As designers, the hotel guest is always central to our approach, whether they are a family staying in a luxury resort or a 25 year old in town for a digital marketing conference just needing a bed for the night. While their requirements are quite different the starting point for designers is all about the guest narrative and the experience they have from arrival through to check in and to their room. You have to take that journey to understand how they interact with the space around them and what their different needs are.
Today’s millennial traveller generally chooses to stay in a mid-market hotel that is technology driven with open and relaxing social spaces, whereas those guests staying in a luxury property tend to be families on holiday who generally spend more time in their rooms and so require bigger guestrooms. They also want a range of leisure facilities such as a spa and swimming pool as well as a choice of dining outlets, all of which have to form part of the design brief.
What’s the difference?
The key differences between designing a mid-market hotel compared to a luxury hotel is the space allocation. A luxury property would have a much larger space with more facilities assigned to front of house. A mid-market hotel might have just one restaurant and limited meeting facilities, whereas a luxury property could have up to five or six outlets as well as a large ballroom, meeting rooms and leisure facilities.
Luxury resorts generally are horizontally planed with a larger footprint, so the spread of facilities is much greater which makes it challenging to link the back of house support, whereas urban upscale hotels are generally limited in their footprint so everything is designed vertically.
The challenge with designing mid-market hotels is that there can be less creative freedom. Operators generally have their own design guidelines which tend to be quite prescriptive. They ultimately want to create a brand identity, that brings with it consumer familiarity.
Whilst luxury brands also have brand standards, their standards tend to be more performance based, giving the designer greater freedom to push boundaries and create unique on off designs.
In the luxury sector space requirements have increased steadily in recent years. VIP suites have been superseded by VVIP and VVVIP suites, and the general guest room sizes have increased. Front of house facilities including grand ballrooms, junior ballrooms, conference rooms have also increase in size. Most luxury hotels also now have health clubs and spas which were not so common ten years ago. In contrast, mid-market guest rooms are noticeably decreasing in size in response to the fact that many travellers today only use their room to sleep so don’t need so much space.
The Premier Inn’s hub hotels is one such example. Rooms are compact and designed to maximise space and there are limited services. These limited service hotels are rapidly gaining ground and are very much technology-driven. Most big brand names have launched or are planning to introduce a new lifestyle select brand which is good news for designers as they allow a greater design freedom and the opportunity for us as designers to introduce a personality to the brand.
By a guest contributor