As hotels try to one-up each other with ever-sleeker, ever-more-sophisticated bathrooms, the line between hospitality and residential is getting blurrier. Fortunately, high-end products are becoming increasingly affordable and are opening up new possibilities for showers and baths.
“Hotel bathrooms should be inspirational,” said Felicia Seignior, SVP of business development and brand at Apaiser, a bathware design company. “Guests want to recreate this feeling in their home.” Especially in the luxury end of the market, she acknowledged, this goal makes it more challenging to design impressive bathrooms for hotels.
“Luxury hotels are mirroring the luxury features that consumers want in their baths,” said Jay Beaumont, director of sales and marketing at Lenova. The company has been seeing increased demand for its body-spray shower systems, which are already popular in upscale residences, and for its high-tech thermostatic shower system, which keeps water temperature steady throughout a shower.
Showers need to be spacious, Beaumont said, and use rain-style heads. “It adds to the allure,” he said. “Steam capability within the shower enclosure is becoming more and more common with high-end consumer bathrooms. It’s been used very occasionally in the hotel business, but I see it growing and expected in high-end homes. It will be another thing that’s added for luxury hotels.
“For suites and penthouses, large, sculptural freestanding baths are the most desired product,” Seignior said. “They create [both] immediate visual impact and a lasting memory.” Design aside, she added, products selected for hotel use need to be “durable, simple to clean, maintain and repair and certainly withstand more abuse.”
Sleeker, Safer Showers
Until recently, most shower stalls had a central drain—“usually something round, nothing attractive,” said Michael Rizzuto, technical sales manager at Infinity Drain. On the floors, mosaic tiles terminated at a low center point, “almost like a bowl,” making larger tiles ill-suited for the space.
Linear drains, on the other hand, put a channel against one of the perimeters of the shower enclosure, and the floor is slightly tilted to that side. The lack of a central drain means that the base of the shower can be solid or large-scale tile—or another material entirely. Michael Kornowa, director of marketing for MTI Baths, noted that custom drain locations in acrylic shower pans help reduce overall costs and speed up remodels.
Darryl Jones, national sales manager of showrooms for QuickDrain USA, said that the flatter floor and smaller tiles are a benefit in terms of upkeep thanks to less grout in between tiles, “so it's going to be way easier to clean and way easier to maintain,” he said. Similarly, Rizzuto noted that the drainage becomes much more efficient because the water sheets in one direction rather than swirling around a center point based on the flow rate. “Linear drains generally allow for a larger volume of water,” he said.