HI Connect Spotlight - Brooke Pearsall, HVS Design
Today we speak with Brooke Pearsall, Managing Director of HVS Design as part of our series focusing on the hospitality designers, architects and purchasing pros that are part of HI Connect Design 2013.
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
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We’re getting ready for our BIG event HI Connect Design coming this April 10-12, 2013 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN and it promises to be the most exciting event ever to hit the hospitality industry.
We’ve got dozens of built out fully constructed out vignettes created by the vision of leading hospitality designers, architects and purchasing pros. And those in attendance will get to step into their master creations, get a tour and see products in the content in which they belong; in a real hotel environment!
HI Connect Design offers attendees an incredible opportunity to view, first hand, original concepts designed by industry designers and purchasing companies in collaboration with suppliers shown in context within a real environment of a guest room, bathroom, and public spaces such as Bar/Lounge, Spa/Fitness to name a few. This is a truly the most collaborative effort ever at any hospitality event.
As part of our countdown to HI Connect 2013 we’re interviewing the people that are bringing their creative vision to life. Read the story below, or for a more fully in-depth interview listen to the podcast!
For today’s interview, Editor-In-Chief Glenn Haussman speaks with Brooke Pearsall, Managing Director of HVS Design who is creating a Wellness Guestroom during the three days of HI Connect Design.
Glenn Haussman: Where do you see the Wellness aspect of the hospitality industry today?
Brooke Pearsall: Well, I think the Wellness Room is something that is leapfrogging, if you will, off of the spa trending coming into play, especially in regards to the business traveler. And, especially, in regard to the fact that there’s more and more women travelling than ever before.
And, so, you know, I believe what’s happening is that a majority of the people, as they’re travelling, the amount of travelling that they have to do is increasing substantially. And, some of the trips, even sometimes are only one to two days, but they’re happening, you know, on a weekly to biweekly basis instead of being longer trips that are happening maybe less frequently.
So, a lot of people are trying to live a healthy balanced life and that would not only include a healthy life being exercise and good nutrition, but also just basically having overall balance, down time as well as work time and all that kind of stuff.
So, you’ve been seeing that trend coming along in all of the brands, but wellness is special in the fact that it’s really, truly about a holistic approach to life and to supporting that frequent traveler who doesn’t want to fall off the wagon just because they went out of town for a day or two.
Glenn Haussman: Right. And, I’ll tell you it’s really tough for these poor travelers, and I’m going to put us amongst those travelers, all right. 2013 I have decided to stop living the life of a repulsive pig and try to be a little bit healthier and all of that. But it is tough.
I’ve had a couple of 10 day trips, for example, this year. Where I go in it with the best intentions, but it is so tough to keep up the positive habits I’ve tried to instill for myself at home. And, I think you’re also right, people are travelling more frequently. Yeah, those planes are filled, but they’re not filled with all these different people, they’re filled with the same people, I think every single day, going on trip after trip after trip.
So, I think you have this confluence of things that are coming together, that are really starting to create this burgeoning trend. And, it’s interesting to see how hotels are trying to follow with it.
When you’re thinking about wellness in the hospitality environment, what are some of the things that you’re thinking about to create that unifying of body, mind and spirit? Not to sound too new age-y for you.
Brooke Pearsall: Well, believe it or not the most important aspect that’s coming into developing wellness is to appreciate the fact that wellness means something different to every single person. What makes them feel well may simply be able to fully relax, because they’re working so hard.
Other people it’s going to be about good food, other people it’s going to be about exercise. So, it’s really focusing in on the fact that everybody is different, what balance means for everybody needs to be something that can be customized in the room.
So, some of the things that you begin to look at, right, are anything that is sort of globally something that people would look for as an option to rejuvenate. You start doubling back and thinking about the senses. Maybe there are different varieties of smells that people can activate in the room, whether it’s they’re burning a candle, or there’s simply a scent machine in the room and they can pick the scent that makes them feel the most comfortable.
Glenn Haussman: I like that. I like the idea of a scent machine, because it adds to that customization to give people that personalized experience, which is another big trend going on. And, you’re not going to wind up accidentally burning down the hotel.
Brooke Pearsall: There you go. [Laughter]
It is a really positive thing. But, then there’s another good point, too, right, there’s candlelight. You know people like different types of lighting levels. They like different types of lighting levels at different types of the day. So, maybe there’s different lighting schemes that are in the room that sort of give them that different sort ambiance, if you will, in the space.
Sound, you know, there – we have a toilet that will play music for you. There’s a shower that will play music for you. The TV, the mirror, you know, there’s all kind of things you can have now. So, you can put your iPad in there for what have you, and sort of really customize and create an entire event in your room, if you will.
Glenn Haussman: Well, it sounds like it’s an event, if you’ve got your toilet playing music. I’d like to see – I’d like to see the toilet and shower each playing the music, see if they work together well.
Brooke Pearsall: Yes. Well, our toilet is by Kohler and I have to say it will be an event all on itself. It actually is a smart toilet and it does a lot. [Laughter]
Glenn Haussman: Smart toilet, what does that mean? It does complex mathematical equations?
Brooke Pearsall: It supposedly can tell whether you’re a man or a female so the seat is either up or down. It plays music. It will adjust its temperature for you. You know, it can be a bidet as well as a toilet. It’s, you know, it’s pretty top shelf.
Glenn Haussman: Sounds really good. But, all right, let’s focus a little more back on the wellness trend. I really like what you’re saying about how you can change aspects of the room and something like that. Wellness does not mean the same thing to everyone. So, that must be a challenge for you when you’re trying to look at creating the right type of atmosphere.
I don’t want you to give away too much about what you have planned for HI Connect Design 2013, of course, coming at you April 10th through 12th at the Gaylord Nashville. But, I do want to know a little bit about what process are you going through and what types of elements do you think are critical to include in there, and maybe some fanciful ideas that you have as well.
Brooke Pearsall: For us the critical thing – so this is what we did in terms of approaching what was in – what was in the room and what wasn’t is we basically began talking to as many people as we could and kind of surveying what wellness meant to different people. And, then from there we broke it down and we broke it up into the big categories. And, so for us activating all of the senses was one element that was there.
The second element was sort of demonstrating that within the hotel food was a big deal, but that not everything had to be about being super nutritious, it had to be good and there had to be different types of options. So, there’s like a menu that’s involved.
The next thing that was very important to everybody was the idea of relaxing and also maybe having easy access to different types of fitness. But, the people who wanted to relax and didn’t want to work out didn’t necessarily want the workout in their face, because it created some guilt.
Glenn Haussman: [Laughter]
Brooke Pearsall: So, that was a little bit of a challenge, right.
Glenn Haussman: That sounds like my life. Yeah, I hear you.
Brooke Pearsall: Exactly. [Laughter] So, those are some of the things that we kind of focused on.
Glenn Haussman: All right. That’s pretty interesting. How do you get around that? Because, traditionally when I envision a wellness room being as something that has an exercise bike or a treadmill in there or yoga mats or something, but you’re not really looking at it from that point of view. So, it’s more of holistic approach as opposed to an exercise approach, yes?
Brooke Pearsall: Well, we’re having – we are going to put exercise elements in there. But, right now they’re all tucked away into a piece of cabinetry. So, they’re not in your face.
And, then you know perhaps there’s an exercise mat, a medicine ball and some cords for what have you, and then there are tapes of different exercises that you can do in your room, and give you a great workout without actually having to use too much equipment.
Glenn Haussman: I think that you should do a retro wellness room and include VHS tapes from the 80s, so we could do like the Jane Fonda workout.
Brooke Pearsall: [Laughter] That can kick your butt. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it. It’s painful.
Glenn Haussman: No. No, I have tried it. I’ve just – I could not get passed the high hair and the weird tight fitting outfits that they would wear back then.
Brooke Pearsall: Everyone needs at least one pair of legwarmers.
Glenn Haussman: That’s right. Yes. I – yeah, I need a pair of legwarmers too. You know anyone out there early Christmas thoughts about me, I could use a pair of legwarmers, because I know the winter of 2014 is going to be my year for legwarmers.
Going back to Wellness and stuff, you got to have this design to like look really cool too. So, you’re probably thinking about finishes and lighting and all of that kind of stuff. What inspires you to create those types of elements and what kinds of looks do you want it to fall under?
Brooke Pearsall: Well, because it’s a wellness room, I think a lot of people there automatic go to button would be feng shui, because that’s all about balance just in of itself as the philosophy. And, so we did look at that. But, then we also looked to nature.
So, we’re actually bringing a lot of interesting natural elements into the space that I think will be pretty intriguing to people. And, I don’t want to talk about all of them, because we have a couple little surprises in there which will be a lot of fun.
Glenn Haussman: Oh, Brooke, I don’t want you to talk about them either, because I think you need to come to HI Connect Design April 10th through 12th at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, to see for yourself what professionals like Brooke are creating.
But, Brooke I do want to know one thing. How do you delineate now the difference between wellness and green, because I see that there’s kind of an overlap between the two.
Brooke Pearsall: Well, only there’s an overlap in the fact that the two philosophies, right, the people who generally believe in LEED certified hotels or green rooms, if you will, are also the same people that believe in life balance. So, that’s why I think you’re seeing an overlap. But, the two don’t necessarily have to coincide, although it makes a lot of sense.
So, one is you know really truly about the environment and about being responsible in your – with your relationship to the environment. And, the other one is really more narcissistic, right? It’s about you and what makes you feel comfortable and what makes you feel rejuvenated and relaxed.
Glenn Haussman: All right. I do want to know, Brooke, beyond wellness and stuff I think that this trend is really going to start to expand throughout the hotel business. We’ve already seen InterContinental create a brand that’s going to be specifically geared towards this. And, I think some of the other brands are going to be coming around and doing that too.
How deep do you see this trend going and do you think it’s going to go from trend to the de facto way of doing business?
Brooke Pearsall: Absolutely. I think that as things proceed it will become more and more a part of what we’re doing. You’re seeing it all over the place even in terms of what people have been doing and how they’re addressing their lobbies right now and just really, really realizing that the old hotel sort of concept of here’s a bed and this is where you sleep and you shower and you leave, that whole concept is really leaving us. And, this is becoming an extension of our lives.
Glenn Haussman: Agreed. And, you know, I said the same thing about that lifestyle trend that I think that was a nice trend to begin with, but all of those kind of elements wound up being incorporated into your typical hotel. And, I think that we’re seeing the same thing five years now when it comes to wellness. There’s a major cultural shift, I believe, going on in our society that brings up to the point where this is necessary and you alluded to that at the beginning.
I think it’s not just business travelers, but I think it’s people in general are trying to live a more healthy, holistic, organic kind of a life, and they’re realizing that the things that they put into their body, and the way that they use their body, actually has a direct effect on how they feel and interact with the universe, right?
Brooke Pearsall: Yeah. That’s it. Well, especially because you know the average person is living later and later in life. And, you know, if you don’t take care of your body when you’re younger, like it or not, it’s not going to work for you later. So, it’s like I think we all get into our 40s and 50s and realize holy crap what’s happening to me, you know, so.
Glenn Haussman: Yeah. I’m in my 40s now and I’m completely falling apart, so I totally understand that.
Brooke Pearsall: Right. Exactly. And, so you know, it is about maintenance and you certainly and travelling is going to become more and more a part of our lives, as this world gets smaller and smaller, we have to appreciate the fact that nobody wants to fall off that wagon. Nobody wants to travel and feel bad. They should be able to travel and feel good and just keep on going. So, that’s what we want to support.
Glenn Haussman: Great. And, I really can’t wait to see what you guys have in store. Because, I think that of all the rooms that this is probably the most critical that’s going to be built here at HI Connect Design, because I really think it is a window into how we all truly want to live our lives going forward.
But, Brooke, before we go I want to ask you, why don’t you tell me a little bit about a project you’ve done recently that you thought was a really cool, maybe different, unique, that you got all excited about and why.
Brooke Pearsall: Well, I guess the hotel that we’re working on right now is a Homewood Suites in New York City. And, it is a ground up construction that will be completed and opening up hopefully by the December of 2013. It may go into the first quarter of 2014, but we’ll see.
And, it was a very fun project. It was a very innovative project. As, of course, you would expect in New York City, but what was also fun is just how innovative we got with the guess room spaces and really tried to do the rooms so that people could move furniture around, customize the spaces, add their own accessories, change some of the artwork, do whatever they – really customize the space to make that room work the way that they needed it to. And, so that was a lot of fun.
Glenn Haussman: That’s neat.
Brooke Pearsall: Just become innovative. Yeah.
Glenn Haussman: And, I think we’re going to see a lot more of that customization as we go along into the future. Because, people really want to feel like they’re at home and the more and more we get into hotels feeling like an extension of that home, the more people I think are going to demand that extreme personalization.
Brooke Pearsall: I agree. I agree completely.
Glenn Haussman: Awesome. All right, Brooke, anything else that you feel is absolutely critical to share with us today?
Brooke Pearsall: No. Just make sure you come by and see our suite. I think that it’s going to be a big surprise for everybody. I think it’s going to be really enjoyable. We’ve integrated a ton of very current trends. Again, I think some items that are thought provoking. So, I can’t wait to see what everyone’s response is.
If you are interested in participating in this unique and dramatic experience at HI Connect Design™, coming this April 10-12, 2013, please contact us immediately at (631) 424-7755 x150. You may also go to our website for more information and to see the photo gallery of HI Connect Design™ 2012, please visit us at HIConnectDesign.com.