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Hotel Design: Home Away From Home

 

Six Main Areas of Hotel Design That Will See the Biggest Changes

By Cristina Faedi Promotional Activities Manager, Confindustria Ceramica | November 15, 2020

As we all know, COVID-19 has generated widespread concern for both public and personal health. Among many other things, this global crisis has led to an unprecedented work-from-home experiment, government-mandated lockdowns and restricted travel, and the placement of hand sanitizer and social distancing markers in every hotel, restaurant, retail, and office building lobby.

But on a deeper level, this pandemic has accelerated a broader conversation about the importance of designing spaces that support visitor health and wellness - especially within the hotel industry. Of course, the post-COVID hospitality sector will not see people returning to hotels in droves. It's going to take some time. In order to stimulate the travel economy once more, hospitality providers and the designers they employ must step up to the plate with effective, long-term solutions that make people feel comfortable and excited to book their stay.

According to a 2017 report by the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness tourism industry grew by 6.5% annually from 2015-2017. These numbers suggest that the conversation surrounding health and wellness was gaining traction long before the pandemic completely upended life as we know it. The only difference is that, now, "wellness" is no longer just a hot topic largely championed by designers and hospitality providers - it's become part of our universal vocabulary.

After an extended period of emotional and physical stress caused by the global health crisis, a tanking world economy, and for many, a severe lack of social interaction, the concept of wellness is top of mind for everyone. As a result, future hotel guests will expect a holistic experience that not only safeguards their physical health by reducing the risk of infection, but that also supports their mental and emotional wellbeing at every step of the way.

Visitor health and wellness will remain a top priority for many hotels as they begin to adapt, reconfigure, and even completely renovate their interior spaces. This will lead to some obvious design choices like the addition of space dividers, hygienic materials, outdoor areas, and larger guest rooms (wherever they don't already exist), but it will also lead to the incorporation of more subtle details that are known to subconsciously affect visitor wellbeing, such as biophilic design, sustainability, and more. Here are six main areas of hotel design that will see the biggest changes:

While designing The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, which is located in a UNESCO biosphere reserve, Peia Associati selected eco-friendly porcelain floor tiles and outdoor pavers from Italian manufacturer Casalgrande Padana.

1. Material Selection

For years, healthcare design has been strongly influenced by hospitality design in the quest to create more welcoming patient spaces that help reduce stress and promote healing. In an interesting reversal of roles, hospitality design may be taking many cues from the healthcare industry moving forward, particularly when it comes to material selection. Countless studies over the past several months have shown that COVID-19 can be transmitted through contaminated surfaces.

That's why selecting hygienic, easy-to-clean materials - especially in high-use areas like guest rooms, bathrooms, and lobbies - will become a crucial part of the design process. Some industry experts are even suggesting that hotels consider replacing carpets with more hygienic solutions that don't trap dirt and airborne irritants. Thanks to modern digital technology, surfaces like Italian ceramic tile offer the same level of hygiene and durability as healthcare products, but without the clinical healthcare aesthetic.

As a material, ceramic is easy to clean and naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and bacterial growth. And, unlike many plastic-based materials such as LVT, ceramic possesses long-term resistance to abrasive chemical cleaners - an important trait for post-pandemic surfaces that must be frequently and thoroughly disinfected. Taking it one step further, ceramic tiles can be infused with antimicrobial technology that actively kills up to 99.9% of bacteria on the surface.

Designers should also explore using products that contain zero VOCs or formaldehyde. Some commonly used materials in hospitality settings, like PVC and plastic-based vinyl flooring, tend to offgas and actually wind up being detrimental to visitor health. Natural materials offer an added level of security in this respect, and can even work to improve indoor air quality.

2. Biophilic Design

Humans have always been innately drawn to nature. It's scientifically proven that being surrounded by nature has the power to reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and enhance one's mood and overall wellbeing. With COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns, the human population as a whole is craving a connection to nature, perhaps more than ever before.

We'll start to see more hotels addressing this need by incorporating biophilic design elements into their interior spaces, which will take on the form of: natural lighting; live greenery; earthy colors (especially green, blue, and warm rust tones); organic shapes; floral patterns and motifs; and natural materials (or materials that resemble those found in nature) like marble, stone, and wood.

It's important that hotels appeal to their visitors on an emotional level, and creating a space that embraces many different elements of nature can certainly help achieve this. All of these features work together to create an unforgettable experience that, if done right, leaves guests feeling happier and more refreshed.

3. Outdoor Spaces

Ever since the pandemic hit, the great outdoors have played a starring role in day-to-day life. People everywhere are remodeling their backyards, gathering in parks, and dining alfresco. In fact, a recent study conducted by Realtor.com revealed that one of the top "must-have" items for prospective homebuyers at the moment is an outdoor living space.

Consumer preferences like this will start to influence changes we see in hospitality design, as well. Hotels that do not currently offer a robust outdoor space for their guests will need to start thinking seriously about investing in one. Guests will not only feel safer and more secure gathering outside in the fresh air, but bringing it back to the topic of biophilia, they will also appreciate the closer connection to nature.

Of course, material selection is important in outdoor living spaces, as well. Just because the rate of transmission is much lower in open-air environments, does not mean that the use of hygienic, anti-microbial materials in these spaces should be overlooked. It's crucial that hotel providers and designers look very carefully at the products they are using in these spaces. They should be able to withstand frequent cleaning and aggressive sanitization regimens, and of course, extreme weather conditions. This is where hygienic surfaces like ceramic and porcelain pavers come in very handy. They are UV- and frost-resistant, and can even be dry-laid on top of grass, gravel, and sand - a quick and easy solution for hotels on a budget.

4. Public Spaces

One trend that's really taking hold across all sectors of design is the rise of mixed-use buildings. For several years now, hotel design has been shifting to offer more accommodations for public use with the addition of coworking spaces, shopping experiences, and more. This means that hotel guests are sharing space with hundreds and sometimes thousands of people on any given day, so hotels will need to modify their public areas to prioritize visitor safety.

In some cases, this will require larger spaces with reduced density. In others, some hotels may need to forgo their beloved open plan in exchange for a more compartmentalized space, but the real trick will be finding a way to make it look inviting. Attractive and movable space dividers will therefore become the norm in hotel lobbies and other public areas.

Designers will relish the opportunity to flex their creative muscles with inventive zone dividing solutions, like live green walls or acoustic paneling. We may also see the introduction of more seating arrangements that enable socially-distant conversation, like modular benches that can be rearranged according to user preference.

Wood-look porcelain floor tiles by Serenissima clad the guest rooms at Spice Hotel Milano Centrale in Italy.

5. Guest Rooms

As reported in 2019 by global hospitality consulting firm HVS, the North American market has witnessed a considerable rise in the popularity of "micro-hotels" within the past several years. The average guest room is consistently shrinking in square footage, while greater focus is being placed on designing more elaborate public spaces - a concept largely inspired by the Japanese innovation of pod hotels, which offsets tiny, minimalistic spaces with great design and larger communal areas like cafes, lounges, bars, and restaurants.

The anxiety surrounding COVID-19, though, will likely cause the hotel industry to reverse course and start to place greater emphasis on guest rooms instead of shared spaces, as people are hesitant to mingle with other guests. Architecture and design firm Leo A. Daly says it best in a recent white paper: "The guestroom is a sanctuary from the outside world and must offer a complete retreat from anxiety…" and it "must be designed to leave no doubt of its safety."

In addition to larger spaces and more private amenities - perhaps the inclusion of personal fitness equipment in select hotel rooms - the shift in focus will also mean a complete review of commonly-used materials. This will present a unique opportunity for imaginative design solutions. Soft surfaces, like carpeting and even fabric headboards, may be replaced by hard, non-porous surfaces like tile to ensure more thorough cleaning between occupants and greater peace-of-mind for guests.

Thin porcelain slabs are growing in popularity among designers, because they are easy to fabricate and ideal for building unique custom furnishings like desks, headboards, benches, and more. Intricate mosaics and colorful glazes offer a nice, decorative touch and endless opportunities for branding or artistic expression. One single guest room could be completely outfitted with many different types of ceramic tile installations, earning points for both hygiene and style in the eyes of customers.

Design Continuum's Hotel Bennett, located in Charleston, SC, makes extensive use of Italian ceramic tile throughout the facility, including marble-look floor tiles by Marca Corona in the spa area.

6. Sustainability

One cannot talk about wellness without also touching on the importance of sustainable design. These two terms - "wellness" and "sustainability" - are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are so intertwined that many of today's green building codes and rating systems, such as the International Green Construction Code and LEED, include standards for occupant health, productivity, and overall well being. After all, if something is unhealthy for humans, it's likely not so great for the environment.

Take chemical detergents, for example - many commercial disinfectants contain toxins and VOCs that are harmful to the planet and our health. This is where responsible product selection can be immensely helpful in minimizing environmental impact. Certain materials - like copper and ceramic - possess a higher natural resistance to bacteria, so in many cases they just require a simple mixture of soap and water to be cleaned.

Hospitality providers and designers must also continue working together to reduce overall environmental impact with sustainable operations that minimize energy consumption, water usage, chemical waste, and more. But the sustainable attributes of consumer-facing products are a key part of the story, too. Guests will find comfort in knowing that the products and materials they are using are eco-friendly and sustainably sourced, and hotel interiors will certainly adapt to reflect this.

We must not abandon our commitment to sustainability in search of temporary solutions and knee-jerk reactions. Maintaining a clean, safe environment for guests is crucial, but the environment still needs our protection, too.

There is a growing conversation among residential designers about redesigning mudrooms and entryways to include sinks for immediate handwashing. I don't think it's a stretch to predict that the layout of some hotel lobbies may change to reflect this. At the very least, with new construction projects, placing bathrooms closer to the entrance would be a reasonable solution. Some other changes to hotel design may include the implementation of, wherever possible: UV-C lighting and air filtration systems; high-performance ventilation; voice-activated technology; and touchless faucets and doors.

Many of the changes outlined here are not fundamental transformations at all - rather, they are trends that have already been in motion for decades, accelerated by a newfound sense of urgency caused by the global pandemic. There are still many unknowns about how the hospitality industry will adapt to fit the evolving needs of its clientele.

But one thing is for certain - guests will begin to notice and even scrutinize small details they may have previously overlooked. Attention to detail has never been more important than it is now. Providers must consider every single step of the visitor's wellness experience, and good design plays a key role in this process.

Ms. Faedi Since 1997, Cristina Faedi has been in charge of promotional activities for Confindustria Ceramica (the Italian Association of Ceramics) and Cersaie (the preeminent international trade show for ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings). In this role, she is responsible for organizing, coordinating, and executing various promotional and marketing activities in Italy and abroad for the Italian ceramic tile, sanitaryware and tableware industries. Ms. Faedi is extremely experienced in planning and organizing international trade shows, seminars, conferences, B2B events for architects, press conferences, advertising campaigns, media relations, cultural exhibits, international architecture and design contests and awards, and PR activities. Extremely knowledgeable about new trends in ceramic tile and design, she has delivered many speeches at various conferences and workshops, both in Italy and abroad. Ms. Faedi can be contacted at 3481504904 or cfaedi@confindustriaceramica.it Please visit http://www.ceramica.info/en/ for more information. Extended Biography

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If any provision(s) of this Agreement is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be contrary to law, then such provision(s) shall be construed, as nearly as possible, to reflect the intentions of the parties with the other provisions remaining in full force and effect. HotelExecutive's failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of this Agreement shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision unless acknowledged and agreed to by HotelExecutive in writing. The section titles in this Agreement are solely used for the convenience of the parties and have no legal or contractual significance. This Agreement may be assigned in whole or in part by HotelExecutive. This Agreement may not be assigned in any manner by you without the express, prior written permission of HotelExecutive.

Any and all disputes or controversies of any kind, including but not limited to any performance, duty, obligation or liability arising under or related to this Agreement which are not first resolved informally, shall be determined by binding arbitration in San Francisco, California, in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association. The final award in any such arbitration proceeding shall be subject to entry as a judgment by any court or competent jurisdiction, provided that such judgment does not conflict with the terms and provisions hereof. The jurisdiction of the arbiter (or arbiters) with respect to legal matters shall be limited only by the statutory and common law of the State of California and the United States.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, any and all disputes, which the parties cannot informally resolve, regarding the scope of issues or matter with the jurisdiction of the arbitrator, shall be resolved by a separate dispute resolution process whereby HotelExecutive, in its sole discretion shall elect the dispute to be resolved by either (1) a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of California or (2) a panel of three new arbitrators.

This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of California notwithstanding any conflict of laws provisions. You and HotelExecutive agree that the venue for all legal disputes, controversies, actions of any kind arising under or related to this Agreement shall be San Francisco, California. You and HotelExecutive further agree that in case of any litigation regarding this Agreement, you irrevocably and unconditionally (i) consent to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the state and federal courts in the County of San Francisco, California for any litigation or dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement, (ii) agree not to commence any litigation arising out of or relating to this Agreement except in the California Courts, (iii) agree not to plead or claim that such litigation brought therein has been brought in an inconvenient forum, and (iv) agree the California Courts represent the exclusive jurisdiction for all litigation relating to this Agreement.

11. MEMBERSHIP FEES

Hotel Business Review Subscriptions

If you choose to purchase a subscription, member subscription payments can be made in U.S. Dollars, as well as a variety of international currencies. Membership terms are Annual Recurring, and Monthly Recurring. The Annual Recurring subscription is an annual commitment and subscribers will be charged each consecutive billing cycle. Annual Recurring subscriptions can be cancelled after the first billing cycle and within 30-days of the billing date for a full refund. Monthly Recurring subscriptions are ongoing and subscribers will be charged each consecutive monthly billing cycle. Monthly Recurring subscriptions can be cancelled after the first month and within 7 days of the monthly billing cycle for a full refund.

12. PAYMENT AUTHORIZATION

Payment for the services provided to you in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive may be made by automatic credit card, debit card, direct debit, bankwire or Paypal and other approved payment means offered in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive, and you hereby authorize HotelExecutive and its agents to transact such payments on your behalf.

You hereby authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card to pay for your membership to HotelExecutive. You further authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card for any and all purchases of products, services in association with HotelExecutive. You agree to be personally liable for all charges incurred by you in association with your access or other use of any content provided by HotelExecutive or any third party in association with HotelExecutive. You acknowledge and agree that your liability for all such charges shall continue after termination of your access or any type of membership arrangement with HotelExecutive.

In the event that you have chosen to have your membership automatically rebilled, unless and until you notify HotelExecutive that you wish to cancel or terminate your membership to HotelExecutive, you hereby agree and authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to automatically renew your membership to HotelExecutive on a continuing basis and to charge your credit card (or other payment means you have selected) to pay for the ongoing cost of your membership. You hereby further authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card (or other approved payment means you have selected) for any and all purchases of products, services and entertainment provided to in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive.

13. PRIVACY POLICY

The following is the Privacy Policy for HotelExecutive

We can be reached via telephone, email, or online at our contact page. When you visit our site we do not log any information regarding your domain or email address. Information Sharing: We do not share user information with any third parties other than via press release distribution as described below.

Hotel Newswire is a newswire service that distributes press releases on behalf of our users. If you decide to submit a press release for distribution through our system we will transmit your entire press release including any personal information therein contained to our media contacts and online distribution points including search engines. This is the only redistribution of your information that we engage in. Your submission of press releases through our system indicates consent with this policy. The information we collect during your registration process is used to notify users about updates to our service and inform users of any special events hosted by Hotel Newswire. This information is not shared with other organizations for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Cookies: Our system requires the use of cookies to enable the user to log back into our website to access information from the newswire, without having to log in each time using the required username and password.

If you do not want to receive email from us in the future, please let us know by following instructions included in our communication with you. Users who supply us with telephone numbers online may receive telephone contact from us regarding their account, or informing them of new products and services available on the HotelExecutive website. If you do not wish to receive such telephone calls, please edit your account and remove your phone number from your account profile. This can be done from your user account menu.

Ad Servers: We do not partner with or have any relationship with any ad server companies. From time to time, we may use customer information for new uses not previously disclosed in our privacy notice. If our information practices change at any time, we will post the policy changes to our website to notify you of these changes and provide you with the ability to opt out of these new uses. If you are concerned about how your information is used, you should check back at our website periodically.

Upon request we provide site visitors with access to all information (including proprietary information) that we maintain about them. Users can access this information by logging in to their account.

Security: We always use industry-standard encryption technologies while transferring and receiving user data exchanged with our site. We have appropriate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of information that we have collected from you on our site. We do not store credit card information in our systems.

If you feel that this site is not following its stated information policy, you may contact us.

Peter O'Connor
Cristina Faedi
Marissa Criaris
Claire Way
Sara-Ann Kasner
Cate Farmer
Megan Wenzl
Coming up in January 2021...