The New 5-Star Hotel: Experiences, Tech, Color

Lisa Haude, president & founder of Paradigm Design Group, discusses how hotels are implementing the experiential amenities trend and the role of technology in offering an unforgettable stay.
Lisa Haude, founder & president, Paradigm Design Group
Lisa Haude, founder & president, Paradigm Design Group

Millennials, Baby Boomers or Gen Zers are all looking for an immersive, authentic travel experience. That includes accommodation. Today’s travelers are looking for a distinctive stay through which they can connect more genuinely with the location. The hospitality industry is responding to the experiential trend with interior design upgrades and innovative services for guests. 

“Today’s travelers look for more than just luxury hotel rooms when traveling. They want to get the most out of their stay and really experience the culture of the respective locations,” Lisa Haude, founder & president of Paradigm Design Group, told Commercial Property Executive. Haude also touches on the challenges interior designers face when working for hotels in an interview with CPE

Tell us three aspects you take into consideration when working on the interior design of a hotel.

Haude: Every hotel provides an opportunity to provide an individual design story that highlights its own unique identity which incorporates the region and location of the property. Our team completes extensive research of the area, then marries that to the brand or client’s requirements to ultimately tell a story that artistically portrays those unique elements.

For example, at the Marriott City Center Hotel in Oakland, Calif., the design was inspired by the strong shipping and industrial presence in the area as the guestroom casegoods were designed to loosely resemble shipping containers and even feature a branded stamp of 1852, the year that the city was founded.

How is the experiential amenities trend implemented in hotels?

Haude: Experiential amenities can be incorporated into hotels in a variety of different ways. From fitness centers to bars, to destination restaurants and one-of-a-kind markets, you will find amenities at every hotel you visit. That said, there’s a difference between your typical hotel amenities and experiential amenities that immerse guests into a hotel’s location/culture, which is what many travelers today seek.

For instance, it’s becoming more common for luxury hotels to offer service-based amenities including, but not limited to, cooking lessons with the hotel’s head chef—popular in places such as France where the cuisine is unique and sought after—and assigning hotel staff members to tour guests around the region of that particular hotel.

How can hotel gyms, probably one of the most common amenity in a hotel, be part of this trend?

Haude: Turning a hotel gym into a space that offers guests more than just a place to work out can be challenging, especially when it comes to location. A fun way to give guests a more immersive experience, could be to offer an indoor/outdoor fitness center that provides guests with the option to truly immerse themselves into a hotel’s surroundings. This, of course, might be more suitable for hotels located in warmer climates.

If the weather isn’t suitable for an indoor/outdoor design, simply adding large floor to ceiling windows that offer a view of the hotel’s surroundings is a great way to provide guests with a much more special experience, even while exercising.

Please name the most important interior design trends in hospitality for 2018.

Haude: In 2018, we have certainly seen an increase in demand for the use of color in hotels. It’s so often that people come across hotels with similar color schemes—tans, browns, whites etc.—and these don’t always provide that wow factor that travelers are on the hunt for. Using those colors is perfectly okay, but it’s always a good idea to throw in pops of color whether that’s through the use of throw pillows, furniture, artwork etc.

Making guests feel as though they’re staying at a boutique hotel—even if they’re not—can be really impactful to a hotel’s success. Additionally, designers today are putting much more of an effort into designing luxury bathrooms. Many hotels are waving goodbye to the classic shower/tub combo and welcoming designs that offer a more modern and high-end residential design, such as frameless showers with glass paneling, rain shower heads and luxurious finishes, thus offering a much nicer experience than the traditional guest space.

What are the main challenges in the hospitality sector?

Haude: The biggest challenge in the hospitality sector is the manufacturing lead times. So many items are imported, which means the hotel designs can end up taking much longer than expected. Not only does this create a challenge for designers, but it also interrupts client schedules as we are unable to move things along as quickly as they would like.

Lastly, it can be difficult to create designs that will suit an array of different design tastes. With so many guests coming in and out of the hotel, there are a lot of different people that the design needs to cater to. In the end, you need to accept the fact that you cannot please everybody and sometimes going with your gut is the only way to go.

How is digital technology impacting the industry?

Haude: Digital technology is being integrated into all hotels these days. Marriott International recently announced it is partnering with Alexa from Amazon to create a personal concierge experience for the guests. Therefore, if you are at a hotel that features this product, you can say, “Alexa, I need more towels” or “I need a water bottle” and it automatically links it to the hotel’s concierge to send someone up with the requested items.

I certainly see more hotels trying to incorporate this type of service in the future to help with the overall guest experience and instant gratification. In Japan, they are testing the use of robots that greet you at the door and help you get checked in or bring your luggage to your room in lieu of a bellman. With today’s technology, the possibilities are truly endless.

Can you talk about one or two particular projects that you’re currently working on?

Haude: After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, we were brought on to restore the historic Roosevelt hotel. We are now working with The Roosevelt again to renovate all of the guest rooms and suites, as well as the meeting spaces. It is such a rewarding experience to bring such an iconic hotel back to life and see the excitement on both the clients’ and guests’ faces as they see the results for the first time and experience the charm this amazing property has to offer.

Images courtesy of Paradigm Design Group