Smart Design is Universal Design

By Alan Roberts Global Head, Embassy Suites by Hilton | November 12, 2017

To meet the needs of the guest of today and the desire for a unique experience, not just a place to lay one's head at the end of a long day, a hotel's design now needs to provide both a 'You Are Here' and a 'You Can Feel at Home Here' guest experience. This has become true for almost every category of hotel, regardless of the scope of the property. At the same time, for upscale All Suites brands like Embassy Suites by Hilton that require more lead time to build, taking a thoughtful forward-thinking approach to design is essential. Careful attention must be paid to delivering a prototype that not only adapts to various locales, but also allows for ongoing adjustments to ensure hoteliers stay on the forefront of trends, as well as travelers' ever-changing styles and demands.

The Beauty of Flexibility

Design has always been about change. It is a direct reflection of the evolving world around us interpreted into spaces that make our lives easier and elevate our overall lifestyle.

Understanding this, adaptation was central to the creation of the new prototypes for Embassy Suites and our sister All Suites brand Homewood Suites by Hilton. Several years were spent perfecting each design, which included both customer research and ongoing collaboration with owners to create prototypes that made it easier than ever to build an All Suites property that meets customers' changing needs no matter the location.

The new Homewood Suites prototype, for example, allows for up to 85 percent studio suites in the room categories for a property - an option that wasn't offered previously. Similarly, through the "kit of part" approach offered by Embassy Suites' Design Option III, which allows for a mix of up to 20 percent studio suites, owners' room configurations can be tailored to maximize occupancy based on a particular market's demands. Moreover, both designs provide flexible, yet intimate, public spaces that can easily be infused with local touches and adapted to the changing desires of a wide variety of travelers.

Flexibility was also built into the design of Home2 Suites by Hilton. The youngest All Suites brand in the Hilton portfolio utilizes modular furniture allowing guests to personalize their suites. This customization also extends to Home2's public spaces, especially its Inspired table F&B program which offers more than 400 unique breakfast combinations, and outdoor patios where guests can relax and enjoy the local scenery.

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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.