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HI Connect® Designer Spotlight - Gina Joyce

Today we speak with Gina Joyce, principal of Joyce Design Group, as part of our series focusing on the hospitality designers, architects and purchasing pros that are part of HI Connect® Design 2014.

Sunday, January 26, 2014
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HI Connect®®
HI Connect®
Experience a Design Revolution

We’re getting ready for our BIG event HI Connect® Design coming this April 2-4, 2014 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN. Act Now and register to be a part of this amazing event.

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® 2014 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 their story below.

For today’s interview, Editor-In-Chief Glenn Haussman and Mark Viola speak to Gina Joyce, principal of Joyce Design Group, who is creating a luxury vignette at HI Connect® Design for the three days of HI Connect® Design.

Glenn: And, of course, the subject of our great interview today, Ms. Gina Joyce, principal of Joyce Design Group, who will be doing a luxury vignette at HI Connect® Design. How are you today?

Gina: Good, good. Thank you for having me.

Glenn: Well, I am very happy to have you here today. And, you know, one of the things that I find very interesting is looking back on your past to see how you see the future. So, Gina, tell me a little bit about... what was it about your childhood that pushed you to become a designer?

Gina: Well, we're sitting in the beautiful Hotel del Coronado, which is the childhood beach of mine. And so, as I kid, eating a pizza on the beach, my dad was a naval aviator. So we would go to the beach very often and look up at the beach and just be mesmerized by this great building that was called a hotel. And so we thought all buildings were hotels, at the size.

Glenn: Right. And, yes, of course, we're taping this interview at the Hotel del Coronado, which is absolutely a spectacular hotel built in 1888, and I think, really, is one of the most historic properties in the entire United States, and you grew upright near is. So that must have been unusual.

Gina: Yeah, absolutely. We never met Kate Morgan in person.

Glenn: Unfortunately, I have. It was not a good evening.

Gina: Okay, okay. But the inspiration of this hotel carried through my career so far with several historical properties, Arizona Biltmore, Moana Surfrider, Omni Severin. And so it definitely is a passion of mine to see something that is old brought back to life. In this case, this hotel doesn't need to be brought back to life. It lives on its own.

Glenn: Yeah, one of the things I think they've done a great job with at this hotel is keeping the historical essence, while modernizing it for today's traveler, yeah?

Gina: Sure, sure. Absolutely. And the Victorian Building was just newly renovated in the past several years, and it is a true compliment to the Victorian era, done by another firm that I previously worked for. And I think that they did, like you said, bring out the essence of the historical nature of this property in the main building. And then when you go to the other buildings, Ocean Tower and California Cabana, they were add-ons. And so they have a little bit more of a reflective property of that era.

Glenn: Right. I know the Ocean Towers, I feel was built in the early 1980, I want to say.

Gina: Something, yeah.

Glenn: So it feels very different. But, unfortunately, I have a room in the original tower, and it's absolutely beautiful.

Gina: Stunning.

Mark: It's amazing.

Glenn: Absolutely stunning, right. So, you know, Gina, you know, I have to ask how do you retain the essence of a property while bringing it to the standards of today's modern luxury traveler?

Gina: Well, I believe that our design team comes together, and we literally love to pay homage, is one of our favorite words to exploit, just paying homage to the history and then giving it a 2013, per se, curve to it, deleting some details, adding some details, reflecting on the materials that might have been used at the original time and looking at how materials like that are used in current day.

Glenn: That's interesting. So how do you go about doing that? 'Cause I can't imagine the materials that were in 1886, '87 when they were building this place are practically relevant today or even available.

Gina: Well, I think, as you see, everybody is cyclic. And so history repeats itself both in architecture and design. And so you have some classical architectural features. You have classic design features from, you know, those eras. And it might be stylizing them to fit the bill of what we're trying to accomplish here. Clean it up, if you will, not so goopy.

Glenn: Right. Mark, what do you like about these old school luxury hotels?

Mark: I just love again that they kinda keep the old flare to kind of a newly renovated property. I love that aspect of it. I mean, I just love coming to this property, just so amazing in so many different aspects. The way they all come together just amazes me. So-

Glenn: Yeah, my room feels brand-new, and I feel like if I'm in the room, I could not tell that I was in a historic structure.

Gina: But you still have a creek to your floor in your specific building, absolutely.

Glenn: Yes, I do. Usually just the ghost of Kate, you know, summoning me, waiting for her estranged lover to show up, which is... what's the story that goes-

Mark: No, no, I know.

Glenn: -did she... yeah. Well, I'm saying this now, not for you Mark, 'cause I know, you know, everything there is to know, but-

Mark: I know the whole story, right?

Glenn: For the listeners, apparently, this guy was supposed to show up. He never did. She got so sad, she offed herself, right?

Gina: Yes, yeah.

Glenn: Yeah, not a very pleasant story.

Gina: Sad is the news. But then, again, she's written in every little piece of paperwork that's sitting on your desk.

Glenn: Yes.

Mark: Yeah.

Gina: You have a little... it's the top ten things to do while you're here.

Glenn: Yeah. And if I were her, I would lawyer up, and see about getting some points on this hotel.

Gina: Absolutely.

Glenn: Right.

Mark: See, I don't know if I saw her last night or if I just had too much to drink, but I don't know. We'll... I'm sure I'll figure that out.

Glenn: I'm gonna say maybe a little bit of both for you, mark.

Mark: Thank you, thank you.

Glenn: All right. So, Gina, luxury hotels. What are some of the projects that you've seen that have inspired you throughout your life?

Gina: Well, right now I'm a big Anthony Melchiorri fan. And of course that's the Algonquin Hotel in New York. Can't get enough-

Glenn: Hotel Impossible?

Gina: Yes, yeah.

Mark: I had the pleasure to interview him last year.

Gina: Really?

Mark: Oh, yeah. Very interesting gentleman. I loved him though. He's a good guy. Great guy.

Glenn: For those of you listening, you can listen to it on Hotel Interactive® Radio. Just go back to June of 2012, and you'll hear our interview. It was a lot of fun 'cause he really talked about how the TV series was created and the things that he goes through. And we even had one of his, you know, hotel project people on the show.

Gina: Okay. Excellent, excellent. My husband will sit there and tell me you can do a better job than Blanche Garcia. But I admire her, and I admire the show, and I admire his very direct presentation of people who have requested their constructive criticism. But the point is that he has a level of care, a standard of care that he goes in with the eagle eye, and it is the curse but also the blessing for a designer.

Glenn: Right. I think for people like you, it's perfect. For the poor owners of the hotel, I don't think that necessarily they know what's gonna hit them, and they're not ready for absolute truths.

Gina: No, absolutely not. And we just walked a property in Boston. It has a lot of history, and the client is very open to hearing what we have to say. And I said to him, "I'm gonna go a little Hotel Impossible on you, and here's the story. You're missing a story. You are missing, you know, not even from an aspect of just interior design." We spoke about, "You could be doing this in a marketing sense," and that's how we got the job, because we send to think 360. We don't just think about fabrics and furniture.

Mark: Right, that's smart.

Gina: We think about how to get their brand noticed, just like Anthony Melchiorri would, get them out there, get them the business and build upon their clientele which currently visits there, which, if, you know, the story, it's somewhat limited, but it doesn't have to be.

Glenn: So how do you express that then through design?

Gina: Very directly. And I think the Lord has given me a great personality that half the people either take me serious, or they just laugh at me.

Mark: Right. I love it. I love it.

Glenn: I know the feeling, except 100 percent just laugh, that poor, old me. Right, Mark?

Mark: Agreed. Totally agreed.

Glenn: All right. So, you know, when you're dealing with these luxury products and trying to renovate them to modern standards, how do you handle budgetary issues? Because I'm sure owners are surprised by how much it might actually cost.

Gina: I think because we go into it with a... we honestly do. We go into it thinking, "You might be sitting in a 5-star hotel, but the budget isn't always a 5-star budget. We go into every single one of our properties with a mid-scale budget in mind. And so we start off the project with a round of research and scheming for the design at a mid-scale level and let the client decide whether or not he wants to pump it up a notch.

Glenn: That's interesting. 'Cause a lot of designers that I've spoken to load it up and expect things to get cut. So they'll put in, like, their blue sky dreaming.

Gina: You're doing too much legwork at first. You're gonna retrace your steps. I mean, luxury has been redesigned since the economy has fallen and now growing again. And the thing is, is that the full-service property is where most people want to stay, but they find themselves at a mid-scale property, expecting full-service amenities. And so today a luxury now-a-days is just getting a vacation. And so the experience while they're at the property, if we can give them bigger bang for their buck, and the client is happy for that, there's no sense in him paying for us to go backwards if we start the process off on the right foot.

Glenn: So, all right. So I like what you're saying. One of the things that I do when I'm speaking around the country is talk about the new consumer, how they're seeking more of experiences. They're not really into conspicuous consumption, right? So how are you expressing that through design in the hotel rooms?

Gina: Well, I think one major aspect to design is connectivity. And you have the connectivity at the front door, in the lobby. Everybody wants to be seen. It's the giant living room. They don't want to be cooped up in their room. When they're in their room, they want to connect. They want their social media, whatever. So it's the Wi-Fi, which has nothing to do with us. However, plugs and adapters and chargeability and stuff like that, incorporating that into the nightstand, into the desk. And then, just recently, the experience that comes back to just making your visit easier, I was just recently in a conversation where this woman said to me, "Please stop taking the mirror away from the desk. That's where I do my makeup." And of course the guests want to be able to, you know, share their room. Or, even, by themselves, they go off to the desk. They do their makeup. They work on their laptop, which most of us work in our bed on our laptop. So connectivity everywhere in upstairs and downstairs in a hotel and then just the amenities of the ease of your stay, making things less difficult.

Glenn: And one of the things that I think make things less difficult is having those adequate outlets.

Gina: Sure.

Glenn: And it can't be overstated. I've been in this business now 15 years and been complaining about it since I was a kid, I think.

Gina: I think gone are the day are the brand standards of putting a plug in the lamp. That's a nice accoutrement. There needs to be a Jack Pack that's on the side of the nightstand because we're all traveling with iPads, I phones, this, that and the other. And then video streaming from the nightstand to the TV. It could be a great-

Mark: It just amazes me how you can find a plug in a Holiday Inn Express, right next to a bed but can't find a plug in some of these 4-star properties that I stay in. That amazes me. Every time you stay in a Holiday Inn Express, there's a plug next to the bed. Is it that hard? Really?

Glenn: Apparently, it's way too difficult.

Mark: Get me in there. I'll put some plugs in there.

Glenn: But I think you're right. And we have what we're... what I see as the digital leap now that's rising. And those are classified as people that have three or more devices with them. And, at first, I was, like, laughing, "Who does that?" Then I realize I have my phone. I have my laptop. I have my iPad. I'm, like, at three already, and I could probably keep counting.

Gina: Right.

Glenn: Imagine if I'm with my family as well.

Mark: Forget it.

Gina: Right.

Glenn: So we can't argue about having plugs anymore. Just-

Gina: That's the other experience, too, is when you travel and you're traveling with a family is bringing that into the design aspect of, "Okay. We have a set of chest of drawers. I have two kids. I have my husband. All right. We're gonna put them at the bottom." you see where I'm going with this. There's never enough storage space for a family of four in a guest room. And, granted, they are little, so they stay with us in the same room. And that again eventually graduates to having a connector. But, I think, just when you make someone's stay more enjoyable because they have the niceties at home they expect it in the hotel.

Glenn: Right, yeah, and you're right. And I think, you know, Mark, you'll agree. Our quality of life, generally speaking, has risen so much at home that the hotel really has to keep up with it. It used to be the hotel always was a show place and a place of fantasy.

Gina: It was the theater.

Mark: Exactly. But now, I mean, I'm in hotels more than I'm home. I mean, I need everything I have at home in hotels. So just goes to show you.

Glenn: And I'm just happy with good room service. So tell me a little bit about what you're thinking when it comes to preparing for HI Connect® Design 2014, which is of course April 2-4 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee. If you guys want to join us, make sure you go to hiconnectdesign.com to learn all about it. So when you're planning this room, what are some of the things that you're thinking about?

Gina: First, from the very first year and graduating now to the third year, we went at it a little bit differently, and we were assigned a case good vendor and then designed. And if it's appropriate to say that we are huge proponents of an appreciation of the cost that goes into this. And, of course, I have a question for you as to where the stuff is it gonna go at the end because there's so much immediate, you know, in different cities and stuff like that.

Glenn: Well, I was just gonna steal it all and do a garage sale at my house. But, now that you mentioned it it's probably a good idea to donate to charity, and we have done that in the past.

Gina: Yeah, and I know you guys are really good about doing that. So, as we get assigned to a vendor, we literally go and try to not reinvent the wheel. But you can do great design by, obviously, they're successful with their stuff and then using the creative process to glean from what they already have created. And there are a few things that we are going to create that they're willing to do custom. But it's just, you know, keeping in mind that we have to be good stewards with their resources and the money and building a guest room that highlights their capabilities as well as our own. So we want them to showcase... they've been speaking to us about showcasing something they would like to showcase, as well as interpreting the design to be cohesive.

Glenn: Great. And I think one of the great things about HI Connect® Design is really finding that inspiration. I love the team-building aspect of it where you're working with all of these different suppliers to create something that's new, different, exciting that shows really the potential of what can be done in the hotel industry. Do you want to add anything else that you want to share with us?

Gina: No, no. I'm just... like you said, I'm a huge team player. I love to mentor, and I love to season the designers, young and old, and just bringing design to an element of "It doesn't have to be work." Our office really thrives on the fact that we design a passion, and we're pretty much big firm talent with a small firm benefit.

Mark: Love that. That's great. Love that.

Glenn: And I think that about sums it up all. And, you know, I love to incorporate personal life lessons in this. And if you have a passion for something, you're never gonna feel like you're working a day in your life. And I think, ideally, that's what we all want, is to have something that we love and be able to express it and have other people appreciate it as well. I want to thank Mark Viola again for being here today.

Mark: Thank you, Glenn, and thank you, Gina. I appreciate it.

Glenn: And of course Gina Joyce of Joyce Design Group will be a featured designer at the upcoming HI Connect® Design 2014, doing a luxury guest room. We hope to see you guys there and thanks for listening.

Act now to be a part of this amazing event. For more information relating to this unique and dramatic experience at HI Connect® Design, this April 2-4, 2014 visit HI Connect® Design to learn more and register for this unique event that sets the new standard in hospitality tradeshows.

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