Adaptive Reuse and Hotel Design - Stage Two

Repurposing Historic Buildings as Modern Hotels That Tell Engaging Stories

By Robert Habeeb President & Chief Executive Officer, First Hospitality Group, Inc. | June 15, 2014

Adaptive reuse hotel projects have been increasingly popular the last few years due to growing competition for quality locations and with prime urban hotel development sites at a premium. But today, its not just hotel owners and developers proposing historic buildings as revenue generators, it’s also customer demand, as consumers are hooked on the concept of unique travel experiences. This increase in interest from the consumers, Millennials in particular, is redefining and shaping the industry’s approach to design, requiring us to be even more transparent about the historic adaptation process. Millennials don’t just want to see a beautiful atrium and be told it’s historic. They want to know who originally built it and why, what is it made out of; they want the story.

To be successful with adaptive reuse hotel projects today, developers need to honor the fundamentals of a historic renovation ( which are inherently more complex than a standard renovation or new construction ), while seemlessly weaving in the property’s unique story. Developers, owners, operators, and investors interested in moving forward on the renovation of a historic property should consider the following list of dos and don’ts as a framework for thinking about adaptive reuse basics in the context of a hospitality project:

DO…

Know What You are Getting Into

The technical challenges involved with bringing an old structure not just up to code, but up to date, can be immense. Aside from the potentially deal-breaking construction issues, consider the technical infrastructure required to support ubiquitous and essential features like high-speed WiFi access for guests. That alone can require an extraordinary effort to accommodate. Adaptive reuse projects may include dealing with dangerous or decrepit materials, and systems such as HVAC. Plumbing and electrical will often need to be significantly upgraded or entirely replaced. During the site selection process—long before actually beginning an ambitious renovation project—prospective developers need to make sure that they understand the various technical and construction challenges ahead. All this in addition to the due diligence and research required to vet the area and accurately estimate guest demand.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.