Hospitality and Residential – Sharing Design and Amenities

By Eric Rahe Principal, BLT Architects | January 11, 2015

Co-authored by Michael R. Ytterberg, PhD, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, BLT Architects

Do hotel guests prefer to cozy up in front of a warm fireplace on plush couches in spaces that remind them of their own living rooms at home, or do they long to inject a bit of hotel luxury into their residential apartment with rainfall shower heads and purified air filters? The answer is “both.” Hotel design trends are crossing over into multi-family residential buildings and visa versa. The line distinguishing spaces in which people vacation and spaces in which they live everyday has blurred. In order to make travel more comfortable, touches of home are introduced, while at the same time luxury lets everyone experience what can only be aspired to in most people’s everyday life. Multifamily properties now cater to more sophisticated tastes and borrow hospitality techniques to pamper residents. This is resulting in new opportunities for hotel owner and operators to differentiate based on designing spaces that feel like home while influencing their guests’ actual home design. This may create a tighter bond between hotels and guests, leading to increased guest loyalty and advocacy.

Hotel to Home

There is no question that hotels are inspiring enhanced design for both residential and commercial projects, including everything from open and welcoming lobbies with richly textured furniture to commercial kitchens. Specific areas where hoteliers are influencing how we live include:

  • Bathrooms - One area where hotels are definitely leading the charge in buzzworthy trends and exciting design is the bathroom. And as a direct result, residential tenants and owners are demanding more. Whether it’s a rainfall showerhead, vitamin C enriched water or purified air, consumers are seeing these more as everyday household amenities rather than the pure luxury items they were once considered. Room-size showers that are covered in tile with Jacuzzi tubs and televisions pepper high-end property listings. Double sinks have long been the norm in apartments and homes, though in some cases now the desire for luxurious lengths of counter space trumps the desire for the second sink. Real luxury means toilets separated by walls or doors.
  • Spas - Hotel spa design is having an impact in bathrooms as well. White tile is out. Wood and bamboo are in. Rich finishes and high-end fixtures are a must. The amenity floor must have spa like features to make residents feel pampered. Spa sinks, benches and steam rooms are in demand as more people seek to find deep relaxation at home. Infinity-edged pools are also becoming more commonplace in residential buildings where they had previously only been reserved for luxury resorts.

  • Kitchens - High-end stainless steel appliances have been the norm for years – now the search is on for the next great thing, influenced by the cult of celebrity chefs. Further, it is not uncommon to find fully equipped commercial kitchens in the amenity areas of multifamily buildings that are made available for hosting events, private parties and even demonstrations from well-known chefs. These, along with temperature controlled wine rooms, have become featured amenities in luxury multifamily buildings. Unattainable within the confines of the small to medium sized living units, they are shared among all the residents in order to maximize individual living space and provide a sense of spacious beyond the individual unit.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.