Less is More: Streamlining Design

By David Ashen Principal and Founder, dash design | September 25, 2016

When designing today’s hospitality venues, whether they’re fully outfitted resorts, boutique hotels, or beach side bungalows, hoteliers are finding ways to streamline design and simplify the guest experience. Muted colors and minimal furnishings in combination with earthy textures, expansive views of the outdoors, fresh scents and liberal doses of natural light not only foster a sense of peace but also help today’s travelers set aside everyday distractions for the serenity that simplified living provides. In this article, David Ashen, partner and founder of dash design, explores how today’s hoteliers are making the most of the trend to simplify.

During a recent business trip to Curacao, I stayed in 10-room boutique hotel called BijBlauw.
The Dutch couple that owned the place, which included a wonderful restaurant, furnished it simply, but that’s not to say it was meager. I stayed in the largest guest room; an elegantly serene suite that had a painted bed prepared with modest, yet beautiful linens. Above the bed, a section of driftwood was suspended. There were, perhaps one or two other pieces of furniture in the room along with a terrace that overlooked the impressive expanse of the Caribbean Sea’s crystalline turquoise waters.

There were no hanging pictures or television sets in the room, but not because the hotel lacked the capacity for either—other rooms had both. But the owners had purposely left this room devoid of the distractions. After all, the view of the Caribbean was magnificent; a treat unrivaled by anything that a television or furnishing could provide. My focus shifted. The luxury of simplicity.

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Sutton Place Apartment by dash design

As a society, we process an incredible amount of information daily. The U.K.’s The Telegraph reported in 2011 that a study found that the amount of information that people are hit with every day could fill 174 newspapers. It’s no wonder that a simpler approach to life has emerged as a growing trend.

Although lavishly appointed properties provide for virtually any need, modesty certainly has its place. How businesses and hospitality venues carve out their spaces and treat sensory conditions can leave their customers feeling overwhelmed and confused or relaxed and focused. And it’s not just smaller operations that are taking note of those effects. Simplifying surroundings with a subtle approach is a universal way to instill a sense of calm.

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.