Fostering Collaboration Among Design and Construction Teams to Maximize Asset Value and Enhance Guest Experience
By Paul McElroy Executive VP of Construction & Design, Highgate | February 2024
When I walk into a well-designed hotel I can't help but think of the thousands of people from across the globe who had a hand in bringing it to life. From a stone manufacturer in Brazil to a casegood manufacturer in Vietnam; from the minds that drew the design to the hands that poured the foundation, people from all walks of life came together to create something entirely new and special.
That incredible diversity of thought and skill was necessary to create an unforgettable space. But, on too many hospitality projects, those various people work in silos and often don't get to benefit from each other's brilliance. In a typical design and construction process, the owner or development manager often oversees all the contractual relationships without integrating them, which can then lead to each project team member gatekeeping their own respective subcontractor relationships. In this model, each member is singularly responsible for staying in their own lane which does not foster opportunities for the various teams to cross pollinate and amplify the creative process.
And that's a shame. Owners who shun silos and, instead, create a culture of open and intentional communication, vulnerability and cross-discipline cooperation will not only have stunning design results. They, along with the project teams, will actually enjoy their work more. Getting to that point is not easy, but if done right it's where creativity flourishes, the greatest projects are built, and the best relationships are formed.
Luckily for me, my first project for Highgate Hotels was done the right way. I was hired almost 10 years ago to oversee a $100+ million re-imagining of the former Pacific Beach Hotel into the design-forward 'Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach. From the outset, I vowed to make this a different type of design and construction project: One where each person involved felt like a valued partner, one where egos and hierarchies were nowhere to be seen. I recommitted to that philosophy several times over the course of the three year redevelopment, and every minute of effort was well worth it.
Years after its completion, every time I walk into the 'Alohilani lobby I'm reminded of the creative and boundary-pushing teamwork that led to show-stopping design features like the rebuilding of the hotel's three-story aquarium and new amenity deck with a stunning infinity pool above the porte cochere. I still have close relationships with the entire project team that helped create this special place; to this day, we turn to each other and joke about the moments of discomfort while marveling at what we were able to create together.
After that transformative experience, I've approached every project with an eye towards inclusion, openness, vulnerability and cooperation. It's not necessarily the easiest or fastest way to construct or rebuild a hotel, but it's the most worthwhile in the long run.