9 insights to make your hotel cool and unforgettable
How do you make a hotel cool? Iconic? Transform it into a sought-after destination? As I direct my team of momentscaping designers, it is always my goal to create worlds of culture and curiosity that appeal to our human desire to be entertained, moved and inspired.
In my last newsletter, I talk about the impact of integrating one-of-a-kind design with new and unexpected hotel experiences. Now let’s take a deeper dive into the forward-thinking and innovative design concepts that are paving the way for the next generation of extraordinary hotels and hospitality venues.
#1 – Be Bespoke
Developing a unique identity is crucial, of course, for creating a legendary brand. However, that doesn’t mean applying a cookie cutter approach across all your properties. When your hotel in France feels exactly the same as your hotel in Greece, you’ve missed an opportunity to create a distinct guest experience.
Keep the brand global but strive to customize and personalize each individual hotel and experience so the identity and feel are bespoke to that location, purpose and style. Draw from the local culture – be inspired by and offer insight into that area’s traditions, heritage, art and design. I liken my approach to hotel brand design to Stradivarius and his violins – all in tune with a singular “sound,” yet each one different and still a masterpiece!
#2 – Create the Unexpected
Creativity is the missing element in hotel and hospitality. We love to replicate successful formulas but don’t realize that what originally felt “new” weakens with time and replication. Continually strive for originality in all you do – it may seem to be the most expensive investment, but provides the highest ROI. Being unexpected and original is what makes a brand brutally cool!
Reimagine everything from your common spaces, bars and restaurants to hallways and parking lots, with an intent to be more unexpected – EVERYWHERE. Design experiences that defy and draw from diverse genres to create something that truly feels revolutionary! Augment your brand team with creative partnerships, collaborating with leaders in a diverse range of disciplines such as momentscaping artists, storytellers, scenographers, directors, technologists and dramaturgists, to bring that magic elixir of wildly unique thinking.
#3 – Think Social
Design for our era’s new “togetherness.” Connect guests via innovative public places – from attractive working spaces, spas and meditation rooms to cool clubs, bars and hangout areas that elevate the social experience.
Start with your lobbies. Jaw-dropping aesthetics are no longer enough. These spaces are the heart of your hotels and need to beat. Consider making them multi-purpose social hubs, or areas with multiple lives – mysterious, curious, exciting, welcoming. Add rotating art installations, attractions, pop-up shops, a DJ or live shows, utilizing technology, lighting and music to transform the vibe and function of the space from day to night and season to season.
#4 – Add the Instagrammable
Mesmerize guests with venues and attractions they’ve never experienced before – that they’ll be compelled to share with the world, across the world wide web! New and unexpected entertainment venues are trending on Social right now, and are a great way to give used and forgotten spaces new life. Old gardens, parking lots, conference centers, tennis courts, they all can be transformed into unique and memorable event spaces that not only wow guests, but serve as a marketing tool to entice their followers to come and visit your property as well.
Think extraordinary, multi-sensory. Combine art and technology to create innovative experiences such as bars with live entertainment, lobbies with artistic spectacles or the modern era of immersive dinner theatre.
#5 – Become an Entertainment Destination
Live entertainment is one of the oldest forms of experience design, and when done well, draws crowds in droves. Hotels as performance hotspots is not just for Vegas. The right programming can be one of your main differentiators – letting guests sightsee without leaving your property, while bringing in new audiences who want to return as guests.
The new era of entertainment lies in unconventional venues, unique concepts and non-traditional shows. Think multi-genre creations that feature opera, ballet, acrobatics, fine arts and more, in new and never seen before ways. And of course, cool technology designed to immerse and amaze. Above all, make sure it’s high-quality and talent-driven, and collaborate with revolutionary muses who are at the cutting edge of show biz.
Offering entertainment that can’t be seen anywhere else will transform and elevate your brand, while adding another stream of revenue.
#6 – Think Outside the Hotel Walls
Outdoors spaces are an extension of your coolness – find them anywhere and everywhere – unused areas, transitory spaces, gardens, roofs, sides of your facade, streetscapes, or even a pool deck that offers night life during the evening. Extraordinary exteriors are all the rage in hospitality these days. These spaces offer amazing opportunities to change with the seasons, reflect on nature, weather and location, and also be curated throughout the year to refresh their character and essence as needed. And of course your design team can play so much horizontally and vertically in outdoor space. The sky is the limit!
#7 – Elevate Rooms into Private Sanctuaries
Put intention into updating and diversifying your hotel rooms. The most memorable ones are small worlds within, from calming cocoons to second homes or dream-like destinations featuring a lot of touchable accents such as fireplaces, handmade elements, wood, greenery, local art, small libraries, design-driven reading chairs, perhaps meditation corners.
Differentiate through storytelling, dramaturgy and a dynamic set of experiences as the guest enters the room for the first time, then enhance their stay with hidden surprises they discover along the way.
#8 – Bathrooms & Spas as Sophisticated Escapes
Bathrooms are the gems of the room experience. Invest there the most! Make them little spas, each with their own individual charisma, drawing inspiration from the arts, design and different cultures. One might have a tropical feel, another could have opulent accents like a chandelier, or evoke a warm library. The creative opportunities are infinite, but above all, make your bathrooms legendary.
Spas must also be rethought. Designed well, they are the essence of sophisticated escapism. Elevate your wellness areas with more multisensory experiences and non-verbal expression. Draw inspiration from history, note the rituals and traditions of ancient spas like those of the Romans or Persia, while seeking to create a culture uniquely your own.
#9 – Craft and Care about the Details
Every detail matters. Focus on artistry and craft – often the little touches are what impact guests the most! I am a big believer in the Slow Food movement and employ a Slow Living philosophy: going back to beautiful, timeless rituals. Use real coffee cups, plates and cutlery, have a paper newspaper during breakfast, and make real coffee and tea. Bake on site. Care about the tiniest details, and train everyone on your staff to do the same. Create a culture that is a family affair. Make it personal because it is (or should be!) Talk to your guests about life, events, everything and anything.
Let’s be a bit more human again because that makes us feel things, and feelings are beautiful.