The Agony and Ecstasy of Creating Unique Hotels

By Christopher Chua Managing Director, BLINK Design Group | September 14, 2014

BLINK's philosophy revolves around the power of instinct and first impressions. So, as you might imagine, these are things we hold as sacred.

But instinct isn't everything. The other ingredient to making the magic happen in hotel design (besides a great client and a very talented team) is deep, painstaking and exhaustive – not to say exhausting – research into every aspect of the project's location, culture, history and design vernacular.

Research and an informed perspective - as well as being open to the flashes of inspiration and accepting that the best ideas can be those which jump into the mind first - are the backdrop against which our design process unfolds.

Sometimes when we tackle a new brief, we have team members from studios in Bangkok, Singapore, Shanghai and New Delhi firing off ideas and scribbled sketches back and forth. We are set up to facilitate collaboration at the highest level between studios.

This cross-pollination also stimulates fresh ideas and new thinking. 'No idea left unheard' is our unofficial mantra. Nothing is too silly or outlandish at this stage of the design process to toss into the mix. Imagery, sketches, thoughts on post-it notes, half-remembered dreams. It's all grist for the creative mill.

We work as a team to provide true value for our clients, which is found in the originality of our unique designs, the brand awareness burnished by rave reviews and the international recognition and prestige that accrues as great designs continue to garner top design awards.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.