While separate showers and tubs have been a mainstay of high-end hotel bathrooms for years, many luxury properties are opting for spacious walk-in showers, eschewing tubs altogether. “Showers are certainly where the shift in the hospitality guest bathing category is moving toward, especially in full-service and boutique properties,” Chris Robinson, senior commercial sales manager at Delta Faucet, said.
This, of course, presents new opportunities for designers to make what could be strictly utilitarian into something elegant. Robinson noted interest from hoteliers in adding a hand shower option to each unit—which can make a shower more comfortable but also drive up costs to add another valve behind the wall for renovation or remodels. Delta, he noted, has integrated a hand shower into its showerheads to cut the installation costs. “Our In2ition showers come with stretchable metal hoses and a magnetic docking system that allows ease of use but will hold up to guest usage,” he said.
But not every designer is willing to lose the bathtub just yet. Adam Rabinowitz, national sales manager for projects at Dornbracht Americas, believes that the tub will survive. “As showers begin to grow in typical rooms, the suites and spa continue to cater toward wellness,” he said, and this can include guests having their own private spa. “Soaking the body in warm water with essential oils and minerals is an essential piece of water therapy.”
Innvision Senior Design Manager Renee Rudder agreed. “While walk-in showers are becoming an increasingly popular trend, the bathtub will always remain an important feature for hotels to offer guests,” she said. “With the improving economy, leisure travel from middle-class families will continue to increase. As long as these travelers are present in the hotel market, the bathtub will be necessary, even if it becomes a feature in a fewer quantity of rooms.”
How bathrooms help hotels go green
With increasing pressure to achieve LEED status or otherwise demonstrate improved sustainability, hotels are making changes to their bathrooms to improve their environmental numbers. “Today, the design community has so many options for designing green,” Adam Rabinowitz, national sales manager for projects at Dornbracht Americas, said. “Design today does not have to be limited due to environmental restrictions as it has in the past. Designers are also getting creative in using more sustainable products in a room.”
Innvision Senior Design Manager Renee Rudder noted several common features of green-friendly bathrooms, including LED lighting, WaterSense-labeled plumbing fixtures and low-VOC paints and wallcoverings. “The key for the hotel guest is that the low-flow showerheads continue to provide the necessary water pressure for an enjoyable shower experience,” she said. “While many manufacturers have advanced in this, there still remains room for improvement.”
However, Chris Robinson, senior commercial sales manager for Delta Faucet, noted that he still fields plenty of questions about those low-flow showerheads from hoteliers. But in many cases, he said, when hoteliers want a specific showerhead, they are interested in form over function. “That’s why it’s important to experience the showerhead for yourself and know which one will meet your low-flow requirements but give your guest the best showering experience,” he said. “We are consistently promoting and giving away our showerhead to owners, designers and specifiers, for them to try for themselves and actually experience first-hand how our 1.5 shower feels like a 2.0 shower or our 2.0 shower feels just like a 2.5 shower without losing the pressure to remove shampoo and soap or the loss of warmth.”
Hotel bathrooms set the mood with deft use of color and light
Adam Rabinowitz, national sales manager for projects at Dornbracht Americas, believes that the latest trends in hotel bathrooms seem to be the use of colored metals like black-metal finishes or earth tones rather than the standard chrome. Personalization also seems to be popular, he noted, and designers are asking new questions to change the established rules. “Does the bathroom faucet and sink just have to be about brushing your teeth or washing your hands? Can you add a pivoting spout in order to clean your mouth or take a drink? Do we add a deck-mount hand shower for a quick wash of the hair or just to rinse parts of the body in an easier manner?” Rabinowitz asked.
Lighting also helps create a unique mood. “The bathroom is not just meant for cleansing, [but also] to be a relaxing environment,” he said. Lighting is essential to this relaxation. As automation technology continues to become less expensive for the hospitality industry, we will see lighting scenarios for the main room as well as the bathroom. Having an invigorating scenario in the morning or having a relaxing scenario at night will be started with one push of a button or done by a pre-selected program when you check in.”
Chris Robinson, senior commercial sales manager at Delta Faucet, agrees that new finishes, more specifically matte-black, are increasingly popular. “It’s fresh and easy to coordinate in contemporary, transitional or even some traditional designs,” he said.
Renee Rudder, senior design manager at Innvision, however, has seen a rise in “fresh and light color palettes” as hotel guests want to see cleanliness in their hotel bathroom. “Light-colored wall tile with intentionally dark grout assists in providing a clean look, and oversized wall tiles as large as 24x48 [are] also reducing the amount of grout necessary,” she said. “Sliding barn doors are being used both at the bath door and for showers in order to make the small footprint of these rooms seem larger.”
Like Rabinowitz, Rudder also understands the importance of lighting in creating a mood. “With the improving color quality of LED lamps, we are seeing a shift from fluorescent [lights],” she said. “We are also seeing mirrors with integrated lighting in all levels of the hospitality market, when previously those products were reserved for higher-end hotels.”