Do Lobbies Even Need Hotels?
By Jennifer Skaife Design Director, DiLeonardo | November 01, 2015
A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece in HotelExecutive about how the Hotel Lobby was evolving from an arrival and circulation zone with the various program elements of food and beverage outlets, business centers, and the expected array of arrival components and moving towards a self-contained destination; becoming something quite independent of the hotel itself.
"Thus a noticeable shift from such spaces previously and firmly rooted in the traditions of the iconic architecture of transportation hubs, railway and air terminals such as Grand Central Station and Saarinen's terminals began. Large, echoing chambers that both impressed and at the same time dwarfed the traveler with their scale and grandeur; undeniably beautiful, formal, grand, yet sometimes, well mostly, impersonal, echoing and vault or bank-like, with efficient circulation being their primary goal. With services and amenities located throughout, having intense consideration given to each, which in themselves become interior landmarks facilitating observation of the tides of people moving through and around as they activate the space."
In the last couple of years, we have seen this shift from a "grand awe inspiring entry," to a more intimate human scale experience. As the Lobby continues to evolve, many Hotel Operators are responding by launching new brands, providing platforms to further explore and apply new ways to reflect this direction. Lobbies are becoming destinations in and of themselves, with significant revenue-generating elements where technology and the inevitable advances being made play a big part. The "Lobby" per se, could and does exist with or without hotel rooms beyond, independent of the "Hotel." The entire Lobby, not just the "bar" is a destination where non-hotel guests come to work and socialize virtually 24 – 7.
In this relentless pursuit of seeking "other" or attempting to differentiate one hotel arrival experience from another, are we in danger of creating another design clique, that of homogony? Isn't it just packaging, a milk carton reinvented but still with 2% milk inside? I mean, how many "market kitchens" can there be? How unique can communal connectivity tables be?
As designers responsible for answering these and many more questions, our charge is to dream up "other," to differentiate one hotel from another, introduce – or omit elements, to inspire change. We repeatedly rise to this challenge with passion, excitement and creative solutions. The day it no longer excites and inspires curiosity and adventure will be the day I have to put down my pen ……
What we, as an Interior design firm are witnessing and very much participating in by implementing our projects, is the effect and impact of how current technology is changing; how the guest experiences arrival and registration and its effect on social and business needs in the hotel.