson’s latest resort brings the group’s UAE portfolio to 23 hotels in operation and under development.

Inside Radisson Resort Dubai Palm Jumeirah’s 389 upscale rooms and suites, guests will discover the renowned hospitality and modern amenities. The hotel will feature five food and drink outlets, with cuisine suited to every taste at the all-day dining restaurant and guests can explore the hotel bars which overlook the infinite views of Dubai and the sea.

“Radisson is a very compelling brand to all stakeholders, blending real estate efficiencies with guest relevance,” said Elie Younes, Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer, Radisson Hotel Group. “We are excited to enter this new partnership and look forward to a successful journey with our partners based on trust and responsibility.”

The hotel will also house a fully equipped gym, and a luxury  spa, which will utilise the breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf. The hotel will also be home to three meeting rooms; the ideal space to host any leisure or business function.

Main image credit: Radisson Hotel Group

VIP Arrivals: hotels opening in April 2020

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
VIP Arrivals: hotels opening in April 2020

Despite COVID-19 putting the brakes on hotel development activity, Hotel Designs’ Hamish Kilburn wants to still celebrate the hotels that were originally planned to open in April so that we have something to look forward once the crisis is over…

It was all going so well. Only last month I wrote that 2020 was shaping up to be a year of expansion for many hotel brands.

A few weeks after publishing that article, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a pandemic following the COVID–19 outbreak. Now with businesses and homes in lockdown – something that everybody is having to comes to terms with – hotels that were originally planned to open in April have hit a temporary red light, but we still want to shine the spotlight on a handful of them away.

Villa Copenhagen

CGI rendering of a light and open classy brasserie

Image caption: CGI rendering of The Brasserie inside Villa Copenhagen

Sheltered inside what was the century-old Central Post and Telegraph Head Office, the 390-key Villa Copenhagen was originally planned to open in April. Traditional Danish and international F&B areas have been designed by London-based studio Goddard Littlefair with the aim to promote wellbeing and sociability. It was described in an interview with Jo Littlefair as “the destination’s answer to The Ned, London”. A member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, the hotel will offer a conscious approach to luxury with a focus on all things eco-friendly.

W Ibiza

Render of green and blue exterior of the hotel

Image credit: W Ibiza

The brainchild of BARANOWITZ + KRONENBERGW Ibiza was slated to open in April. Located off the beaten track, the 167-key hotel strikes a pose on the palm-fringed beachfront of Santa Eulalia. As the only global brand on the island, the design brief was to fuse together the parallel realities of Ibiza with a magnetic pull that turns up the sass.

The design scheme has opened up the public spaces to become a flexible social hub, the hotel becomes a place that nurtures human connections, and through the use of subtle levels creates touchable distance between each functional area. “The idea is that the energy descends into the unconventional pool area,” Alon Baranowitz told Hotel Designs in an exclusive interview. “As you move up levels, the lobby/lounge area becomes more reclined, but the open architecture scheme allows for a clever connection between all spaces.”

Soneva Fushi, Maldives

Render of luxe villa on the water

Image credit: Soneva Fushi, Maldives

Sources have told Hotel Designs that there are no new guests arriving in any of the hotels in the Maldives at the moment, and that hotel staff are being told to self-isolate for at least 14 days.

Meanwhile, Soneva Fushi is preparing to launch new overwater villas, which were expected to be up and running in April. The one- and two-bedroom villas of the refreshed Soneva Fushi will feature private pools, sunken seating areas, catamaran nets strung over water, and retractable roofs.

Six Senses Shaharut

Villa over looking desert

Image credit: Six Senses

Following a significant year of growth for the hotel brand that aggressively extended its luxury portfolio with a number of openings around the globe, Six Senses is preparing to open its first hotel in Israel.

Perched on the edge of a cliff in the south of the Negev Desert, the 58-suite hotel will pride itself of on eco-living, going as far to ban cars on the property as well as all outdoor lighting to further minimise light pollution.

Camp Sarika by Amangiri, Utah

Image credit: Aman/Amangiri

A five-minute drive across the desert from Amangiri, Camp Sarika’s collection of 10 elegant and spacious one- and two-bedroom pavilions was slated to open in April. Complementing the clean lines and natural material palette of Amangiri’s suites, the generously proportioned pavilions each have indoor living and dining areas, as well oversized terraces with fire pits and heated plunge pools.

Hotel Designs is currently researching and writing the next article in this series, which will identify the top hotels that are opening in May, 2020. If you are working on a hotel project, or know of a hotel that would be suitable for the feature, please email the editorial team

Main image credit: Aman/Amangiri

CASE STUDY: Creating ‘sense-of-place’ in nhow London carpets

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
CASE STUDY: Creating ‘sense-of-place’ in nhow London carpets

Carpet manufacturer Brintons were asked by design studio Project Orange to help them capture the theme of ‘London Reloaded’ in the carpets inside nhow London…

Brintons supplied carpets for key public areas and the Royalist Suite within the UK’s first nhow hotel, a four-star property under NH Hotel Group’s design and lifestyle brand, which is situated on the fringe of Shoreditch.

The hotel, which Hotel Designs was the first to check in to, exploded onto the London hospitality scene earlier this year. Themed ‘London Reloaded’, the interiors were designed by architect James Soane, combining “British icons with unconventional contemporary elements”.

Brintons worked with James Soane at Shoreditch-based design firm Project Orange; together creating carpets to suit both the business traveller and tourist guest of the hotel. The bold, floral carpet designs seen throughout the corridors and staircases of the eight-floor hotel reflect the Walk in the Park theme, while the sharp modern ‘space invaders’ houndstooth that forms the design in the three meeting rooms called Laboratories enhance the hotel’s modern structure.

“Working with the creative brief ‘London Reloaded’, Project Orange continued their long-time collaboration with Brintons to develop original and playful designs that tell a story,” said James Soane, Director at Project Orange. “The guest corridor was pictured as a Walk in the Park – where the bedroom doors are painted different bright colours complete with brass door knockers along with a dark green carpet strewn with roses. This romantic and theatrical experience offers the guest an immersive experience unlike any hotel and is truly unique.”

Image caption: Brintons supplied thew carpets for the Royalist Suite inside nhow London

Image caption: Brintons supplied thew carpets for the Royalist Suite inside nhow London

The East End’s coolest new hotel, plays homage to both the area’s industrial past and technological future. Throughout the hotel, bold and fresh design takes inspiration from traditional British icons, such as the Royal Family, London landmarks and the underground. This quirky new offering is the fifth property in the nhow portfolio, joining hotels in Milan, Berlin, Rotterdam and Marseille.

Image caption: Brintons supplied carpets for all the meeting rooms inside nhow London, including the Tech Lab.

Image caption: Brintons supplied carpets for all the meeting rooms inside nhow London, including the Tech Lab.

Loughton Contracts were commissioned to install the carpet for the project. “It was great to work with Brintons on such an amazing project,” added Craig Anstey, Divisional Director at Loughton Contracts. “The vibrant and luxurious carpet design worked perfectly with the eclectic and industrial look of London’s first nhow Hotel. I can’t wait for the next collaboration between Loughton Contracts and Brintons.”

nhow, commissioned Brintons to supply custom axminster carpets to run throughout the corridors, staircases and meeting room areas, and to create a bespoke axminster rug for the Royalist Suite, each echoing the contemporary feel of the hotel setting.

Main image credit: Brintons

In Conversation With: Interior Designer of the Year 2019, Jo Littlefair

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In Conversation With: Interior Designer of the Year 2019, Jo Littlefair

Securing her place in the history books, Jo Littlefair came out on top last year at The Brit List Awards 2019, spectacularly winning the coveted title, Interior Designer of the Year. A few months later, she welcomes editor Hamish Kilburn into the Goddard Littlefair HQ to give him a glimpse into studio life…

“Jo, can I borrow you for just a second,” says senior associate and architect David Lee Hood as Jo Littlefair and I walk through the studio. “This archway,” he says pointing to a life-like rendering on his monitor, “what are your thoughts on adding in a line of colour here?” As he shows the before and after, it is a game of ‘spot the difference’ to the untrained eye. But for the multi-layered studio Goddard Littlefair, where the devil is so often in the detail, it could be the difference between winning a pitch or losing it, as any design practice operating on today’s international scene will confirm.

“We have made a few changes to encourage people to come and talk to us more.” – Jo Littlefair, co-founder, Goddard Littlefair

The short but important moment is proof, if ever I needed it, that Littlefair likes to naturally lead from within her team. And as we walk through the open-planned office that is flooded with natural light towards her workstation, I notice also that there is no door, and no boundary, between herself and everyone else in the building.

Image caption: The Lowry Presidential Suite, designed sensitively by Goddard Littlefair

Image caption: The Lowry Presidential Suite, designed sensitively by Goddard Littlefair

“We got to the point last year when, as we reached 60 employees, we decided Goddard Littlefair was too big as a studio,” she confesses. “We have made a few changes to encourage people to come and talk to us more, because I would rather know about something – and be able to comment at a point where it is possible to comment – rather than get further down the line and it be too late. At the end of the day, leading this design studio with Martin Goddard has always been a collaboration, not just between himself and I but also our team.” As the designer is explaining, I notice that there’s a cordial and relaxed atmosphere in the Clerkenwell studio, and the strong relationship between the co-founders and their team is apparent.

Image caption: The bar inside Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik, designed by Goddard Littlefair

“We look at the finer details, as you have just seen, that perhaps make a space look and feel more residential,” the designer explains. “Things like tabs on the curtain pole having a little leather strap and a metal rivet, and it’s those elements that give it quality and detail. It’s important that someone has thought about it in that much detail, and there is a reason why it’s leather and why it’s embossed, or whatever.”

“What’s most important is that it has to be right for our client, the property and the location every time.” – Jo Littlefair, co-founder, Goddard Littlefair

Recently completed projects within the studio’s portfolio include The Biltmore Mayfair  London, Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik , Sheraton  Grand Warsaw , the new F&B areas inside Hilton Munich City, The Lowry in Manchester and the Kimpton Charlotte Square. Having followed many, if not all, of these projects from concept through to completion, it’s fair to say that the studio believes that variety is the spice of life. “We don’t like being pigeon-holed,” explains Littlefair. “We have a great variety of style, which is fantastic. Also, we are not divas when it comes to our personal taste. What’s most important is that it has to be right for our client, the property and the location every time.”

Modern award-winning bar

Image caption: The award-winning Juliet Rose at Hilton Munich, designed by Goddard Littlefair, has become the city’s new destination bar.

Despite the studio clocking up the air miles with unavoidable trips abroad for site visits and account management, in order for the team to understand the culture and fabrics of new destinations, the studio’s HQ is positioned slap-bang in the epicentre of the design community in London, just a few streets behind some of the city’s major design showrooms in Clerkenwell. “There is always a corner of London that you can find a narrative to that is really individual,” says Littlefair. “Whether  When? you are living, working and breathing in London, like many of our designers, the city becomes a fantastic place. I think that’s because it is made up of villages that have, over time, morphed together. As a designer working on a project here, the identity of what those villages were can really shine through.”

“I literally had to work my way around the world, and it made me a different person.” – Jo Littlefair, co-founder, Goddard Littlefair

Despite London having its place in the designer’s heart, Littlefair mostly finds inspiration in design from nature, and decompresses daily from city life, after a hefty commute, in Buckinghamshire where she lives. “It’s a very open community, close enough to London for work, but full of fresh air,” she explains. “My kids love it there, and so do I!”

But where was Littlefair’s inquisitive nature born, I wonder? “When I left university and went travelling, technology as we know it now didn’t exist; email had just come out for crying out loud,” she admits. “I used to pay to sit in a café to type an email home to say I’m alive. For me, that was about really cutting off from the world. My mum didn’t think I was going to come back,” she laughs, “I did some crazy things; I worked out on boats and I threw myself into experiential travel, albeit on a shoestring. I literally had to work my way around the world, and it made me a different person. Experiencing places and learning about people and cultures.”

Image caption: The Principal York's luxe, residential look and feel was designed by Goddard Littlefair

Image caption: The Principal York’s luxe, residential look and feel was designed by Goddard Littlefair

QUICK-FIRE ROUND

Hamish Kilburn: What trend do you hope will never return?
Jo Littlefair: Rag-rolled walls and transitional furniture.

HK: What’s next on your travel bucket list?
JL: Chile , Argentina and Egypt.

HK: What would you say is the number-one tool for success?
JL: Hard work, and you can’t teach taste. I learn something new every day, nobody can know everything!

HK: Who was your inspiration growing up?
JL: The reason I made it into interiors is because I used to work on super yacht designed by Terence Tisdale. I couldn’t believe that somebody got paid to put this together and design with  all those beautiful timber veneers and mirrors everywhere, which I had to clean! I spent four months in the Med working on this 64m Feadship  . It had everything and gave me an insight into luxury and interior design.

HK: What is the one item you cannot travel without?
JL: This is ridiculous but my cashmere jumper, which is so not me. You will always find a lightweight cashmere jumper in my flight bag!

HK: What is the last item that will show up on your bank statement?
JL: Whole beans for my coffee machine. Always buy a small bag because you want the freshest roasted beans for your coffee.

HK: What has the last year taught you?
JL: To keep everyone in the studio on one floor, so that we are working together. Also that quality far outweighs quantity.

“Think of it as the destination’s answer to The Ned.” – Jo Littlefair, co-founder, Goddard Littlefair

Back to today, and the studio is currently hard at work with a number of projects on the drawing boards. The studio is currently working on designing four restaurants and bars inside the soon-to-open 360-key Villa Copenhagen. “Think of it as the destination’s answer to The Ned,” Littlefair teases. “But it’s so not about men and women in suits. Instead, the whole project has been about understanding the Danish vernacular, the locals’ way of life.”

Other projects that the studio is working on include five star resorts on the Mediterranean coast line, the repurposing of a beautiful Viennese building to a 150 plus bedroom five star hotel and what may be the future best spa in London.

Image credit: The atmospheric restaurant Cucina Mia inside Shertaton Warsaw, designed by Goddard Littlefair

Image credit: The atmospheric restaurant InAzia restaurant in Sheraton Warsaw, designed by Goddard Littlefair

As two people who are, parallel to others in the industry, so thoughtfully leading interior design forward in terms of meaningful innovation, Goddard and Littlefair both feel pressure to adapt sensitively with the times while also maintaining a fundamental quality. And their approach to evolution is enlightening.  “Someone once told me that everything in life is a phase,” explains Littlefair. “I have learned to embrace change and see it as a positive. It is intrinsically scary to human nature, but when you learn that it is necessary to be a little bit cathartic about things, life runs smoother.” I would argue that it is this breath-of-fresh-air attitude that led the designer to win The Brit List Awards’ Interior Designer of the Year 2020.

“You have no idea how much the award means to me.” – Jo Littlefair, co-founder, Goddard Littlefair

“I just can’t believe it,” she said fresh off stage at the event in November when her new-found title was revealed in front of a sea of leading designers, architects, hoteliers and developers. Months later, and the reality of ‘that win’ hasn’t quite sunk in. “You have no idea how much the award means to me,” she says now. “The line-up of people you had there was fantastic, they are my peer group and I am very respectful of what everyone else is doing. So, that people within this industry consider what we are doing here to such high regard means everything!”

Image caption: Interior Designer of the Year, Goddard Litterfair's Jo Littlefair with editor Hamish Kilburn at The Brit List Awards 2020

Image caption: Interior Designer of the Year, Goddard Litterfair’s Jo Littlefair with editor Hamish Kilburn at The Brit List Awards 2020

In a recent roundtable discussion that Littlefair attended, it was mentioned that all designers are having to work harder than ever before in order to differentiate from other styles and common motifs. As I sit around the table in the hub of her studio, I wonder how Littlefair and her team approach this topic when it comes to designing future hotels. “We are getting to the point where people have not seen a beautifully letter-pressed card before,” she says. “The ‘tech revolution’ has changed everything that we do and the way our work is perceived, but we can’t lose touch of humanity in the process.”

“We crowned a really worthy winner,” I can’t help by think to myself after I’ve said my goodbyes to the  Goddard Littlefair team. For me, it’s not necessary  necessarily? Littlefair’s work that is the most inspiring thing about but  the designer, but more her incredible journey, which was fuelled by hard-work, passion and determination, that I believe every single designer can learn from – or at least be energised by.

Main image credit: Goddard Littlefair

Editor Checks In: The hospitality industry fights back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editor, Hotel Designs

IN PICTURES: Kagi Maldives Spa Island reveals all ahead of opening

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
IN PICTURES: Kagi Maldives Spa Island reveals all ahead of opening

The 1,500-square-metre wellness centre is slated to open in the Maldives’ North Male Atoll in September 2020…

New images have been released to show what the five-star Kagi Maldives Spa Island will look like when it opens later this year.

The 50-villa property will is said to provide “a 360-degree wellness experience”, which we first discovered a few weeks ago, has been designed by esteemed architect Yuji Yamazaki, who was the mastermind behind the world’s first underwater villa.

Outdoor pool overlooking ocean

Image credit: Kagi Maldives Spa Island

Set within a 1,500-square-metre, purpose-built wellness centre, Kagi’s Baani Spa will provide a personalised, outcome-focused wellness experience. Taking guests on a journey to ‘Release, Restore and Regain’, offerings will range from reiki, crystal and sound-healing, holistic health coaching and transformative ‘Wellness Sabbatical’ retreats. 

The fully-integrated wellness hub will sit at the centre of the island, and will be complete with an open-air, teardrop-shaped sky roof its core, the spa will appear to float atop the island’s turquoise lagoon waters.

outdoor bathroom

Image credit: Kagi Maldives Spa Island

Guests will be able to choose from three room types, a Beach Pool Villa, a Lagoon Pool Villa or an Ocean Pool Villa, all of which will be distinguished by their unique locations and will house a private pool, a sun deck and an expansive indoor-outdoor bathroom.

Contemporary guestroom

Image credit: Kagi Maldives Spa Island

The spa takes its inspiration from the ocean, with its name, ‘Baani’, translating to ‘The Ocean Swell’ in the Maldivian Dhivehi language. Just as the waves slowly lap onto the shore, gently slowing down, guests will arrive at Baani Spa to slow down, unwind, release the stress of mundane life and start to restore their inner balance. Through the treatments, programmes and facilities on offer and like the swell of the ocean gaining momentum, one regains their energy and vitality. 

Main image credit: Kagi Maldives Spa Island

MINIVIEW: Escape to nature at Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
MINIVIEW: Escape to nature at Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort

The architecture and interior design narrative of Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas has been inspired by its natural surrounding beauty. As the world daydreams about travel, editor Hamish Kilburn writes… 

For luxury travellers already aware of the Anantara brand, they will recognise the brand’s DNA of connecting people to genuine places when checking in to Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas.

Located on the southeastern coast of Mauritius on Le Chaland Beach, the resort is a tranquil hideaway offering secluded luxury, where design and service work together to providing heartfelt hospitality.

Set around manicured tropical gardens, the new resort shelters 164 guestrooms and suites with eight additional pool villas, as well as a 30-metre ozone-treated infinity pool sits at the heart of the resort, mirroring the iridescent sky and looking out onto the crashing waves beyond the shoreline.

Modern villa overlooking the sea

Image credit: Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas

The interior design scheme reflects the natural wonders of Mauritius, echoing the sparkling shades of the Indian Ocean, golden beaches, amber sunsets, green sugar cane fields and rare corals.

Bangkok based interior designers, Abacus Design Co. Ltd. referenced Mauritius’ natural tropical colour scheme and landscape in native materials when creating the concept. “By mirroring the sea’s movement of ripples, waves and corals, as well as restoring driftwood and recycling materials, we aimed to showcase nature and sustainability at the core of the resort, whilst blending seamlessly with the stunning beachfront environment,” explained Director Samantha Lightbody.

“The measured decision to build the resort a hundred metres back from the beach was taken to lessen the environmental impact on this stunning rugged coastline.”

Australia-based Grounds Kent Architects were responsible for the architecture in collaboration with the Office of Global Architecture in Mauritius. Renewable energy sources have been incorporated into the design to aid sustainable and environmentally friendly operation management, whilst various green initiatives across the resort reduce waste and promote energy recycling. The measured decision to build the resort a hundred metres back from the beach was taken to lessen the environmental impact on this stunning rugged coastline.

The lobby appears to float around a tranquil water garden, where the boundaries between indoor and outdoor are softened, creating a sanctuary-like feel. Upon arrival, the eye is immediately drawn to the ocean, framed picturesquely beyond the infinity pool through a striking stone window. 

Indigenous materials honour the warmth and detail of local Mauritian architecture. Distinctive antique basalt stone, used throughout the public spaces in a thoughtful manner, has been reclaimed from demolished buildings on the island. Throughout, traditional roofing materials such as corrugated iron, wood shingle and thatch are incorporated with a modern and refreshing touch.  

At the signature restaurant Sea.Fire.Salt, striking driftwood chandeliers draw attention to the high vaulted ceilings in the restaurant and open air bar area, complimented by the gentle sound of waves as backdrop to this refined take on beachfront dining. In addition, the adjacent alfresco courtyard offers an unforgettable feet-in-the-sand dining experience with tables nestled in powdery white sand to root diners in nature as they enjoy flame grilled seafood.

The poolside Karokan bar’s interior design is reminiscent of a traditional sugarcane mill and a replica sugarcane crusher dominates the space behind the bar. Mounted rum barrel heads create decorative walls whilst natural jute soft furnishings and hessian fabrics are illustrative of the materials historically used in such mills, the remains of which are still visible across the island from the rock mills and chimneys that jut out of the Mauritian landscape.

In the all-day dining restaurant, Horizon, exposed wood trusses lend a lofty spaciousness to the eatery, whilst terracotta chenille fabrics pop against its bright ivory wood palette reflecting the ‘beachscape’ below. The restaurant is furnished with teak tables and braided rope chairs whilst ceramic tile mosaics add a splash of colour to the breakfast stations. Indoors, the air-conditioned glass walled wine cellar, 1884, showcases a rich collection of international wines and can house intimate private dinners, whilst the adjoining Zafran can be reserved for larger exclusive private dining events.

Modern, beachside restaurant

Image caption: Horizon Restaurant | Image credit: Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas

The accommodation buildings feature blade walls to create protected courtyards which define secluded spaces, provide natural lighting and encourage breezy cross ventilation. Spacious balconies frame views of the ocean or surrounding lush tropical gardens. The interior design of the guest rooms has a contemporary feel with silk soft furnishings chosen in colourways that reflect the soothing blue tones of the ocean and the island’s golden sandy beaches, the Jim Thompson fabrics also providing a nod to Anantara’s Thai heritage. Framed artworks from young local Mauritian photographers depict scenery from the authentic South of Mauritius to complement the minimalist décor.  

Modern villa overlooking sea

Image credit: Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas

A cocooned village of well-being, the Anantara Spa is housed beneath thatch roofs in a secluded tropical garden bordered by a colonnade of trees known as the Almond Allee. The thoughtful design combines tactile elements and comprises of two double treatment rooms and three single treatment rooms, a beauty salon, a traditional Turkish Hammam, two outdoor Thai massage pavilions and a whirlpool. Additional resort recreational facilities include a state-of-the-art fitness centre and a library filled with classic fiction and historical and cultural books of Mauritius. 

The overall design of Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort harmonises with both the natural scenery and the history of its location, combining modernity with indigenous design while retaining a true sense of tranquility and escapism.

Main image credit: Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort

The Unbound Collection expands in The Americas region

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The Unbound Collection expands in The Americas region

New Unbound Collection openings and signings signify a strategic focus on the Hyatt brand expanding in the Americas region… 

Hyatt Hotel’s recent announcement of Unbound Collection openings and brand transitions suggests that the brand is focusing its ongoing development plans on the Americas region.

Currently, The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand includes more than 20 unique hotels – located in key destinations around the world – each with their own distinct story.

“Because Hyatt’s efforts are grounded in listening and fuelled by care, The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand has a unique position within the Hyatt portfolio, as each property has the opportunity to tell its own story,” said Heather Geisler, senior vice president of global brands, Hyatt. “As we continue to see the brand thoughtfully grow across the globe, we are excited to watch each story unfold, further driving brand loyalty to travellers looking for experiences unlike any other.”

Image caption: Aerial of Carmel Valley Ranch | Image credit: Hyatt Hotels/Unbound Collection by Hyatt

The latest development agreements within The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand include plans for Hotel La Compañia in Panama City, Panama, which will be nestled within the heart of Casco Viejo (Spanish for “Old Quarter”), a UNESCO World Heritage site. Expected to open in 2021, the 88-key hotel is set to become the first property in Panama that is part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand.

The historic Chicago Athletic Association landmark property located in the heart of Chicago’s business and cultural district joined The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand in November 2019. The unique property was restored from a renowned 19th century athletic club to a hotel in 2015, with the purpose of returning the building to Chicagoans following 125 years of members-only access. Today, the 241-key “urban playground” offers seven award-winning food & beverage outlets – including the Prohibition-era microbar Milk Room, lively Game Room, the swanky, James Beard Award-winning Cherry Circle Room, and the hotel’s crown jewel, Cindy’s, its rooftop restaurant and bar perched 13 stories above Millennium Park.  In addition, locals and guests alike are invited to experience the Chicago Athletic Association hotel’s 150+ annual programming events, ranging from pop-up roller skating nights in the hotel’s vintage gym to hands-on cocktail workshops with in-house experts.

The storied Carmel Valley Ranch, a 500-acre all-suite resort tucked in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains on the Monterey Peninsula, joined The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand in January 2020. Unveiled as part of the resort’s 2019 reimagination, Carmel Valley Ranch offers a variety of interactive adventures including artisanal cheesemaking workshops at The Creamery, wine and cheese tastings at The Market, falconry, hatchet throwing and more.

Mar Monte Hotel, located just minutes from downtown Santa Barbara, nestled between the rugged Santa Ynez range and pristine Santa Barbara beach, is set to join the collection in Spring 2020, rebranding from Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara after an extensive renovation. The 200-key hotel has been reimagined to establish a style of contemporary Santa Barbara with classic Spanish-influenced design.

Two additional properties within The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand that are set to open in the U.S. in 2020 and 2021, respectively, include the 144-key restored landmark property, Hotel Kansas City, in Kansas City, Mo. and a 64-key boutique hotel in Hollywood, Calif. Both properties are currently being restored to their original beginnings, with a focus on providing extraordinary architectural details for guests looking to feel inspired.

Globally, The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand expanded its footprint in 2019, with the reintroduction of Hotel du Louvre, after completing a property-wide renovation in June 2019. Inspired by the original Napolean III style, the famed hotel sits in the heart of the Paris’s Palais-Royal district, surrounded by the Musée du Louvre, the Comédie-Française, the Palais Garnier and Palais Royal.

In December 2019, the brand also debuted in the UK with the opening of Great Scotland Yard, a luxury hotel with rich history residing on the site of the former headquarters of the Metropolitan Police. Expected to reopen in summer 2020 is the historic gem Hotel du Palais Biarritz, a palace built by Napoleon III for his wife Eugenia de Montijo.

Main image credit: Hyatt Hotels/Unbound Collection by Hyatt

Edge Architects completes 3 design-led Mercure hotels

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Edge Architects completes 3 design-led Mercure hotels

The architecture and design firm has recently completed Mercure hotels in Cardiff, Birmingham and Bedford…

In the last few months, Edge Architects + interior designers has completed three Mercure-branded hotels in Cardiff, Birmingham and Bedford.

The lead designer on all three projects, Craig Parry, has an impressive portfolio including ibis Styles Southwark, Doubletree by Hilton Snowhill, a host of other Mercure hotels, Hampton by Hilton Manchester and Old Bishops Palace Chester.

Parry has sensitively designed the hotels, inside and out, with the aim to balance consumer demands for fresh interiors as well as the need for flexible public areas while also retaining character and style in the architecture and the motifs sheltered within each property.

For example, the 121-key Mercure Bedford Centre Hotel is located in a popular destination for canoeing and kayaking, with the property itself encompassing elements of the area’s cultural and historic past, including timber features from canoes, water graphics and rowing illustrations.

Meanwhile, the new Mercure Cardiff North Hotel draws inspiration from local landmarks such as the Millennium Centre façade in Cardiff Bay, with details such as copper aesthetic lining and curated display items that encompass elements of the area’s cultural and historic past.

The Mercure Birmingham West Hotel is an urban retreat that consists of 168 rooms, which feature locally inspired and sourced artwork and design elements.

White bed, with construction inspired wallcovering

Image credit: Mercure Cardiff North

“Each hotel has the Mercure service and features that guests expect but they offer local touches too.” – Michael Brag, Chairman of Proark

Having previously operated under the Park Inn brand, the hotel is one of six across the UK to have been signed by Danish based property group, Proark, and rebranded to Mercure.

We have worked closely with Accor since signing this portfolio of Mercure hotels and are extremely pleased with the result of the refurbishment. Each hotel has the Mercure service and features that guests expect but they offer local touches too, which we are confident will be well received by business and leisure travellers alike,” Michael Brag, Chairman of Proark told Hotel Designs. “For the design, we decided to work with Craig Parry, as he has vast practice experience in hospitality for Mercure, as well as independent boutiques, so we felt he was the right man for the job.”

Main image credit: Accor/Mercure/Proark

Amp by the side of white bed

Ruby Hotels to open second Swiss hotel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Ruby Hotels to open second Swiss hotel

The 220-key hotel, which is yet to be named, will bring the Ruby Hotels brand’s ‘Lean Luxury’ philosophy to a central Geneva location…

In the wake of the brand’s loud debut in London with the opening of Ruby Lucy, Ruby Hotels will launch its second Swiss property in early 2022 in Geneva.

Amp by the side of white bed

The new 220-room hotel will follow the launch of Ruby’s Zurich hotel in 2021 and forms part of an ambitious expansion plan to unveil a total of seventeen new properties by 2023.

The new Ruby Hotel will be located right in the heart of the city, between the rue du Rhône and the rue du Marché – the two biggest shopping streets in Geneva. The hotel entrance will be in the famous Malbuisson Passage, with the Lake Geneva promenade just 200m away and the Geneva Old Town reachable on foot within a few minutes.

“We will be able to exploit a previously unfilled niche in Geneva, one of the most stable hotel markets in Switzerland.” – Ruby Hotels’ CEO Michael Struck

“This works because we base our design on the model of modern luxury yachts and confine our luxury to a relatively small area, simply omitting non-essentials,” explained Ruby Hotels’ CEO Michael Struck. “Our management methods are also quite different from the usual practice in the industry as we utilise our own technical solutions. We plan and construct in modular form, adopt a more centralised approach and make a consistent effort to automate procedures behind the scenes. This helps us to make a luxurious and unique hotel experience affordable for our guests. In this way, we will be able to exploit a previously unfilled niche in Geneva, one of the most stable hotel markets in Switzerland.”

The hotel will be created from three existing buildings, one of which has a historic facade. The seventh floor will feature a roof terrace with an atrium at the centre, which will also be accessible from the public areas. The Molard tram station and bus stop is located in the immediate vicinity, which will provide the hotel with ideal access to local and long-distance public transport options.

The property will house 220 rooms, ranging in size from cosy ‘Nest’ rooms (14-15 m²) to expansive ‘Loft’ rooms (21-23 m²), a stylish 24-hour bar, a communal work station and a library. All guest rooms will showcase Ruby Hotels’ sleep-scientist-approved formula for a peaceful night’s sleep, with full soundproofing, blackout curtains, high-quality linen and extra-long and wide custom mattresses.

Just like the group’s other houses, the new hotel in Geneva will follow Ruby’s ‘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. 

Main image credit: Ruby Hotels

PRODUCT WATCH: Edgy ‘Seville’ floor lighting

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
PRODUCT WATCH: Edgy ‘Seville’ floor lighting

The Seville floor lamp by Christopher Hyde Lighting will add an edgy, contemporary look and feel to an interior design scheme…

Christopher Hyde Lighting is renowned for timeless design and quality, and has excelled at providing lighting for a wide range of interiors for more than 25 years.

Its handmade lights have been installed across the world, from luxury yachts, grand hotel, to Royal Palaces at home and abroad. The company’s range of products has recently been refreshed, bringing a new perspective to the proud heritage of the long-established brand.

“These edgy lights are part of a unique collection of floor lamps and table lamps which includes the popular spiral shaped ‘Granada’ lights.”

The company’s contemporary range of products brings a fresh outlook to the proud heritage of the long-established brand. The ‘Seville’ floor lamp with white exterior and its delicate warm copper leaf interior complete with a dimmer switch is shown here in a beautiful airy Los Angeles apartment. You can also purchase the ‘Seville’ table lamp can be also be supplied with a black exterior and silver leaf interior. These edgy lights are part of a unique collection of floor lamps and table lamps which includes the popular spiral shaped ‘Granada’ lights. Designers can pick and choose which exterior finish, black or white, that they would like to have with their chosen internal leaf gilt, copper, silver or gold and is now available with a short lead time.  These exciting pieces will compliment and be a talking point for all interior projects.

“They use 90 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs and can pay for themselves through energy savings in just a couple of months.”

The Seville and Granada lights have captured a different take on the Christopher Hyde Brand and come with LED lighting technology. LEDs are the most energy-efficient bulbs. They use 90 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs and can pay for themselves through energy savings in just a couple of months.  Whether a standard or bespoke light fitting we can produce LED designed candle with DALI or 1-10V and emergency light options are available also.

This range of floor and table lamps are featured in the new Collection 8 catalogue which has recently been launched. Collection 8 catalogue has a fresh take on the hugely popular traditional collections familiar to Christopher Hyde Lighting’s clients and shows how the brand has evolved with its distinctive contemporary collection.

Main image credit: Christopher Hyde Lighting        

Large, luxe suite

Luxury hotel opens in Portugal with focus on art, wellness & design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Luxury hotel opens in Portugal with focus on art, wellness & design

Led by local interior designer Sofia Andrez, the hotel’s design creates a sense of simplicity, serenity and balance, reflecting Longevity Wellness Worldwide’s core principles of restoration and regeneration…

Through its ground-breaking architecture and its minimalist interior design, the newly opened Longevity Health and Wellness Hotel offers guests the perfect space to focus on their health and wellbeing.

Large, luxe suite

A ground-breaking health and wellness property set in the western Algarve, with panoramic views of Alvor Bay, the property offers a world-class dedicated health & wellness clinic over two floors. The hotel has a total of 70 guestrooms and suites, combining simplicity and elegance with a contemporary and natural eco vibe, giving a primary attention to comfort and quality.

Open and spacious public area

Image credit: Longevity Wellness Worldwide

With wellness at the heart of the project, it was important to create a space where guests can improve their health and wellbeing, from the architectural features to the interiors. The distinct wave-like structure of the building symbolises Longevity’s focus on guests’ harmony and balance, as well as the water used in the spa (Salus per Aquae) as a source of health. Meanwhile the interior concept aims to create a sense of serenity and tranquillity through the use aqua-marine colours and neutral sandy tones inspired by the neighbouring sea and beach.

“This type of connectivity between your emotions and mind is transcendent and also extremely beneficial for your mental wellness.” – Nazir Sacoor, CEO of Longevity Wellness Worldwide.

Longevity Health and Wellness Hotel’s focus on ‘Art as Wellness’ is showcased through its partnership with local art gallery Lady in Red who will be exhibiting pieces throughout the hotel. LiR – Galeria de Arte is located in Adega de Lagoa winery and showcases a range of works from local, national and international artists. For Longevity Health and Wellness Hotel, the gallery has carefully curated a selection of works from a roster of artists. The 51 canvass and 12 sculptures works exhibited in the hotel include stunning water colour and oil paintings, sculptural busts and photography.

“Creativity expressed through art has the power to heal us and improve our overall mental wellness on a large scale,” said Nazir Sacoor, CEO of Longevity Wellness Worldwide. “This type of connectivity between your emotions and mind is transcendent and also extremely beneficial for your mental wellness. By unleashing our creativity and establishing human connection, art has an amazing power to boost wellness which should be a major priority in modern society.” 

Luxe, clean and simple hotel bed with glass bathroom

Image caption: Junior Suite

Interior designer Sofia Andrez approached the entire building as a place of wellbeing, ensuring synergy between the spaces of the hotel, from the guest rooms to the restaurant and treatment areas. Whilst meeting the different technical and functional requirements of each part of the hotel, the designer ensured the entire property fulfilled the brief.

The guest bedrooms have been designed to emphasise the hotel’s stunning views. The designer introduced shades of grey, white and beige which are complemented with simple touches of blue in the decorative cushions and bed throws.

In the restaurant, the designers have created an intimate atmosphere by introducing some darker tones and elements including the table bases, which offset the sand-coloured tops. Additionally, the wood-panelled buffet area and bench seats create a warm and inviting setting.

Within the spa, Andrez used organic materials such as the wooden floor lanterns and macramé ceiling lanterns that both help producing a relaxing atmosphere.

The colour scheme and sense of tranquillity has also been reflected in the furniture created exclusively for the hotel. The designer introduced bespoke pieces throughout the property, with 80 per cent of the furniture made in Portugal. By carefully selecting the right materials, fabrics and colours, the designer achieved an elegant and simple aesthetic. Whilst also reflecting the views and surrounding areas, it was important for the interiors to complement the unique architecture of the hotel. The use of curvaceous furniture such as the round sofas in the lobby mimic the wave-like structure of the building, creating a synergy between the interior and exterior of the hotel.

By focusing on simplicity, serenity and balance, the hotel’s design relates to the key pillars of the Longevity Wellness Worldwide brand. These five pillars are: treatments that are preventive, personalised, holistic, integrative and regenerative.

Main image credit: Longevity Wellness Worldwide

Red headboard, colourful art work and a white bed

Hard Rock Hotels makes its long-awaited debut in Ireland

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hard Rock Hotels makes its long-awaited debut in Ireland

Hard Rock International debuts in Ireland with Hard Rock Hotel Dublin, which aims to brings the brand’s musical energy to the famed Temple Bar district…

With a presence spanning more than 76 countries, Hard Rock International continues its expansion into Europe with the opening of Hard Rock Hotel Dublin.

 

Red headboard, colourful art work and a white bed

The iconic red-brick property is located on Exchange Street Upper near the Temple Bar district, and shelters a theme that is a celebration of the rich cultural and musical history of Dublin, bringing Hard Rock’s signature music-infused vibes to the heart of the city.

The 120-key hotel is a contemporary reimagining of two historic buildings, combining the Exchange Building, a listed property built at the turn of the 20th century, and the adjacent Fashion House building, linked together by a newly built glass bridge.

“Dublin connects to our deep musical roots, we are honoured to bring the Hard Rock Hotel experience to the city, its residents and visitors alike.” – Dale Hipsh, Senior Vice President – Hotels for Hard Rock International

Reflecting Dublin’s vibrant atmosphere, the rooms are furnished with electrifying colour schemes, paired with warm woods and bright stone. The fresh interiors are adorned with priceless Hard Rock memorabilia, expertly curated to include treasured possessions and instruments from some of Ireland’s most loved musicians. Irish favourites such as Phil Lynott, Van Morrison, Hozier and U2 feature, as well as pieces from artists that have played truly memorable gigs in Ireland.

Image credit: Hard Rock International

“As Hard Rock furthers its expansion into Europe, we continue to target destinations that are culturally influential and perfectly aligned with our musical soul,” commented Dale Hipsh, Senior Vice President – Hotels for Hard Rock International. “Dublin connects to our deep musical roots, we are honoured to bring the Hard Rock Hotel experience to the city, its residents and visitors alike.”

Enda O’Meara, CEO of the Tifco Hotel Group, added: “We are greatly looking forward to the opening of Hard Rock Hotel Dublin. Our aim is to match the energy of this vibrant city through our world-class service offered by the people who truly make up the fabric of the hotel, and who will work passionately to deliver the best guest experience.”

Surrounding the hotel is an abundance of local attractions, heritage sites, eateries and bars. Within walking distance are the world-famous Guinness Storehouse, the Jameson Distillery, Dublin Castle and the renowned Temple Bar district. Also easily accessible from the hotel are several of Dublin’s cultural institutions, including the Olympia Theatre, the Gallery of Photography and the Irish Film Institute.

Following the opening of the hotel in Dublin, Hard Rock International portfolio plan to open Hard Rock Hotel Amsterdam American will break into the entertainment capital of Europe in April 2020, located in a famous Art Nouveau building on the lively Leidseplein Square. Opening in May, Hard Rock Hotel Budapest will be situated in the heart of “Budapest’s Broadway” surrounded by the city’s famed cultural attractions. Hard Rock Hotel Madrid will follow, opening in a prime location opposite the historic Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in the Atocha district.

Main image credit: Hard Rock International

industrial looking suite

SNEAK PEEK: Inside the ‘first true design hotel’ in Warsaw

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
SNEAK PEEK: Inside the ‘first true design hotel’ in Warsaw

The 117-key Nobu Hotel Warsaw is located in lively, culinary neighbourhood of central Warsaw and is slated to open this June…

Nobu Hospitality, the lifestyle brand founded by Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper, has announced that its first hotel in Poland will open in June of this year. 

industrial looking suite

Nobu Hotel Warsaw will have 117 sleek and spacious rooms, thoughtfully tailored meeting and event spaces, an expansive fitness centre and signature Nobu Restaurant and café.

Exterior of the hotel

Image credit: Nobu Hotels

Situated on Wilcza Street, the creative hub of the modern-day city, Nobu Hotel Warsaw is an integrated mix of luxurious hotel and energised living spaces. The hotel’s neighbourhood is a walk away from the Old Town, originally built in the 13th century, which has been meticulously reconstructed since the Second World War, welcoming the intellectual traveller to rediscover its charm as an increasingly popular leisure destination. Etched into the city’s skyline, Nobu Hotel Warsaw is surrounded by a vibrant urban scene full of trendy wine bars that spill out onto the pavements in the summer months, as well as independent shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants, enriching the community with a sense of locality and present-day style.

“Nobu Hotel Warsaw is a really exciting project for us,” said Trevor Horwell, Chief Executive Officer of Nobu Hotels. “The luxury hospitality market has been gaining momentum in Warsaw for a while. There’s a certain type of energy that extends far beyond the bricks and mortar – we’re very excited to be at the forefront of this new wave of lifestyle and hospitality development – and being from Poland originally, this opening is particularly exciting for our co-founder Meir Teper.”

The city’s first true design hotel, Nobu Hotel Warsaw is a combination of two wings: the ‘classic’ is housed in an Art Deco building, the former Hotel Rialto, which dates back to 1920s inter-war Poland and the ‘modern’ is an ultracontemporary, new build – designed through a transformational, cross-continental collaboration: a concerted effort between Polish architectural firm, Medusa Group, and California-based Studio PCH. Respecting the city’s history and resilience, the result tells the story of present-day Warsaw: open, modern and diverse.

Nobu Hotel Warsaw juxtaposes contemporary style with the adjoined classic Art Deco building’s character and distinct aesthetic, an important symbol of the city’s historical tissue. In the hotel lobby, crossing between the old and new wings feels like crossing two streets, with a sculptural spiral wooden staircase leading to the first floor. The new wing features sleek, meticulous Polish wood detailing in the lobby with a minimalist, charcoal grey marble reception desk; teak-timbers and polished-concrete adorn the walls, complemented by palette-rich terrazzo floors that together create a harmonious blend of natural materials and Japanese-inspired design. Outside, the strikingly designed window-box glass façade sits neatly beside the Art Deco wing, which draws on traditional Polish architecture. All public spaces throughout the hotel will house modern Polish art masterpieces from the Jankilevitsch Collection.

“The result is an interesting architectural form from the outside, and a variety of room sizes, on the inside.” – Lukasz Zagala, co-founder of Medusa Group

“The core of the hotel has been created by shifting seven floors aside to form a “V” shape”, said Lukasz Zagala, co-founder of Medusa Group. “The result is an interesting architectural form from the outside, and a variety of room sizes, on the inside. The movement of floors also allowed for spacious balconies with planted greenery, creating a vertical garden, as well as added privacy for the rooms. The deconstructed rounded corner block is a nod to the characteristic corner buildings which dotted Warsaw’s 19th century streets.”

“In keeping with its theme, the new wing’s suites are contemporary in design, using simple materials: raw concrete, wood, stone and glass, taking inspiration from Japanese design philosophy.”

The rooms span classic to ultramodern, representative of Poland’s rampant revival, allowing guests to choose the style to suit their taste. All room categories exude a sense of calm with Japanese design, and floor-to-ceiling windows with either city or skyline views. In keeping with its theme, the new wing’s suites are contemporary in design, using simple materials: raw concrete, wood, stone and glass, taking inspiration from Japanese design philosophy. Whilst those classic in style are located in a renovated tenement house, dating back to the 20th century and Art Deco in style: drawing on the traditions of old Warsaw architecture, interior design and art.

The Nobu Suite features separate living and dining room areas and a Japanese soaking tub, that looks out onto the city. A spacious 109 m², the room has a 98- inch home cinema and surround sound system that guests can stream to from smart devices, and like all of the other 116 rooms, comes with in-room amenities by Natura Blissé, a luxurious Yukata robe and a minibar stocked with classic Japanese favourites such as Matcha Kit Kats.

The property plays host to the Nobu restaurant and cafe, as with all the hotels worldwide, and is rooted in creating memorable experiences around exceptional food and locality. A stone’s throw from the bustling Hala Koszyki food hall, the area is fast becoming Warsaw’s foodie hub. The Nobu restaurant concept is based on Chef Nobu’s inventive, non-traditional cuisine which showcases high quality produce, colour and texture, cooking classic Japanese dishes created with South American ingredients. Executive Chef Yannick Lohou arrives fresh from Nobu Hotel Barcelona, with previous experience at Nobu Dubai where he began his brand journey. 

Dark restaurant, minimalist design

Image credit: Nobu Hotels

The hotel’s flexible 438 m2 first floor events space provides a stylish setting for large conferences and meetings and can be divided by a mobile wall with acoustic separation, to offer two independent spaces – the Sakura room at 266 m2 and Hikari room at 171 m2. Crushed glass walls allow plenty of natural light and an independent lobby complete with terrace, allows for total privacy. Further meeting rooms with state-of-the-art facilities exist on the same floor. These can be combined with a variety of bespoke services including planning, catering, business services and technology, including Wi-Fi and audio-visual equipment.

Main image credit: Nobu Hotel Warsaw

New ibis Styles hotel offers striking Art Deco interiors

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
New ibis Styles hotel offers striking Art Deco interiors

Having recently opened in the heart of Hounslow, ibis Styles London Heathrow Airport East offers stylish and affordable accommodation, inspired by the architecture of Hounslow’s Golden Mile…

The Art Deco-styled ibis Styles London Heathrow Airport East hotel celebrates the modern world with an eclectic blend of 1920s glamour.

The 125-room ibis Styles hotel has been developed in partnership with Splendid Hospitality Group, and designed by specialist Hotel & Leisure interior design company, Matthews Mee, whose previous clients have included Mercure, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Hilton’s DoubleTree.

“The inspiration was the Great West Road into central London and the Art Deco mid 20th century style of architecture,” said Design Director of Matthews Mee, Robert Matthews. “This includes the Hoover building, Firestone headquarters, Gillette factory and tube stations that line this main arterial route to London, celebrating the modern mechanical world with an eclectic blend of progress and handcrafted tradition.

The hotel is the whole package, the roaring 1920s narrative runs through everything from door handles to furniture, some details are obvious whilst others need more work such as bespoke woven carpets and wallpapers.

“Although the hotel’s story is based around the 1920s, the idea behind the interiors was that the hotel should not recreate the exact style of the Art Deco era but instead, use the upscale simplicity of form to create a contemporary interpretation of the style reminiscent of the age.”

Quirky Art Deco carpets, mirrors and furniture in lobby

Image credit: ibis Hotels

The lobby is bright, fresh and comfortably elegant with a touch of Romanticism. Remaining faithful to the hotel’s glamorous theme, the restaurant and bar blends classical features with modern touches, such as brass accessories and vibrant art with hard materials such as walnut and marble. The polished flooring and statement rugs also add to the multi-functional space and encourages leisure and corporate guests to relax and unwind in the decadent bar and lounge areas.

The practicalities of the hotel match the high standards of the design, with each of the spacious bedrooms fitted with triple glazed windows to ensure a completely sound-proof environment. A stand-out feature of the hotel is the availability of four accessible family rooms on each of the three floors, with two each at opposite ends of the corridor and the option to book them together to have interconnecting rooms. Bespoke ‘roaring 20s’ music and dance style bedhead murals are featured in each bedroom, along with Art Deco inspired dress mirrors to complete the sophisticated look.

Main image credit: ibis Hotels

5 Minutes With: Emma Masters, associate at Richmond International

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
5 Minutes With: Emma Masters, associate at Richmond International

Taking five minutes out of planning and designing luxury hospitality scenes of the future, Emma Masters, Associate at Richmond International, speaks to editor Hamish Kilburn about landscape changes, client demands and over-used words in the industry…

Hamish Kilburn: How long have you been involved in interior design, and how has the landscape changed from when you started to now?
Emma Masters: I’ve been working in the industry for around 16 years, 15 of those have been with Richmond International. In this time the industry has steadily changed, largely due to technological development, i.e. the changes in the ways we research subjects and destinations, to retrieve design references and influences. The proliferation of imagery shared internationally makes the world feel smaller and more accessible.

CGI and VR experiences are becoming a minimum expectation, having replaced hand drawn and coloured renderings. Whilst computer generated images provide almost an exact representation of the design proposal, hand drawings were very evocative and left some element of wonder to what would finally be revealed in reality.

We’ve also seen massive advances in manufacturing techniques, the materials used, and specialist finishes to the extent that we can add unique signatures to interiors.

There’s also certainly a greater awareness of our environment and the need to be mindful of our design impact, ensuring our designs have longevity, rather than being based on trends that will date and need replacing frequently.

Large, luxurious and grand penthouse

Image credit: London West Hollywood penthouse, designed by Richmond International

HK: What are your clients currently looking for in hotel design?
EM: We’re seeing a demand for public spaces that are transitional, for environments that work for social dining, meetings, shared workplaces and seamlessly blend together to create one holistic space.

Additionally, we’re regularly creating designs that are authentic to the location and with strong narratives – this helps us bring the interiors alive for their guests.

“We as a company have regular team meetings where everyone from junior designers to associates can contribute their ideas and participate in the building of the narrative of a project.” – Emma Masters, Director, Richmond International

Bath in modern marble bathroom, with skyline of Chicago in the background

Image caption: Bathroom in Langham Chicago suite, designed by Richmond International

HK: Where do you find inspiration to keep your designs fresh and meaningful?
EM: Trade shows like Salone de Mobile and Maison et Objet are a great source of new products and styles. I also get a lot of inspiration from travelling, working with artisanal manufacturer and, in general, a lot of research.

HK: How important is nurturing young talent for Richmond International?
EM: It’s a very important part of our company and something I experienced first-hand having started at Richmond as a junior designer. It was a hugely nurturing experience and I was able to work with talented designers who allowed me to explore my capabilities and mentor me in my development. We as a company have regular team meetings where everyone from junior designers to associates can contribute their ideas and participate in the building of the narrative of a project.

“F&B areas have also evolved to become destinations in their own right aside from the hotel and are a draw not just to hotel guests but the general public that wish to dine.” – Emma Masters, Director at Richmond International

HK: We had Terry McGillicuddy join us on the Vision Stage at the Hospitality Restaurant and Catering show. How are F&B areas in hotels evolving?
F&B areas now blur the boundaries between lobby lounge, restaurant, bar and meeting spaces. The public spaces are the heart of a hotel and the is a desire for them to be vibrant has activated a move away from the traditional lobby lounge space. F&B areas have also evolved to become destinations in their own right aside from the hotel and are a draw not just to hotel guests but the general public that wish to dine. They now have a different identity to the rest of the hotel, where it previously was designed to work with the overall feel of the rest of the hotel. F&B is now more independent and can have a completely different narrative that may relate to the food served, for example rather than being simply a functional part of the hotel.

QUICK-FIRE ROUND

HK: What trend do you hope will never return?
EM: String curtain dividers, they were everywhere and not surprisingly disappeared as quickly as they arrived after the realisation that they were really impractical for public spaces and looked neat for all of five minutes before tangling an unwilling hotel guest who had stumbled into one.

HK: What is one word that is overused in our industry?
EM: Two words admittedly and the phrase we all dread – Value Engineering.

HK: What would you say is the biggest catalyst driving change in the hotel design area recently?
EM: Sustainability and authentic experiences across the board.

HK: What would you be if you were not a designer?
EM: I had always wanted to be an art teacher until I went to St Martins for my foundation year. My tutor was very inspiring and introduced me to the idea of interior design as a career instead of teaching.

HK: What’s one lesson about the industry that studying didn’t teach you?
EM: My role at Richmond has been predominantly FF&E focused and I feel it can really complete and enhance a design. As an Interior Architecture student, spatial design was key, and furnishings were more secondary, but I feel one cannot work as a cohesive design without the other.

HK: What’s your biggest bugbear in interior design?
EM: Designing to a trend and not for longevity.

Luxurious longe area in suite

Image caption: Metro Suite inside London West Hollywood, designed by Richmond International

HK: What has been your favourite project to date?
EM: My favourite project would have to be working on The London, West Hollywood Penthouse with Vivienne Westwood. Alongside the interior design we also worked closely with her team to develop custom fabrics, rugs and wallcoverings, as well as bespoke bath robes and towels. We worked with an archive of scarves that were then mounted and framed to use for the penthouse artwork.

Main image credit: Richmond International

Boutique aparthotel, The Gate, debuts in East London

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Boutique aparthotel, The Gate, debuts in East London

With a Banksy in the lobby, Maple & Co café, 360-degree views of the city and quality suppliers specified throughout, aparthotel The Gate shelters the best of a hotel with a home-from-from look and feel throughout…

The Gate is a boutique aparthotel opening in Aldgate East, which offers the service and style of a hotel with the privacy of a self-service apartment.