Partnerships Bring Local Flare to Hotel Design

By Hans Van Wees General Manager, Hotel Vermont | November 06, 2016

While home-sharing companies capture attention for truly immersive local experiences, and brands respond to the movement with sub-brands touting authenticity, independent hoteliers have long appreciated the localized approach to business. In Burlington, Vermont, such local partnerships build and bond communities, and through their contribution to the hotel design, product and programming, ultimately enhance the overall guest experience.

The current state of the travel industry suggests the sharing economy is here to stay. These home-sharing companies are rapidly increasing in popularity as travelers crave – and ultimately, trust – their hosts to serve as sources of information for where locals really go to eat, explore, shop, etc. While brands have taken notice and are creating sub-brands to serve as their authentic, immersive answer to this consumer shift, in Vermont, our approach to hospitality is neither contrived nor fabricated; our localized approach to community is simply who we are.

At Hotel Vermont, we operate under the belief that partnerships are about building community, not just one individual entity. Stronger communities create not only a stronger business environment, but a better place to live, work and enjoy as a visitor. The partnerships have contributed not only to our hotel product, but to the overall guest experience, making our entire team trusted local hosts.

When we first started this project in downtown Burlington almost seven years ago, our goal was to create a hotel experience that offered true local flavor. We identified that there was a need in the market for an upscale, modern spin on the traditional Vermont getaway. Owned, developed, and designed locally, keeping everything close to home allowed us to hone in on the aesthetic provided by Vermont’s natural beauty and sense of community to create partnerships that bring the very best of the state to our guests.

Often in hotel design, architects and designers are steeped in the heritage of their destination, so we were fortunate to have such a talented team locally who could grasp our vision. Starting from the ground up, we contracted Burlington-based Smith Buckley Architects and TruexCullins Interiors to spearhead all of the hotel design elements. Throughout the planning process, we wanted to capture the essence of Vermont to create a clean, minimalist design. Drawing on Scandinavian influence and Vermont’s rich maker history, we were able to marry the two to create a warm, inviting and modern, yet rustic space.

The location in Burlington had more of an influence on public space and design of exterior of the building in how it fits into fabric of city and waterfront. The main level uses all local materials, such as furniture built from white oak indigenous to Vermont, polished concrete flooring made with pebbles from the beaches of the adjacent Lake Champlain, and flooring in the restaurant made from antique red oak reclaimed from an old farm barn. A statement wall of slab granite speaks to the state’s history as a haven for stoneworkers, with granite shipped all over the world from the tiny town of Barre.

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Coming up in September 2018...

Hotel Group Meetings: The Need for Speed

2017 was a banner year in the Hotel Group Meetings marketplace and that trend is expected to continue throughout 2018. Planners are experiencing a renewed sense of confidence due to a reinvigorated economy and increased job creation, which typically provides a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are maintaining a fast and furious pace, and they are utilizing an array of technologies to speed things up. For example, planner requests and proposals are expected to be turned around quickly; the mantra seems to be “as soon as possible, or sooner!” To that end, the use of electronic Request for Proposals (eRFPs) to source hotels and venues has increased in recent years, bringing many timely benefits to the Meetings industry. As a result, in order for hotels to attract and book meetings, they have to be willing to operate with a sense of urgency, which is the new baseline for success. Once on property, the need for speed doesn't diminish. Poken is a cloud-based event management platform, which enables attendees to easily and quickly connect, network and share contact info. ClickShare is a wireless presentation system that permits others in the meeting room to share their laptop with the presenter screen at the push of a button. Skype is useful in order to engage with remote participants in real time, and dedicated apps are being routinely used to drive registration and communication before, during and after a meeting. Finally, text messaging is replacing emailing and phone calls simply because it's quicker. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.