Creating a Landmark Hotel Through Architecture and Design
By Valeriano Antonioli Chief Executive Officer, Lungarno Alberghi s.r.l. | November 08, 2015
Hotel architecture and design is a hot topic in the hospitality industry lately, as new hotels are constantly being built around the world and existing hotels are showcasing million dollar renovations. Owners and investors are getting more involved with interior designers and architects in order to spend time discussing the hotel or brand vision before going any further. Owners and hoteliers are understanding more and more the need for smart design concepts and smart decisions in terms of renovations, as they do not happen often.
The hospitality industry is ever-evolving, and continuing to satisfy a targeted demographic is a constant challenge for hoteliers. Creative design is of utmost importance when establishing a new hotel, as it must not only please the guest and provide longevity for the owner, but it needs to remain fashionable at the same time for years to come. The design must also foresee the evolution of architecture and interior design, features, and traveler expectations, without compromising functionality.
Historically, hotels were just considered a necessity for sleeping with a standard set-up and clean cut amenities. During the 1980's, standardization was a winning factor for hoteliers, and not much effort was needed to impress guests, no matter the reason for travel. Three decades later, hotels have become much more than just a place to rest; they are now a place to live, socialize, work and entertain. For this reason, when developing the design concept of a new hotel today, architects must be able to bridge the gap amongst all of these uses. The functional, creative design in the hotel should combine the expertise and knowledge of the hotelier and the creativity of an interior designer. The focus should be to create a landmark hotel through the architecture and design, which will in turn contribute to the financial success of the hotel.
When the Lungarno Collection was looking to expand and open our newest property, Portrait Firenze – there are five properties in the collection – the first fundamental step was determining what impact we wanted the layout of the spaces to have on our guests and clientele, even before the creative design could be a part of the conversation. After analyzing our current and prospective clientele, we realized that being a luxury hospitality company, our guests look for us to go above and beyond in all areas and make them feel known and valued when they are on property; the layout and design needed to encourage this.
The lobby usually makes the first impression for a guest and is the first place to evoke a sense of luxury. At Portrait Firenze, instead of the standard hotel lobby, we created a special environment that could be seen as an extension of our guest suites. The lobby design resembles a luxurious living room that could be ones home, where the arrival process is done sitting and not standing, showing the guest that they are appreciated and valued without rushing them through in order to assist the next guest in line. Developing a lobby space that invites guests to spend their leisure time in is also a necessity. Whether it is to conduct business or just relax in between museum visits and site seeing, the lobby should be a welcoming space with seating options for any type of guest and should provide options for food and beverage.
In terms of the room product, we realized the importance of accommodating the market from which our travelers are arriving. Many guests are coming for both business and pleasure, bringing their families and needing multiple sleeping arrangements. At the same time they also need a room that has extra space and extensions of their suite for either business or leisure use. We are privileged to have an international market of travelers, however, many come with multiple pieces of luggage, and therefore it is important to adapt wardrobes to be as spacious as possible. The same goes for the bathroom; guests want nothing less than what they may have at home in terms of size and luxury. Experienced and non-experienced travelers are also looking for functional spaces where even the most technological devices are seamless and user-friendly, but also easily compatible and aligned with the rapid evolution in technology. Luxury guests see it as a standard now to be connected at all times with free wifi, and they are looking for ease and functionality in their rooms - plugs near the bed to use their phones at night, and an all lights on and off switch are just some of the important functions that guests look for.