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Hotel Design
Samipatra Das - HVS International, USA
Friday, 4th July 2003
 
Hospitality design has come a long way since the 1980s construction wave. Hotel investors today are more cautious, with less time and money to spend on design and construction and more interest in the bottom line.

Significant changes have occurred in the way the designed product is delivered to the client. The developers are conscious of the needs of the guests, and while maintaining functionality and economic viability, they want to anticipate and comply with the needs of the guests.

Guest demand for a more personalized hotel experience is rewriting the rules for architecture, space allocation and interior design. Hoteliers provide this experience by making hotel space look, work and feel more like home. This can be carried out by ensuring that the rooms are more functional, eclectically elegant, comfortable, and saving over-the-top luxury for the guest bathroom. The trend is also to cut back on multiple restaurants and use the space to add a spa. Baby boomers view spas as a special amenity. Downsizing and personalizing the public space is another step taken by the hoteliers in creating the residential ambience. Pared-down public spaces mean more emphasis on initial accessibility. Hotels are choosing to use more local materials to enable them to fit better with the environment. Local materials can be very effective, and cost lesser than the other alternatives.

The advent of high technology in the recent years has led to a revolutionary approach towards design of hotels. The use of gadgets and high technology will be incorporated more and more in to the design of hotel guestrooms and function rooms. Gadget-laden guestrooms are already in prototype form, notably in the CyberSuite at Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, where the ‘Butler in a Box'- an environmental-control system- can adjust lighting, temperature, and draperies at the sound of a voice, and the ‘entry system' automatically recognizes the guest and opens the door. The trends that are influencing hotel design these days are the needs of the guests to feel at home while being away on a business trip, to have convenient access to technology, to be pampered in spas since exercise has progressed beyond being a fad, and to combine leisure and learning.

Future hotel design innovations will be driven by customer needs and requirements and future technology. In combination with the current design trends, the future trends will encompass environmental concerns, cultural authenticity, and the thirst for adventure.

According to Wolff, vice president and corporate managing director of the Honolulu-based architecture firm Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo, the five experimental technologies that have the potential to revolutionize the future of hotel design are: smart building materials, including glass that is light sensitive, super strength steel, wood and concrete to withstand earthquakes and hurricanes; super structural systems including, domes that can span entire cities, starscrapers and underwater foundations for building above water; environmental and energy advances, including inexpensive fuel sources and walls to keep interiors at a constant temperature; hyper-design tools, including 3-D virtual reality images for viewing buildings before they are constructed; and interactive brainwave visual analyzers, including products that allow human brain waves to control electronic devices, such as lights, computers, heating, cooling and entertainment options.

Future travelers will want to fulfill several conflicting desires such as simultaneous needs for solitude and social interaction, thirst for adventure along with need for safety and security, interest in eco-friendly destinations coupled with desire for pampering, and a willingness to spend lots of money with an insistence on value. A successful hotel will accommodate these divergent desires by offering choices through both design and service. Cultural, space and underwater tourism will become increasingly popular, as these forms of activities would satisfy the customer's desire for adventure, learning, solitude, and leisure.

Hotels of the future will provide more than just places to sleep. The accelerating rate of change in technology, travel patterns, and consumer demands will require a high degree of innovation and creativity. Hotels will customize their designs and services to fulfill the specific needs of their customers, thereby integrating a plethora of changes into the design techniques. While many of these new trends and designs are not practical at the present time, they will become feasible and then economical in the years to come.
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