We love design here at Hotel Interactive®. And we regularly love to share with you the people behind the business that make staying in hotels such a great experience from a sensory and design point of view.
Today we’re speaking with Patricia McClintock who runs PMA Design and we’re presenting highlights of the interview below as well as a link to the full interview via podcast. Just click listen. Or download
it and listen to it on your next drive!
PMA Design has completed some really great projects such as the Fairmont Hotel Château Montebello, Auberge Estrimont Suites & Spa and Château Versailles Hotel, Montreal.
Glenn Haussman: What motivates you as the designer and how did you get into this crazy business?
Patricia McClintock: Oh, by pure accident. When I got into it, I thought it would be easy and I discovered in a few years that it’s not easy at all, it’s actually quite complex, but very challenging and thus very interesting. So it does motivate me and I also find that it is important to be surrounded in environments that are not only functional but also aesthetic. It’s like a poem for the soul.
Glenn Haussman: I like that. What makes it like that for you, what are some of the challenges and excitement that you get to do on a day to day basis that gives you that feeling of satisfaction?
Patricia McClintock: Well it’s because nothing is ever the same, so we’re constantly revisiting ideas, it’s an ongoing work with clients and communicating and helping them and they too help us because they bring to the table new thoughts and ideas, and it’s the massaging of all these thoughts and ideas and visions that make the work every day different and therefore very attractive. There’s not a moment of monotony.
Glenn Haussman: I’m sure, and I love that you say that you’re getting to do things that are different. Every single project is different, but there are some similarities I would say, between everything you’re doing, because you’re in front of the trends, you’re trying to make sure that the projects that you participate in help to create an atmosphere for guests to love for years to come. What is one big trend that you’re seeing out there that you’re adapting some of your work to handle?
Patricia McClintock: Some of the trends – if we look at colors for example, we’ve been using a lot of muted colors for a while, which may be a reflection of the economy. Suddenly, this last year, year and a half, you find very bright colors coming in, that bring you back to the 60s and 50s where there was a lot of joy in the air.
Glenn Haussman: So you’re saying that maybe during the great recession that we’ve just gotten out of that perhaps people were feeling a little bit more dark and dour in their own lives, so they painted their homes and hotels those kinds of colors as well?
Patricia McClintock: Yeah, well I’m not saying they paint it because of that, but a lot of things happen in a very unconscious way, but when you’re – there’s a feeling of – not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. One has a tendency of being very cautious, and that is expressed through many ways and colors is one of them.
Glenn Haussman: So how do the brighter colors – how are they playing themselves out today?
Patricia McClintock: First of all there seems to be a need for brightness everywhere, spaces are becoming smaller so when you go into light tones and whites – purer tones, you still need to bring in some dabs of color, do you find oranges, tangerines, turquoise, bright greens, bright blues. Dashes of colors are introduced.
Glenn Haussman: Interesting that you should say that, you know, at Hotel Interactive® this past week we just ran an article on Days Inn introducing their first all-new construction prototype in its 42 year history (see article here), and one of the things that they’re doing in their rooms is they’re doing a brightly colored accent wall that falls into that blue-turquoise that you were talking about.
Patricia McClintock: Absolutely, and you also find that at Radisson, they launched Blu.
Glenn Haussman: Yes, the Radisson Blu recently opened up in Chicago and they’re building one at the Mall of America due to open in the first quarter 2013 as a matter of fact.
Patricia McClintock: Exactly, so there again, the spaces – the interior spaces are smaller because square footage is costly, so you have to make it effective and very functional, so there’s a return to simpler lines in terms of furnishing and seating, but the colors are brought in through cushions, through – but they’re very pure blues, they’re not – we’re sort of going away from the muddy tones.
Glenn Haussman: So everything is getting bolder, everything is getting brighter.
Patricia McClintock: Bolder, fresher, brighter, but at the same time there’s a muted envelope if I may say so, which means that it allows for flexibility, it’s easy to change cushions, it’s easy to change the bed spread, the thing they put at the end of the bed. Little details like that.
Glenn Haussman: You work on so many projects, what is something that you are working on now or you have recently worked on that is very exciting to you, and why?
Patricia McClintock: Well presently we’re working on a restoration project it’s an old property which is an 18th century construction in the northern part of Quebec. So this is another type of project, even though it’s managed by hospitality management groups. It is considered – treated more as a boutique type hotel and caters to the leisure guests essentially who is coming to this part of Canada to look for an experience. So the sight of the hotel provides all of these unbelievable experiences where you – from your hotel room, you can see whales go up and down, it’s truly very beautiful. So that’s the kind of project we’re working on, and at the other end of the spectrum, we’re also working on the Best Westerns. So these are complete extremes.
Glenn Haussman: Yes they are indeed complete extremes, each with its own unique set of challenges for you.
Patricia McClintock: Well yes because in both cases, you are helping the owner, the operator create environments that are appealing for his clients, and each – even though they’re different markets, they’re targeting different markets, they want through the – not the service, the décor, the feeling of welcomeness – they’re basically trying to secure their market share.
Glenn Haussman: And that makes perfect sense, and these days it’s more critical than ever to have a hotel that is freshly renovated if you want to not just fill those rooms but try to get those best rates possible.
Patricia McClintock: It’s just that competition is really tough and people have realized that you need to renovate to keep up with the times. There’s also a change of generation occurring, they’re more and more younger people in the market now, and they’re also pushing and requiring modified aspect rooms.
Glenn Haussman: Like what? What are they really hoping to see when they check into a room?
Patricia McClintock: Well what they want to see is the stylistic contemporary look, they’re also looking for a lot of amenities like – if it’s the business traveler they want seating that swivels and tilts, because they’re there with their computers. They are looking more and more to having free Wi-Fi, but that’s not in all properties. So all the – they come in with their iPads and their iTunes and all of this, so all the amenities have to be there to provide them the environment that they’re expecting and the feel that’s part of how we’re living today.
Glenn Haussman: Are any trends that you see coming down the pipe that we should start to be thinking about?
Patricia McClintock: I know that in the North American market, there’s a bigger concern and attention given to public spaces that are more network-friendly, in the sense that you can work and meet people and sit and converse and have many meetings, so those – before, you had your traditional lobby. Marriott I think is one of the first firms that is really concerned with that in some of their products. So the – you come to the hotel, you’re not just in your room, you’re also using the public spaces and areas to meet people and to network.
Glenn Haussman: That’s very true, people have definitely moved from the hotel experiences being more transactional within the lobby of “Hey, I’m just going to grab a quick bit to eat or I’m just going to check in and out of the hotel.” To a more experiential type of feel where they want to linger and connect with other people, you’re right.
Patricia McClintock: Absolutely, and they also provide some F&B outlets that are more spontaneous. To me, more spontaneous is – you can just go and get a very good sandwich. You don’t have to go to a formal dining room and sit down and go through the whole rigmarole.
Glenn Haussman: Which I really like as well, and it’s nice to see that there are some quicker food options that are available in mid-scale hotels, it’s really starting to improve as well, the quality of the ingredients, the healthiness of it, they’re all starting to combine with the lobby experience to create something that I think is a lot more fun for people in general.
Patricia McClintock: Absolutely. There is a concern generally speaking, and of course the government that you have in the United States are promoting the fact that foods should be of better quality. I think Mrs. Obama is working quite a lot on that domain.
Glenn Haussman: And it’s all about hanging out in a great atmosphere that people want to stay in. So in closing, what is something – one or two elements that you think must be included in that lobby to make it more of a communal experience that people want to hang out in?
Patricia McClintock: Well it has to be friendly and free-flowing. I don’t know how to explain it, I think the formality has to be taken away, I think – again, it’s very difficult to generalize because it really depends on the market you’re targeting. If you’re doing a Ritz, you’re targeting a different market, so we can’t get away too much from a more traditional lobby. So it really – what operators and hoteliers – and I believe they’re doing a fantastic job of this, is really focusing on the market that they want to attract, and to really analyze that market. It’s like the Japanese in the oil industry, they come to the States and they really analyze families and their needs, and once they see how people live in their homes and understand how that happens, through many focus groups, then they implement that in their cars. This is why often the Japanese car has all kinds of things that work well. I think maybe our hotel industries should be doing a little bit the same thing, to understand more what the typical – depending on the market, the typical traveler, how he lives at home, what he would like to bring on his trips because it can be lonely travelling.
For those of you who are interested in contacting Patricia McClintock, she is of course running PMA design, easy enough to find at www.pmadesign.com
and you’re located up there in Montreal, Quebec and soon will be expanding into Florida.