Comment: Shweta Parida on design in hotels

The seven-year itch for hotel refurbishment - should this be reconsidered?

Opinion, Columnists

The current crop of hotels does not last beyond seven years before having to go through a refurbishment exercise. But why has the constant need to have new elements – which feed our digital nomadic lifestyles – become a trend catalyst in hospitality spaces? That said, it’s important to point out that historically, luxury properties have maintained the same brand image for decades before being renovated.

With today’s blurred boundaries between work and play, hotels, too, are mimicking what happens at work and private residences. If workspaces are offering lounging areas, hotel lobbies are turning into co-working spaces. Buzzwords such as ‘community’ and ‘social spaces’ reflect how modern-day lifestyles segue into diverse realms, and nowhere is this more evident than hotels.

Lobbies, for example, have turned into clubhouse-like facilities where you can have a meeting, mingle with your friends, stay, eat and partake in leisure activities. From offering visual eye-candy with references to pop culture, to housing art galleries, luxury spas and cinemas are becoming de rigueur for hotels, both big and boutique. Not to mention, avant-garde food and beverage concepts, which also must be constantly updated to retain the interest of guests. This again links back to the relentless demand for new and fast experiences that travellers nowadays demand.

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Experiential stays have become almost synonymous with ‘Instagrammable’ moments. The more such social media opportunities hotels can provide guests with, the higher their popularity ratings. So this brings us back to a very fundamental topic: is such an oft-refurbished property sustainable?

With owners, operators and designers stressing on the need for environment-friendly spaces, is there a need to educate guests about slowing down a bit? For instance, Interface’s biophilic carpet tiles not only adhere to strict environment protection guidelines, but it can be replaced only in the affected area. This helps prevent wastage and further adding to the landfill.

Using locally sourced materials in projects has also been gaining ground among designers. Not only does it make economic sense, but I reckon, it also provides a sense of social responsibility to everyone who comes into contact with the hotel. Opting for hotels with a strong sustainability ethos has never seemed better.

About the Author: Shweta Parida is the editor of Hotelier Middle East’s sister publication Commercial Interior Design at ITP Media Group. A design journalist, Shweta has written on the subject of design for publications around the world. Previously, she has been at the helm of many design and lifestyle titles in her native Singapore.

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