20 construction trends to know for 2021

As developers prepare to renovate or build new hotels, they will need to keep a variety of new trends in mind before construction starts. Here are some notable trends hoteliers are seeing.

  1. Converted spaces: Kevin Mooney, owner and head of development at The Mohicans Treehouse Resort in Glenmont, Ohio, sees a trend of “unique and unusual spaces” being converted into lodging, such as schools, department stores and parking garages or even school buses, trains and shipping containers.
  2. Multipurpose design: The multiuse trend isn’t going away any time soon, said Scott Cam, founder of Blueprint Homes in Australia. “A single property can fulfill all the needs of its guests like hospitality, entertainment, workspace, sports and other purposes.”
  3. Eco-friendly and sustainable elements: Hotel projects are using recyclable or biodegradable material for construction, said Matt Swann, president at Brawn Construction. In addition, many are adding solar panels, smart lighting and advanced onsite energy- and water-management systems to reduce waste.
  4. Maximized energy efficiency: Solar productivity has hit a plateau over the past few years, said Matthew Sexton, owner of Grassy Flats Resort & Beach Club and The Lagoon on Grassy Key in the Florida Keys, but battery and inverter tech has caught up to make existing systems more functional.  
  5. Hybrid modular design: Hybrid system designs use a “checker box” approach where the building is 50 percent constructed in a factory and 50 percent on site, said James Walsh, founder of Studio Anyo.  
  6. Sustainable materials: Sexton also has seen developers seeking out more eco-friendly construction materials, with Forest Stewardship Council lumber “arguably” more sustainable than concrete. “Engineering with straps and composite exterior sheathing has added significant load abilities to its construction,” he added. “Unfortunately, it will take a few large outliers with deep pockets to go out on a limb with new materials to prove their viability for industries to shift to more sustainable options.”   
  7. Softening sounds: Stonehill Taylor installed acoustical plaster for the new Graduate Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. The material both softens the soundscape and accommodates the ceiling’s complex shape. 
  8. Natural lightning: Installing large windows and inserting skylights can brighten up spaces and reduce overall energy costs, said Mooney.
  9. Zero carbon, zero waste: Walsh suggests designing buildings to minimize waste created during construction. “The design needs to account for plasterboard sizes and timber sizes; each component needs to be coordinated to ensure it does not generate additional waste when it is installed,” he said. 
  10. Solar panels: Installing solar panels to generate direct current electricity “will continue to gain steam,” Mooney said.    
  11. Plant-based materials: Plant- and pulp-based construction materials are starting to gain ground, Sexton added. “I think embracing hemp in material production will be a fun industry to watch.” 
  12. Modular concrete: Precast slabs and different techniques for carbon-negative concrete are emerging trends, Sexton said. “Precast slabs and precast modular systems undeniably take market share, especially in developing countries where manufacturing doesn’t exist and systems can be prefabricated and shipped in.”
  13. Dedicated fitness spaces: Barbara Chancey of Barbara Chancey Design Group is seeing demand for dedicated studios for yoga, cardio and strength. “Flooring, acoustics, mirrors and lighting for each modality are uniquely different, and like religion, it’s rare to see multiple faiths worshipping at the same time in one common space,” she said.
  14. Customized yoga studios: Chancey also is seeing demand for yoga and movement studios with built-in storage systems and sprung bamboo or hardwood floors. Soft lighting on dimmers, air vents positioned to avoid blowing and sound mitigation are also increasingly popular. Mirrors, however, are optional, she added.
  15. Access to the outdoors: Laura Mooney, owner and head of creative/design at The Mohicans Treehouse Resort, sees increased demand for outdoor spaces off the guestrooms or the main floor. “Other appealing offerings include an outdoor lounge area, fire pits, rooftop gathering spaces, open air common areas, dining areas with a grill and picnic table or a balcony with a seating area.” 
  16. Automated parking: Drew Johnson, business development associate at Westfalia, sees automated parking spaces gaining ground. “A fully automated parking system opens opportunities for developers to build more efficient structures that are better for our environment.” Guests park in a small space, take a ticket and use a kiosk to finalize storage. “It removes the need for ramps, walkways, stairs [and] elevators.” 
  17. Upgraded HVAC systems: Concerns about indoor air quality are driving hoteliers to upgrade their heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to make sure the air inside is as clean—if not cleaner—than the air outside. 
  18. Electric vehicle charging stations: Companies like EVPassport and Gulplug are making it easier for hoteliers to add charging stations both in garages and parking lots. 
  19. Off-grid lodges: Walsh sees hotels adding lodges or caravans on their grounds without the need for full planning permission, giving guests a “glamping” option.
  20. Tiny houses: The Mooneys agreed that the tiny house movement will spill over from residential into hospitality, and are already adding small standalone units to their property.