Hospitality and Residential - Sharing Design and Amenities

By Eric Rahe Principal, BLT Architects | January 11, 2015

Co-authored by Michael R. Ytterberg, PhD, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, BLT Architects

Do hotel guests prefer to cozy up in front of a warm fireplace on plush couches in spaces that remind them of their own living rooms at home, or do they long to inject a bit of hotel luxury into their residential apartment with rainfall shower heads and purified air filters? The answer is "both." Hotel design trends are crossing over into multi-family residential buildings and visa versa. The line distinguishing spaces in which people vacation and spaces in which they live everyday has blurred. In order to make travel more comfortable, touches of home are introduced, while at the same time luxury lets everyone experience what can only be aspired to in most people's everyday life. Multifamily properties now cater to more sophisticated tastes and borrow hospitality techniques to pamper residents. This is resulting in new opportunities for hotel owner and operators to differentiate based on designing spaces that feel like home while influencing their guests' actual home design. This may create a tighter bond between hotels and guests, leading to increased guest loyalty and advocacy.

Hotel to Home

There is no question that hotels are inspiring enhanced design for both residential and commercial projects, including everything from open and welcoming lobbies with richly textured furniture to commercial kitchens. Specific areas where hoteliers are influencing how we live include:

  • Bathrooms - One area where hotels are definitely leading the charge in buzzworthy trends and exciting design is the bathroom. And as a direct result, residential tenants and owners are demanding more. Whether it's a rainfall showerhead, vitamin C enriched water or purified air, consumers are seeing these more as everyday household amenities rather than the pure luxury items they were once considered. Room-size showers that are covered in tile with Jacuzzi tubs and televisions pepper high-end property listings. Double sinks have long been the norm in apartments and homes, though in some cases now the desire for luxurious lengths of counter space trumps the desire for the second sink. Real luxury means toilets separated by walls or doors.
  • Spas - Hotel spa design is having an impact in bathrooms as well. White tile is out. Wood and bamboo are in. Rich finishes and high-end fixtures are a must. The amenity floor must have spa like features to make residents feel pampered. Spa sinks, benches and steam rooms are in demand as more people seek to find deep relaxation at home. Infinity-edged pools are also becoming more commonplace in residential buildings where they had previously only been reserved for luxury resorts.

  • Kitchens - High-end stainless steel appliances have been the norm for years – now the search is on for the next great thing, influenced by the cult of celebrity chefs. Further, it is not uncommon to find fully equipped commercial kitchens in the amenity areas of multifamily buildings that are made available for hosting events, private parties and even demonstrations from well-known chefs. These, along with temperature controlled wine rooms, have become featured amenities in luxury multifamily buildings. Unattainable within the confines of the small to medium sized living units, they are shared among all the residents in order to maximize individual living space and provide a sense of spacious beyond the individual unit.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.