Adaptive Re-Use of Existing Facilities: Instant, Authentic Architectural Character

By Ken Martin Hospitality Expert, DLR Group | November 20, 2016

Hotels have long been a piece of the urban fabric, but more often than not they keep to themselves, so to speak, through both design and programming. Aware of the locals, but inward-looking and more focused on the happiness of their guests; in the city, but not really of it. And that's been a function of the industry's decades-long branding and business model: Provide guests comfort through universal similarity no matter the location, from architecture to furniture to amenities.

Yet travelers are in search of unique and authentic experiences, moments rooted in the essence of wherever it is they're visiting. And hotel operators are learning that this desire doesn't stop at their revolving front door, that their guests respond strongly and positively to properties that absorb, understand, and reflect the local culture. As a result, hotels are learning how to be better neighbors when they move in.

And increasingly, what they're moving into is an existing building. As the hotel industry evolves to succeed in a shifting marketplace, adaptive reuse is becoming a key piece of many brands' strategies. Instead of erecting a cookie-cutter design on empty space or tearing down what already exists, hotel brands are infusing older spaces with new life and joining communities in a way they haven't previously.

Could adaptive reuse be an opportunity for your company? Here are a few things you should think about.

The Benefits

For a hotel operator, the two best aspects about adaptive reuse are things that can't be duplicated or matched: instant, authentic architectural character and that abiding real estate mantra: location, location, location.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.