Home' Hotel Management : HM APRIL 2015 Contents Boutique
HM asked RICHARD DALMAN and CARMEN GLENISTER, two of the region’s leading
architects and interior designers from both sides of the Tasman, what the trends in boutique and
lifestyle hotels are at present and you best pay attention to what they have to say.
Managing Director, Dalman Architecture
When asked to write this article on current
trends, I thought the topic interesting as the very
concept could be considered an oxymoron for the
Boutique hotel sector.
From my perspective, Boutique hotels sit
outside the spectrum of following trends by the
nature of their uniqueness. They are individually
crafted and speak of their specific situation, reflecting attributes such as
the personality of the owner, a distinctive location, the building they are in.
Or they can have a particular focus such as art, the natural environment or
historic value. And they are generally small, intimate, upscale, and offer a
very personalised service.
Rather than following trends, Boutique hotels often set them. So
much so that increasingly hotel chains have developed their own lifestyle
brands reflecting many of the Boutique hotel elements, such as connection
to place, experiential stays, distinctive design and a personalised focus
on the guest. The chains present these Lifestyle hotels in a branded
manner offering elements of consistent design and product, and achieving
economies of scale for owners not available in the smaller Boutique hotel.
As guests’ lifestyles change and trends evolve, by definition what Lifestyle
hotels offer needs to evolve as well. Trends are critical for their existence.
So what are some of the latest trends in how we live and travel that are
finding their way into Lifestyle hotel design?
1. Connection to Place
Promoting the authenticity of place has been a trend in hotel
development and management for several years now. Lifestyle hotels
and resorts seek to create an experience connecting guests to the local
environment by utilising local suppliers for FF+E and food and beverages,
providing cultural encounters respectful of the local community,
and enabling staff personalities to shine through to guests. A strong
connection to the local neighbourhood is often achieved.
2. Health and Wellness
Lifestyle Hotels have upped the ante in offerings for the physical, mental and
emotional health and wellbeing of their guests. Day spas – once the domain
of resorts - are commonly incorporated (or retrofitted) into urban Lifestyle
hotels with Spa menus reflecting ever more innovative treatments. Gyms
that used to be the size of a standard guest room are becoming larger and
more sophisticated whilst walking trails or a morning run with the General
Manager assist guests in conveniently maintaining their fitness regime.
3. Architectural and Interior Design
The engagement of star architects such as Frank Gehry at Marques
de Riscal in Northern Spain and renowned fashion designers such as
Georgio Armani is becoming more common, as hotel owners and brands
look to distinguish themselves from the rest. Just as architectural and
interior design are features of most Boutique hotels, Lifestyle hotels are
using these to enhance the guest perception and experience. Another
trend is for design elements to extend into desirable lifestyle products
featured within rooms, making these available for purchase at the hotel or
online, for example stylish cups and saucers, bed throws, cushions, luxury
bathroom amenities. Guests can take home part of their Lifestyle hotel
experience to incorporate into their everyday lives.
4. Environmental Sustainability
While the environmental movement continues to gather traction around
the world, hotels are moving from merely referring to their policy on their
website to walking the talk and encouraging their guests to participate in
World class environmental practice starts right at the beginning
when a new hotel site is selected and continues through the design and
development stages, to construction and, of course, operations. An excellent
example of this is Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Josef, New Zealand.
While new technology can successfully check people into a hotel without
any personal contact, in both Boutique and Lifestyle hotels, the arrival
experience is tailored to suit the essence of the hotel. In Boutique
properties, often there is no physical reception – rather a lounge and
welcoming host. Lifestyle hotels have adapted to this trend in their
own way, responding to guests’ needs and desires with their own form
of hospitality typically encompassing a comfortable “connected” lobby
serving as both reception and the living room of the hotel.
It is important to remember that hotels are still about hospitality. The
ability to individualise service for guests is increasing and Lifestyle hotels
are taking advantage of this.
Te Waonui Forest Retreat,
designed by Richard Dalman
36 HM The Business of Accommodation
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