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John Tess

It is an extreme example, but in the 1970s, grain silos in downtown Akron, Ohio were transformed into a Hilton Hotel. Though the example is quirky, it illustrates how hotel architecture is responding to the desire of a seemingly ever growing market of urban adventurers looking for memorable spaces. This affinity for "character" has led to the rise of boutique hotels, defined not only by size, but by design - typically historic in nature. One of the pioneers was Bill Kimpton, whose foresight created the Kimpton Group. Others leaders in the field include Ian Shrager and Andre Balazs. This affinity for character has also prompted larger projects, such as Sage Development's proposed Marriott Renaissance in a redeveloped Portland, Oregon department store which will have 330 rooms. As a result of the success of these and other pioneers, hotel developers are often on the prowl of unique opportunities, thinking about the hotel potential of transforming warehouses, office buildings, Masonic temples, train stations and more. Read on...

Kim Hehir

We have seen an interesting evolution in hotel design over past several decades. At the beginning of the 20th century, the wealthy traveled in grand style at a leisurely pace, with vast amounts of luggage and, quite frequently, large numbers of staff. The design of the hotels that catered to them reflected that style, in size, proportion and atmosphere. The tumult of the 20s, 30s, and 40s disrupted travel patterns, but when people began traveling more consistently in the ensuing years, the look and feel of hotels changed. As travelers became more sophisticated, the demand arose for hotels with design elements that spoke of the destination; that used indigenous concepts and materials to help create a total experience. This demand for authenticity is very strong today. Read on...

John Tess

When renovating and refurbishing, the owners of hotel properties need to think about the potential use of federal investment tax credits for historic preservation. These credits are most typically found in the context of a "soup-to-nuts" building rehabilitation, that is, those occasions when a property is adapted to hotel use. However, the use of these tax credits need not be defined in such narrow context. Without thinking about it, owners may well leave money on the table. Tax credits need to be distinguished from tax deductions. An income tax deduction lowers the amount of income subject to taxation. A tax credit, however, lowers the amount of the tax owed. In general, a dollar of tax credit reduces the amount of income tax owed by one dollar. The federal government offers tax credits for the rehabilitation of older buildings... Read on...

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Coming up in January 2020...

Mobile Technology: Meeting Tech Expectations

What once seemed futuristic is now the norm, owing to the escalating developments in mobile technology, and hotels must continue to innovate in order to meet guest expectations. In a recent study from Mower, 65 percent of guests said they would gladly pay more for a hotel that provides the mobile technology they deem essential. The same study shows that 44 percent of travelers are more likely to book a smart hotel, and nearly 7 in 10 want to use smart devices provided by the hotel. And how do guests wish to use all this technology? A majority expressed a desire for mobile check-in and check-out, and mobile payment options. They also want to be able to stream content from their phone to the TV; to make service requests of the hotel staff; to control in-room lighting, temperature and sound; to order food and beverages; and to request a wake-up call - all from their mobile device. Guests also expressed preferences for robust wi-fi and convenient device charging ports throughout the hotel. They also appreciate the use of hotel branded apps which allow a guest to book a room, access loyalty programs, receive discounts and rewards, and even use the app to choose the room, floor and view they prefer. Some hotel apps also allow a customer to track their charges throughout their stay, rather than waiting to receive a bill at the end. Finally, mobile tech lounges are popping up more frequently in some hotels. These lounges offer guests the opportunity to perform tasks like airline check-ins or access to local info guides, but they also provide a place where guests can comfortably get some work done outside their room. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to meet their customers' expectations in the mobile technology space.