Lake Garda, Italy

I enjoy traveling and being home in New England about equally.  Interestingly, home and hotel are inextricably intertwined. Well designed, they both express an evocative narrative about a unique location, or what I have termed The Poetry of Place. 

Webster defines a resort as a frequently visited refuge. A successfully designed home, no matter how modest, feels like a resort, transporting us away from the noise and bustle of the outside world.  A good hotel, no matter how grand, encourages us to feel at home, cared for, and restful.
We are proud of our work in historic hotel renovation, senior living as it relates to hospitality architecture, and to be teaming up with an award winning hospitality architect known for famous brands including the Greenbriar, NY’s Waldorf Hotel, and the Boston Seaport Hotel.  

The article inside addresses boutique hotel developers’ frequent challenges.  With our expertise and experience, we can help meet those challenges.

If you or a colleague are starting a hotel construction project and relate to what you read inside, call East Side Studio Architects for a complimentary conversation to clarify your goals and answer questions.  Consider a Limited Contract Consultation, or “story board” – a predesign study that outlines your needs and options.

3 Crucial Design Strategies to Make your Hotel a Winner

Beat OTA margins and soar past Airbnb and Home Away. Minimize construction costs and still attract repeat customers.

Did you see the story that went viral about the autistic six-year-old who was devastated when no one showed up for his birthday party?

His mother posted a simple Facebook message, drawing week-long crowds of people and presents that included real life police helicopters and fire trucks: 

…My heart is breaking for my son,” she told her community in the post. “We invited his whole class (16 kids) over for his 6th birthday party today. Not one kid came.” 

That story – about the basic need of every child - resonated with the right people, the ones who had heart and could take action.
Let your hotel weave a riveting, genuine story that resonates with your particular market's feelings
No one is suggesting attracting hotel guests out of sympathy!  Yet empty hotel rooms after careful preparation can feel like a party where no one shows up.  The solution is just like that mother’s: Let your hotel weave a riveting, genuine story that resonates with your particular market’s feelings.
The design of your hotel plays a vital part in the story’s emotional impact.  Great boutique hotels succeed despite slashed margins from OTA’s and competition from Airbnb and Home Away.  If you reach people on an emotional level, they will keep returning.
Hotels’ biggest challenges inform our THREE DESIGN STRATEGIES that are proven to pull on your guests’ heartstrings: 

1. Champion your unique sense of place

Do this and you’ll make Online Travel Agencies work in your favor.  You already know the first components of an award-winning hotel: destination and location.  Bring the right design team on early in the conceptual stage and you’ll develop the big idea that resonates with the desires of an undeserved, unique clientele.  Sophisticated design will celebrate the specific location and region, yet have an element of magic.  Savvy travelers looking for authentic experiences will appreciate local flavor and history, yet will demand forward thinking amenities and style.   The Sanya Expedition Hotel is an exceptional new destination on Hainan Island, just off the coast of Southern China.  Water, a source of vitality and serenity, defines the lush 50-acre property.

Hire the team that understands how to infuse emotion into the design

“Stunning microcosms of the world’s top cities, these are hotels where you’ll find guests rubbing elbows with locals because there’s no better place to be in the moment. Hotels that feel different because they make you feel something. Hotels that don’t act like hotels. Our desire is to infuse emotion into a check-in/check-out world by bringing each location to life in an intimate, seductive environment.”

The good news: tighter margins created by OTAs have forced larger brands to be robotic in their approach, giving you the advantage if your story is captivating.  Online exposure puts you on an even playing field.  Hire the team that understands how to infuse emotion into the design, developing your ideas into a product with exceptional visual impact.  Along with your service and amenities, this will generate reviews that attract a lifetime of adventurous and loyal customers. 

2. Harness the Power of Design to Keep Costs Down 

I was living in Scottsdale when Fred Unger bought the Royal Palms Inn in 1996 and renovated it in one year.  He maintained the integrity of the original 1929 private residence with its Spanish Colonial features and guest casitas.  I remember distinctly his observation at the opening celebration: “Historic preservation is great – it’s definitely the economical way to go!”
Few pockets of Old Scottsdale were left amid the glitz and newness.  Old Scottsdale was itself a manufactured story, more Hollywood than historic Arizona.  I was researching this heartily at the time, putting our neighboring 1930s adobe house on the National Register.  Unger’s low-key restoration got Old Scottsdale right, enabling him to put his money into a new level of luxury and hospitality, creating “one of the most respected and gracious hideaways in the Valley of the Sun.”
You walk that fine line between having enough rooms, keeping to your budget, and creating an intimate, highly personal experience.  A less-is-more, authentic design appeals to tonier clients who balk at anything pretentious or overdone, allowing you to create the luxury they desire without the expense of opulence or ostentation.

With any project, new contruction, or renovation, skillful architects can economize and still make things feel spacious and well appointed.

For guests needing more cutting-edge pizazz, good hospitality designers know how to use color and surfaces in bold, innovative ways that create style yet don’t increase cost.  Staying with timeless architecture, working in innovative but flexible features, ensures that certain parts of the décor can adapt to the next trend without much expense.  Skillful design with any style lets guests feel each feature has a consistent purpose – to increase their enjoyment.
Like Unger, you can keep costs down renovating a hotel or building.  The best architects love adapting historic structures to modern sensibilities, keeping it simple without appearing cheap.  But with any project, new construction or renovation, skillful architects can economize on space and materials and still make things feel spacious and well appointed.  Ultimately, a design team’s long-term vision must ignite your unique market’s passions – after all, uniqueness is the boutique’s main advantage.  This will delight your guests and keep you from spending money bouncing from trend to trend.
3. Translate excellent service into your guest’s physical surroundings.  

Personal, friendly hosting that is so integral it is built into the physical plant is the largest driving factor in getting customers to return. The best hotels go out of their way to make their guests feel as if they’re visiting friends – outpacing Airbnbs that have that built-in sense of being at home with the locals.  Great hospitality design mirrors this.  Four Seasons NY’s well-appointed rooms mirror their five-star service.  The Aqualina Resort’s architecture, described as “dreamy,” transports and inspires.
In 20 years, women have gone from 23% to 50% of US business travelers, making up 80% of decision makers in all reservations.  Hotels have been slow to catch up and you will delight this market base with superior lighting, bathroom design, and linens.
Women make up 80% of decision-makers in all reservations
Public areas that feel safe and amenities that work (think garment steamer instead of ironing board) will impact their desire to return. Attention to the smallest detail, like the adequate number of outlets placed exactly right for your guests’ devices, or a surprising interior window letting natural light into the bath, ensures that they feel delighted in addition to well rested.  Thoughtful details that cost little tell your customer how much they are cared for.  They’ll appreciate this as much as they value your personnel’s caring attitude.