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Designing the Whole Hotel

While lobbies and guest rooms remain the focus for renovations, don’t forget other areas where guests are now hanging out.

Thursday, July 28, 2011
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They’re not the typical areas that come to mind when thinking about grand hotel spaces. In fact, some of them are not very grand. But designers are increasingly putting a stamp on places such as the fitness center, concierge lounge and even the laundry room as guests spend more time in them.

The insights came during a design panel at the recent BITAC Purchasing & Design East at the Peabody Orlando. While the design and management experts cited the guest room and lobby as the two areas getting the most attention right now, they also brought up other parts of the hotel to consider.

Let’s star with the laundry room, which Deborah Herman, president of Fabric Innovations, said is one of the top places that men gather when staying at extended-stay hotels. A typical customer -- say a construction worker -- uses the laundry facilities. Herman said one hotel she worked with found that the men were using it like a lobby, so they added a flat-screen television and a vending machine area to make it more welcoming.

“They found that guys want to gather, too,” she said.

Another area that some brand are making a priority is the fitness center.

Paula Azevedo, design director at The Gettys Group, said hotel should have a “big clean and comfortable in that fitness center” designed with help from consultants to select equipment and determine what the space allows. After that, maintenance is important.

“It has to be kept up,” she said. “The space has to be pleasing to everyone who uses it. People are finding if they don’t find exercise on the road they don’t find time at home.”

Bob LaCour, a partner at the design firm LaCour-Chodos, agreed.

“Fitness rooms have to be pretty now,” he said. “They have to be energized and they have to have more modes of exercise represented.”

Finally, Herman said hotels should consider their concierge lounges. Once an oasis for the business traveler, they’re frequently used by families now. Now, when that same business traveler is on a family vacation, the entire family uses the lounge and enjoys the perks: free breakfast and snacks as well as special events hotels are creating to cater to families such as a movie night.

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