Social spaces, cutting-edge technology now design norms

Omni Chicago’s 676 Restaurant.

Omni Chicago’s 676 Restaurant.

Designers must keep up not just with current tastes, but with new technology and new needs for a range of travelers. Views on how hotel design has changed—or stayed the same—are striking and surprisingly in sync: connection is king, lobbies are changing faster than the people who fill them, technology and design go hand-in-hand and travelers are seeking a stronger sense of community in their hotels.

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Reggi Nichols, principal, Waldrop + RN Studio Recent projects:
* Omni Hotel Chicago
* Viceroy Miami
* Waterway Hotel-Woodlands, Texas

HM: Identify the most important trend that influenced hotel design in 2013?
RN: Connectivity, both from a human and IT aspect within a communal environment.

HM: What trends will affect hotel design 2014?
RN: The social aspect. [We will see] flexible and multi-faceted spaces like lobbies and bars addressing the ever-evolving needs of the guest and the clientele, focused on personalized attention.

HM: What are your industry forecasts overall for 2014?
RN: Continued growth, with new construction in response to demand and supply.

HM: What area of hotels is most likely to see a major shift in the coming years, and why?
RN: The lobby experience [will engage] guests with entertaining elements and choices to create interaction and animation rather than a stagnant space.

HM: What would you change in the industry, if you could?
RN: Professional fees commensurate with pre-downturn levels. Designers must continue to design with the mindset of value for the bottom line.

Patricia Miller, VP, managing principal, corporate director of hospitality, Leo A. Daly Recent projects:
* Silversmith Hotel and Suites, Chicago
* Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Amelia Island, Fla.    
* The Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza, Santa Fe, N.M.

HM: HM: Identify the most important trend that influenced hotel design in 2013?
PM: An ongoing trend from 2013, and continuing into the foreseeable future, is more activated lobbies that encourage guests to be in a social setting for work or play. There is also a focus on children with the creation of more entertainment areas with activities for children and teens.

HM: What trends will affect hotel design 2014?
PM: The incorporation of technology into design will continue to increase in 2014. LED lighting can be embedded into drywall or slimmer light coves in ceilings, giving designs a cleaner and sleeker look.

HM: What are your industry forecasts overall for 2014?
PM: There will be a continued opening and blending of space allowing for more socially interactive lobbies. Technology will be available everywhere creating a plug-and-play environment.

HM: What area of hotels is most likely to see a major shift in the coming years, and why?
PM: Communal rooms will see a shift toward easier access to technology and providing people with flexible atmospheres that support their particular needs. With active social spaces being an important part of hotels, upgraded technology is imperative to meet guest needs.

HM: What would you change in the industry, if you could?
PM:The schedule of projects. There is just not enough time to design, construct and produce the furniture, and everything is suffering.

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