Hotel Design: Recognizing that Every Property Has a Unique Story to Tell

By Ed Wilms Principal, DLR Group | November 05, 2017

I’ve grown up on hospitality design and for the last 26 years, I’ve been focused on creating restaurants, hotels, gaming/resort properties and world class retail/entertainment destinations. In other words: I know how to have fun.

Since joining DLR Group nearly a decade ago, I’ve been charged with growing our Hospitality studio across the country. I’m based in our Minneapolis office, and our Hospitality Studio is actively working on projects across the country from San Francisco to Miami, Minneapolis to Dallas. We’ve had the advantage of smaller studios with extensive resumes in designing for downtown as well as suburban markets. We’ve run the gamut in terms of location, brand (major to boutique), and sector (business to luxury). One thing is consistent across the board however: every property has its own unique story to tell.

Downtown destinations, set in tight urban areas, are their own special breed of beasts that are admittedly fun to tame. Compared to suburban properties, there are many more opportunities to create authentic experiences for guests and locals alike that capture the spirit and history of the cities where they’re located.


My first piece of advice for potential owners and operators interested in any development, is always “location, location, location.” It’s a great old saying for a reason. Many are finding that it is difficult to obtain adequate land in the core downtown business districts. Instead, we are looking toward the fringe: the burgeoning neighborhoods that are adjacent to downtown and poised to become the next hotspot. Find the amenities that are walkable to the site (such as open green space, natural amenities like a riverwalk or waterfront, sports venues, restaurants, housing, museums, and theaters). If you can find a piece of property that hits on a number of those items, success is more likely because not only are you entrenching the traveler in their chosen destination, but you are also capturing revenue from locals who want to be tapped into the scene.

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Coming up in March 2018...

Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.