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Optix 10 Pivot door & side panel Brushed Stainless Steel

Luxury shower goals: Crosswater launches new 10mm walk-in solutions

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Luxury shower goals: Crosswater launches new 10mm walk-in solutions

Meeting new modern traveller luxury shower demands, the OPTIX 10 and GALLERY 10 ranges by Crosswater provide a superior quality and versatile design, resulting in a serene bathroom experience…

Optix 10 Pivot door & side panel Brushed Stainless Steel

Weeks before Hotel Designs LIVE invites expert designers to discuss ‘bathrooms beyond practical spaces’, Crosswater has unveiled OPTIX 10 and GALLERY 10, which is the brand’s latest collections of 10mm enclosure and walk-in shower solutions.

Showering has become more than just a daily routine – it has become a ritual, with homeowners and hotel guests alike now recognising the positive effects that can come from a relaxing showering experience. Subsequently, the bathroom industry has started to design products that promote wellness within the bathing space, as well as innovation.

Crosswater is already recognised for their holistic approach to showering, with the brand providing a choice of trend-led brassware, including shower valves that will deliver the perfect flow of water, and a variety of indulgent 6mm and 8mm shower enclosures which were strengthened in 2020. Crosswater is looking to continue this success in the 10mm shower enclosure and walk-in shower solutions category with the new additions of OPTIX 10 and GALLERY 10.

“OPTIX 10 and GALLERY 10 are the newest addition to Crosswater’s Home of Showering programme and enable the brand to offer luxury and every level of specification,” said Stephen Ewer, CEO of Bathroom Brands Group (Crosswater, Burlington, Clearwater, Britton). “Crosswater have been working intensely to bring this offer to market whilst ensuring expected levels of design, quality and value for both our retail partners and consumers.”

A luxury solution for all generations, OPTIX 10 and GALLERY 10 are extremely versatile, offering numerous possibilities to align with the needs of the consumer such as Crosswater Clear which enables easy cleaning, slimline wall profiles to create a beautiful interior scheme and availability in a variety of finishes that have been specifically designed to match the colour of Crosswater’s bestselling MPRO brassware range.

Featuring premium 10mm toughened glass, the innovative design of the new 10mm ranges are built to last, with a lifetime guarantee available to add additional peace of mind. The impressive construction which includes durable PVD coating and high-quality components, allows for a seamless transition when opening and closing the shower door, providing the ultimate showering experience.

“Crosswater’s introduction of 10mm enclosures and walk-in solutions is a significant step on our journey to enhance our cohesive design and colour offering across all categories, creating increased sales opportunities for our customers,” added David Button, Crosswater Retail Sales Director UK & Ireland.

As modern travellers continue to prioritise wellness and self-care, Crosswater are meeting the demand for holistic shower solutions with an impressive and extensive range of luxury shower enclosures for all generations.

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

Main image credit: Crosswater

Interior visualisation of ADP's new hotel in Kyiv

Should hotels do a better job of reflecting their communities?

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

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

Interior visualisation of ADP's new hotel in Kyiv

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIP arrivals: Hottest April hotel openings

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
VIP arrivals: Hottest April hotel openings

The industry is gearing up for a summer of hospitality, is the feeling the editorial desk at Hotel Designs has as it selects the most exciting hotel openings expected in April 2021. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes…

Blink and you will miss it! With vaccine updates, hotel re-opening strategies being across social media and conversations moving towards re-engaging with the post-corona consumer, all signs on the editorial desk lead to a summer of hospitality – whether that be abroad or enjoyed domestically.

This prediction follows a flood of press releases, together referencing hope, optimism and prosperity for international hotel design and hospitality. Regardless on whether we will be allowed to travel ahead of the summer boom, hotels are being developed in preparation for the travel demand that is shortly inevitable as we reach the one-year anniversary since many nations closed their boarders in order to fight against the spread of Covid-19.

We have been sharing our VIP arrivals now for four months, but it seems as if many brands have waited until now when it comes to unveiling new arrivals. Following an in-depth look at the landscape, here are our VIP arrivals for April.

Iniala Harbour House & Residences

Image of bar in curved tunnel-like structure

Image credit: Iniala Harbour House & Residences

Spread across four exquisite Maltese townhouses and their ancient vaults, dating back to the 1600s, Iniala Harbour House & Residences has 22 uniquely designed rooms and suites, and will be the latest opening from philanthropist Mark Weingard. The hotel, which overlooks the famous Grand Harbour, will set new standards for eye-catching urban design.

Iniala Harbour House & Residences, which is slated to open its doors in April, mixes tradition with more contemporary touches offering an eclectic mix of design concepts that subtly reflect Valletta’s unique heritage and charm. Created by three world-class design studios – Autoban from Turkey, A-Cero from Spain, and Malta’s DAAA HAUS – the hotel’s historical details will be beautifully preserved, with each townhouse having a distinctive identity. Using three different designers offers a true variation of interiors for all guests’ tastes.

Kalesma Mykonos

An image of infinity pool in Mykonos hotel that is opening this April

Image credit: Kalesma Mykonos

Set to elevate the desirable island of Mykonos to new heights, Kalesma is a 25-suite and two-villa luxury hotel, which is expected to open in late April. ‘Kalesma’, meaning ‘inviting’ in Greek, is perfectly suited to the ethos of this boutique, privately-owned property. The whitewashed collection of houses have been created to resemble a charming Mykonian village, tumbling down a slope to Ornos Bay, just a short walk from the beach. The look and feel of a traditional village is deliberate, as Kalesma is all about making guests feel at home and encouraging a neighbourhood vibe, enhanced by laid-back weekly supper clubs. Inspired by Cycladic architecture, combining tradition with contemporary elements, Kalesma is a design aficionados dream – offering sleek and minimalist interiors using locally-sourced materials, evident at every turn.

Ca’ di Dio, Venice

Ca’ di Dio, which is expected to open in April, is located in a unparalleled position, at the entrance to the Arsenale area, known as the Contemporary Art District of Venice, a place linked to the prestigious Biennale. The fascinating history of the building dates back to 1272, and the project has been curated by the studio of the internationally renowned architect Patricia Urquiola, with the aim of creating an original and distinctive concept: a Venetian “house”, linked to the history of the city. 

Although contemporary in style, which is unusual for Venice, when strolling through the common areas, guests will be able to admire the bright travertine and perfectly preserved frescoes. The hotel features many places for guests to relax whilst staying in Venice; an ‘altana’ – covered roof-terrace, common in medieval Venice, which is the perfect place from which to admire the sights of the city, two internal courtyards, which will be home to one restaurant serving light and quick snacks throughout the day, and a spacious reading room. There will be a second, outdoor restaurant overlooking the lagoon, towards the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. 

Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

Sophisticated deluxe room inside Mandarin Oriental Madrid

Image credit: Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

Following the most ambitious and extensive renovation to take place in its 110-year history – it took three years for Spanish architect Rafael de La-Hoz and the French designer duo Gilles & Boissier to complete their collaborated masterpiece – Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid is ready to serve its guests. The 153-key luxury hotel is expected to appeal to both local and international guests, while preserving the striking Belle Époque character of the original building in keeping with the original spirit conceived by Cesar Ritz.

In addition to the Spanish arrival, Mandarin Oriental will also be opening properties in Luzern, Switzerland and on the Bosphorus in Istanbul in 2021.

W Algarve – look out, Portugal!

Render of private pool overlooking Algarve in hotel that opens in April

Image credit: W Hotels

W Hotels is about to land in the Algarve, which marks the brand’s debut in Portugal. Located just outside of Albufeira and perched on the iconic cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the hotel is a combination of urban glam meets beach life in a region famous for its beautiful, secluded coves, year-round sunshine and enticing cuisine. Guests can expect pulsating beats, vibrant flavours, and bright contemporary design.

The hotel will shelter 134 guestrooms and suites plus 83 residences, all ocean facing and boasting spacious balconies. Atlantic colours and asymmetrical forms that mimic the nearby cliffs define the design; it is the Algarve reinterpreted by W. 

Facilities will include a state-of-the-art fitness centre ‘FIT’ and an ‘Away’ Spa with seven treatment rooms, plus outdoor pools. To refuel and replenish there will be an authentic Portuguese Algarve-inspired dining restaurant, plus a classic and modern Italian restaurant.

Taking the luxury up an additional notch are the ‘Extreme WOW Suites’ with a rooftop terrace where luscious gardens surround an elevated lounge seating spot, DJ booth, dining and bar area, and an infinity pool from which guests can soak up the incredible sunset views over the Atlantic Ocean. The bedroom design is inspired by the beautiful Benagil cave and the picturesque Algarve fishing villages.

Berkeley Park Hotel, Miami 

On April 1, 2021, Berkeley Park Hotel will rise as the newest member of the MGallery Hotel Collection, and the first MGallery property in Florida. A highly anticipated four-star boutique hotel, the 80-key property sits along one of Miami Beach’s most coveted sectors known by locals as the Collins Park “Arts Corridor” for its direct access to world-renowned art institutions, and just steps from white sand beaches. With a timeless Mediterranean façade from 1936, the hotel pays homage to the city’s architectural roots with all the modern amenities that discerning travellers expect.

“We are thrilled to continue expanding our North American portfolio with the addition of the Berkeley Park Hotel – MGallery,” said Heather McCrory, CEO, Accor North & Central America. “With its ideal location, striking architecture, and vibrant spirit, the hotel is a tremendous addition to Accor’s Miami portfolio, which also includes Faena Hotel Miami Beach, SLS South Beach, SLS Brickell, SLS LUX Brickell, Hyde Midtown Miami, Mondrian South Beach, Novotel Miami Brickell, and Pullman Miami Airport.”

Main image credit: Iniala Harbour House & Residences

*Some dates as listed above may be subject to change due to travel restrictions following Covid-19 and national lockdown developments.

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Image of villa overlooking sea from bathroom

MINIVIEW: Finolhu, where Ibizan style meets Maldives hospitality

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
MINIVIEW: Finolhu, where Ibizan style meets Maldives hospitality

Hotel design goals! Following a show-stopping kaleidoscope-inspired transformation, Finolhu emerges from the pandemic with a new status: the first member of the Design Hotels in the Maldives. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores what sets this hotel aside from its distant neighbours…

Image of villa overlooking sea from bathroom

There is something comforting and familiar about the Maldives. One has come to expect a barefoot luxury experience on each of the various islands that are dotted around the Indian Ocean. It is fair to say, I think, that is is one of the few places you can travel to on earth where you feel as if you have totally escaped from life as you know it.

The region is naturally stunning, and has over the years attracted luxury hospitality brands to arrive in order to shelter sanctuaries by the water’s edge. And as beautiful as these hotels are, there are few that stand out from the rest.

Finolhu, which first opened in 2016, is a unique jewel that is one of the few exceptions in the region and has, as such,  become a travel bucket list destination in its own right  – international model Cara Delevingne and singer Rita Ora are among celebrities and influencers who have previously raved about the destination’s playful spirit. It is therefore no surprise that the five-star hotel recently became Design Hotels’ first member in the Maldives.

Image of beach-side reception in the Maldives

Image credit: Image credit: Finolhu/Brechenmacher & Baumann

For many reasons – one of which being it sheltering a distinct european-style energy – the hotel is what modern travellers have come to expect when checking in to to the post-pandemic hospitality scene – think casual beach club vibes with an exceptional entertainment programme in one of the Indian Ocean’s most stylish settings.

The naturally beautiful private island of Finolhu, which translates to “sandbank”, was acquired by Germany’s Seaside Collection in 2019, and is guided by a distinctively European-style hotel philosophy that embraces the types of carefree, beachside get-togethers that we know from the likes of Ibiza and Mykonos. Pairing European hotspot nostalgia with cool contemporary surroundings on a paradise island, Finolhu is the ultimate hangout – and it is this effortless, non-curated style and energy that sets it apart from other hotels in the same region.

“Each Seaside Collection property celebrates individuality, and Finolhu is no exception,” explains Gregor Gerlach, owner and Managing Partner of Seaside Collection.

Image of luxury pool in the Maldives

Image credit: Image credit: Finolhu/Brechenmacher & Baumann

The hotel, which was already a luxury travel hotspot, has recently undergone a transformation in order to further blur the line between luxury and lifestyle. This refurbishment was overseen by award-winning London-based design studio, Muza Lab, which has previously designed interiors for brands like Belmond and Ritz Carlton. Founder Inge Moore created a kaleidoscope design concept, taking inspiration from the fragmentation of light on the blue-toned water and the many purple, pink and apricot colours of the sunset. “In translation, the word ‘kaleidoscope’ means ‘seeing beautiful forms’,” explains Moore. “This playful alternation of patterns, geometry and colours is what guests will now experience when they visit Finolhu.”

Image credit: Image credit: Finolhu/Brechenmacher & Baumann

Each of the 125 guest villas have been redesigned, embracing the kaleidoscope concept that is featured throughout the resort, characterised by a mesmerising blend of colours and symmetrical patterns that complement the island’s natural beauty.

The two spacious two-bedroom Rockstar Villas, which are the most sought-after villas on the island, are bright and colourful, and are perfect for large families or groups of friends. They come equipped with their own private wine cellar, bar and a guest experience host.

Image of stylish Ibiza style suite in the Maldives hotel

Image credit: Image credit: Finolhu/Brechenmacher & Baumann

The Beach Villas and the new Beach Pool Villas are a great option for those seeking more space and privacy; all of the villas have their own beautifully landscaped gardens, and many have now been upgraded to feature their own private swimming pools.

Another distinguishing feature of Seaside Finolhu is its iconic Beach Bubble. The first of its kind in the Maldives, the bubble is located in a secluded spot along Seaside Finolhu’s marvellous sandbank, and is exclusively available for guests wishing to enjoy a uniquely romantic night under the stars.

The freshly designed Fehi Spa (Fehi meaning green), consists of 10 treatment rooms, each surrounded by the lush greenery of the island. Guests can expect to journey back to nature with treatments that use local ingredients, such as coconut oil and coconut milk, which can be found on the spa menu, including Fehi’s signature Maldivian Healing Treatment, that involves a coconut oil massage, a warm sand poultice and a coconut milk polish.

Fehi’s east-meets-west approach includes a range of holistic treatments, like crystal chakra balancing, Ayurveda treatments and singing bowl massages, which can be found alongside more traditional restorative treatments.

The hotel’s newly appointed Michelin-trained chef, Memo V. Hernandez, will lead Finolhu’s culinary experiences across each of the resort’s four restaurants, where every table comes with a spectacular view. The culinary team brings an exquisite mix of artisanship, individuality and international flair with fresh produce and ingredients being a key focus behind the cuisine.

Image of western style interiors inside restaurant in the Maldives

Image credit: Image credit: Finolhu/Brechenmacher & Baumann

Guests are taken on a gastronomic journey with modern Japanese and Asian cuisine at Kanusan; flavours of the Middle East and North Africa at the Arabian Grill; Italian, Asian, Maldivian and fresh seafood dishes at Beach Kitchen; and fresh seafood platters at Crab Shack.

The Beach Bar is the heart of the resort, bringing European beach club vibes, where laid-back beats and exotic cocktails can be enjoyed throughout the day and late into the evening, and weekly white parties, DJ sets and monthly full-moon parties take place along the sandbank.

By injecting Maldivian-inspired touches with ultra-luxury modernity, Moore and her team were able to redesign the hotel in order to showcase contemporary design mixed with a distinct organic edge. Natural raw materials such as ropes, clay and timbers are being incorporated into Seaside Finolhu’s refreshing new colour palettes to create a visual harmony that enhance the hotel’s unique style.

Main image credit: Finolhu/Brechenmacher & Baumann

Image of luxury Marriott f&b arae

Marriott signs agreement to bring three new hotels to Saudi Arabia

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Marriott signs agreement to bring three new hotels to Saudi Arabia

Among the anticipated new hotels that Marriott International will be opening include the debut of Renaissance Hotels in the Kingdom, the world’s largest Aloft Hotel, and a Courtyard by Marriott in Makkah…

Image of luxury Marriott f&b arae

Marriott International, which recently celebrated the opening of one of its brand’s 100th property as well as opening its 800th hotel in the Asia Pacific region, has signed an agreement with leading real estate company Al Saedan Group, to open three hotels by 2025 across Saudi Arabia. The multi-project agreement includes the country and territory’s first Renaissance Hotel, the world’s largest Aloft Hotel and a Courtyard by Marriott in the Holy City of Makkah.

“We are pleased to build on our fantastic relationship with Al Saedan Group and further expand our portfolio across Saudi Arabia with these milestone signings,” said Satya Anand, President for Europe, Middle East & Africa, Marriott International. “These agreements underscore Marriott International’s commitment to supporting the growth of the Kingdom’s tourism sector and reinforces the continued demand we are seeing for our portfolio of brands across the country.”

“As a company, we are focused on developing projects that support the growth and development of the Kingdom,” said Sultan Al Khudair, CEO of Al Saedan Group. “We are excited to collaborate with Marriott International to open two new properties in the Holy City which will be ideal destinations for those visiting for Umrah and Haj, and to debut Renaissance Hotels in the country. These three new agreements were signed in line with our commitment to bring the highest standards of quality and design to our assets and to provide a premium experience to our guests.”

Marriott International is one of the largest hotel groups in the world, encompassing a portfolio of more than 7,600 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 133 countries and territories.

Main image credit: Marriott International (no images or renders of the three new properties have yet been released)

An armchair in front of glass window

Product watch: ILIV launches the Kelso & Harlow textiles collection

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: ILIV launches the Kelso & Harlow textiles collection

The Kelso & Harlow textiles collection by ILIV has been woven in a charming village on the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire and draws on the centuries-old tradition of British textile weaving…

An armchair in front of glass window

The Kelso & Harlow collection by ILIV has been born out of traditional craftsmanship. Manufacturing to high ethical standards, from all-natural, wool fibres without the use of harmful chemicals, the brand proud to be using many traditional machines that do its fine work in the time-honoured way.

Despite its traditional manufacturing process, the new collection is completely suitable for modern-day commercial use. With its highly durable make-up natural dirt repellence, acoustic absorbance properties and its superior fire resistance, Kelso & Harlow is the environmentally friendly choice for all types of furniture and interiors, offering a sophisticated and organic look.

Image caption: The Kelso collection is available in 51 colours. | Image credit: ILIV

Image caption: The Kelso & Harlow collection is available in 51 colours. | Image credit: ILIV

“We are committed to minimising the impact of our business on the environment from our energy consumption and carbon emissions to our waste management and recycling facilities,” explains the ILIV in a press release. “By weaving our 50 per cent British wool collection, Kelso, here in the UK, we have reduced our carbon footprint, whilst offering our support to local British farmers.”

Kelso & Harlow is available across 51 colours, constructed using a mix of melange and greige woven yarns from commercial greys to corporate greens and vibrant blues to striking yellows and oranges.

SMD Textiles/ILIV 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: ILIV

Image of Riggs Wet bar

Hotel review: Checking in to Riggs Washington D.C.

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel review: Checking in to Riggs Washington D.C.

Sheltered in a former bank in the capital city, Riggs Washington D.C. is emerging from the pandemic as a statement hotel that offers a new kind of luxury on the east coast. Writer and cine​matic storyteller Ollie Wiggins checks in to the Caroline Harrison suite and interviews interior design legend Jacu Strauss in order to understand the hotel design narrative that is not what it first seems…

Image of Riggs Wet bar

The highly anticipated Riggs Washington D.C. opened its doors in early 2020, but considering the unforeseen circumstances around the pandemic that shortly followed, the hotel’s grand opening period was cut short as hospitality worldwide hunkered down for a turbulent year. So, for the sake of this review, I am prepared to erase 2020 from our memories in order to instead celebrate the arrival of what has already become one of Washington’s most exciting hotel openings of the decade. This 181-key hotel aims to offer unparalleled luxury and a breath of fresh air to the thriving and modern metropolis. 

Sitting down with Jacu Strauss, the Creative Director of Lore Group and the brainchild behind Sea Containers London and Pulitzer Amsterdam, it becomes immediately apparent how important the setting was and is to him – he is clearly passionate about DC. “It’s just a really beautiful city,” he says. “Great architecture, and noticeably lacking skyscrapers, it has a certain rhythm to it.” With Jacu’s projects across the world, he’s famous for putting time, energy and resources in to research an area and its needs. Keen to avoid what he describes as a “cookie cutter approach”, it is about the neighbourhoods, the greater contexts of the city and its people. With D.C., he felt he’d found a real gap in the hospitality market. “You have lifestyle brands as well as more traditional, institutional luxury hotels that are really established here and do what they do perfectly,” Strauss explains. “But we wanted to bridge that gap between lifestyle and luxury and become an institution that sits alone.”

It would have been all too easy to make this imposing gothic building into another institutional hotel. And there is no escaping the fact that it is sheltered in what used to be a bank – the ceilings are enormous for starters. The name of the hotel is synonymous with banking throughout DC; many presidents banked with the brand and it even provided the bank loan the US government needed to buy Alaska. Strauss freely admits that he is not the first to turn a bank into a luxury hotel, citing The Ned in London as a prime example. It is perhaps for this reason that he is keen to make sure the building is not tied to its former use. “We really wanted to depart from banking and make it about other things as well,” Strauss explains. “We wanted to celebrate both the legacy of the building and history of the city through unexpected details and a thoughtful approach to guest experience.” So it is perhaps no surprise then that he says he wants to evoke the spirit of the bank, preserving and restoring much of the beautiful old building with playful nod’s to it’s rich and storied past. It is in this way he hopes that the building will reflect a sense of timelessness, which he hopes will give the hotel longevity. 

Upon entering the hotel on F street, I am immediately struck by how authentically period the building feels. Whilst Strauss said he was keen to avoid the sense that the building was stuck in the past, it is hard to imagine the entrance hall has changed at all in the 130 years since it was built. The original marble floors and columns, for example, have not lost their shine or luster. The intricate recessed carvings on the arches of the barrelled ceiling have been meticulously restored and the gold trim on the American eagle that presides over the entryway is as bright and splendid as one would hope.

Image caption: The lobby/reception area has been designed to give a sensitive nod to the building's past. | Image credit: Riggs Washington D.C.

Image caption: The lobby/reception area has been designed to give a sensitive nod to the building’s past. | Image credit: Riggs Washington D.C.

To the right, the commanding entrance hall is replaced with a warm and welcoming check-in area. There is still the impressive sense of space and grandeur from the high-vaulted ceilings and federalist columns, but the marble floor has been replaced by a luxurious blue carpet. Comfortable arm chairs and soft furnishings help temper the building’s stark gothic feel without taking away from the majestic first impression. On the wall hangs an enormous medallion of Juno Moneta, the Roman goddess of money, modelled on an insignia Strauss discovered when first exploring the building. It gives the impression of inventing without betraying that the designer was keen to create; whilst a new addition to the building, the medallion feels timeless and totally in keeping with the property’s past. Behind a desk and a gold trimmed screen are the friendly reception staff. Whilst a new safety feature for the current pandemic, the gilt edged dividers feel true to the former use of the building and one can imagine the bank’s customers standing in front of them as they discussed the handling of their finances.

“The wooden parquet flooring gives the air of a stately home, where marble would have felt too austere and carpet too subaltern.”

Upon checking in, I am taken first to the Riggs suite, once the boardroom of the bank, now an impressive function room with enviable views of the city. Here, a room that could have felt stark with its hard lines and gothic arches has been made to feel luxurious and comfortable. The wooden parquet flooring gives the air of a stately home, where marble would have felt too austere and carpet too subaltern. Upholstered chairs around a long dining table reinforce this feeling of luxury and recall the room’s former use. On the walls of this room, no doubt once occupied exclusively by men, now hang the portraits of inspirational looking women in a variety of styles and from different cultures. In fact, the room is full of feminine touches including the soft green carpet, delicate oak furniture, copious plants and plush velvety sofas and cushions. It is part of Strauss’ efforts to neutralise what he sees as the overly masculine world of banking with feminine touches.

“Riggs is the only hotel in the area that has chosen to name its suites them after first ladies.”

I am fortunate enough to be staying in the Caroline Harrison Suite. The general manager proudly explains that whilst many hotels in the city have suites named after presidents, Riggs is the only hotel in the area that has chosen to name its suites them after first ladies – yet another example of the way Strauss has injected elements of femininity into all aspects of the hotel’s design. The room is a rich blue with sumptuous, heavy-velvet curtains, a sofa and pillows with a design that calls to mind the ornate patterns of the dividers that separated customers from tellers. The carpet, whilst pristine, has been made to look distressed as though it is itself part of the building’s history.

Image caption: The living room inside the Caroline Harrison Suite. | Image credit: Riggs Washington D.C.

Image caption: The living room inside the Caroline Harrison Suite. | Image credit: Riggs Washington D.C.

Throughout the room are an eclectic collection of objets; lampshades in the form of dogs, contemporary takes on classical urns, a porcelain lantern with an Asian feel. Strangely, they help anchor the building in its Washington location by creating the sense that these pieces may have been gifted to the first lady by visiting dignitaries on some state visit from long ago. This feeling is complemented by the Jasperware plates and medallions hanging on the wall that celebrate significant events in the nation’s history; the signing of the declaration of independence and the start of JFK’s ill-fated presidency. Behind the luxurious four-poster bed is a feature wall with fun and quirky wallpaper that calls to mind the illustrations in a children’s book or the work of Ken Done. It contrasts aptly with the block colours and bold design choices in the rest of the space. 

The other three first lady suites, named after Ida McKinley, Louisa Adams and Angelica Van Buren have their own distinct styles and decor. The Van Buren is particularly striking with its rich red walls and velvet curtains complimented by ornate gold furniture. Of particular interest, too, are the classical busts that adorn the shelves, all of classical female deities, as well as contemporary artwork inspired once again by the profile of Juno Moneta. 

Each of the hotel’s other rooms are designed to offer something personal and unexpected. Whether it’s the colour of the wall or the shape of the space, each one feels different and offers something unique to the guest so that no two stays are ever quite the same. 

Image caption: Jacu Strauss collaborated with longtime friend George Benson to create the unique headboards in the guestrooms. | Image credit: Riggs Washington D.C.

Image caption: Jacu Strauss collaborated with longtime friend George Benson to create the unique headboards in the guestrooms. | Image credit: Riggs Washington D.C.

Perhaps most striking in each room are the custom made headboards, the shape suggestive of the ripples of theatrical curtains. To achieve this unique style, Strauss collaborated with longtime friend George Benson to create these stunning pieces. The abstract swirling pattern used on both the headboards and wallpaper is inspired by a detail on a painting Jacu saw whilst at the Met Gallery in New York and was created by Benson’s company Voutsa specifically for the hotel. It adds a fun and cheeky dimension as well as a sense of movement to what were once the bank’s offices. Eagle eyed guests may spot that the pattern is also used on the inside of the bespoke umbrellas that are provided in each room. 

Next to the bed are small oak bedside tables with green leather inlay designed to feel like the writing desks that would once have been used in this building. To achieve a strong and timeless lighting scheme, Strauss collaborated with bespoke lighting brand Chelsom in order to ensure that each space was effortlessly lit in order to radiate the hotel’s luxe style and distinct personality. For example, gilt desk lamps sit on top of the bedside tables to reinforce the writing desk association and invite you to imagine the bank clerks hunched over their work in the previous century. Each room also contains a replica bank safe complete with the insignia of Juno on the outside and housing the minibar and room’s safe inside. It is the most overt reminder of the building’s former life as well as a fun talking point for guests. 

Since you’re here, why not read about Chelsom’s Edition 27 lighting collection

“I can’t help wondering if the powerful rain shower head is a nod to Obama’s request that one be added to The White House for the duration of his incumbency.”

Inside the bathrooms, the Italian Carrara marble tiles on the floor and walls create a sense of grandeur and security. Even the shape of the shiny metallic taps is reminiscent of the handle of a safe and reinforces the idea that one has walked into the bank’s impregnable strong room. The deep free-standing bath makes for a luxurious bathing experience and I can’t help wondering if the powerful rain shower head is a nod to Obama’s request that one be added to The White House for the duration of his incumbency. 

Image credit: Luxurious bathrooms inside the hotel. | Image credit: Riggs Washington D.C.

Image credit: Luxurious bathrooms inside the hotel. | Image credit: Riggs Washington D.C.

Strauss said that he wanted each of the rooms to feel like a safety deposit box, with the contents of each being unique and valuable. This certainly comes across and is particularly evident from the door to each room. Every door features the front of a safety deposit box, complete with a non-working keyhole and golden circular medallion bearing the likeness of Juno Moneta. On the walls and floor, the sumptuous, rich, red carpets evoke a feeling of warmth. They contrast directly with the imposing lobby of the building and give the sense that you are exploring a more intimate and sequestered part of the hotel. On the walls of the corridors are a collection of paintings, some depicting classical figures and others in a more contemporary style as if these pieces have been placed here by customers trusting the bank to protect their artistic investments. The lifts too are worthy of note, featuring marble floors and mirrors covered in silver leaf, which gives them an opulent antiquarian aspect. 

In the bar and restaurant it is clear that Strauss has attempted to bring something new to the city. “There may have been a certain standard of food and beverage outlets here that became quite institutionalised, and not necessarily in a good way,” he admits to me.  “So, it didn’t have much diversity, and going against that convention – especially in an area of the hotel that is typically most criticised – was really changing. DC is becoming a real foodie city.” Strauss’ aim was to provide something “bright and elegant, inspired by the grand cafes of Europe,” and that is certainly case here at Riggs. The high-vaulted ceilings provide a massive sense of space and the circular marble tables together with the trendy wooden and velvet chairs would not feel out of place in a continental eatery. It is no coincidence that the chairs themselves are the colour of money, in America at least. It would have been easy to use an overabundance of green throughout the hotel for its pecuniary associations and the decision not to do this in the rest of the development feels remarkably restrained. 

The luxury of space in the bar area has provided one of the largest  challenges in converting this part of the building. With the huge height of the room, Strauss and his team were keen to make sure the scope of the space was being fully utilised. To that end, Strauss installed massive velvet curtains, so weighty that their use necessitated reinforcing the wall. He also commissioned a bouquet of oversized fabric flowers from Ukraine – its bright colours and whimsical design are suggestive of the works of Lewis Carroll or Edward Lear. Yet despite their sheer scale (they come in at an eye-watering two storeys high) everything in the room feels perfectly in proportion. Even the six foot four inch gilt chandeliers that Strauss designed himself help to make the space feel intimate without taking away from the sense of grandeur. 

Image caption: Jacu Strauss commissioned a bouquet of oversized fabric flowers from Ukraine, which has become a statement piece in the public area of the hotel. | Image credit: Riggs Washington D.C.

Image caption: Jacu Strauss commissioned a bouquet of oversized fabric flowers from Ukraine, which has become a statement piece in the public area of the hotel. | Image credit: Riggs Washington D.C.

I journey downwards to the subterranean Silver Lyan bar, described by the hotel manager as an adult playground. It’s not hard to see why, the theming is fun without being gimmicky and the low ceilings, dark lighting and deep red chairs give the air of that most uniquely American thing: a speakeasy. There are also an array of fun little touches around the bar; secret messages hidden as optical illusions in the wall panelling, lighting inspired by classical Asian designs and hundreds of sporting trophies in cases across the walls, which Strauss is quick to tell me were all won by female athletes. 

Across the hall is the gym and fitness area, which perhaps rather tauntingly has an oversized gumball machine outside, which feels uniquely American and once again helps to play with the sense of scale and disrupt the sense of solemnity in the building. Despite the restrictions currently in place due to Covid-19, I can’t resist sampling one or two. The gym itself has enough equipment to ensure that even the most ardent of fitness fanatics can ensure they get a good workout and the marble pillars hardwood floors provide a sense of decadence as you sweat your way towards your fitness goals. There are also fun touches around the room, like the leather punching bag, that invites one to imagine a circus strongman with a handlebar moustache hard in training. There is also the door to what once would have been the bank’s strongroom, with its intricate mechanism, bolts and rivets on display.

As I check out, I am reminded of something Strauss said to me, that a hotel should provide an elevated experience rather than simply being “a home away from home” and Riggs Washington D.C. is certainly not that. It is a building that has always been about showmanship that has left lasting impression of strength and security.

Strauss’ next project, the Lyle in D.C., will be much more about calm and comfort – think mattresses like marshmallows that he describes as the “most comfortable” he has ever slept on. Yet here, the way The Lore Group has managed to turn what could have been a stark and austere building into something welcoming without losing any of the sense of grandeur is impressive. To summarise, Riggs DC embraces its past whilst remaining pitch perfect for its current use, ensuring its future place in the city for years to come. 

Main image credit: Riggs Washington D.C.

Image of tiger on walls in warehouse

Wallpaper goals: Adding personality in public spaces

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Wallpaper goals: Adding personality in public spaces

With all this talk around hygiene and reassuring the post-corona consumer, to avoid spaces looking too clinical we need to start talking about how we inject personality back into the public areas. Cue the arrival of Arte’s latest wallcoverings collections that give off some serious haute couture vibes and a splash of wallpaper goals…

Image of tiger on walls in warehouse

Many hotel spaces have now evolved to become community hubs, appealing to not only business guests and tourists, but equally people looking for an experience, whether that be a spa day, a business breakfast or a social lunch. Consumers are savvier and more informed, looking for something more substantial than a comfortable stay, so it’s important to ensure any public space is decorated in a way that appeals to all senses and creates a unique, stand out interior.

Gone are the days where a hotel lobby was acting merely as a transitional space for check-ins; this is the first place guests will see when they arrive and the last place they will see before they leave, therefore it’s important to make a lasting impression. This is an area with the highest traffic in the entire hotel; it’s one that guests will move through many times, therefore it needs to be both functional, but also stylish, atmospheric and vibrant.

Hotels are recognising the value in utilising and maximising their large spaces to attract footfall above the guests staying at the hotel. Interior designers are experimenting with different aesthetics and textures to add interest to these spaces, elevating not only the design, but also the common perception of what a hotel should like; dreary walls, covered in a singular paint colour or outdated wallpaper are being swapped for statement designs, playful patterns and distinguished textures.

From small boutique hotels like the art deco inspired Hotel Victor Hugo in France, with interiors by Laurent Maugoust featuring the gorgeous, hand-embroidered Crane pattern in their lobby to larger hotel groups such as the Hilton Tanger City Centre in Morocco, designed by Jaime Beriestain Studio featuring the geometric Sapphire Maze in one of their restaurant spaces, Arte’s designs have been expertly used by interior designers in hotel lobbies, bars and restaurants around the world for over 40 years to transform public spaces into places with character and personality.

Wallpaper is one of the simplest ways to refresh and add interest to a space, yet, it can be one of the most impactful. With materiality and texture at the heart of Arte, many of their wallpaper designs push boundaries of what is known as ‘traditional wallpaper’ and incorporate innovative techniques and finishes from heat embossed 3d fabrics, printed textiles and natural materials including silk, raffia and sisal to denim, velvet and leather, the possibilities in both texture and design are endless.

Lush and rich, jungle and tropical foliage designs such as Palmera, Abanico, Java or Silk Road Garden, as well as the more paired back florals of Wildflower or Grow will work equally well for an all-over scheme or a statement wall to give a sense of comfort by bringing the outdoors in through motifs and colours seen in nature, adding life and light to a space and allowing us to maintain that connection to nature.

Image caption: Java | Image credit: Arte

Many interior designers are abandoning the traditional rules of decorating and embracing the idea of combining different wallpaper designs in the same space, mixing textures and bolder designs with different colours across the walls, layering with other decorative items in the space, for a dramatic, maximalist scheme. Arte’s collections are designed in a way that offers a comprehensive palette of colours, ranging across a wide range of textures, prints and patterns – allowing for designs to be combined and mixed in a way that results in a playful, but cohesive scheme.

Intreguing and interesting textures can be found across the collections, including heat embossed 3d patterns as seen in Intrigue, Enigma and Eclipse, as well as the rich velvet, suede and leather textures of Velveteen, Les Cuirs and Lush. The 3d, heat embossed Caisson design from the Eclipse collection was used by designer Gensler to dress the walls in the Baton Rouge Hotel, resulting in an interior that not only looks elegant and gives the illusion of French panelling on the wall, but one that feels warm and comforting. Aside from being extremely durable and long-lasting (with the added bonus of acoustic qualities), these heavier textures are a great way to add both flair and warmth to a space, be it a restaurant or a hotel bedroom; creating a relaxing, yet stylish space.

Arte’s wallcoverings are not only creative and innovative, but each collection offers a myriad of possibilities for transforming a public space, be it through colour, pattern or texture, making it easy for designers to create spaces that are sophisticated, impactful and engaging.

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

Main image credit: Arte

Main image for virtual roundtable on bespoke possibilities in luxury design

Virtual roundtable: Bespoke possibilities in luxury design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Virtual roundtable: Bespoke possibilities in luxury design

To specify or not to specify, that was the initial question that editor Hamish Kilburn put forward to our expert panel of designers and lighting masterminds for our latest roundtable, in association with bespoke lighting brand Dernier & Hamlyn, on bespoke possibilities in luxury design…

Main image for virtual roundtable on bespoke possibilities in luxury design

There are a plethora of well-documented benefits linked to selecting bespoke products in a luxury brief – it eliminates the need to flex or drastically change the interior design scheme, for starters. Bespoke is therefore, in many if not all scenarios, the best and most preferred solution among leading designers where budget is no barrier. Or is it? In association with the bespoke lighting experts at Dernier & Hamlyn, we recently invited a cluster of leading interior designers and world-renowned lighting experts in order to explore the bespoke possibilities in luxury design. As well as understanding today’s perception of ‘luxury’ among clients and guests alike, we were intrigued to also understand the pitfalls designers should avoid when deciding to go bespoke.

Meet the panel: 

Hamish Kilburn: How have hotel operators’ perception of luxury design changed over the past few years? Is what used to be considered luxury now standard? And what does this mean for designers in ensuring their schemes exude luxury?

Justin Wells: We pontificate over luxury so much – it’s just like defining colour! Firstly, it’s very important to know your audience – and that includes understanding cultures and demographics. In our experience, luxury in North America has been around legacy brands. In more perhaps progressive markets, such as South East Asia, for example, they are certainly trying to reposition luxury to be more lifestyle. In the region of the Middle East, which is where I am now, the perception of luxury is to make up for lost time. Elsewhere, in more mature markets, such as Europe, there’s certainly a reinvention happening at the moment, which is very exciting.

HK: You talk about perception, which makes me want to bring in social media and this demand for ‘accessible luxury’ into the conversation. Has that damaged the integrity of luxury hospitality?

Simon Rawlings: It’s interesting, we’re finding that luxury is becoming more standardised, certainly when it comes to peoples’ expectations of luxury. With many brands and experiences that are global, we’re really seeing that each region’s differences are disappearing, which is actually quite boring when you want to emphasise differences.

 “Authentic luxury has to be very particular to that project, and to standardise luxury is dangerous.” – Simon Rawlings, Creative Director, David Collins Studio.

Luxury is a difficult thing to pinpoint and it can be as simple as beautiful service in an ordinary space. Authentic luxury has to be very particular to that project, and to standardise luxury is dangerous.

Also, we will never get a brief that says ‘we want to be a luxury hotel’. Instead, it will be the ideas and thoughts around sustainability, aims to stand out from the crowd that, combined, lead spaces and projects to look and feel more luxurious. The idea that luxury is lavish and excessive is an outdated mindset. For us, it’s been an interesting and exciting time recently because a lot of the briefs we have received in the last few months show that people are really willing to invest in good design.

“The luxury element 10 – 20 years ago would have been more around the materials and finishes, but it’s less and less about that now.” – Kirsten King, Design Director, Bergman Interiors.

Image caption: Interiors inside Nobu Hotel London Portman Square, designed by David Collins Studio, which features bespoke lighting from Dernier & Hamlyn | Image credit: Jack Hardy

Image caption: Interiors inside Nobu Hotel London Portman Square, designed by David Collins Studio, which features bespoke lighting from Dernier & Hamlyn | Image credit: Jack Hardy

Kirstin King: For us, the luxury element 10 – 20 years ago would have been more around the materials and finishes, but it’s less and less about that now. Instead, it has become much more about lifestyle. We have to think more intelligently to really understand the local craftsmen, and in doing so we need to pair things back to allow the ambiance to naturally reflect luxury.

Paul Nulty: For us, luxury lighting design is something that fires all the senses. Whether it’s visual or a composition. If it’s heightening the senses and the emotional connection with that space, then it feels luxurious.

HK: Similarly, how have guests’ perceptions of luxury design changed over the past few years?

Hamish Brown: We have always worked with private clients, and our understanding on what luxury guests need and demand stems from experience in residential. The key difference that consumers are expecting now is that sense of place. Across all brands, the industry went through a brief moment of standardisation, but now we are seeing brands really understand and celebrate cultural difference. For example, if you take two Four Seasons properties in two locations within one country. By both capturing the local flavours of their unique destination, it sets them aside from each other. That in itself becomes luxurious, bespoke and individual. And then, what happens is that the brand’s DNA gets threaded into the design scheme through consistent service – it’s no longer a look or an aesthetic but much more a feeling.

HK: With the sheer number of options that suppliers offer in their standard ranges these days, why is the demand for bespoke design in luxury projects still growing?

Jo Littlefair: I think that bespoke design, both in hospitality and high-end residential, gives you the flexibility to respond to a project individually – it’s a great way to bring in local vernacular. It’s really important for us to give a strong identity. In our studio, nothing is a cookie-cutter approach. Instead, we respond to everything individually – and I think bespoke design gives you that ability to scale and size things perfectly. It allows us to really craft interiors as opposed to just select them.

Mayfair Townhouse peacock entrance

Image caption: a 67-inch peacock sculpture adorned in 25,000 Swarovski crystals sits inside the Mayfair Townhouse, designed by Goddard Littlefair | Image credit: Iconic Luxury Hotels

SR: We’ve started specifying more than we have ever done. Yes, of course, there’s still the demand for bespoke, but there are so many incredible designers who are creating some really awesome things that we love to embrace and collaborate with them on. With the Nobu Hotel London Portman Square, for example, one of our goals was to specify as many statement pieces as we could. As someone who has always championed bespoke everything, I don’t think by specifying you get a lesser product, and I don’t think the clients think anything less of it either. It’s changing, and there are a lot of us who have our own collections so we will specify our own products for certain projects.

“The quality of the end bespoke product is not necessary as high as something that has been crafted over many years.” – Tina Norden, Partner, Conran and Partners.

Tina Norden: I would say that there are regional differences. Particularly in Asia, clients may believe you can get the product cheaper but sometimes the quality of the end product is not necessary as high as something that has been crafted over many years. Therefore, you have to be extremely careful as an interior designer. You need the right manufacturer you can trust that allows you to see the prototypes – we have all been there when that simply isn’t an option.

With the late Sir Terence Conran traditionally being a furniture designer, we have always had – and shown huge respect for – the work that furniture designers do. I guess that sometimes people don’t appreciate how much time specifiers take to get products just right.

HK: You’re right, Tina! Trust is vital – and the relationship now between quality suppliers and designers is stronger than it has ever been, is it not?

Mark Harper: We are seeing and contributing to more artisan people who are being specified. For us, as a bespoke lighting manufacturer, we do what we do to the highest level of quality.

HK: At what point in the design process do you decide bespoke is the best option?

PN: Designers go bespoke when they cannot find a product on the market that achieves the look, feel and quality that they are looking for. Perhaps the bespoke product will give a slightly different glow, but for me it comes back to the senses. It’s relevantly simple, and yet extremely complex at the same time.

Shayne Brady: At the end of the day, it is a case-by-case basis – and it depends on different factors. We often have clients come to us with a specific vision. In Bob Bob Cite, for example, the client wanted to create a full suite of bespoke wall and ceiling lights. Bespoke is great when you are working in a space that has high volume because you can customise each product to fit the space.

Image caption: Bob Citi Citi diner, designed by Brady Williams Studio, which includes bespoke lighting from Dernier & Hamlyn | Image credit: Bob Citi Citi

Image caption: Bob Bob Citi diner, designed by Brady Williams Studio, which includes bespoke lighting from Dernier & Hamlyn | Image credit: Bob Bob Citi

HK: Do bespoke projects always have to be the statement design pieces?

TN: In lighting terms, quite often it is. Ultimately, it is really coming down to the client and the location. Quite often in Europe, making something bespoke can actually feel a lot more special. Whereas in Asia, it feels more luxurious to select something from a high-end brand as a feature piece.

HK: And surely if you have a really ambitious idea that is pretty unconventional, bespoke becomes your best and sometimes only option – and Kirstin I am thinking about your project, The Engine Room…

KK: It was a really interesting project for the team here. The idea was an indoor rowing club that was sheltered in a converted church. The budget was low and therefore we recycled a lot. For example, the juice bar was made out of church pews. I would say 60 per cent of that project was lighting. As the guests were working out, the lighting would move and react in order to enhance performance. We worked very closely with the lighting designers to create that effect.

Image caption: The Engine Room, designed by Bergman Interiors | Image credit: The Engine Room

Image caption: The Engine Room, designed by Bergman Interiors | Image credit: The Engine Room

HK: That is a great example of using the demographic of where you are and thinking outside the box, and elevating the five senses. Are designers now approaching projects more holistically with sound and smell in mind?

“For me, sound and lighting are very closely linked – maybe that’s me going back to my clubbing days.” – Tina Norden, Partner, Conran and Partners.

TN: Yes, very much so. A few weeks ago, at Hotel Designs LIVE, we discussed how sound was being used in experience. For me, sound and lighting are very closely linked – maybe that’s me going back to my clubbing days. It’s all enhancing the overall ambiance.

PN: Multi-sensory lighting and design is the future! We started offering sound design in some projects. Going beyond acoustics, we are very interested to understand how sound can help enhance the consumer journey and we are seeing this now in hospitality. The third element of that is smell, which is becoming really important. Lighting, sound and smell work together, almost as a set of sub-consultants in design and architecture.

A bespoke lighting scheme by Nulty Lighting for the Earth Hotels concept at Downtown Dubai | Image credit: Nulty Lighting

A bespoke lighting scheme by Nulty Lighting for the Earth Hotels concept at Downtown Dubai | Image credit: Nulty Lighting

HK:  That’s extremely difficult to get right when all of those elements are very personal.

PN: Absolutely, and that’s why you have to really understand the brand from the outset of the project and what you want that user experience to be.

TN: That’s the key, it’s about being specific and designing for the demographic. You are not trying to please everyone.

“There will be dialogue about creating separation – which removes barriers and planning. In many ways, that’s allowing brands to reinvent themselves.” – Justin Wells, CEO, Wells International.

Blue co

Image caption: The Maximilian Hotel in Prague, designed by Conran and Partners

SR: I was doing an interview recently where I was asked when we come out of this pandemic whether or not people are going to struggle with noisy areas, and it’s an interesting point. At the same time, I met a sound identity designer. There are so many people listening in on podcasts these days. Ultimately, it made me realise that you can close your eyes but you cannot close your ears.

JW: We are trying to create thriving spaces and there were a lot of social collisions in these areas before the pandemic. However, now there will be dialogue about creating separation – which removes barriers and planning. In many ways, that’s allowing brands to reinvent themselves.

“Our clients reported that spend was greater on the tables that had more space.” – Shayne Brady, Director, Brady Williams.

SB: In between the second and third lockdown here in the UK, the guests were really appreciative and enjoyed the restaurants that had more space – not from a Covid perspective, but more from a luxury point of view. Actually, our clients reported that spend was greater on the tables that had more space. Perhaps we don’t need as many covers as we used to have.

HK: Do you therefore think that F&B spaces will be larger and take up more space?

SB: It will be more of a dialogue, for sure. There are more questions around capacity and what the sense of luxury means. Not being confined is luxury to me because that makes the experience far better.

“When we come out of this, there will be a need to decompress even more.” – Jo Littlefair, Co-Founder and Director, Goddard Littlefair.

JL: Pre-pandemic we were thinking about de-compression. We are very aware that people need that disconnect. The pandemic has definitely amplified that. When we come out of this, there will be a need to decompress even more.

Image caption: W Abu Dhabi Yas Island, designed by Wells International | Image credit: W Hotels

Image caption: W Abu Dhabi Yas Island, designed by Justin Wells | Image credit: W Hotels

HK: And now for a word that brings shivers down our spines: trends… what are the topics and movements that are dominating your conversations at the moment?

MH: We have seen an increase in enquires and requests for natural materials and clean lines with a traditional twist. What we are going to see now is the bigger picture; it’s about longevity and sustainability. Also, you cannot ignore the fact that LED technology has come on leaps and bounds and I expect that to evolve further and faster than perhaps ever before.

SR: LEDs are a nightmare, though, because the colour temperature on every single LED is different. So, trying to marry the interior design is very difficult. We still end up using filament bulbs because you just can’t rectify it.

PN: One big trend we are seeing is towards wellness – certainly towards business hotels and using lighting to mitigate jetlag. Lighting using circadian rhythm has a huge role to play in that. There’s a hotel in Reykjavik where the lighting is tied in to the alarm clock, and it illuminates before the sound of the alarm clock goes off in order to wake the guest up gently.

HK: Is that extremely expensive? For me, the benefits of circadian rhythm in lighting is so obvious, so why is it therefore not in more hotel design schemes?

PN: It’s more expensive and of course if you’ve got a 300-key hotel then it adds up. However, the benefits of that technology are being more and more proven.

HK: Do you worry about suppliers copying a bespoke design after seeing it in your projects? Does anyone have any examples of this they can/would like to share?

HB: Yes, you see that in parts of Asia and it’s not ideal, but it’s unfortunately part of our work that is always there.

 TN: I think there’s an opportunity there. If we work together with the manufacturer on a product going forward then it beats them at their own game.

HK: The ‘Norden’ chandelier, you heard it here first! Other than the ‘Norden’ collection, what’s lacking in lighting at the moment?

HB: Being able to visual prototypes in lighting is very important and be able to adapt and mold them in that creative process allows us to do more things.

SR: I agree. The first thing we want to know is what type of light the product will give off. If there was a tool to establish that, it would help us understand which light a fixture will give. For me that comes before what the product looks like. Some way of understanding the type of light the fixtures give off would be so invaluable.

“The issue is that designers love the materiality of stuff. It’s trying to engage with the intangible stuff.” – Paul Nulty, Founder, Nulty Lighting.

SB: That is interesting. We are working on a project at the moment where they have that already for furniture, but something similar in lighting would be very helpful.

PN: I agree with you. The issue is that designers love the materiality of stuff. It’s trying to engage with the intangible stuff. So many people disregard the quality of light. Quality of light and quantity of light are independent and are, I believe, misunderstood.

KK: From my experience, this should happen before we get fully into a project. Maybe it should happen even earlier!

striking bar with marble surfaces featuring distressed mirrors

Image caption: Worlds away from the hustle and bustle of London life above, The Spa at The Lanesborough was sensitively designed by 1508 London | Image credit: 1508 London/The Lanesborough

HK: Let’s finish by talking tech. The advancement of render software is incredible; it has given designers a tool to be more accurate and as a result allowed them to make informed decisions ahead of purchasing. However, it does also mean that clients now expect to see sharp renders in pitches. Does this ever narrow the window for new ideas to come into the project once it has been won?

HB: It’s such a hot topic at the moment within our studio and we have invested in a lot of technology at the moment to really confront this. You are correct in terms of narrowing down the window – and there is always a debate in our minds as to how far you go in the pitch. Right now, I think renders should happen later in the process and there has to be a visualisation tool that is a half-way house. That journey has to be a process – and that’s how you get a perfect space.

HK: And you are all competing against each other to win projects… Does it require across the board, designers stating that they will only present sketches?

HB: It would be amazing to have a conversation with designers to establish how far we should all be going in a pitch.

HK: It’s catch 22. As tech improves and the clients and consumers’ knowledge of design expands then so too does the demand for wanting to see more in a pitch.

KK: I agree totally. Sometimes the client demands a minimum of three renders in the pitch and it is a huge cost. You want to win the project and you know that everyone else will be producing renders.

SB: It depends on the client. Some clients do not understand the concept of your pitch unless it is a perfect CGI. More and more, these days, the client is very involved and there is a collaboration from start to finish. If you can hook a client with a great idea that is where it should be won.

JW: We always go quite analogue in our pitches. We use vignettes to highlight certain areas. We then, during the pitch, talk about these spaces and elements, which become frameworks. The aim of the pitch is for the client to establish how we think and how we work. If we win a pitch, we will then produce more emotive non-photo realistic renderings. The next set of renders will be marketing quality.

Dernier & Hamlyn, the sponsor of this roundtable, is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email  Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Promo image of Ep 2 of DESIGN POD

DESIGN POD episode 2, with Director of Zaha Hadid Architects, has landed

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
DESIGN POD episode 2, with Director of Zaha Hadid Architects, has landed

LISTEN NOW: For episode of two of DESIGN POD, in association with Bathrooms Brands Group, editor Hamish Kilburn and co-host Harriet Forde invite Christos Passas, Director of Zaha Hadid Architects, to discuss architecture beyond boundaries…

Promo image of Ep 2 of DESIGN POD

Hosted by editor Hamish Kilburn and co-hosted by designer Harriet Forde, DESIGN POD’s latest episode, entitled ‘Architecture Beyond Boundaries’, is now available to listen to all major podcast platforms such as SpotifyAmazon Music and Acast – and welcomes Christos Passas, Director of Zaha Hadid Architect (ZHA), as the guest professional for the episode.

As well as discussing how ZHA stretches what is possible in design and architecture, the episode also dives deep into the legacy that the late Zaha Hadid left behind, whose outstanding contribution to the architectural profession has been acknowledged by professional, academic and civic institutions around the world, including (but not limited to) the Forbes List of the ‘World’s Most Powerful Women. “It is no coincidence that this episode has been released in the wake of International Women’s Day,” explains Kilburn. “Hadid’s vision was one that captured the imagination of more than industry professionals; her unapologetic, pioneering mindset continues, to this day, to resonate with every individual on the planet who believes in and strives for equality in all sectors.”

“When it comes to younger generations, I always look for people who are not afraid to work hard.” – Christos Passas, Director, Zaha Hadid Architects.

Passas, who first joined the international architecture and design studio 23 years ago and recently won Architect of the Year at The Brit List Awards 2020, agreed to be interviewed by Kilburn who was keen to understand more about how the studio has changed since the passing of Hadid as well as getting the low-down on the studio’s latest project, The Opus in Dubai, which Hotel Designs exclusively reviewed the design of last month. In addition to this, Passas describes what he looks for in  the young talent that walks through the ZHA doors. “The collaborative nature within our team is something to be learned from,” explains Passas in the interview. “We have always found a certain amount of pride and encouragement to be a company that is very much proactive on an individual level. When it comes to younger generations, I always look for people who are not afraid to work hard and for those who are able to test their ideas with others while working for the good of others.”

Listen to DESIGN POD on SpotifyAmazon MusicAcast, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

Image of luxury design hotel guestroom at MarBella Elix in Greece

Early check in: MarBella Elix, a design hotel inspired by the sea

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Early check in: MarBella Elix, a design hotel inspired by the sea

The latest design hotel to arrive in the MarBella Collection portfolio, MarBella Elix, which is about to open on the mainland of Greece, is the brainchild of Konstantinos Kydoniatis and Dimitris Thomopoulos…

Image of luxury design hotel guestroom at MarBella Elix in Greece

MarBella Elix, which Hotel Designs first took a sneak peek of early last year,  is an inspirational and to many extends a timeless design hotel situated in a previously undiscovered area of Greece. As the third hotel to join the MarBella Collection portfolio – and the brand’s first property outside of the island of Corfu – MarBella Elix is perched above the beautiful Karavostasi Beach in the Parga region, looking west towards Corfu and Paxos.

Arial view of MarBella Elix design hotel

Image caption: MarBella Elix is unique to the current MarBella Collection properties as it uses typical Epirus traditional architecture, where the buildings follow the natural landscape. Image credit: Heinz Troll

The 146-key design hotel was built into the sloping mountain with every room looking out over the uninterrupted sea. The architecture is designed to reflect the natural location, mirroring the sandy cliffs and the surrounding area of astounding natural beauty. The interiors meanwhile lend themselves to a family-friendly resort, with expansive communal and dining areas and comfortable resting places, perfectly situated to admire the unspoilt surroundings.

The project was spearheaded by Konstantinos Kydoniatis whose idea was to blend the existing landscape into a premise built with tiered levels.

The architectural inspiration behind the design hotel was to create a hotel with contemporary simplicity, paired with breathtaking views. The project was spearheaded by Konstantinos Kydoniatis whose idea was to blend the existing landscape into a premise built with tiered levels suitable for couples and families alike. The existing traditional Greek building was radically redesigned, in order to serve the contemporary needs of a five-star hotel. The designers used high-end technology to ensure the building was constructed with the needs of a luxury traveller in mind, whilst at the same time achieving a high level of sustainability.

The overall brief for Marbella Elix was to redesign and recreate a traditional Greek property into a luxury, modern resort for families and couples, upgrading both premises and amenities seamlessly transition between the traditional and modern.

The transformation has been meticulously planned to play on the outstanding views of the Ionian Sea, ensuring the property is fully equipped for for its guests who expect premium luxury standard. Designed and created by Dimitris Thomopoulos and Kydoniatis, the style focuses on three key elements; the breathtaking, sea-view scenery; the proximity to the once-inaccessible vast coastline, which is now easily reached by a small path and the local architecture elements of stone, marble and wood.

“The inspiration behind the design comes from the breath-taking view of the infinite sea and the surrounding environment,” explained Thomopoulos. “The design of this five-star hotel is now a reflection of the existing materials and styles of traditional Greece, combined with a constant reminder of the beauty of nature.”

The lobby and dining area was conceived as a viewpoint. An uninterrupted line of vision flows directly from the entrance of the restaurant to the vast sea views, with a green filter created through a structure of plant life, to emphasise the natural synergies and surrounds.

Lounge/lobby inside design hotel by the sea

Image caption: The lobby and public areas carefully injects biophilic design into a contemporary space. | Image credit: Heinz Troll

The main restaurant follows the design approach of the lobby area, with natural light and plant features throughout. The à la carte restaurant is unique with its luxurious and distinctive darker tones, creating an elegant and authentic feel.

The distinct nod to nature continues in the guestrooms, with the entire design scheme including, floor-to-ceiling windows, working around and framing the unparalleled views of the Ionion sea. The designers have added a twist of something rare and unique to the area by redefining the traditional architecture of Epirus through minimal and clear lines.

Image caption: The use of natural elements adds a sense of place throughout the 146 spacious and contemporary guestrooms and suites. | Image credit: Heinz Troll

MarBella Elix is unique to the current MarBella Collection properties as it uses typical Epirus traditional architecture, where the buildings follow the natural landscape. Marbella Elix blends into the surroundings using built-in tiered levels that appear to come out of the steep slope landscape. This creates unobstructed views to the forest and Ionian sea. The rooftops have been used to create large 25 – 30 square-metre private pools for guests staying in upper-level rooms, tying in natural elements such as stone claddings to reflect the architecture of nearby towns.

Image of sunset from luxury pool

The hotel’s coastal location makes it an ideal spot to catch the sunset. | Image credit: Heinz Troll

The MarBella Collection currently boasts two unique properties in their portfolio, the iconic family 5* resort, MarBella Corfu Hotel located and in Agios Ioannis Peristeron and its adjacent sister, adult-only suite hotel MarBella Nido Suite Hotel & Villas which opened in May 2018 and is a proud member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. In 2021, the highly anticipated MarBella Elix will be added to the collection, a design hotel curated for travellers seeking true luxury experiences.

Main image credit: MarBella Collection

Birdseye view of Private Pool Residences Collection residence

In pictures: Inside the largest overwater residences in the world

640 426 Hamish Kilburn
In pictures: Inside the largest overwater residences in the world

Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, located on the Baa Atoll, has launched the largest overwater residences in the world with a major renovation of the resort’s two-bedroom over water pool residences…

Birdseye view of Private Pool Residences Collection residence

Setting a new precedent in naturally inspired design and luxury living, the renovation of the seven residences at Anantara Kihavah sees a careful preservation of the element of space while marrying a light and airy interior refit with smart technology home comforts.

Each overwater residence is generously spaced at 1,500 sq. m. and comes with the addition of a new fully equipped gym, a couples’ spa treatment room, a fully equipped professional kitchen with wine fridge, expanded outdoor decks and larger swimming pools. This follows a multi-million-dollar redesign of the two-, three- and four- bedroom beach pool residences in 2020 just before lockdown, with the four-bedroom residence at a commanding 2,000 sq. m. 

Anantara Kihavah Two-bedroom Over Water Pool Residence Spa Treatment Room View

Image credit: Anantara Kihavah

Two-bedroom overwater pool residences

The two newly completed two-bedroom overwater pool residences feature floor-to-ceiling windows across its entirety, guaranteeing vast views of the ocean. Fitted with a professional working kitchen in the living and dining room, each en-suite bedroom at either end features ample individual outdoor living space, whilst the extended infinity pool tiled in natural Sukabumhi stone and shaded outdoor dining sala is the ideal hangout for shared leisure activities.

Anantara Kihavah Two-bedroom Over Water Pool Residence Exterior Aerial

Image credit: Anantara Kihavah

With fitness and wellness being a bigger focus than ever in the modern-day traveller’s needs, the redesign of these residences sees the addition of a gym, fully equipped with the latest in TechnoGym machinery, and a couple’s spa treatment room. Both rooms are fitted with retractable blinds, allowing for natural sunlight by day and unfiltered stargazing at night. Whilst relaxing with a signature Anantara Spa massage, a view of the marine life just beneath the residence, is made possible with the strategic placement of glass panels underneath the spa treatment beds. Glass-bottomed whirlpool bathtubs have also been fitted in each bathroom, providing therapeutic massages even during bath time.

Staying true to the heritage of the Maldives, each residence features Kajan thatched palm roofs and Balau hardwood flooring spanning the entire length of its expansive outdoor deck, accompanied by netted hammocks suspended over water.

Two-, three-, and four-bedroom beach pool residences

Anantara Kihavah’s beach pool residences start from 1,330 sq. m for the two-bedroom option to 1,770 sq. m for the three-bedroom residence and 2,000 sq. m. for the four-bedroom pool sanctuary.

Surrounded by foliage and bright bougainvillea accents, occasional sights of coconut trees jutting through floors or ceilings is testament to the resort’s commitment toward preserving the natural beauty of the island, whilst optimising each residence’s space.

Anantara Kihavah - Guest Room Three Bedroom Beach Pool Residence Exterior View

Image credit: Anantara Kihavah

Like the over water pool residences, the architecture of each beachfront residence reflects Kajan palm roofs and Balau decks. The newly extended swimming pools are now fitted with massage jets, whilst an outdoor Sala Thai provides shaded relief for lounging and dining.

A light neutral palette uplifts a previously dark wood scheme, presenting an atmosphere that is at once comfortable and relaxed, yet modern and luxurious. Rattan details, woven straw carpets, Maldivian motifs and teak wood furniture further accent the distinctively tropical vibe of each room. Floor-to-ceiling doors of the main living and dining area effortlessly slide open for views of the tropics.

Further embodying island living at its most luxurious, a water feature wall designed to mimic that of a real waterfall, is the highlight in each revamped bathroom newly fitted with intelligent toilet technology. Wellbeing and fitness are also not forgotten – with each residence fitted with its own private double-bed spa treatment room and gym featuring a complete range of fitness equipment.

Anantara is a luxury hospitality brand for modern travellers, connecting them to genuine places, people and stories through personal experiences, and providing heartfelt hospitality in the world’s most exciting destinations. The collection of distinct, thoughtfully designed luxury hotels and resorts provides a window through which to journey into invigorating new territory, curating personal travel experiences.

 

Main image credit: Anantara Kihavah

Render of lounge inside Soho Beach House in the Caribbean

Soho House: A sneak peek of upcoming openings

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Soho House: A sneak peek of upcoming openings

Soho House, which shelters members-only Houses targeted towards ‘creative souls, has unveiled renders and details of projects that are expected to open this year. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores…

Render of lounge inside Soho Beach House in the Caribbean

Following a challenging year for all sectors in hospitality, Soho House, which was founded in 1995 by Nick Jones, has emerged from the pandemic with a teaser that showcases an optimistic year – with six new Houses that will soon become part of the members-only brand’s ever-growing footprint.

Aside from opening its first property in 1995, key milestones include the brand’s first countryside property (Babbington House in 1998), its arrival in the US (with the opening of its first property in New York in 2003), the brand’s venture into Europe (with the opening of its Berlin property in 2010) and the brand’s first opening in Asia (both in Mumbai and Hong Kong in 2019).

Fast-forward to the present day, and as the brand’s 27 Houses are awaiting the return of modern travellers, we take a look at the new destinations and Houses that are expected to open this year.

The Strand, London – coming soon

Just down the road from the original House – 40 Greek Street, Soho, London – 180 House, which will be located on The Strand, will become the brand’s 10th property in London. Just a short walk from Somerset House, the property will shelter a club, three floors of co-working space, and a rooftop pool with views of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Canouan – opening Q1, 2021

The opening of the brand’s property in Canouan will mark its arrival in the Caribbean region and will be located on the secluded island of Canouan, which is part of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The renders of the 40 bedrooms and a gym show a paired back design that celebrates barefoot luxury and the authentic charm of the Caribbean.

Tel Aviv – opening spring, 2021

Located in a former convent in the historic Jaffa neighbourhood, the property will feature a pool, terrace, and 24 stylish bedrooms expected to reflect the life and soul of the destination.

Rome – opening summer, 2021

In recent months, there has been a lot of development interest in Rome – with brands such as Rosewood and Bvlgari Hotels also announcing debut arrivals excepted in the next few years. Located in the San Lorenzo district, the debut Soho House property in Rome – the brand’s seventh property in Europe – will shelter 49 bedrooms and 20 apartments, with unparalleled views stretching across the Eternal City from its rooftop, terrace and pool.

Paris – opening summer, 2021

For a brand that is known for amplifying creatives (connecting travellers and locals alike) in thriving neighbourhoods, it makes a lot of a business sense for the members-only lifestyle brand to expand its portfolio with a property in Paris. In the former red-light district of Pigalle – steps from the 19th-century cabaret Moulin Rouge – the brand’s property in Paris will shelter 35 bedrooms, a gym, and a courtyard garden overlooked by a pool terrace.

Austin – opening summer, 2021

On South Congress Avenue, Soho House Austin will become the brand’s first property in Texas and the 10th Soho House territory in North America, and will feature a rooftop pool, 46 bedrooms, and a members screening room.

Since you’re here…

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Main image credit: Soho House

Image of panelists for first session of Hotel Designs LIVE

(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: The hotel experience 10 years from now

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: The hotel experience 10 years from now

To kickstart Hotel Designs LIVE on February 23, editor Hamish Kilburn hosted a panel discussion with leading designers and architects entitled: Floor 20, room 31, which virtually checked in to the hotel experience 10 years from now…

Image of panelists for first session of Hotel Designs LIVE

On February 23, 2021, Hotel Designs‘ editor Hamish Kilburn returned to host the third instalment of Hotel Designs LIVE, which launched last year with the aim to keep the industry connected and the conversation flowing during and after the Covid-19 crisis.

The one-day conference welcomed world-renowned interior designers, architects and hoteliers to discuss the future of our industry in four engaging panel discussions, which were:

  • Floor 20, room 31, checking in 10 years from now
  • Sustainability, beneath the surface
  • Safe & sound hospitality & hotel design
  • A new era of wellness

The production of Hotel Designs LIVE took place while adhering to the current lockdown regulations and kickstarted with an editor’s welcome from Kilburn who explained the need for the virtual event. “The industry’s new swear word, Covid-19, has temporarily brought hospitality and tourism to its knees, but in these challenging times we have seen the real power of designers, architects, hoteliers, developers and suppliers all working together to invent and implement meaningful solutions,” he said. “Hotel Designs LIVE was born in those confusing times, and our aim is simple: to create conversations unlike any other and keep the industry connected.”

The first session of the day, which was sponsored by Hamilton Litestat, was designed to look ahead towards what hospitality and hotel design will look and feel like one decade on from today, and was curated to confront recent cultural shifts that have smudged the sketches, so to speak, as to what the hotel of the future will look like.

On the panel: 

The conversation began with Kilburn asking the panel how accurate previous predictions were regarding the ‘hotel room of the future’. It was concluded that the word ‘experience’, in all sectors of hotel design, was used 10 years ago in order to meet the then new demand among modern travellers who were expecting a deeper and more purposefully driven hospitality journey. Related to this, a new era of luxury lifestyle brands started to emerge to blur the lines in luxury travel, which, following the most testing year the hospitality arena has experienced in modern times, takes us to where we are now.

When the conversation turned to technology, interior designer Martin Goddard led the discussion to argue that moving forward, he expects modern travellers will be burnt out by technology and hotel design in many areas will encourage human connection once more as well as injecting meaningful sense of location, which was evident in Hotel Designs’ recent hotel review of The Mayfair Townhouse, which Goddard Littlefair recently completed steering clear to reference obvious clichés in the design. “One of the best pieces of feedback I’ve received from that hotel is that it always felt like a cosy winter’s day,” Goddard said.

Interior designer Albin Burglund was able to offer a unique perspective when it came to predicting the future of hotel design from both a luxury design as well as a wellness perspective. “I agree with Martin that the industry will be cautious to inject technology,” he explained, “and this will largely follow consumers putting more of a focus on their own personal wellness and wellbeing.”

Chris Lee injected qualitative research into the discussion following a campaign he and his team completed last year for Sleep & Eat, which involved collaboration with Chalk ArchitectureHotel Hussy and students from the University of West London, presenting an interactive render for a ‘2035 guestroom of the future’ based on the groups prestigious upscale Wyndham brand. As well as the project “capturing the imagination” of the modern traveller, the guestroom design and layout challenged conventional hotel rooms – and despite the focus being largely on the ‘Gen-Z traveller’, the product was actually carefully designed for all generations as it allowed guests to select their own scene settings to reflect their mood or preferred environment. Following research into understanding the DNA of the hotel guestroom experience, technology had to be seamlessly blended in to the design scheme.

The discussion soon veered towards Covid-19 and specifically the pandemic’s impact on future design and hospitality. Rob Steul, with more than 20 years’ experience in architecture and design, used the upcoming luxury hotel in Leicester Square, The Londoner, as a prime example of how the industry’s already high standards put hospitality design in good stead for when hospitality and travel returns in the post-pandemic world. “Long before Covid-19, we had already considered elements such as air flow,” he explained. Burglund agreed while also questioning the short-term purposes of event spaces and questioned how these could be utilised and used during what has no-doubt been a testing time for hospitality worldwide.

Here’s a highlights video of the panel discussion, which includes Product Watch pitches from Hamilton Litestat, Chelsom, PENT Fitness, Blueair and Yeames Hospitality.

The full recordings of the other three sessions (‘Sustainability, beneath the surface’; ‘Safe & sound hotel design’ and ‘A new era of wellness’) will be available on-demand shortly.

SAVE THE DATE: Hotel Designs LIVE will return for a fourth edition on May 11, 2021. Session titles and speakers will be announced shortly. Once these have been announced, tickets for Hotel Designs LIVE will be available. In the meantime, if you would like to discuss sponsorship opportunities, focused Product Watch pitches or the concept of Hotel Designs LIVE, please contact Katy Phillips or call +44 (0) 1992 374050.

A lounge area inside The Upper House in Hong Kong

André Fu Suite to open inside The Upper House

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
André Fu Suite to open inside The Upper House

The world-renowned Hong Kong architect André Fu, has been given the ultimate compliment by the owners of The Upper House who have named a suite in his honour. Hotel Designs learns more about what to expect in the suite when it opens this spring…

A lounge area inside The Upper House in Hong Kong

A brand new and soon-to-be ‘sought-after’ experience awaits guests at The Upper House with the arrival of the André Fu Suite this Spring. Although we are still eagerly awaiting the professional images of the suite, we have in the meantime managed to find out more details of what to expect inside, which is a space that gives a sensitive nod to Fu’s style that has effortlessly evolved in tandam with modern traveller demands and the brands expansion in new locations.

The 1,960-square-foot suite combines the understated luxury of the 117-key luxury hotel with the André Fu philosophy for living as realised through Fu’s own collection of furniture, homeware and decorative accessories. The suite is a tribute to the world-renowned Hong Kong designer and his enduring relationship as the architect of The House.

Perched above the metropolis that is known as ‘Asia’s World City’, on Level 48, the André Fu Suite presents a completely new experience from The Upper House brand and acts as an aspirational space that is a testament to what a suite can offer. As guests explore and interact with the surroundings during their stay, they enter and discover the world of André Fu Living and his collaboration with The House that has spanned over a decade.

“Framed sketches of the architect’s original concept designs of the hotel from 15 years ago adorn the walls.”

Giving a nod to both the architect and the hotel’s journey, framed sketches of Fu’s original concept designs of the hotel, from 15 years ago, adorn the walls. More than 100 pieces of homeware are curated from the André Fu Living Collection, including the Spring Summer 2021 collection while hand-selected books from the visionary’s personal library each translate the shared vision and history of Fu and The House into an immersive living experience.

The space draws on the philosophy shared by both brands that true luxury is in the experience and not just the aesthetics. As such, the suite is designed to act as a conduit for experiential and authentic connections to people and place.

A dining table, set for 20, is the perfect background for entertaining, whether for dinner parties, celebrations or more formal business lunches. The intimate and inviting space is intended to give visitors the sense of walking into somebody’s home, and enables hosts to embrace their personal expression of living.

A contemporary bed in a modern guestroom

Image credit: The Upper House

A place for rejuvenation, the suite’s integrated spa is a dedicated and transformative space featuring twin massage beds. Guests can embark on a completely immersive experience to cultivate inner peace and rejuvenation, or simply escape the urbanity of the city and their everyday lives.

The suite’s design is a testament to the sensibilities of its designer and his ability to bring a calm simplicity into interior spaces. Using a palette of mineral blue, dusty mink and pale ivory, the space will feature pieces from the existing André Fu Living collection, which first made its debut in Milan during Salone del Mobile 2019, as well as presenting brand new unseen pieces. These will include a collaboration with British heritage wallcovering specialist, de Gournay, and lounge seating upholstered in Lora Piano’s finest wools.

From the sculptural ottoman to the fluidity and linear structure of the Mid-Century inspired furniture, and the refined porcelain tableware delicately garnished with artisan brush gilding, each piece within the suite is an expression of Fu’s signature understated sophistication and fascination with craftsmanship, focusing not simply on how beautiful things look but how they make guests feel.

In addition to the arrival of the suite, Fu has turned his hand to transform level four from a place to check-in and out to a space that feels more akin to a living room. Replacing traditional check-in desks with a more open high table removes the barrier between guest and the guest experience team.

A fire in a modern lounge

Image credit: The Upper House

An adjoining lounge space, featuring pieces from André Fu Living, is also created for guests to conjure. The result is an increased sense of intimacy, interaction and relaxation in an area that combines form and function for an enhanced guest experience.

Fu reflects on his long relationship with The Upper House and how his and the brand’s style has adapted over the years. “When the Upper House first opened 11 years ago, it was considered the antithesis of what typically defines an Asian luxury hotel,” he says. “At the time, I attempted to infuse how I saw hospitality going forward into this property. Fifteen years later, I am still excited to evolve with the House as it has remained a key relationship for me throughout my career. I’m thrilled to be able to bring my own André Fu Living brand to the hotel as part of this new suite and once again, I’m eager to see how guests will respond to it, whether it’s through entertaining or indulging in an urban escape.”

After much anticipation, the André Fu Suite opens this spring, which champions his motto of design not being about ‘imposing a lifestyle’ and instead being ‘a personal expression of living’.

Main image credit: The Upper House/André Fu

Case study: hospitality and privacy combined in a listed patrician house

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Case study: hospitality and privacy combined in a listed patrician house

The comfortable apartments have been individually designed and offer guests a stylish interior with feel-good hospitality that appropriately nods back to the buildings heritage…

Carl Wunderlich, was a colonial goods merchant and mayor who built his imposing municipal residence in 1798. Alexander Hugenberg took over the listed municipal mansion, they lovingly converted it into an extraordinarily stylish lifestyle and event location.

Their modern take on the historical building opened its doors in 2019.  It’s a perfect place to unwind whilst still upholding the history and tradition of the building. The comfortable apartments have been individually designed and offer guests a stylish interior with a feel-good factor.

Outside of traditional building

Image credit: Michael Gregonowits

One can stay for a few days, several weeks or even months. The extraordinary design, with its combination of modern and vintage elements generates a warm, cozy atmosphere. In keeping with the style of the mansion, washbasins and toilets from the Starck 3 range were fitted in each of the apartments. This bathroom classic, created by designer Philippe Starck for Duravit, harmoniously rounds off the interiors.

The location also features a restaurant, which can be booked for both private and commercial functions offering a range of options for individually planned events. The extensive garden with its terrace is an ideal venue for celebrations, as are the inner courtyard or vaulted cellar. The in-house library with fireplace is the perfect place for a small group to spend a cozy evening.

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

Main image credit: Michael Gregonowits

Render of two isolated pod-like buildings made of wood

Architecture trends for 2021 & beyond

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Architecture trends for 2021 & beyond

To cut through the noise of emerging architecture trends, we hear from architecture firm SB Architect’s President and Principal, Scott Lee, and Senior Vice President and Principal, Bruce Wright…

Render of two isolated pod-like buildings made of wood

Last week, we published our close look at surface trends, where it was concluded that strict pre-pandemic industry standards mean that hospitality design is “well-placed to weather the storm” without a major supply-side rethink.

Following this feature, SB Architects, an award-winning international architecture firm focusing on designing soulful and inspiring destinations across hospitality, residential and mixed-use, has stepped up to release what its team believe are the top architecture trends that are emerging in 2021.

“One positive thing to come out of this pandemic is that design and architecture will be more responsive and intuitive to the needs of humanity unlike ever before.” – Scott Lee, President and Principal, SB Architects.

Undoubtably, the Covid-19 pandemic has left an indelible mark across every industry, shifting priorities, and dramatically impacting how the firm – and industry as a whole – approaches design as well as how architecture trends are defined. “2021 will be a year of transformational growth for society – and how we design our world in response to the recent events will create lasting change for years to come,” said Scott Lee, President and Principal, SB Architects. “The architecture community must shift our way of thinking about how society will function moving forward, with a focus on designing spaces for our physical and mental wellbeing. I believe one positive thing to come out of this pandemic is that design and architecture will be more responsive and intuitive to the needs of humanity unlike ever before.”

Experience-driven design

SB Architects sees experience-driven design continuing to thrive in the years ahead. Our lives are filled with experiences that are all fulfilled virtually – from ordering food online to work and school. To make an impact, spaces must be adaptable and designed to enhance our wellbeing and offer a physical experience that elevates the offering from the virtual – a moment of ‘wow’ so to speak. Spaces will be designed to entice occupants to feel energised and experience the natural surroundings of a space to reconnect with nature.

Arches at Miami Design District by SB Architects.

Image credit: Miami Design District by SB Architects

The firm sees this architecture trend extending into the retail space, too. Retail development can no longer just be basic, cookie-cutter boxes in an open space; it needs to be a multi-faceted community and cultural experience. Retailers have and will continue to get creative with strategically curated facades to inspire and arouse curiosity – the idea that retail is entertainment.

Going private in public

People want to feel connected and be able to socialise in a way that feels safe. Guests are going to be socialising outside for the foreseeable future, and the coming year will showcase innovative design solutions that speak to this pressing need. This will lead to a rise in zoned dining in hotel spaces including pavilions and landscape barriers to create safe spaces for eating in public.

Hotel Villagio, restaurant

Image credit: SB Architects/Hotel Villagio

A street well-known for restaurants may close on Friday night so that it is walkable with seating outdoors, and food trucks, dining al fresco, and micro-restaurants with takeout windows will likely become more popular. Hyper-personalisation has always been a luxury signifier, but the current climate is pushing for innovation, SB Architects anticipates a rise in interesting private dining options and chef-to-table experiences.

 Hybrid hotels: the rise of ‘bleisure’ travel

A trend at the intersection between hospitality and residential is the aparthotel – hotel rooms that function like an apartment, reducing the amount of guest to staff interaction.

Render of outdoor pool surrounded by mountains

Image credit: SB Archtiects/Pendry Park City Residences

This trend is experiencing a comeback and gaining traction for a number of reasons; the locations are desirable, guests can stay for extended periods of time to experience ‘living like a local’, and a huge majority of the population is working from home, meaning that ‘staycations’ and localised travel, for ‘bleisure’ (business and leisure) are rapidly growing in popularity.

render of ground-level f&b area, open to nature

Image caption/credit: Render of Speciality Restaurant | SB Architects/Conrad Hotels & Resorts

In a similar vein, SB Architects anticipates branded private residences will continue to grow in popularity. Buyers will gravitate to luxury hotel brands that they trust from the hospitality space, with residences that offer a suite of unique and boutique offerings the most in-demand with buyers, given the increased focus on customising residential spaces and spending more time at home.

“This focus on intentional wellness translates into adopting more empathetic design.”

Intentional wellness

Human beings have an innate biological affinity to nature. Biophilia, spending time immersed in natural environments, is proven to reduce stress and improve a person’s well-being. In terms of the built environment, the crisis has reinforced the belief in the positive power of nature, placing it front and centre of the hospitality experience through outdoor facilities, natural light, and fresh airflow.

Presidential Bathroom_St. Regis Los Cabos_HBA

Image credit: HBA San Francisco/SB Architects/St Regis Los Cabos

It also reinforces a broader trend for intimately scaled environments that emphasise privacy and personal space. People are taking a slower and more considerate approach to travel and are looking to bring that same sense of peace and tranquility into their personal space.

Over the next few years, SB Architects anticipates an upsurge of people prioritising exercise and wellness into their homes. This focus on intentional wellness translates into adopting more empathetic design – or design that acts as a conduit of an experience and not an architectural statement.

 The science of feeling good

The current global pandemic has instilled a sense of uncertainty and unease, and hotels are going to be relied upon to provide a space to escape, disconnect and retreat in comfort. Today’s traveller is looking to check-in to a hotel and find the same level of comfort, if not more, than they have at home. Most people are now living a relatively ‘smart’ life, using AI daily, with smart assistants managing and automating a lot of day-to-day tasks – from waking them up and turning on the heaters, to ordering their groceries – so, a ‘smart’ hotel room is almost expected.

“Once the pandemic eases, SB Architects predicts a rise in ‘tech-free’ packages to allow guests to detox from being consistently connected.”

 Tackling tech-burnout

Technology was already evolving at an incredible rate but has gained momentum and taken on a lightning pace in reaction to the Covid-19 crisis. The global pandemic has proven to be a catalyst for acceleration and change.

Working remotely has created the expectation that one is always available, creating a ‘tech burnout’. Luxury hospitality is defined by choice, and guests want the choice of how they interact with technology during their hotel stay, whether that is being connected, offline, or somewhere in-between. Once the pandemic eases, SB Architects predicts a rise in ‘tech-free’ packages to allow guests to detox from being consistently connected, providing a chance to unplug and enjoy a no-tech experience without smartphones and computers. 

bar designed in natural wood overlooking the sea

Image credit: Kimpton Hotels/SB Architects

“The past year has given us a clearer focus of the ideal function of shared spaces and how architecture and design must be sensitive to the needs of occupants,” said Bruce Wright, senior vice president and principal of SB Architects. “Simply put, 2020 has underscored the fact that we need our spaces to do more for us – more flexibility in form and function and to inspire creativity and promote wellness. We are looking forward to meeting these new challenges.”

Main image credit: SB Architects/ascaya

A modern interior design of a kitchen

How surface design can elevate guest experience

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
How surface design can elevate guest experience

With public healthcare in the spotlight like never before, the Covid-19 pandemic is challenging hoteliers to rethink the entire guest experience. Here we hear from Harris Jackson on the role of surface design…

A modern interior design of a kitchen

From bringing the outside in to focusing on building a sense of community, wellness is high on the agenda for many brands as they look for new ways to connect with their customers and rebuild trust. And for good reason – according to a variety of data, consumer trust is at an all-time low.

Last year a study by End of Tenancy Cleaning Company, which surveyed almost 2,000 British travellers, found that 50 per cent of people do not trust hotel hygiene and over a third would avoid international travel for the next 12 months. Almost half of the people surveyed also said they would clean a hotel room themselves before using it. Research like this demonstrates the lack of confidence guests currently have and just how important safety and security is as a key message.

There are many ways hoteliers can respond to this and instil a sense of trust far beyond placing hand sanitisers in lobbies and installing perspex screens in the reception area. One way to elevate the customer experience and improve health and safety is through the design of surfaces.

Form and function

Beautiful design is about more than aesthetics, it’s about responding to customer needs and the current climate. There are a number of surface trends to look out for in 2021 (and beyond) that explore both form and function; sustainability, ventilation, flexibility and connecting to nature are all taking centre stage alongside technology that can improve public health.

Wellbeing is at the top of the agenda when it comes to design and we have seen this impact design trends before. In 1918, influenza impacted design by throwing more emphasis on light and air, and more minimal interiors (with heavier more cluttered interiors thought to be unhygienic). And now due to Covid-19 we are going to see another shift. It’s long been known that the surfaces we interact with can be transmitters for bacteria and some, such as E.Coli, can last for months on surfaces.

So how can hoteliers invest in surface technology to improve public health and the overall guest experience?

It can purify air

Some technologies are focusing on purifying air, such as Pureti’s photocatalytic applications. It utilises the natural process of plants. As well as purifying air it can also be applied to surfaces to help them stay cleaner for longer. Apparently this treatment has even been used by NASA! We know that air quality is so important for guest comfort and with many people seeking out less urban environments and a stronger connection to nature, technology like this could have far reaching benefits.

Pureti air purifying in a modern kitchen

Image credit: Pureti

Texture can limit transmission

The texture of surfaces can play a key role in not only the aesthetics of a room but in helping to eliminate viral transmission of bacteria. The Imperial College London looked at different textures and coatings and found that copper surfaces provide antibacterial protection, killing 99.9 per cent of bacteria within two hours. This raises some interesting ideas around materials used throughout the hotel environment, especially within heavy traffic areas such as lobbies and doorways.

Fabrics for more than comfort

New technology extends past hard surfaces and covers soft furnishings too; Aguaguard365 is an example of an antibacterial protection system for fabrics that helps keep textiles free of bacteria. From bed linens to towels, technology is constantly evolving.

A lounge that has been annotated to show furniture

Image credit: Aguaguard365

So as travel restrictions begin to lift and consumers consider staying away from home again, it’s clear that surface technology can do more than just elevate appearance – it can help to instil trust and boost confidence, something that’s crucial in the current climate.

Since you’re here, why not read Harris Jackson’s article on bringing the outside in & reconnecting with nature?

Harris Jackson 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: Harris Jackson

A guestroom inside Six Senses Botanique showing nature through floor to ceiling windows

In pictures: Inside Six Senses Botanique, Brazil

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In pictures: Inside Six Senses Botanique, Brazil

The latest hotel to open in the Six Senses portfolio lies at the confluence of three river valleys in the heart of the Mantiqueira Mountains in Brazil. Hotel Designs takes a sneaky look inside… 

A guestroom inside Six Senses Botanique showing nature through floor to ceiling windows

Bookmarked by our editorial team as one of 2021’s hottest hotel openings, Six Senses Botanique, Brazil, which has been built from indigenous materials such as jacaranda and chocolate slate, has opened in the heart of the Mantiqueira Mountains, which is known as the “mountains that weep” due to the abundance of springs and rivers.

Image of the main building at the Six Senses Botanique hotel in Brazil

Image credit: Six Senses

There was never any question that the merge in 2019 between Six Senses and IHG wouldn’t distort the integrity and much-loved personality of the leading wellness hospitality brand. And Six Senses’ latest luxury hotel is no exception. In fact, guests checking in are being told to expect “out-of-the-ordinary experiences and emotional hospitality”, with the Six Senses integrated pillars of sustainability and wellness at the heart of the operation.

A private garden inside the hotel in the wilderness

Image credit: Six Senses

The first phase of the resort evolution are most notably gastronomy and wellness – with new menus at Restaurant Mina, a new Fire Side lounge menu, an exclusive eight-course gastronomic journey paired with wines from the resort’s select Adega, a reconnection experience with an artisanal outdoor picnic, and pioneering therapies at Six Senses Spa.

The property currently offers seven suites in the main hotel and 11 private villas dotted in the hills around it. A further 16 villas are planned, constructed off-site in a modular manner using local materials and sited to minimise their impact on the surrounding flora and fauna. There will also be 37 branded residences, again constructed using an eco-friendly modular approach, available for purchase off-plan.

Through the ‘Eat With Six Senses’ philosophy, Six Senses Botanique will bring out the best of the region’s cuisine and seasonal produce, starting with “Farm to Table” herbs, fruit and vegetables grown in the resort’s own organic gardens and farm.

Mina, the resort’s signature restaurant, offers modern, contemporary Brazilian dishes and 180-degree views of the mountains and valleys, with the suspended fireplace warming the dining room and rich wood floors underfoot.

The new Fire Side lounge meanwhile features a variety of drinks prepared with home-grown probiotics and a tonic with ingredients harvested from the surrounding vegetable gardens. 

The Adega (Wine Cellar) journey begins in the fireplace lounge, starting with a toast of bubbles with Chef Gabriel Broide as he himself explains the custom eight-course menu for the evening.

Reconnection Experiences offer guests the chance to reconnect with themselves and loved ones while exploring the local flora, fauna and timeless ways of living in tune with the natural world.

A luxury villa that shows a indoor private pool with stone surfaces

Image credit: Six Senses

Nowhere is the local influence more evident than in the spa, which currently features four treatment rooms, a beauty salon, floatation pool, isotonic pool, sauna and steam room with rainforest mist.  New treatment rooms, relaxation and wellness areas, as well as a fitness centre will be added later this year.

Six Senses Botanique will appeal to guests seeking an eco-retreat in nature along with authentic Brazilian design, culture and cuisine. The property is blessed with seven water springs providing guests with their own mineral water. There is a water treatment station to return clean water back to nature. Mindful of making responsible decisions, the resort team also works with community members to see how they can contribute to a better quality of life for everyone, while preserving and celebrating local traditions and culture and the beautiful natural environment surrounding the property.

Image credit: Six Senses

Six Senses, which is clearly leading the way in innovative wellness travel, now manages 18 hotels and resorts and 29 spas in 21 countries under the brand names Six Senses, Evason and Six Senses Spas, and has signed a further 27 properties into the development pipeline, including the highly anticipated Six Senses Ibiza which should arrive this Spring.

Main image credit: Six Senses

A large bar inside an airport

Introducing Atlas Plan by Atlas Concorde

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Introducing Atlas Plan by Atlas Concorde

Atlas Plan is the latest brand of Atlas Concorde, the first Italian ceramic group in the world, and produces large sized porcelain slabs ideal for interior design projects addressed to the Ho.Re.Ca. world…

A large bar inside an airport

The wide range of effects, finishes, colours, textures and veining allows architects and designers to satisfy every new design concept and to create unique and exclusive settings: luxurious marble-look hotel lobbies, industrial-chic concrete-look restaurants, elegant and essential stone-look outdoor areas, modern and hi-tech metal-look lounge bars.

The outstanding aesthetic quality of the ceramic material blends with its extremely high technical performance: strength and resistance to chemical agents and thermal shocks make porcelain tiles the ideal material for designing bars, restaurants and hotels with indoor and outdoor settings. Moreover, porcelain ensures the surfaces of counters, tables and worktops are resistant to everyday wear and highly hygienic for direct contact with foodstuffs.

Image credit: Atlas Concorde

The perfect coordination of Atlas Plan surfaces with the Atlas Concorde range of floor and wall tiles opens up a multitude of compositions for entirely covering and furnishing a room, to obtain a comprehensive look of great scenic impact or suggestive style combinations in tune with other materials.

The range of Atlas Concorde and Atlas Plan products also offers solutions that comply with anti-slip requirements (PTV 36+ under dry and wet conditions) and are therefore particularly suitable for the design of indoor and outdoor common areas.

Spazio Gourmet Sarajevo 350-m² restaurant in Sarajevo, designed by Studio Kon2re. The product used in this project is Bianco Dolomite by Atlas Plan: an intense and luminous marble look, characterised by delicate dark veins, which perfectly matches the light wood with natural shades.

Spazio Gourmet Sarajevo
350-m² restaurant in Sarajevo, designed by Studio Kon2re. The product used in this project is Bianco Dolomite by Atlas Plan: an intense and luminous marble look, characterised by delicate dark veins, which perfectly matches the light wood with natural shades.

Atlas Plan constantly invests in product innovation: two technologies that are an absolute novelty in the world of furniture and architecture have been recently introduced.

The Natura-Vein™ Tech technology offers the possibility of industrially recreating the typical veining of a natural material such as marble. Through-body vein technology thus increases the freedom of design for designers because it makes the marble look even more realistic, lending each project continuity of surface, edge and corners.

 

The Natura-Body™ Tech technology, on the other hand, reproduces the aesthetics of natural stones both on the surface and in the body of the slab. Material continuity between the surface and edges of full-body porcelain slabs is an aesthetic advantage that meets the highest design standards, both indoors and outdoors.

Image caption: Natura-Body | Image credit: Atlas Concorde

Image caption: Natura-Body | Image credit: Atlas Concorde

Atlas Plan is available in the UK market with a wide range of products and an extensive network of certified and approved fabricators for the slab processing.

The Atlas Plan team is also available to organise certified CPD (Continuous Professional Development) presentations both digitally and face-to-face at interested architecture and design firms in London and across the UK.

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

Main image credit: Atlas Concorde

For further technical and commercial information you can contact the Key Account Manager Alberto Pagani, based in London, who will assist and support architects and designers in every request.

A moodboard of both masculine taps and feminine taps

New bathroom products from Gessi explore gender in design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
New bathroom products from Gessi explore gender in design

New bathroom products from Gessi cater for designers trying to achieve masculine and feminine design aesthetics in wellness spaces. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores…

A moodboard of both masculine taps and feminine taps

Variety is the spice of life, is the message we are receiving when hearing all about Gessi’s latest news. The bathroom brand has made a name for itself by challenging convention in wellness spaces – think spotlight shower and spa-like bathrooms. But it’s recent launch goes another step further to look at shapes, furnishings, and colours associated to both masculine and feminine spaces – all while putting an emphasis on modern traveller demands, such as hygiene and wellbeing.

“Gessi has announced a shift in bathroom architecture to accommodate the emerging needs of living.”

Continuing the tradition of transformation started in 2002 with Rettangolo and the Private Wellness Program introduction, Gessi has announced a shift in bathroom architecture to accommodate the emerging needs of living. Gessi’s Private Wellness Program’s mission is to create spaces of wellbeing in the bathroom. The brand has expanded on this concept to offer separate bathroom areas dedicated to men and women’s distinctly different needs. In this vision, “the woman and man of Gessi” are conscious inhabitants of the contemporary home seeking exclusive areas, totally dedicated and reserved for themselves.

Anello_Ambiente#726 copia

Image credit: Gessi

In a statement, the bathroom brand explains the contrasting demands for men and women when it comes down to bathroom design. “Contemporary men and women relish their rituals of personal care and the need for moments of isolation and relaxation to unwind from the day’s stress,” the statement said. “While both genders seek peace, rebalancing, and regeneration in the bath space, their habits and use of this vital environment remain substantially different. The increasingly restricted shared spaces of domestic life create the need for a decompression room. In answer to this need, Gessi has introduced coordinated furnishing elements that offer men and women divided environments of wellbeing, personalised for their personality, daily rituals and style.”

In Gessi’s vision, wellbeing is achieved in the “appropriation of one’s own space by choosing its shapes, furnishings, and colours”. So everyone feels comfortable in a habitat that has been exclusively created for him/her. Like fragrances, jewellery, or clothing, the new Anello and Ingranaggio collections are designed differently to celebrate each gender and make the bathroom a place that honours men and women’s unique needs.

The design of Ingranaggio has a masculine soul and speaks of essential vigour. It reminds us that we are the perfect mechanism of our existence with its elegant handle shaped like a toothed wheel, evoking a gear in motion. The energy of a moving clockwork ideally transfers to the environment and to the user of this collection.

Ingranaggio_Ambiente#187 copia

Image credit: Gessi

Meanwhile, the Anello design has the feminine elegance and modern grace of a jewel and is notable for its distinctive circular handle. As a symbol of infinity and love, the ring becomes the promise of lasting beauty in her setting of peace and wellbeing.

An downward facing view of modern bathroom products

Image credit: Gessi

Each collection offers a variety of models and finishes perfect for further personalisation of your environment – “Anello, the woman of Gessi” and “Ingranaggio, the man of Gessi.” Gessi’s vision is to revolutionise the bathroom with products designed for men and women’s individual tastes that can also be combined harmoniously or switched to satisfy individual tastes, so to create one room with distinct wellness spaces for each.

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

Main image credit: Gessi

Headshot of Saar Zafrir

5 minutes with: Interior designer Saar Zafrir

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
5 minutes with: Interior designer Saar Zafrir

Amsterdam-based interior designer Saar Zafrir joins editor Hamish Kilburn to discuss his latest project to redesign The ReMIX Hotel in paris as well as his wider mission to ’boutique-ify’ large corporate hotels…

Headshot of Saar Zafrir

2012 was a pivotal year for Saar Zafrir, who changed lanes from a 12-year career in finance to take a year off. The next 12 months prepared him to ‘get into the game’, taught by his own passion to become an interior design, at first starting small with friends and family but soon being offered a pathway into the hotel design arena. With a new focus on hospitality and F&B design, Zafrir’s approach was born; to transforming established corporate-style hotels and hospitality groups into fun and lively boutique brands that speak loudly to the growing demands of the modern traveller.

A rich narrative told in the interior design inside Sir Savigny Berlin

Image credit: Sir Savigny Berlin

In fact, in less than a decade, the designer has catapulted himself as a unique creative and developer of hospitality projects throughout Europe, including the award-winning Brown Beach House Croatia (a former tobacco processing plant on the Dalmatian Coastline of Croatia, transformed into a signature Brown Hotels property) as well as Max Brown HotelsSir Savigny Berlin and Gekko Group’s Provocateur Berlin Hotel.

Image credit: Provocateur Berlin Hotel

Through savvy attention to detail, Zafrir creates more than simply beautiful spaces. His work gives spaces a second life, thus generating a new audience that can optimise revenues for hotel chains. The latest example is The ReMix Hotel in Paris., a new hotel that was slated to officially open this month located in Paris’ 19th arrondissement and a longtime property of Schroder’s Group. 

Schroder’s hired Zafrir to develop a new brand to revamp the pre-existing 259-key hotel property in Paris’ Parc of La Villette. With a colourful and eclectic design influenced by the retro and abstract flair of the 1980’s, The ReMIX Hotel is a far pivot from the previous concept behind the original Schroder’s property. Inspired by the 1980’s pop song ‘Forever Young,’ Zafrir has worked to reminisce the essence of the 80’s tune into a modern day design style. The result is a playful yet sophisticated atmosphere with vivid colours, mix of patterns and textures and custom-made furnishings. The ReMIX Hotel will be an anchor for drawing in new breaths of culture, art, entertainment and dining in Paris’ 19th arrondissement.

A bold bar with green and gold explored in the interior design

Image caption: Interior designer Saar Zafrir explored a distinct, loud ’80s interior design theme when redesigning the F&B areas inside The ReMIX Hotel in Paris. | Image credit: Marvin Gang

 

Hamish Kilburn: First things first, what inspired your career change from finance to enter the hotel design landscape?

Saar Zafrir: After 12 years within the capital world, I decided to take a year off. I used my shares to buy an apartment in Tel Aviv. During my year off, I decided to work on design and renovation. Whilst getting familiar with design, I taught myself how to use Sketchup, AutoCAD and congeneric software and I totally fell for it. The design was so brilliant that I began to design for both my family and friends. Two years later I bought partnership within the hotel industry and I sold my apartment. That’s how I got into the game.’’

HK: You’ve become known for modernising corporate-style hotels into fresh new brands. Is there any transformation project that you’re specifically proud of?

SZ: “Yes, ReMIX. ReMIX used to be an extremely dull cooperate hotel. We managed to transform it into a very exciting, fascinating hotel people love to visit, even just to take pictures.’’

QUICK-FIRE ROUND

HK: What is one trend that you wish will never return?
SZ: Terrazzo, for sure.

HK: What items during lockdown could you not have lived without?
SZ: “I would say both my oven and stove. I can’t choose.’’ 

HK: What makes a good design team?
SZ:
“Working together as a team to inspire each other along the way.’’ 

HK: Who is your interior design hero?
SZ: “Philippe Starck! He was the first to create something that really went out of the box.

HK: Tell me about the concept for your latest project: The ReMIX Hotel in Paris.

SZ: “The client presented us a very large building that needed total renovation. The building was built in the 80’s.

I had always dreamt of designing a hotel 80’s themed. I have always been a fan of the song ‘’Forever Young’’ by Alphaville. The design pitch was shared with the client and the investors of the project and they liked the idea very much. We wanted to bring back the 80s with the roller-skates, the pop, the neon and the rubiscos. The initial idea was to not just open one ReMIX hotel but more of them.’’

HK: What challenges did you face with this project?

SZ: The big challenge was to transform a very old and dull building into something that’s very exciting to look at. It has also been a challenge to convince the client of our initial design. Additionally, we were tied to a very tight budget. It has been a challenge to meet the client’s needs whilst taking the budget into consideration.’’ 

Image caption: a clever seating/bed in a guestroom inside The ReMIX Hotel in Paris. | Image credit: Marvin Gang

Image caption: a clever seating/bed in a guestroom inside The ReMIX Hotel in Paris. | Image credit: Marvin Gang

HK: Finally, can you tell me about some exciting projects you have in the pipeline?

SZ: “Yes, so we created a new brand called Cardo. Cardo is an autograph collection. It will appear in Rome (640 rooms), Paris (300 rooms) and Brussels (540 rooms). Cardo is a cooperate hotel that is characterised by super cool brands, an amazing F&B concept and Spa. I am convinced that it will soon become an evolutionary concept within the hospitality industry.’’

Main image credit: Saar Zafrir

A render of an open air suite in Seychelles

Seychelles debut for Waldorf Astoria and Canopy by Hilton

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Seychelles debut for Waldorf Astoria and Canopy by Hilton

Hilton has announced to bring its iconic luxury brand, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, as well as lifestyle brand, Canopy by Hilton, to the Seychelles in 2023…

A render of an open air suite in Seychelles

Things are heating up in the development team at Hilton Hotels after the company has signed for two hotel brand debuts in the Seychelles. The properties – a Waldorf Astoria and a Canopy by Hilton – are scheduled to open in 2023 and will build upon an already impressive Hilton portfolio on the archipelago, in addition to the soon-to-be-opened Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels & Resorts.

Carlos Khneisser, Vice President, development, Middle East & Africa, Hilton believes that these properties mark a sigificant milestone in both brand’s expansion.“The Seychelles remains unquestionably one of the world’s most desirable destinations for the discerning traveller, ” he said. “We are proud of the role our teams have played in the sustainable development of the Seychelles, and these new additions, coupled with Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels & Resorts, will give our guests an unprecedented range of world-class experiential options to choose from when planning what is sure to be an unforgettable visit.”

Waldorf Astoria Platte Island

A truly exclusive luxury experience, the resort will offer a collection of 59 seafront villas all equipped with private pools. Guests will have access to six restaurants and bars, a spa, kids’ club, outdoor observatory, tennis courts and a marine conservation discovery center – all within the sanctuary of Platte Island. The island itself lies just more than 130 km south of Mahé and is renowned as a nature lover’s paradise, covered with palm forest and surrounded by a coral reef and lagoon. A small airstrip allows for access to the island from the main airport of Mahé. In an effort to create and use renewable energy as part of the resort’s operation, many buildings throughout the grounds will be equipped with solar-paneled roofing.

Canopy by Hilton Mahé

Located on Mahé’s Anse à la Mouche beach, famed for its calm and shallow waters, this resort is set to bring a new sense of vibrancy to the oceanfront community.  Significant investment is going into developing the facilities of the surrounding beach, including a boutique shopping village. The resort will offer 120 locally inspired guestrooms and space to accommodate more intimate meetings and events.

Hilton operates six brands in Africa and the Indian Ocean and recently reached the milestone of 100 hotels trading or in the pipeline across the continent. Hilton remains steadfastly committed to the sustainable development of travel and tourism across the region and has implemented several award-winning sustainability measures at its three operating Seychelles properties. These range from the removal of plastic straws and bottles to the use of locally sourced produce through to wildlife conservation and community engagement projects.

Since you’re here…

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Main image credit: Hilton Hotels

Inside the F&B areas of W Melbourne

Inside W Melbourne, the brand’s second opening in Australia

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Inside W Melbourne, the brand’s second opening in Australia

In the heart of an eclectic dining and edgy fashion district, W Melbourne arrives, with design by Hachem, to shake things up a bit. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores…

Inside the F&B areas of W Melbourne

W Hotels, part of Marriott International, is on a roll and has officially opened the doors to Melbourne’s first W Hotel. Situated in the heart of the city’s eclectic dining and edgy fashion district, W Melbourne brings the community’s iconic laneway culture and emerging music scene to life. Inspired by the contrasts of the city, the hotel slowly reveals itself to visitors as guests peel back layers to unearth the unique personality of each space.

For W Hotels, the synergy between the brand and its new home in Melbourne is one that makes a lot of business sense. “Melbourne is the perfect locale for the playfully luxe spirit of the W brand and we could not be more excited to unveil this highly anticipated hotel to the world,” said Jennie Toh, Vice President of brand marketing and brand management, Asia Pacific, Marriott International. “From its unique, locally inspired design to its eclectic lineup of restaurants and bars, W Melbourne is destined to redefine the luxury hotel scene here and become a must-go destination for travellers and local scene-stealers alike.”

Igniting endless possibilities

Australian architecture and interior design firm Hachem brings innovation and brand storytelling to life through their evocative approach to W Melbourne. Drawing on the city’s diverse and contrasting character, W Melbourne’s design inspiration is translated into vignettes of Melbourne’s streetscapes, letting guests uncover the dynamic city’s past from behind the scenes.

Upon arrival at W Melbourne, guests are introduced to the neighbourhood’s iconic laneways, famous for their graffiti street art and offbeat, eclectic characters. Victorian bluestone tiles connect the Living Room to the laneway, blurring the line between the exterior and interior, where the Welcome Desk stands ready to greet guests. A vast lenticular art installation by local painter and digital artist Rus Kitchin immerses viewers into a canopy of Australian flora and fauna growing above the famed Hosier Lane. The illuminated glass and wood of the Flinders Lane entrance is juxtaposed against the shadows of the hotel’s foyer.

W Melbourne has 294 luxuriously stylish guestrooms and 29 suites, with design details curated to reflect Melbourne’s fascinating history and culture. The hotel’s Wonderful, Fabulous and Mega category rooms are inspired by the neighbouring street-level newspaper kiosks that back to the 1960s.

Fabulous King suite inside W Melbourne

Image credit: W Hotels/Marriott International

Each room features floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning skyline views. The Marvellous rooms feature a vibrant wall graphic of a fairy wren, a bird native to Australia, pulling back a layer of fabric to reveal a colourful Melbourne scene. The graphic pays homage to the city’s roots as a fashion hub, with Flinders Lane at the centre of its textile trade. The 175-square-meter Extreme Wow Suite (W Hotels’ modern interpretation of the traditional presidential suite), is on the hotel’s highest floor at Level 15, and features a large balcony with expansive views of the Yarra River and an interactive music station – a fresh take on an old-school jukebox.

Celebrating the city’s eclectic F&B scene

W Melbourne’s distinctive restaurants and bars are all set to amplify Melbourne’s dining landscape with innovative, original takes on the city’s multicultural cuisines. All-day dining restaurant Lollo, under the culinary creative direction of celebrated chef Adam D’Sylva, offers a menu that’s designed to be shared and celebrates the chef’s mixed heritage. At the centre of the action and pulse of the hotel is cocktail bar Curious, with its design as impressive as the evocative cocktail list. The bar welcomes guests into a cocoon-inspired space formed by its overhead timber beams in a parametric sequence with low lighting and muted colour palettes. Signature Japanese restaurant WARABI focuses on the freshest seasonal produce with seating for only 30 diners and a private dining room for ten. Culprit channels Melbourne’s café culture into an original bar concept that adds a new twist to the dining experience with a sophisticated floor-to-ceiling charcuterie display and a Vermouth tasting tray.

Mixing work with play, guests will be captivated by 830 square metres of ultra-modern conference, meeting and event space at W Melbourne, setting the stage for spectacular events with fully adaptable conference equipment, world-class audio-visual facilities and contemporary cuisine from the expert in-house catering team. The jewel in the crown, the Great Room, is a 426 square-metre pillarless ballroom with an abundance of natural light and 4×5-metre LED wall. To celebrate the region’s diverse seasons and autumn as a popular time to visit, Melbourne-born visual artist, Ash Keating utilised soft pinks and violets to light up the Great Room ceiling for an enchanting experience for guests.

Meanwhile, FIT and WET on Level 14 will inspire the W ‘Detox. Retox. Repeat’ brand signature wellness philosophy, offering spectacular views alongside an ultramodern fitness facility, gold-roofed indoor pool, poolside bar and DJ booth.

It’s an exciting time for the W Hotels brand. Having already established itself as a leading disrupter to the conventional hospitality scene, its latest openings in both Melbourne, Ibiza and Nashville are statement examples of the luxury lifestyle brand marking their territory in new and exciting travel hotspots.

Main image credit: W Hotels/Marriott International

Outside luxury pool and spa

Weekly briefing: Tech talk, art escapes & beyond the surface of trends

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly briefing: Tech talk, art escapes & beyond the surface of trends

‘Ey-up’, Hamish Kilburn here to deliver your weekly briefing. Over the last couple of days, we have showered our readers with exclusives, the latest news and insightful features. For those of you on-the-go, here are this week’s hottest stories in one easy-to-consume story…

Outside luxury pool and spa

If you only read one of our stories this week, make sure it’s this one! This week’s stories that have dominated the Hotel Designs website include an exclusive sneak peek of a major hospitality project in Silverstone (UK), a feature that tackles how the pandemic will affect hotel development, an inspiring interview about a hotel in Italy that will simply take your breath away and two – yes two – trend forecasts around surfaces and technology. Oh, and we also take a glance at some of this month’s hottest hotel openings. Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s begin.

FEATURE // How will the pandemic affect hotel design and development?

Modern and clean interiors inside Ruby Lucy

Image credit: Ruby Lucy

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: the pandemic. To help us separate fact from fiction, Tom Bishop, Director of Project Management at Concert, is here to offer some clarity and perspective on the current Covid-19 situation. We wanted him to answer the fundamental question to understand once and for all how the pandemic will impact the hotel design community. Here’s what he had to say…

Read more.

INTERVIEW // Meet the visionaries behind Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Pascale Lauber & Ulrike Bauschke on steps

Image credit: Katja Brinkmann

This feature was a strange one for me because, if Covid-19 hadn’t entered on its wrecking ball last year, it would have followed my review of the hotel under the spotlight.  Almost a year after my flight was cancelled, plans to review the luxury lair are unsurprisingly still on hold. While we wait patiently, though, it felt fitting to catch up with Pascale Lauber & Ulrike Bauschke in order to understand the context and challenges that come with such a magnificent project…

Read more.

TECH MAD // CES 2021: Best hotel design tech trends

Image credit: Samsung/TOTO/Kholer/Care OS

Technology’s role in hotel design has arguably never been so relied upon. If you happened to miss CES 2021, fear not as myself and wellbeing expert Ari Peralta – together, an editorial dream team – are here to share the best hotel design tech trends that emerged from the show…

Read more.

EXCLUSIVE // Inside flagship hospitality development at Silverstone

Villas overlooking the Silverstone Racecourse

Image credit: Escapade Living

When we were told that we were going to be the first to publish about Bergman Interiors – the design firm that cleaned up at The Brit List Awards 2020 – teaming up with Twelve Architects and Escapade Living on a new hospitality development in Silverstone, we were so excited. And then we saw the renderings of the luxury villas overlooking the iconic racetrack and that took the anticipation up a level. Take a look for yourself in our exclusive feature that takes a glance at what this hospitality project will look like…

Read more.

HOTEL OPENINGS // VIP arrivals in February 2021

Render of NoMad London

From where we are sitting, most new hotels that are expected to open this year are holding off until later in the season, but there a handful of gems are expected to arrive early to the party. Without further a due, here are some of the hottest hotels that are opening this month.

Read more.

FEATURE // Virtually escape into the world of art in hotel design

A blue abstract art installation

Image credit: Melia Rhodes/Elegant Clutter

Are you swooning over staycations or dreaming of distant lands? We are all feeling the desire to escape from it all. I started the week in search for that holiday away from my thoughts by catching up with Elegant Clutter’s Creative Director Harry Pass to find out how art in hotel design can be a wonderful way of elevating a sense of escapism…

Read more.

TRENDING // Surface trends for 2021 & beyond

Image credit: Lindsay Lauckner

And finally, here’s a meaningful and relevant trends forecast that goes way beyond the surface… “Strict pre-pandemic industry standards mean that hospitality design is well-placed to weather the storm without a major supply-side rethink,” says Meghann Day, partner, HBA San Francisco. In this exclusive feature, the designer walks journalist Oriana Lerner through what’s ahead for surface design trends in 2021 and beyond…

Read more.

That’s your lot! Join us next week when we will take a look at W Hotels’ latest opening in Australia and we share our in conversation with Amsterdam-based designer Saar Zafrir. Also, keep one eye open for our podcast DESIGN POD, which will drop with episode one shortly…

Since you’re here…

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

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Main image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Render of NoMad London

VIP arrivals: Hottest hotel openings in February 2021

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
VIP arrivals: Hottest hotel openings in February 2021

Hot off the heels of our two-part series on hotel openings in 2021, Hotel Designs is serving up the hottest, most spectacular hotel openings to expect in February. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes…

Render of NoMad London

For many of us, the idea of checking into a hotel in February 2021 is an unrealistic expectation. The UK hospitality sector is feeling the brunt of a third national lockdown, while Europe and many other regions around the globe are also restrained from large gatherings. The world may look very different now from this time last year, but behind the scenes designers and architects are putting finishing touches on tomorrow’s hotels.

From where we are sitting, most new hotels that are expected to open this year are holding off until later in the season, but there a handful of gems are expected to arrive early to the party. Without further a due, here are some of the hottest hotels that are opening this month:

W Nashville

In true W style, ready to cause disruption to conventional hotel design and hospitality, W Nashville is set to take the stage in the heart of The Gulch. “Striking the music city chord,” the hotel is expected to open with curated local tunes, garden-to-glass cocktails and welcoming communal spaces. “Expect the unexpected” is how the brand is teasing this special 346-key arrival, with a high-energy urban experience paired with our Whatever / Whenever® approach to hospitality and Southern comfort you can expect in downtown Nashville.

AC Hotel Maui Wailea (Hawaii)

AC Hotel in Maui render of pool bar

Image credit: AC Hotels/Marriott International

Perfectly placed and featuring two white sand beaches, AC by Marriott Maui Wailea offers scenic views of South Maui. 110-key hotel will shelter a ‘stylish comfort’ and will be complete with an infinity pool and a restaurant serving European cuisine, among other amenities.

Six Senses Botanique

Wooden interiors inside a suite of Six Senses Brazil

Image credit: Six Senses

Six Senses is gearing up to open its first property in the Americas. Situated in Brazil’s Mantiqueira region – known as the “mountains that weep” – Six Senses Botanique showcases its surrounding beauty from a hillside amid 700 acres (283 hectares) of lush, mid-tropical Atlantic forests.

Formerly known as Botanique Hotel & Spa, the hotel was born out of Fernanda Ralston Semler’s vision to set a new benchmark in luxury hospitality that was completely home-grown, recognising local traditions and culture, as well as its natural setting. The hotel was constructed in 2012 by regional architects and designers using indigenous materials such as jacaranda wood, natural stone, and chocolate slate. The slate is mined just once every 17 months and the hotel’s bearing walls incorporate three-ton boulders from the adjacent river. The massive 120-year-old wooden beams are reclaimed from farms in nearby Minas Gerais. Huge glass panels line the rest of the construct to evoke a sense of “outdoors inside” with uninterrupted views of Mantiqueira’s valleys and mountains.

NoMad London

Although we have been updated that this boutique gem is preparing to cut its ribbon in Spring of 2020, February was supposed to be the month when NoMad arrived in London, which is sheltered inside a heritage shell. Just days ago, we caught up the visionaries at EPR Architects, which teased our editorial senses before we are allowed to officially check in.

Located metres from Covent Garden, NoMad London will take residence inside the historic, grade II-listed building famously known as The Bow Street Magistrates’ Court and Police Station. Designed by New York-based interior design studio Roman and Williams, the transformation of the storied 19th century building draws inspiration from its history and location in Covent Garden, as well as exploring the artistic and cultural connection between London and New York.

Keep an eye on the Hotel Designs website for all the latest hotel opening news. On the editorial desk, we are hopeful and anticipate the lockdown regulations to relax somewhat. With this in mind, we expect more noise on the hotel design scene from March onwards. In the meantime, you can read all about this year’s hottest hotel openings in part one and part two of our editorial series on hotel openings. 

Since you’re here…

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

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Main image credit: NoMad London

1 - Bangle LED - Image Credit Luum

Beautiful lighting from Heathfield & Co and lighting studio Luum

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Beautiful lighting from Heathfield & Co and lighting studio Luum

Capturing the natural world in fixed form by merging light with scale and sculpture, Luum transforms interior spaces with lighting products from Heathfield & Co that stirs a heightened sense of wonder, excitement and energy…

1 - Bangle LED - Image Credit Luum

Beautiful lighting from Heathfield & Co is something we have come to expect – take a look at the Linden Collection, for example. But it’s the brand’s latest collaboration that is really hitting the right notes with our editorial team. Established in 2015, in close connection with Heathfield & Co, design studio Luum presents an inspired collection of beautiful contemporary fittings and large scale installations commissioned for clients across residential, hospitality and commercial sectors.

From the interlocking pyramid configuration of their bestselling Bangle to the decorative disks of Leaf or Samara, the brand’s sculptural fixtures transform interior spaces.

A cascade of aluminium discs pierced with a sunray design, Leaf (pictured above) offers unlimited design possibilities. Look up and you are reminded of the dappled light of the sun filtered through the canopy of a tree. The boundaries of the pendant and the space beyond it are blurred, creating an elegant and adaptable centrepiece.

Inspired by contemporary jewellery, Bangle is constructed by a series of pyramids locked together in a scattered formation to create a geometric sculpture. Available as the original design (pictured above left) or with integrated diffused LED strips (pictured above right) Bangle is a modern lighting sculpture, creating lively interaction between light and shade.

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

Main image credit: Luum

Pascale Lauber & Ulrike Bauschke on steps

5 minutes with: The hotel designers behind Ostuni’s new boutique jewel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
5 minutes with: The hotel designers behind Ostuni’s new boutique jewel

Pascale Lauber & Ulrike Bauschke, owners and hotel designers of Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa, have not had the smoothest ride to open their labour of love. Hotel Designs’ Hamish Kilburn catches up with the duo as they prepare to welcome the world to their dream boutique hotel…

Pascale Lauber & Ulrike Bauschke on steps

Back in early 2020, before Covid-19 had become the distraction of the year, Hotel Designs was packing its bags ready to check in to a new boutique hotel that had made it onto the editorial team’s radar. Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa is situated in the heart of Puglia’s White City of Ostuni – on the heel of Italy – and is elegantly sheltered inside a restored red palace.

Arial view of Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Image credit: 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

The team were particularly impressed by the story of Pascale Lauber and Ulrike Bauschke, owners of the property, who painstakingly restored every inch of the former Italian palace using traditional handcrafted techniques, while injecting a splash of modern flair.

Unfortunately, days before our scheduled trip to review the new 11-key hotel that stands in stark contrast to the whitewashed buildings of the city around it, the spread of Covid-19 put a major halt on plans to visit the naturally stunning destination.

Almost one year later, plans to review the luxury lair are unsurprisingly still on hold. While we wait patiently, though, it felt fitting to catch up with Lauber and Bauschke in order to understand the context and challenges that come with such a magnificent project.

A vintage looking room inside 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Hamish Kilburn: How did you come to take on the restoration project?

Pascale Lauber: It was in 2016. We were actually in Puglia to recharge and had no intention of taking on a new project at all. An Ostunian friend invited us to visit the Palazzo Rosso and we agreed, simply to admire the architecture of such a historic building. However, as soon as the red carriage door opened it was love at first sight and we knew instantly that we would not be able to resist. We were immediately drawn to the potential of the centuries-old gem. The height of its ceilings, its vaults, its frescoes, its red-stone.

HK: Did you always know that you wanted the building to be transformed into a hotel?

Ulrike Bauschke: For us, it was unthinkable not to make the building a hotel and accessible to the public, it really is just too beautiful to stay hidden! We have shaken up the rules of real estate and interior design in projects all over the world, from Romont, Lausanne and Verbier, Switzerland; to Paris, New York and Cape Town and knew instantly that we could do the same here.

“Several smaller details and treasures were also discovered, such as a wooden door with peepholes typical of 17th century cloisters” – Ulrike Bauschke.

A artefact of a monkey on a bar

Image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

HK: What discoveries did you make during the restoration?

UK: We worked with conservator Maria Buongiorno to uncover the mysteries of the multi-secular Palazzo, which has so many stories to tell from the 17th Century to present day. The most ancient parts of the building from the 1700s including fireplaces, stone vaults and also frescoes, like the magnificent “Jesus and the Samaritan” were significant discoveries. Several smaller details and treasures were also discovered, such as a wooden door with peepholes typical of 17th century cloisters that suggests that the Palazzo once housed a convent.

PL: Equally, the beautiful original majolica tiles, which have been brought to new life in Bar 700. On the back of some of those tiles, we found an M stamp, the brand of a famous workshop owned by the three Massa brothers, ceramics masters of early 18th century Naples, suggesting the building was once in Neapolitan hands.

a dark room with high vaulted ceilings

Image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

HK: You both worked on the project together, who does what and are you always in agreement on the design details?

UK: We have opened and renovated restaurants, boutique hotels and apartments all over the world together and we make a complimentary pair, each with our own, very distinct strengths.

PL: I’m an instinctive designer, something that runs through my veins and guides everything I do, so the architecture and interiors were very much my vision. I took the lead with the renovation, but the way I work is with few words and thousands of images in my head. Sometimes I wish one could invent a copy machine to print all my ideas that are spinning in my head 24 hours a day… I couldn’t have brought it to life exactly how I wanted it without the help of Ulrike, who as a passionate traveller as well knows exactly what makes an outstanding hotel.

UK: Yes so we are pretty much in agreement and the only challenge was to show and create understanding of what Pascale’s vision was. She had it all in her head so between us bringing it to life exactly as she envisioned it was the biggest challenge.

A large red headboard in a vintage setting

Image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

HK: Let’s address the elephant in the room… You opened the hotel in the middle of Covid-19, how was this?

UK: The timing could not have been worse for us and like everyone in the hospitality and travel industry we have been badly affected. However, we’ve been luckily has it seemed that everybody wanted to come to Puglia when we finally managed to open our doors and welcome guests throughout the summer months. With only 11 rooms and plenty of beautiful outdoor space, the hotel is actually ideal for safe travel in these times so we are lucky in that respect as well and have always made sure the health and wellbeing of our guests and team is paramount. We have been blown away with the glowing feedback from our guests and if we can make a success of a hotel opening during a global pandemic, we can do anything!

HK: Pascale, can you explain your personal design ethos and would you say Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel embodies this?

PL: Each project I do is so different and distinct, but the creative association of old and new art, objects and furnishings in a head-spinning and yet personal mix is my trademark and signature design style. I have a vision that is multicultural and original down to the smallest detail and this creates a unique result that is coherent, deeply modern and stimulating. I would say that Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa embodies my design ethos. The heart of the hotel’s design and what I really set out to achieve was creating exquisite design in every detail with beautiful energy while also preserving and celebrating the history of the building.

HK: Where do you look to for inspiration?

UK: We love travelling and have been lucky to live around the world, providing a fantastic source of inspiration. Visiting countless international art and trade shows, but also local flea-markets, is always inspiring and for this particular project the architecture and heritage of Puglia was certainly an influence.

Image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

HK: If (or should I say ‘when’!) I can come and visit the hotel, what should I do first?

UK: If you can, request to stay in the room called Onyx. Every one of our guest rooms and suites is different, but Onyx, which is black, is a firm favourite. Once you have checked it out, head to the pool, which is the only one in the city, for a refreshing swim followed by some time unwinding in the garden and of course an aperitivo at Bar 700. The next day you will be ready to enjoy beautiful Puglia- the food, culture, people, history, landscapes, countryside and sea!

A luxury pool with white washed buildings

Image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

PL: With only 11 guest rooms, our friendly team are able to offer an insider experience so be sure to ask them for their personal tips and recommendations and also enjoy some of our bespoke experiences, from burrata making to motorbike tours or trips out on our boat, a former carabinieri boat transformed into a private yacht, Dragonfly.

Main image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Fabrics in a concrete room

Sekers Fabrics becomes exclusive brand partner of FR-One (UK)

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Sekers Fabrics becomes exclusive brand partner of FR-One (UK)

Collaboration goals, fabrics brand Sekers has become the exclusive brand partners of FR-One in the United Kingdom. Here’s what we know…

Fabrics in a concrete room

FR-One is the industry leader in Inherently Fire-Retardant furnishing fabrics, offering maximum safety by providing a wide range of self-extinguishing multi-use* drapery, bedding and accessory fabrics which meet all necessary UK and Marine (both IMO and MED Module E Certification) Standards, making FR-One a great choice for contract, marine and residential projects.

“This new relationship brings together two of the market leaders in the supply of contract fabrics to the commercial and hospitality industry,” said David Lawton, Group Sales Director at Sekers. “With FR-One’s enviable product range, rigorous testing and one standard that meets all attitude, we are confident that clients old and new will continue to utilise and enjoy FR-One’s stunning collections. Trend-setting colours and designs, beautiful upholstery ranges, fabulous sheers and attractive dim- out collections, all backed by Sekers long standing reputation, loyal sales force and technical knowledge brings us to the beginning of an exciting chapter!”

RE-Invent, let’s reshape the future of FR Fabrics

With the new partnership comes a range of new and exciting fabrics. FR-One has a strong interest in the requirements of our consumers and our environment which has led them to re-use, recycle and ultimately RE-Invent their own collections.

The new RE-Invent range features six collections of upholstery, drapery and bedding fabrics; Re-Vive, Re-Store, RE-Delis, Regal Velvets, Resurgence, and Moon. It showcases three new fabric constructions, manufactured from recycled polyester, fully certified and compliant with the Global Recycled Standard (GRS).

This concise range includes timeless and proven best-sellers that have been thoughtfully reinvented for today’s consumer to encourage appreciation of the value of quality and proven products.

The ranges; Re-Invent, Edition 1 and Edition 2 are sampled in our new stylish dual branded binders and/or pattern books. All of the designs and sample cuttings can be accessed via the FR-One link on the Sekers website, including all three e-binders.

RE-Vive

As FR-One’s first 100 per cent recycled fabric, certified by the Global Recycling Standard, RE-Vive is a wide width dim out that is best suited to contract drapery applications. Featuring a sumptuous touch and drape with a silky smooth finish, this collection is available in a broad and versatile colour palette.

Re-Delis

FR-One’s best-selling ‘Delis’ has been reinvented in a renewed wide width and recycled format suitable for contract drapery applications. Re-Delis is 300cm wide and features a matte, dry and natural look and touch, emulating a beautiful raw linen. Composed of 52 per cent recycled GRS certified polyester, this collection is a brilliant choice for today’s conscientious market.

Two twin beds in a modern setting

Image caption: Re-Delis | Image credit: Sekers

RE-Store

A trio of wide width textured dim outs in GRS certified recycled polyester, the RE-Store collection features RE-Juvenate, RE-Boot and RE-New, three designs well suited to contract drapery applications. RE- Juvenate features a small basket weave texture subtly combining matte and shiny yarns, RE-Boot is composed of fine multi-coloured yarns delivering an elegant sheen when caught in the light and RE- New has an organic, dry and tactile look and feel, bringing sophistication to any interior.

Regal Velvets

A grand collection of multi-use* signature jacquard velvets in three striking designs; Regalia, Remain and Requiem, are available in a beautifully succinct and rich colour range. Regalia is an all-over abstract design that gives great visual texture and movement, reaching 100,000 rubs on the Martindale rub test. Remain is a classic key design with a hidden optical zigzag twist, while Requiem is a small-scale irregular spot effect with an intentionally fuzzy look and feel. Both Remain and Requiem achieve 70,000 rubs, boasting strong durability.

Red velvet interiors in guestroom

Image caption: Regal Velvets | Image credit: Sekers

Resurgence

This collection presents two unconventional vinyl qualities: Register and Refined. Both mirror the look and texture of natural woven linens in the form of boundlessly durable engineered vinyl, boasting 100,000 rubs on the Martindale Rub Test. Both designs are compiled together with a range of FR-Ones carefully curated sheers, drapery and upholstery* fabrics – all in a soft, enduring and neutral colour palette.

Moon

FR-One’s best-selling and timeless multi-use* velvet has been refreshed with a deeper colour palette, now available in a total of 39 rich and on-trend colourways, including a range of metallics, neutrals and jewel tones. Moon’s excellent durability and luxurious touch will enhance the appearance of any interior.

A navy blue studded headboard

Image caption: Moon | Image credit: Sekers

*NB All FR One upholstery fabrics to be used within the U.K. will require additional FR treatment to pass the following standards:

  • BS 5852: 2006 Part 1 Ignition Source 0 & 1, Part 2 Ignition Source 5 (Crib 5)
  • BS 7176: 2007+A1:2011 Medium Hazard, incorporating BS EN 1021-1: 2006, BS EN 1021-2: 2006 When tested over CMHR Foam – density approx. 35kg/m3

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

Main image credit: Sekers

Two images of lighting in kitchen and lighting in lounge

Franklite launches 15 new lighting product ranges

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Franklite launches 15 new lighting product ranges

With designers requesting for variety and choices, Franklite has introduced 15 new lighting ranges, each with its own variations within the brand’s new supplement…

Two images of lighting in kitchen and lighting in lounge

Over the last few months, following a busy 2020, the team at Franklite have been working tirelessly to design a range of products that are not only functional and efficient, but also beautiful and creative. In continuation of Catalogue 26, the brand is launching 15 new product ranges each with its own variations within the new supplement. Here’s our sneak peek of the collection, including our editor’s pick.

The Allium range is perfect for adding style and sophistication to any space. This range consists of two spherical pendants and two half-sphere flush ceiling lights in chrome with elegant, multifaceted crystals on wire stems. The organic curve of the cable adds to the floral aesthetic of the pendant, giving the impression of a stem or vine, perfectly paired with natural interior design elements.

Cut-out image of the Allium range from Franklite

Image credit: Franklite

For those looking for something a bit more contemporary and industrial, the Wain pendants are ideal. These rustic matt finish ‘wheel’ pendants on a chain suspension will compliment a space with wood tones such as exposed ceiling beams and wall panelling ideal in open plan living areas or restaurants. Designed to be used with decorative LED lamps these pendants are available in an eight and 10 light option depending of the size of the space.

Cut-out of Wain lighting product from Franklite

Image credit: Franklite

Editor’s pick

The Prophecy, Hotel Designs’ editor’s pick out of the collection, is a comprehensive range of modern matt black fittings with smoked glass spheres. There are three semi-flush fittings, two pendants for a longer drop, a matching wall bracket and a three light floor lamp. The pendants in the Prophecy range have adjustable arms which allow customers to style the pendant as they like. Whilst the bold, smoked globes create a moody and minimalist aesthetic.

For a more subtle, yet extraordinary, industrial pendant we have the Precis range. These elongated dome shaped pendants feature a sturdy, smooth cement outer shell. With two interior options, either in a copper or satin nickel finish, this pendant will go with most kitchen accents.

Cut-out of Precis in the Franklite range

Image credit: Franklite

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

Since you’re here…

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

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Main image credit: Franklite

Villas overlooking the Silverstone Racecourse

Exclusive: Inside flagship hospitality development at Silverstone

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Exclusive: Inside flagship hospitality development at Silverstone

Bergman Interiors and Twelve Architects have teamed up with Escapade living, led by CEO Will Tindal, to design a new development at the iconic British racetrack, Silverstone. Here’s what we know…

Villas overlooking the Silverstone Racecourse

Award-winning design studio Bergman Interiors has been named the design firm that will bring to life a mixed-use development project at Silverstone in the UK, which will include 60 residences, a club house, wellness spaces, F&B areas and outdoor terraces that overlook the iconic racetrack.

Silverstone has always been a centre of excellence from a racing, technology and engineering perspective. Bergman Interiors, which is led by Interior Designer of the Year Albin Berglund and Brit List Designer Marie Soliman, have told Hotel Designs that they are ‘delighted to be working with Escapade Living’ in creating a peerless hospitality experience. “Escapade Silverstone will enable motorsport lovers to buy residences right on the edge of the circuit,” explains Soliman, Co-Founder of Bergman Design House. “For us, its immersive, bespoke, guest-led offering hails the dawn of something special.”

Who’s who?

The Escapade Living team has combined the talents of Twelve ArchitectsBergman Interiors and project management consultant Tower Eight, MEP led by Applied Energy, with landscape by Illman Young and construction by MY Construction.

Escapade Living aims to redefine experiential travel around the concept of high-performance living, which was founded by experienced development and investment professionals, Will Tindall and Jerome Darker.

Escapade Silverstone received full planning at the end of 2019 and breaks ground in Q1 2021 and is due to complete in May 2022.

Trackside luxury

Designed for high performance living, the clubhouse and facilities include state-of-the-art simulator rooms, briefing rooms, a driver-focused gym, oxygen swimming pool and sauna, restaurant, bar and private dining room.

The residences themselves have cantilevered terraces, allowing spectators to get even closer to the racetrack. Light-filled and with high acoustic specifications, they have underfloor heating, comfort cooling and ensuite bathrooms. When an owner is not staying in their residence, it will form part of the wider accommodation available to guests at Silverstone and offer a healthy net yield.

Escapade Silverstone will enable owners to capitalise on the 1.2 million visitors that the circuit welcomes every year. It is a reimagining of leisure, lifestyle and investing putting capital into something that provides entertainment, enrichment, enjoyment and learning, while also making a return. We look forward to following the projects development.

Main image credit: Escapade Living

Black sink and dark patterned wallcover

Create an impactful bathroom using pattern with Burlington

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Create an impactful bathroom using pattern with Burlington

Renowned for offering the very best in traditional bathroom design, leading industry specialists, Burlington gives designers freedom to introduce impactful bathroom design with vibrant patterns. Hotel Designs explores…

Black sink and dark patterned wallcover

With an impressive and ever-growing collection, breadth of choice allows homeowners the opportunity to effortlessly pair complementary patterns and colour for expressive interior design.

From bold and beautiful wallpapers placed against coloured ceramics, to arresting basins and WCs adorned with decorative hand-illustrated details, there is a multitude of ways to add impactful pattern into the bathroom with Burlington.

The perfect contrast against dark and captivating wallpaper, the warm ivory of the Medici collection was inspired by the iconic colour palettes of the 1920s. The elegant and timeless ceramics and coordinating accessories stand proud within a darker, patterned setting and add a touch of vintage charm to traditional bathroom spaces, providing a more eclectic look.

To achieve a dark and decadent bathroom enlivened with pattern, combine Burlington’s Jet range with striking, exotic wallpaper. Encapsulating the deepest shade of black, the glossy ceramics seamlessly complement extravagant patterned schemes for an impressive, timeless bathroom.

Ceramics themselves can be embellished with pattern for an alluring bathroom statement. The Floral range from the Bespoke by Burlington collection injects beautiful, nature-inspired décor into the bathroom. Following trends for individuality, the delicate, hand-illustrated floral designs bring iconic elegance and character to creative interior schemes, transforming everyday bathrooms into works of art. With a choice of four exquisite patterns, the Floral collection promises to add a captivating, modern touch to traditional bathrooms.

Combining historical influences with a contemporary approach, Burlington’s expansive collection allows individuals to create an expressive and imaginative space where on-trend design coincides with timeless style for a modern traditional look the brand is renowned for.

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

Since you’re here…

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Main image credit: Burlington

Classic Romance - Master Suite1

Product watch: Hommés Studio launches new bedroom collection

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Hommés Studio launches new bedroom collection

As part of Hommés Studio’s collection, the brand has introduced eclectic and timeless master bedroom furniture. Hotel Designs explores…

Classic Romance - Master Suite1

Hommés was born from a skilled blend of visionary identities, with unique perspectives of design, art, fashion, and cultures. The brand’s life motto is introducing an Haute Couture concept in the Interior Design industry.

From their ordinary look and textures to exquisite and colourful versions, all Hommés pieces are a homage to craftsmanship. Thus, this line of master bedrooms is no exception.

The master bedroom is our little wonderland, and it is in this space that we must feel comfortable and at home. With warm colours and textures, this suite looks like a fine mixture between Spring and Autumn. The most memorable bedroom furniture sets with wood details transform this bedroom into a sophisticated and elegant room.

Kara Bed and Kara Bedside Table is the perfect furniture set for your dream master bedroom. Kara Bed is a modest luxury styled piece stripped away any superfluous decoration in search of simplicity. Kara Bedside Table is a charming piece in a rounded silhouette with striking accents.

A master hotel suite that has a lounge area is a dream master bedroom. In this way, it is possible to create a welcoming yet modern living area by placing two armchairs and a coffee table in front of the bed.

It is important to have a beauty corner in any room, where people can relax and start their day in the best way – taking care of themselves.

In addition to an elegant room, a walk-in closet is a star when it comes to storage solutions. With a design thought to the smallest detail, this room conveys a vibe of a cosmopolitan city. That is, a room with several styles, but always keeping a sophisticated line.

Classic romance Master Suite

Hommés believes that a house must express the owner’s soul, as clothes express the person’s personality who dresses them.

The Master Suite needs to be serene and warm. In this room, what stands out is the bed’s elegant design and the bedside tables with a statement design. The bedside table and how it is decorated can transform the bedroom into a little wonderland.

Jannu Bed owns a singular form projected by creative minds and sculpted by expertise hands. Kimura Bedside Table is a must-have in any modern bedroom project. Boasting beautifully rounded corners and a simplistic scheme perfect for an array of spaces.

The green hues with blush details, refined materials, rich colours, and wallpaper design make this room a romantic space.

Surrender to this room and fall in love with the little details in the living area next to the bed. A pink sofa contrasting with the green hues of the room transmit harmony and peace.

Lunarys Sofa is a contemporary style sofa that features a glamorous aesthetic look. It is an outstanding sofa that amazes everyone with its powerful presence. A stunning piece that disrupts commonly seen shapes, transitioning its admirers to another dimension.

Italian Affair Bedroom

In the Italian Affair Bedroom, the richness of the Italian culture and taste prevails. An intimate bedroom that allows us to feel a little bit of peace and comfort.

Image credit: Hommés Studio

An incredible and dramatic design on the walls and ceiling reminds us of the Italian renaissance.

Isis Bed is an inspiring and indulgent design. This luxury bed merges futuristic flair with contemporary chic vibes. Niagara Side Table features a geometric design shape. Inspired by the Memphis movement vibe, it incorporates a selection of different types of marbles.

The chest of drawers together with sumptuous decor and luxury fabric creates a luxurious and elegant room. The beautiful Malala Chest of Drawers chooses to be different. It is a unique piece for a standout bedroom.

Hommés Studio 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: Hommés Studio

Collage of ME Dubai, including the exterior of the building, the sleek bedrooms and the luxury pool area

Checking in to ME Dubai, the ‘legacy project’ of Zaha Hadid

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Checking in to ME Dubai, the ‘legacy project’ of Zaha Hadid

We set renowned furniture designer Rock Galpin a comfortable mission to kickstart the year: to write the exclusive design review of ME Dubai, the brainchild of the late Zaha Hadid, which has become the destination’s latest architectural marvel…

Collage of ME Dubai, including the exterior of the building, the sleek bedrooms and the luxury pool area

Being a designer myself, and familiar with the pioneering and expansive body of work of Zaha Hadid since her very first project, I was very much looking forward to reviewing the recently opened ME Dubai, which is sheltered inside The Opus.

Known as Hadid’s ‘legacy project’, ME Dubai is the only hotel in the world to have both its interiors and exteriors designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) – and its futuristic architecture, characterised by curves, sharp angles and bold materials epitomises the studio’s unique design style.

An exterior shot of the Opus

Image caption: Set in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa district, the Opus is a mixed-use mirrored glass building, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, that shelters ME Hotel’s latest property. | Image credit: ME Dubai

Inside the 93-key hotel you can find lighting, furniture, patterns, bespoke-shaped products, rugs and seamless features and detailing, all of which have been designed by the forward-thinking studio – it really is a celebration of Hadid’s full scope of work and will be remembered, no doubt, for this.

Following Hadid’s passing, Christos Passas, who recently won Architect of the Year at The Brit List Awards 2020, was responsible for the project that aimed to ‘leave its mark’ in the urban space of Dubai. “I think the idea of having a coherent approach, to both interior and exterior design, is very compelling and indeed it requires a whole lot of commitment by the designer,” he told Hotel Designs. “We were given the opportunity to transit intellectually and emotionally from an architectural, large scale project to the finer details of the building that have to do with the user interfaces and the experience of the visitor. Such a context can allow designers to develop more holistic experiences for the user and to express the clients vision in a much more consistent and eloquent way.”

First impressions count

Having recovered in awe from taking in the huge glass cube facade and amorphic structure of the building in person, the entrance into the hotel itself is subtle and aptly plays down your reaction to what is to follow, with its minimal led forecourt dot lights, at night, tracing a suggested route to the door for cars. The proceeding experience, as you head into the reception is simply quite special.

Approaching the lobby, I was not surprised to be suitably impressed by the vast and completely and utterly unique parametric design styling of the four-storey atrium.

An image to show the expansive atrium inside the ME Dubai

Image caption: The expansive atrium inside the ME Dubai, which is a strong first impression. | Image credit: ME Dubai

“Here, all the rules are broken and re-written with inspiring results.”

Sweeping and fluid mezzanine balconies flow in rhythm around all floors, traced by a light channel and a sloped-in continuous glass railing at an impossible angle. There are so many examples of bold innovation and experimentation which demonstrate very advanced design vision and engineering feats indeed. Hadid’s undulating, fluid and visually engaging design typology references, for me, a soft bio mimicry that clearly push the technological boundaries of materials, fabrication and build possibilities. Here the rules are not only being broken they are being re-written with inspiring results.

Whilst the atrium is an addictive dream for any photographer, myself included, it does somehow feel perhaps lacking a little something if it’s aiming to house a ‘warm’ hotel reception. Therefore, I question whether the design in this space is too hard – are softer acoustics and materials absent? Some would argue that as a hotel lobby, the space is too sparse (or too white perhaps).

Close up of furniture in the atrium at ME Dubai

Image caption: ME Dubai is the only hotel in the world only hotel in the world to have both its interiors and exteriors designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA). | Image credit: ME Dubai

The large oval-shaped seating zones carefully positioned around, which feature built-in sweeping curved sofas, provide neat social areas that create necessary micro enclaves of activity. These softer social spaces, within a vastly white atrium, work well but feel almost not enough to create warmth, softness and a welcoming feeling. In fact, it feels a little sterile – a tad cold – but nonetheless, no one can argue against this space being spectacular! When the hotel is up to speed, with a healthy occupancy and the vibrancy and colour of many guests, it may fill that void.

“If you love progressive architecture and interior design that pushes the boundaries, bringing interior typology and technology closer to us, then you will no doubt be impressed with ME Dubai.”

QUICK-FIRE ROUND

Hotel Designs: What will you remember most about the hotel?
Rock Galpin: The dynamic and compelling relationship between architecture and interior design and the emotive impact that this parametric based design has when experienced first hand.

HD: What should guests experience when checking in?
RG: DESEO Restaurant, bar and pool complete with Ibiza DJ, and the Wagu steak and Rum sponge. The 18:00 ‘lights on’ till 00:00 where the building’s facade comes to life with LEDs – most notable is the inner ‘hole’ which is more intensely lit.

HK: What could be improved?
RG: The extreme, experimental interior is impressive to say the least, however, there needs to be a further appraisal of how people feel in this space; how they react, how they interact and their needs in order to improve guest engagement. Despite the staff being lovely, the service throughout the hotel was, when I checked in at least, a little erratic.

HK: What was your favourite area of the hotel?
RG: DESEO restaurant and bar and of course the atrium.

HK: Can you describe the hotel in a sentence or two?
RG: This is a unique and inspiring hotel to be experienced first-hand. If you love progressive architecture and interior design that pushes the boundaries, bringing interior typology and technology closer to us, then you will no doubt be impressed with ME Dubai.

Between spaces, an often-forgotten part of the hotel experience

There’s a lovely journey to be had when walking from your room to most parts of the hotel, as you’re pleasurably forced to walk along the atrium mezzanines taking in beautiful elevated views of the upper floors. Aside from the DESEO restaurant and pool area, there is a distinctive lack of outdoor space in the hotel, so you do feel somewhat incubated with some light passing through the atrium roof.

Guestrooms and Suites

I had the opportunity to explore two category rooms; the standard Aura room at 47m squared and the much larger Personality Suite at 92m square. There are two colour schemes. Desert is much more subtle – think spiritual and cool. Meanwhile, the Midnight Blue scheme is deeper and more intimate that also packs a masculine punch. Both are equally as beautiful and any decision for either style will be down to personal preference.

Aura Room

The first impression of the generously sized Aura room was of light – there’s lots of it – from floor-to-ceiling windows which span the width of the whole room. The beds are quite something! Not only are they large, but they are super comfortable, with an angled cushioned Alcantara headrest at 45 degrees, which works really well.

The built-in cantilever bedside tables are a well-considered feature – there are no ugly plug sockets in sight. Instead, these are hidden under the table with a useful, minimal touchtronic operated black light arm sprouting upwards from the tables, with two useful USB ports at the base. The bed base also features flat areas to the frame that extend useful seats, which works well with the complementary, asymmetric matching rug underneath.

“No wall was perpendicular to another.”

As I started to look more at the interior, I was surprised to realised that no wall was perpendicular to another and that many materials are cut on the angle or applied in complex shapes. The full marble bathroom, for example, white in the Aura and black in the Personality Suites, runs on the diagonal in both directions, so the pieces are actually rhombus shaped. These features very much reflect the entire design approach, to experiment and push the limits of what has conventionally been done up until now.

Personality Suite

The Personality Suite, similar to the Passion Suite, is 92m square and is one of the hotels larger mid-level rooms. It’s differentiated by a separate lounge/dining area and two bathrooms, one with bath, double sinks and shower cubicle the other with toilet, bidet and another sink. The Midnight Blue suite felt special. The deep blues and darker colour scheme had more contrast to that of the Desert scheme. The black and white quartz streaked marble throughout the whole bathroom is beautiful, offset by the amorphic ZHA shaped double sink and mirrors, with parametric laser etched patination.

“The technology in the rooms match the design form in being progressive.”

All bathroom fittings are designed by ZHA and follow suit to studio’s typology. The technology in the rooms match the design form in being progressive, with touch plates on many walls for the double-skinned electric curtains and lighting throughout. In fact, download the ME Hotels App and you have full mobile electrical control of the entire suite, including the two large TVs.

The lounge area, complete with the boomerang shaped ZHA sofa and beautifully crafted dark wood desk blended in and, looks aesthetically harmonious. However, the comfort and desire to want to use this space was sorely missing. The sofas are extremely hard, no doubt to retain the sculpted form, but off-putting in terms of comfort and relaxation, where the lounge should be king.

Image caption: A ZHA designed sofa in one of the Midnight Blue themed suites in the hotel.

Image caption: A ZHA designed sofa in one of the Midnight Blue themed suites. | Image credit: ME Dubai

The F&B experience

The F&B journey within the luxury hotel starts on the ground floor. Botanica, described as a gin bar, features an Italian accent throughout and doubles as a lunchtime restaurant. It occupies part of the lobby, where the reception dominates with its music, reverberation and activity that is heard through the pale-slatted wooden walls of the bar. The space is soft, comfortable and pleasant, lending itself more to a relaxed lounge bar/restaurant.

Meanwhile, Central is the designated breakfast restaurant that seems quite lifeless outside of breakfast time, inward looking to the Atrium, which gives you the opportunity to take more of those lovely views in. This would seem a hard, austere place for a morning bite, however, despite the reverberation from lower down, the experience was actually very pleasant being relaxed and quite peaceful.

Where the Botanica, on the ground floor, is perhaps lacking some atmosphere, DESEO makes up for it ten-fold – in fact it is real contrast in most ways and a very welcome part of the hotel experience. This is where the up-tempo vibes lives.

The design of the restaurant uses Downtown skyscrapers as a backdrop and contrasts this with a leafy green design scheme that is simply lovely. With a raised freestanding bar and a wooden pergola adorned by a thousand wind cones, the impression was of movement and energy, mix that with a DJ on an Ibiza-style white podium – his back to a rectangular pool lined by sun loungers one side, slatted cabana’s the other – you realise DESEO has what it takes.

The gym is a generous in size and a pleasant space to work up a good sweat. there is also a sauna, which is an intimate small, pined welcome addition. On the fourth floor, a little bit out the way, but worth a trip just for the quirky space complete with high tech curved glass, as it’s on the cusp of the atrium’s ceiling curving into the vertical inner ‘void’ wall is a specialist massage treatment facility.

An industrial-styled gym in ME Dubai

Image caption: The hotel features a state-of-the-art industrial-style gym. | Image credit: ME Dubai

In addition, and not to be missed, there are two excellent restaurants, which are also part of The Opus building. The Maine is a big favourite of mine, from interior to food quality, and Roka restaurant is also a fantastic new asset to the local area.

Standing out in a city like Dubai, which is no shrinking violet, is one thing. But sheltering an interior design scheme that is equally as impressive as its architecture is an almost impossible task. The interior design scheme inside ME Dubai seamlessly compliments the buildings unique architectural form and meets, I would argue, the ever-changing demands of modern travellers and in-the-know locals alike.

Over and out,

Rock.

Main image credit: ME Dubai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pool at Ritz-Carlton Reserve, China

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

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

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

A render of the first Luxury Collection hotel in Australia

Image credit: Marriott International/The Luxury Collection

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

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

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

Pool area at Melbourne Marriott Hotel Docklands overlooking city

Image credit: Marriott International/Melboure Marriott Hotel Docklands

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

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

7 innovative hotel hygiene solutions

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
7 innovative hotel hygiene solutions

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

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

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

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

Room To Breathe – for peace of mind

Man using hygiene friendly way to steam clean curtains

Image credit: Room To Breathe

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

KEUCO sanitisers – for the design-savvy

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

Infra-red touchless taps – for the tech-savvy

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

Image credit: GROHE

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

Blueair Blue Pure 411 – for the boutique guestroom

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

Rimless DirectFlush WC – for seamless cleaning

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

UNILIN Evola Collection – for robust surfaces

A grey stone like surface that is hygienic

Image credit: UNILIN

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

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

Robot service… too soon? 

An image of a robot looking up

Image credit: Alex Knight/Unsplash

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

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

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

Main image credit: Jean Philippe/Unsplash

3_Standard King Guest Room_Hotel Carmichael_credit-Coury Hospitality

Miniview: Hotel Carmichael, Autograph Collection strikes a chord

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

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

3_Standard King Guest Room_Hotel Carmichael_credit-Coury Hospitality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5_Cole Porter Ballroom_Hotel Carmichael_credit-Coury Hospitality

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

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

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

4_Suite Bathroom_Hotel Carmichael_credit-Coury Hospitality

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

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

Main image credit: Coury Hospitality

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the panel:

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

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

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

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

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

HK: What makes this process sustainable?

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

image of sustainable wooden headboard in bedroom

Image credit: Architextural

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SLS Cancun guestroom render in Cancun hotel

Image credit: SLS Hotels

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: SLS Hotels

A clean and luxury hotel room in Cairo

St. Regis arrives in Cairo, Egypt

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
St. Regis arrives in Cairo, Egypt

An epitome of modern Egyptian glamour, and heralded as a new beacon of luxury on the Nile, the new St Regis hotel brings exquisite design and signature service to the bustling metropolis and tourist hotspot…

A clean and luxury hotel room in Cairo

With Marriott International expected to meet its 2020 aims this year to to open 30 new luxury hotels in 2021, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts has announced the highly-anticipated opening of The St. Regis Cairo. Rising tall on the banks of the River Nile, The St. Regis Cairo is an illustrious icon weaving a powerful story of luxury in the region. Located at the North end of the Corniche, in the heart of Egypt’s bustling metropolis, the 39-story hotel offers easy access to the magnificent monuments of a city steeped in history.

“Egypt has historically been one of our key markets and strategically significant to our growth in the region,” said Satya Anand, President for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “Cairo is a storied destination that has long mesmerised the global traveller with its incredible energy offering a vibrant mix of history, culture, tradition and glamour. The St. Regis Cairo is an exciting addition to our fast-growing brand portfolio and is set to elevate Cairo’s luxury hospitality landscape with its remarkable design, uncompromising service, and exceptional culinary venues.”

Eng. Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, CEO of Qatari Diar commented: “We are delighted to strengthen our global portfolio of hospitality developments with the opening The St. Regis Cairo. This luxury landmark will introduce higher standards of hospitality to this beautiful destination with its unparalleled levels of luxury and exceptional service – both of which the iconic St. Regis brand is renowned for.”

With its striking architecture, created by renowned architect Michael Graves, The St. Regis Cairo firmly establishes itself as a pivotal landmark in the city and beyond, carefully balancing opulence with refinement and elegance to evoke a profound sense of grandeur. Uncompromising in its decadence, the hotel is an exquisite reflection of a passionate vision that conscientiously draws on the city’s influential and storied past while confidently introducing its vibrant future.

Graceful geometric lines flow throughout the interiors, creating a repeated structural motif that quietly references the heritage of the region. Dark wood and rich textures combine with intricate embroidery, bejewelled paneling, bronze and wood carvings embellished with flashes of shimmering gold, mother of pearl inlays and imposing crystal chandeliers creating a dramatic Egyptian aesthetic with modern execution. A striking mural entitled “The Pink Sun” graces The St. Regis Bar. Staunchly modern in its execution, the mural references ancient Egypt and the birth of a modern civilisation.

The hotel’s approach to design pays particular homage to the hundreds of craftspeople who dedicated their time and handiwork to perfecting each and every detail offering a distinctly modern vision that immerses guests in moments that are simply awe-inspiring.

Main image credit: Marriott International/St Regis

Render of Hotel Indigo Nottingham

IHG to launch a landmark duel-branded hotel in Nottingham

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

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

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

Render of Hotel Indigo Nottingham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: IHG

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

In Conversation With: the filmmakers who designed Great Plains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HK: What is the current narrative in Africa?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Great Plains

Image of luxury tents next to pond

The real definition of ‘glamping’ in hotel design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The real definition of ‘glamping’ in hotel design

To complete our editorial series with Exclusive Tents, we ask Paul Zway, the brand’s founder, to push the preconceptions to one side and tell us what glamping really looks like on the international hotel design scene…

Image of luxury tents next to pond

The word glamping is a portmanteau of “glamorous” and “camping”. It was first used in the United Kingdom around 2005 and but only added to the Oxford dictionary more than a decade later.

Although the word is new, glamping in the true sense of the word has been documented for centuries and in most cases referred to a great variety of tents and canvas covered wagons. Historically it would have been more accurate to refer to the style of camping as luxurious or even opulent camping rather than glamorous camping.

Black and white image of tents

Image credit: Exclusive Tents

Most of these tent constructs were constantly moved in the progression of wars or colonisation, and some designs are still used today by nomadic societies in regions such as the Middle East, Asia and Africa using a wide variety of materials including goat hair, wool felt and animal hides.

Tent frames and coverings varied greatly over the centuries from tusk, bone and stick frames with animal hide and/or vegetation coverings with cotton canvas emerging as the predominant and most practical covering whilst tent frames have also evolved to steel, turned wooden poles, bamboo and other newer more sophisticated materials.

Early tent dwelling with luxuries was evident from before the Roman era and featured prominently in Hannibal’s historic crossing of the Alps into Italy with his herd of legendary African elephants in the second of the three Punic Wars.

The Romans used tents extensively in their numerous military campaigns and occupation of other lands. During this era, tents for officers, people of status and dignitaries were mostly opulent, comfortable and luxuriously comfortable.

Perhaps the most impressive was the ottomans extensive use of tents to the extent that their encampments were so extensive that they could legitimately have been termed “tent cities”.

Through Medieval times (the Middle Ages) between the 5th and late 15th century tents in a variety of designs played a very similar roll during these turbulent times.

Native American tribes used their well-known and distinct conical tipis dating back to at least the 15th Century.

The Mongolians were famous for their yurts and it is said that Genghis Khan’s tent was so big and elaborate that is was setup upon a wheeled platform 9 meters (30 feet) in diameter and mounted on a huge wheeled cart pulled by 22 oxen.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s tents were masterpieces with 18th century tapestry and gilt embroidery and he himself through his various campaigns, spent a large portion of his active adult life living in tents.

Eskimos with their Igloo designs pre-dated the evolution of dome and bubble tents.

When participating in Hunting Safaris into India and Africa, royalty and their wealthy guests required luxuries including baths, comfortable furniture, fresh clothes and excellent food and alcohol. The British and French with their numerous wars and hunting parties gave rise to Campaign Furniture (also known as Bivouac furniture). Campaign furniture is both beautiful and compact in design, has a minimalistic footprint, is foldable, stackable and includes chest type items. Most of this furniture is made from wood, leather, and cane with brass trims. Campaign furniture with the additional refinement thereof over the years, often features in modern day glamping interiors.

In many historical traditions the tent interiors consisted of ornate carpets/rugs and pillows with colourful gilt drapery on the inside with no hard furniture except perhaps for low tables.

Modern day glamping as we now know it started in Africa around the mid 1950’s but tents were relatively small and modest with a cot, “pee pottie” (under the bed), clothes locker, metal washstand, simple folding table and chairs, and kerosene lamps. Toilets, showers and the kitchen/dining areas were mostly shared common facility areas within the camp.

Image of safari luggage and tools

Image credit: Exclusive Tents

In the 70’s and 80’s glamping took on a more serious role when tent designs became somewhat more creative and quality improved with new canvas fabrics that were more durable and 100 per cent waterproof. Even though still rustic, interiors became more comfortable creating a “cosier” atmosphere for the guests. Many of these were hunting camps and safari lodges where the tents included ensuite bathrooms that catered directly to the wealthier guests. Today glamping destinations whether large or boutique, can be found in virtually every country in the world and is affordable for many according to the degree of luxury, cuisine, experience and service.

To be true to the name, modern glamping is primarily in tents though domes, canvas covered wagons also fit the bill. However, there are also many other structures such as wooden pods/cabins, metal cubes, shipping containers, cabins, tree houses and pods – to name but a few – which are emerging at a rapid pace and being integrated into the glamping market.

Image of interiors of a luxury tent on safari site

Image credit: Exclusive Tents

Exclusive Tents has consciously chosen to stay true to its passion for tents and tent dwelling with our focus purely on luxury tented structures. We strive to remain masters of our domain rather than become a jack of all trades, with the clear objective of constantly improving and innovating on design, quality, elegance, craftsmanship, style and functionality.

Glamping has and will continue to evolve, particularly since Covid-19 which saw so many people locked down for extended periods of time and with so many restrictions placed on travel, in particular international travel. People are more inclined to visit local open air and natural settings to find a way to relax and feel safe with family and/or friends, seeking space, luxury and privacy in an experiential fashion – this is exactly what glamping is all about. The hospitality industry is having to evolve and adapt to meet the challenge of a post pandemic world. Wellness, wellbeing, health, nutrition, space, nature, peace of mind, and disconnection in some instances, are becoming central to this evolution.

In practical terms, there is very little that one cannot do with a tent that one can do with a conventional structure – when you know how.

Wood or aluminium framed windows and doors can be easily installed into a tent with relatively little effort though a lot of people remain nostalgic for the traditional zip-up roll-up openings.

These ‘exclusive tents’ are truly multi-functional and, as well as providing accommodation, they can be used for many other purposes and applications, they can and are also used as permanent homes.

Exclusive Tents considers multiple aspects of tent ownership and use, for example having recently developed an artistic and elegant rainwater harvesting system whereby rainwater can be stored in tanks under the tent platform or underground.

Lightning is also an issue in some places and a lightning deflection system is another unique feature that can be installed into an Exclusive Tent if required.

Certain installations will require a fire dousing sprinkler system to be incorporated into a tent, this is yet another challenge that Exclusive Tents has met and resolved.

Insulation is an increasingly important consideration in hot and cold climates, especially where a HVAC system or wood burning stove is required. Exclusive Tents has a variety of insulation options available for the canvas tent roof and walls. The insulation acts not only a thermal barrier, but also an acoustic barrier which is also an important consideration when it comes to glamping. Fireplaces or wood burning stoves commonly feature in tents: Not only to create an ambiance but to also to heat the tents during the winter months or for year-round use in high elevation locations.

Modern fireplaces are clean and very elegant and allow for installation freedom within the tent, with extraction through the floor and out from under the tent platform.

The tents are built to be functional all year round even in extreme hot (50C+) or cold (-35C) conditions.

Exclusive Tents have transitioned their tents to an extremely robust roof frame which has been engineered to resist winds up to a safe speed of 180 k/mph (without steel cable bracing lines), yet retaining the elegant roof lines and aesthetics for which they are renown. This engineering zeal accommodates high internal weight loads (lights/fans/pendants) and external loads for snow, hail, and wind.

Exclusive Tents already offer a high-end portfolio of Exclusive Campaign furniture, and will soon be manufacturing their Exclusive collections of Safari, Island, and Rustic furniture.

Whilst Exclusive Tents crafts tents designed for extreme weather conditions, they are also designed to be able to be dismantled rapidly, for example should the tents find themselves in the path of a catastrophic storm.

With this evolutionary expansion taking place in the glamping industry, it is critical to maintain privacy and enhance the connection between the living space and the natural environment. Thoughtful design, master planning, landscaping, and integration of the tent (together with its platform), will capitalise upon the full potential of good quality tents – offering an idyllic experience that seamlessly combines exquisite comfort with an unequalled connection to the natural world.

Exclusive Tents are resolutely eco-friendly, with a minimal footprint in complete alignment with the guardianship / kaitiakitanga of the environment. The direct connection between tented living space and the outside, with its closeness to nature, creates the opportunity for guests to embrace the inclusivity of mental and physical well-being. The tent is in essence a “living” structure as it ebbs and flows with nature. Spending time in a tent is experientially unique, and can offer guests the opportunity to connect with their primordial selves.

Glamping has come a long way and it most certainly presents the greatest opportunities for hospitality in this post-pandemic world.

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

Main image credit: Exclusive Tents

ME Dubai re-emerges with award-winning architecture status

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
ME Dubai re-emerges with award-winning architecture status

The striking ME Dubai, which is sheltered inside Zaha Hadid Archtiects’ latest award-winning building, has reopened its doors as hospitality in the Middle East enters into a cautious era… 

ME Dubai inside The Opus by Omniyat, which considered an architectural masterpiece and was a winner at The Brit List Awards 2020, has reopened its contemporary doors. Home to world- class cultural programming, innovative culinary experiences and breath-taking design by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), the hotel is the latest addition to Dubai’s iconic skyline located in the heart of the Burj Khalifa district.

Known as the late Zaha Hadid’s legacy project, ME Dubai is the only hotel in the world to have both its interiors and exteriors designed by ZHA, and its futuristic architecture, characterised by curves, sharp angles and bold materials, epitomises Hadid’s unique design style.

Exterior of The Opus

Image credit: ME Dubai/Zaha Hadid Archtiects

The hotel boasts 74 guestrooms and 19 suites, including the Passion Suite, Personality Suite, the Vibe Room and the ultra-luxurious ‘ME Suite’. All rooms are split into two themes: Midnight and Desert. Midnight rooms reflect the dynamic night skies of the Dubai skyline, whilst the Desert theme pays homage to the serene environment and soft hues of the UAE landscape.

View from inside ME Dubai overlooking Dubai skyline

Image credit: ME Dubai/Zaha Hadid Archtiects

“The reopening of ME Dubai marks a historic moment for The Opus Building project; a true legacy project for the firm,” said Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects. “We’re also extremely proud to present the exclusive Zaha Hadid Exhibition within the hotel; a project that we’ve worked closely with the hotel team on to showcase some never-before seen work by the late Zaha Hadid.”

Equally as impressive is the hotel’s wellness offering. Guests can take advantage of ME Dubai’s state-of-the- art gym, spanning 7,000 square feet and home to the region’s best fitness equipment and facilities, including the Middle East’s first ultramodern Technogym Biocircuit. Those keen to work up a sweat can then cool down with a refreshing dip in the hotel’s pool terrace. Wellness gurus can indulge at the hotel’s world- class spa, offering guests the ultimate refuge for relaxation and a variety of luxurious spa treatments for individuals or couples to unwind.

With properties located in cultural capitals around the world, ME by Meliá creates a unique link to the communities in which it operates. ME Dubai’s Culture Collective cultural programme acts as a platform for contemporary Middle Eastern culture, connecting music, art, design, fashion and gastronomy in curated events that bring the creative scene of the city into the hotel, tapping into the latest trends whilst shaping the local cultural landscape. Guests can look forward to insider advice on the best places to experience the most diverse cultural happenings in the vibrant city of Dubai.

Since you’re here, why not read about The Morpheus (another ZHA groundbreaking project)…

Main image credit: ME Dubai/Zaha Hadid Architects

Nature's Herringbone mock up

Siminetti to unveil a new collection in 2021

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Siminetti to unveil a new collection in 2021

Siminetti has announced the launch of its latest collection, created in collaboration with a renowned British designer who will be unveiled shortly. Here’s an exclusive sneak peek of the Seasons Collection, a series of 12 stunning designs inspired by nature…

Nature's Herringbone mock up

Consistent in its quest to create inspirational luxury surfaces, that are crafted with passion, viewed with awe and are kind to the planet on which we live, the collection transforms the tier of decorative surfaces, testing the boundaries of what is possible with nature’s most stunning material; Mother of Pearl.

Each design has undergone an exhaustive research & refinement process, where Siminetti’s leading industry knowledge of decorative surfaces gels harmoniously with their collaborators exemplary understanding of crafting beautiful surface deigns.

The collection can be broken down into the four seasons; spring, summer,autumn and winter. The creative process began with these seasons being dissected into their connotations and denotations to find the most alluring themes. This process also highlighted how the natural qualities of mother of pearl could harmoniously tie with a selection of the most stunning organic shapes and patterns found in nature. However, also highlighted how the systematic patterns of old could be elevated to harness more organic patterns and the craft challenges that would need to be solved.

Siminetti’s Mother of Pearl decorative surfaces are the next generation in Mother of Pearl surface finishes. Handcrafted by Siminetti’s team of artisans, the new collection of Decorative Surfaces capture the stunning natural beauty of Mother of Pearl in combination with stunning organic influences.

Today we can reveal some sneak peaks from the new collection. When it comes to aesthetics where better to take inspiration from than creation itself. Patterns are found all around us in the natural world. Distinctive markings reoccur, creating symmetries, stripes, swirls, bubbles, waves and many other shapes. Cycles, repetition and pattern give a sense of order and calm – they help to harmonise our understanding of the world around us.

Spring, the season of rejuvenation and renewal – Plant veins are brimming with life. The undivided blade of a leaf encompasses structural patterns creating ordered geometric impressions. Nature’s Herringbone (pictured in main image) picks up these irregularities and organises them into straight parallels.

Summer, the warmer half of the year conjures nostalgic notions of long carefree days and relaxation. The bright Summer sun casts warm shadows creating silhouettes of leaves and foliage. Eucalyptus preserves the contrast of light from this familiar mid-summer bloom.

Image credit: Siminetti

Autumn, synonymous with colour marks a season of change as Summer turns into Winter. Its papery silver and white bark gently flakes away from the fissured trunk of the familiar woodland tree. Silver Birch collates the elements that are newly exposed as the surface peels and breaks forming decorative motifs.

Silver Birch within the Seasons Collection from Siminetti

Image credit: Siminetti

Winter, The coldest of the seasons; days are shorter, and beautiful winter sunlight creates its very own individual, charming shapes and patterns in nature. Beautiful hexagonal patterns are often seen in frosty environments as freezing water turns to ice. These charming lucent shapes inspired the creation of ‘Crystal’ the first Winter Decorative surface pattern in the Seasons Collection.

Image credit: Siminetti

The seasons collection will be launching January 2021. Siminetti 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: Siminetti

One&Only Mandarina arrives in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
One&Only Mandarina arrives in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit

Set on an undiscovered stretch of coastline along the Riviera Nayarit in Mexico, One&Only Mandarina has opened its doors…

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean with dramatic vistas and an awe-inspiring beachfront rainforest setting, One&Only Mandarina is a hidden retreat complete with secluded eco-designed treehouses and clifftop villas, swimmable shores, destination dining from Chef Enrique Olvera, active and mindful experiences, and an environment crafted for reconnection.

Identified earlier this year as a hotel development hotspot, 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.

One&Only Mandarina was built around the unique topography of the land – in this volcanic and fertile region, three different microclimates are steeped in natural beauty with some of the richest biodiversity in North America, and more than 50 species of ancient trees grow in the jungle – allowing nature to take centre stage and preserving the precious environment. The resort was sensitively designed to embrace the dramatic setting, rather than reshape it, and careful low-density planning in consultation with botany experts has preserved the land and the historic and ecological importance of the destination.

The resort showcases low-impact contemporary style and sustainable design, coupled with unrivalled seclusion in an adventurous beachfront setting. Amid the jungle surrounds are 105 chic standalone treehouses and villas either elevated amongst the canopy or perched cliffside, all designed for indoor and outdoor living with breath-taking views of the Pacific Coast, Sierra del Vallejo mountains or rainforest. Accommodations boast private plunge pools and terraces, floor to ceiling windows, glass walls and expansive bathrooms – all framing the natural surroundings – as well as interiors complemented by custom woodwork and artefacts by local designers. Constructed with clay, wood, precious metal and stone, and the finest raw materials indigenous to the region, the villas are private sanctuaries, grounded in the earthen spirit of the local Cora and Huichol cultures.

The brand is renowned for its collection of expansive villas offering the ultimate in space and privacy within each resort. One&Only Mandarina will be home to Villa One, the pinnacle of resort living, stretching over 1,747m2 and boasting three bedrooms, infinity pool, private spa and gym, full screen cinema, wine cellar and generous outdoor dining terrace. The resort’s signature villas have all been thoughtfully designed to hero local craftsmanship, such as Villa Pacifico – a 342m2 sanctuary sleeping up to eight guests with two private swimming pools, plenty of entertaining and living space including a full-screen cinema and outdoor covered dining terrace with barbeque grill, it is ideal for family gatherings and celebrations.

The resort embraces the cultural traditions and signature warmth of Mexican cuisine and hospitality, from casual beachside dining to award-winning cuisine. The elegant culinary masterpiece Carao from world-renowned Mexican Chef Enrique Olvera showcases Mexican specialties reinvented through a combination of modern approaches and revered ancient technique. Located at southernmost peak of the resort, the newest concept from the famed chef is an extraordinary dining destination reflective of his globally recognised skill and passion for contemporary Mexican fare.

The relaxed Jetty Beach Club located on the resort’s private beach serves fresh seafood grilled to perfection over charcoal, as well as snacks, quick bites and inventive cocktails overlooking the ocean. The family-friendly, all-day dining destination Alma provides a variety of garden-to-plate menus featuring seasonal specialties mixed amongst Pan-American dishes designed with remarkable attention to flavour. The open kitchen concept features two striking, wood-fired hornos, or ovens, and an intimate dining room and citrus-tree lined patio for al-fresco gatherings. The adjacent botanical bar, The Treetop, showcases refined yet playful versions of classic cocktails paired with sweeping views of the coast.

Situated in a natural volcanic rock garden, One&Only Spa features a collection of six isolated, enclosed treatment rooms, offering experiences cocooned beneath a canopy of large Higuera trees, where guests can find privacy and serenity amidst the pristine, tropical rainforest.

Woven seamlessly into Mexico’s most awe-inspiring coastal rainforest, One&Only Mandarina balances unparalleled seclusion with the signature One&Only atmosphere. Discovering the sanctuary of unspoiled nature, open space and cultural heritage in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, resort guests experience a unifying environment amidst the palm-fringed sands, emerald cliffsides, sparkling lagoons and wandering estuaries that encourage guests to reconnect with themselves, loved ones, and the natural world around them.

Main image credit: One&Only

Confessions of a lighting designer – what is lighting design?

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Confessions of a lighting designer – what is lighting design?

Throughout October we are, for the second time this year, putting the spotlight on lighting. To kickstart this series, we reach out to Gary Thornton, senior project designer at neolight global, to understand lighting design from the inside.

The profession of architectural lighting design is a relatively young industry, even though the practise of what we do in determining where there is light and where there isn’t has been around for centuries.

Of course back then this was simply people deciding where to put candles or, as far back as the 9th century, where to locate oil lamps.  But architectural lighting design as a more formal profession really only goes back to around the 1950s with the likes of Richard Kelly pioneering the practice, followed by people like Derek Phillips and Jonathan Speirs.

So what is lighting design and what is it that lighting designers actually do?  I’ve lost count of the times I’ve tried to explain this to my friends who think we “choose where to put light bulbs”!

It can be easily forgiven that it is not a widely known profession.  There is no formal educational pathway and many people stumble into the profession from a semi-related field of design and find themselves “doing lighting design” before they even realise what it is (myself included!).

As an example, our office comprises lighting designers with backgrounds in product design, interior design, electrical engineering, film and television, photography, sculpture and architecture.  There are indeed well-established Masters degrees, or undergraduate courses in Theatrical Lighting Design, but this is not the case for Architectural Lighting Design.  Something that has been brought up again recently in our industry.

Lighting

Lighting concerns itself with how people perceive their environment, yet because light is intangible it has an intrinsic, and often underestimated, role in all aspects of visual design.

Working in a medium which remains invisible until it strikes a physical surface means that we lighting designers must be as concerned with the nature of the surface and the biology behind the human eye as with the light which strikes it.

Ambient illumination, direct light, reflected light, the use of colour, areas of relative darkness and contrast all contribute to how a space looks and how it feels, resulting in designs made up of layers of light.  The better lighting schemes consider what should be left unlit as much as what should be lit, so maybe we are just as much “darkness designers” as we are lighting designers.

Because of the immateriality, great lighting is rarely lauded.  If you walk through a space and it looks and feels great then chances are it is because of the lighting. Not to take away from the interior designer, architect, or landscape designer that has typically designed more of the physical environment, but certainly in how the colours appear, how the material textures catch your eye, whatever the mood it prompts or the visual aesthetic it provides, it is because of the lighting.

Poor lighting on the other hand gets no end of complaints.  Lighting that is overly bright or dark, too much glare, or feels cold and uninviting can make spaces feel uncomfortable so people don’t want to visit and spend time there.  Even the best interior design schemes can be marred by bad lighting, and at the extreme bad lighting can even be bad for your health depending on the time of day or the tasks required of the people using it.

Lighting for hospitality

At the core of neolight’s work is the hospitality sector, and one of my favourite spaces to illuminate is the All Day Dining restaurant within a hotel.  This is largely because it’s such a transformative space and great way to demonstrate the power of lighting.  An All Day Dining restaurant needs to be able to provide a bright and fresh environment for breakfast, right through to the warmth and relaxing ambience of an evening meal.

When you get this right, the space will look and feel like a different restaurant to the guests from morning to night.

Lighting experiences

Architectural lighting design really started an accelerated upward curve with the mainstream adoption of LED.  Since then light sources have been getting smaller and more efficient, and the fixtures themselves are increasingly packed full of technology.

Alongside this evolution of lighting technology has been an evolving expectation of the role of the lighting designer.  No longer are we providing simple scene-setting schemes with smooth dimming to meet the client expectations, now clients are looking for more engaging and dynamic schemes concealed within the fabric of the building, with light that entrains and supports your circadian rhythm, they want an experience.

Yes the experience is framed by the architecture, or informed by the interior design, or the service that you receive, but transcending across all of those to make it a good experience is good lighting design.

Lighting design = experience design.  And if that helps become popular on social media, then all the better.

To this end we are not just designers anymore.  We have to be artists and scientists, knowledgeable in Bluetooth and LiFi, experts in daylight and green building codes, understanding biology of the human eye, of the physics of light, and all manner of material properties.

And this is all before we even mention the Internet of Things, where we are suddenly being asked about the limitations of LoRaWAN as a protocol to control light fixtures with.

Lighting is digital

There is an underlying expectation to all of this that we are digitally savvy.  Lots of industries are going through change and digitisation, but lighting is changing right up there with them.  In order to keep meeting the expectations of a modern day lighting design, we have to be able to understand and design with all these evolving elements.

One particular attribute that I’ve taken on is learning to code due to the increasing overlap with disciplines that do require this, and at the very least we need to be able to coordinate with them. For example, this is a prototype app written in Python that communicates with light fixtures in a hotel room to automatically adjust the colour temperature and brightness based on personal circumstances, such as jet lag.

Internet of Things

We have gone through the exponential growth of LED and now we have even further miniaturisation of technology so there is virtually nowhere that LEDs cannot be integrated, and conversely almost anything, like a sensor or a camera, that can’t be put back into light sources.

Lighting is a prime choice for the IoT to piggy back onto as it has an already existing ubiquitous infrastructure of power and data.  This means that light fixtures can be used for monitoring space occupancy, improving shopping experiences, reporting crimes, and more.

But in order to be able to implement this we have to understand it, and that means lighting designers becoming experts in something else that isn’t traditionally “lighting”.  It’s becoming experts in data, cloud servers, and Bluetooth meshes as part of the whole IoT network.

And this isn’t a trend that’s going away. At a macro level Smart Cities are well underway around the world (we are working on a Smarty City strategy for a brand new city in KSA at the moment), and on a micro level it’s using your voice to control the lighting in your own home. Lighting is a key part of the future of connected services.

Covid-19 will undoubtedly accelerate the demand for contact-free environments. Why carry a physical ID or ticket and have to touch door handles, when AI could verify you and open the door automatically?  Why touch any number of surfaces and interfaces to check-in to a hotel, when facial recognition could automate this as you walk through the lobby and give you a “key” on your mobile phone?

In assessing these expected trends we see that lighting is well placed to provide this as part of the IoT. Retrofitting sensor-embedded light fixtures becomes much easier than ripping out ceilings, pulling cables, and installing new networks.

As part of this learning curve affecting lighting, designers are no longer just visiting project sites, but also visiting data centres that test these sensor embedded light fixtures and the data points that they capture to understand it first hand in order to be able to implement it as part of a lighting scheme.

Misunderstandings

As lighting becomes more understood it’s great to now be reading comments like this, highlighting the importance of lighting to a space.

But for every moment of understanding, we still work with wider design teams who still misunderstand what we do. Consultants that have heard of ZigBee or BLE, and so that’s how they want their lighting controlled – when in reality all they really need is a simple control plate.

Part of our role is taking a step back from the technology and really understanding the project needs. We won’t use technology for the sake of it, especially if it’s not needed and likely to end up not being used.  How often have you struggled with a fancy lighting control system in a hotel guestroom when a simple rotary dimmer switch would have been just perfect?

As lighting design finds its way into mainstream vocabulary, more buzzwords like “human centric lighting” have come to the fore, which is another misconception to overcome.

Human centric design is human focussed design. At the heart of this notion is what we have been doing for many years now.  Designing for humans.  Lighting for humans.  Lighting for, and with, people at the centre.

The future

Who knows what the limits are to where lighting will reach – even a few years ago we were barely imagining what we have today of subscription models offering Lighting as a Service, secure wireless data through light in LiFi, and even highly secretive LED spectrum recipes used in horticulture to maximise crop yield!

Of what I have no doubt is that as lighting design continues to advance and evolve, so will the humble lighting designer along with it.

Main image credit: neolight

Product watch: Facet lighting by Studio Waldemeyer

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Facet lighting by Studio Waldemeyer

Hotel Designs learns how lighting designer Moritz Waldemeyer bent glass to its will in order to create FACET…

In all its beauty and variety, glass is essentially an amorphous material with no regular crystalline structure.

Yet through a design vision and mastery in glassmaking craft, the material can come to mimic its opposite, creating highly organised and consistent structures.

As if trying to systematise the chandelier-making tradition, Moritz took the geometrical shape of the Classic chandelier outline and turned it into a diamond-like hexagonal glass building block. On its own, with just single pendant, or in combination of multiple items into a large chandelier, the FACET modules stand out as clear, disciplined and geometrical.

The light source included inside every block allows the FACET system to be universal and almost unlimitedly extendable.

Moritz Waldemeyer is an internationally renowned London based designer who’s work occupies a diverse range of creative spaces. 2004 saw his debut into the design world with an interactive chandelier for Swarovski. With a forward thinking approach and a philosophy of playful experimentation Studio Moritz Waldemeyer is forging links between technology, art, fashion and design.

Led by Waldemeyer, the studio has taken on projects for Audi, Intercontinental Hotels, Rinacente and Wallpaper Magazines 2014 Handmade issue. Studio Moritz Waldemeyer has also created bespoke light studded costumes for Will.I.AM, Rihanna, Take That and the 2012 London Olympics handover Ceremony performers. Under Moritz’s direction the studio strive to create innovative concepts incorporating his signature aesthetic into each piece.

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Main image credit: Studio Waldemeyer