ALEC calls for 'design and build' approach in hotel projects

The model enables contractors to influence consultants, drive the design and control costs

Neil Shackleton, project director, ALEC
Neil Shackleton, project director, ALEC

The Middle East pipeline shows a 9.3% year-on-year increase in the number of rooms in the final phase of the development. With the boom in hospitality construction projects, hotel owners are all too aware of the rising competition and squeezed profit margins.

As a result, owners are looking for smarter ways to design and build hotels that will reduce operational costs.

According to Neil Shackleton, project director at contracting company ALEC, the ideal way to start a project is to ensure an agreement between the developer and operator is in place at an early stage when the contractor comes in.

This enables the contractor to influence initial design requirements and operator brand standards with the stakeholders, resulting in a project delivered in the best way possible, saving the developer time and money. Unfortunately, this does not happen enough, he said.

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“One of the biggest challenges contractors have is with regards to design. Often the design hasn’t been completely considered, or the operators were not involved at the right point in time. A great working model to look at would be something we call design and build [approach],” Shackleton told Hotelier Middle East.

“In this model, contractors are appointed by the client in the early stages of conceptualisation, they appoint consultants based on a clear brief from the client. As such, the client would deliver ‘concept stage’ documentation to us and we will take that information all the way through to construction delivery.”

By adopting a design and build approach, developers enable contractors to influence consultants, drive the design in the right sequence and control costs.  

Contrary to the perception that developers lose complete control of the design, owners still have their signature spaces.

“80% of the design of a hotel is distinctive, so if we get one hotel room signed off according to the client's and operator’s expectation, we will be able to deliver around 70% - 80% of the project, including circulation spaces like corridors and staircases, which leaves the public areas and back of house,” Shackleton said.

“The public area is where the client or operator may want to put their signature [touch]. That could still be an area where they bring their own design team.”

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