The effects of the new trend in hotel design

The effects of the new trend in hotel design

Benny Paul Joseph & Jason Wu

BSc Students, HTMi Switzerland.


As globalization continues with the forever changing lifestyle of the travelers, there is an urge for designers to have new innovations of hotel designs for hoteliers to succeed in a highly competitive market. In today’s hospitality industry hundreds and thousands of hotels are being built each year, so there is a need for hoteliers to go beyond the traditional lodging application. Technology advances and expectations increase from the consumer’s point of view.

In the past, a traditional customer may not require technology such as wireless technology, and space design in the lobby area. But nowadays a typical hotel business guest will have a laptop and a Blackberry/iphone, ipod, etc which hoteliers must be able to provide conveniences for them or else immediately the consumers will change to other competitive hotels as there are an overwhelming number of choices.

Aesthetic Contemporary Design

The lifestyle of the 21st century has changed dramatically when compared to the last century. As mentioned earlier, increasingly there are ongoing demands for luxury lifestyles and new modern technology that calls for a corresponding increase of modernization of the rooms to become more multifunctional. Not even the design matters, the spaces also matter. As mentioned by Schneider (2007) multipurpose attitudes to hotel management and applying new technologies such as self-check in kiosks, smaller guest rooms and wider lobbies and integrating some services such as the open lobby bars to encourage consumers to settle. Today, designer’s products such as Gucci, Bvlgari, Yves Saint Laurent etc. are integrating their designs into the hotel industry to create extra revenues for the companies. According to Riewoldt, D (2006). “the main themes of modernism nostalgic opulence and individual hotels adopt individual design strategies to enhance their brand image in an increasing global marketplace. Such as the Bvlgari hotels in Milan, its mission statement is built on a unique location, “contemporary design and superior service are key elements that characterize Bvlgari hotels and resorts to focus on creating a harmony between urban surroundings and nature,” (Bvlgarihotels 2009).

It is also stated that in “What’s next: Luxury travel & lifestyle”, an ex-creative director of Gucci Tom Ford (2007), “It’s about personal style, choosing a concept that fits into one’s sense of self and making a statement. Consumers will be looking to brands as partners to get them to a personalized, custom service or product.”Nowadays, modern hotel design are more bold, colorful and imaginative, creates more than any other architectural class. Today hotels have full of creations as well as glamour into them, which makes travelers and holiday makers as one of their choices (Riewoldt, D.2006).The marketing of these boutique and new hotels is all about luxury (Riewoldt, D. 2006).

The quality of the products either from Gucci or Yves Saint Laurent are integrated into the hotel to give consumers perceptions of how the quality of the products and the branding of the company, to increase the company’s image. For example, the re-launching of the Hard Rock brand in hotel spaces has lead to dynamic designs of the restaurant and customers focus to gain more brand image and its market positioning.Hotel designs are encouraged to integrate with the cultural diversity and local styles and applying luxury and personal touches to expand the upper market sectors (Riewoldt, D. 2006).

Hotel designs are also now responding towards the contemporary awareness on environmental concerns. The use of materials in particular and the design of the inner structures such as the conservation of energy or efficiency are the movement trends. To become more outstanding among other hotel competitors, the design of hotels is taking into consideration of the changing needs of the consumers with the modern lifestyles or family structure. Some boutique hotels have incorporated personal touches in the room designs such as large revolving plasma television, wireless broadbands, or provided with services for family members like having toys and designated play areas for their children. Location of the boutique hotels is also a major “design” consideration. The proximity to traffic interchanges, business centres, shopping centres, scenic sports or tourist attractions will be welcomed by travelers in business or leisure, as it will provide conveniences for them. As such, hotels may not be brand new constructions, but employing existing buildings or even buildings of heritage to convert to the required boutique style.

Box Hotels versus Lifestyle Hotels

The expansion of the international hotel chains, in their vast majority, was accompanied and made possible by a process of standardization and commoditization. This process generated the birth of the box hotel concept, characterized by the uniformity of the core and facilitating products. The lack of differentiation between the hospitality products and services resulted finally in a “McDonaldisation” of the global hotel industry. This systematic standardization of the hospitality product provoked a counter-movement inspired by consumers searching for hotels with unique or sophisticated and innovative characteristics, called boutique, design or lifestyle hotels. In the beginning of the 80s of the last century the term boutique hotel swept through the market and was used to describe unique 50-100 rooms properties, non chain-operated, with attention to fine detail and individual decoration in European or Asian influenced furnishings. Sophistication and innovation explain the growth of the design and lifestyle hotel niches. In order to employ a generic term for these new niches, we will refer hereafter to the  with the term lifestyle hotels. Being independent enterprises, lifestyle hotels join voluntary groups (membership affiliations, consortia) in order to benefit from the advantages of chains – especially global marketing and promotion services, common packages and international reservation systems – without having the disadvantages of chain box hotels like absence of management autonomy, architectural uniformity and standardized operational procedures (Yu 1996; Andrew 2001). Examples of these voluntary groups are marketing and sales reservation networks (e.g. SRS World Hotels) and free alliances (e.g. Relais et Châteaux).

Based on Kotler’s Five Product Level, there are clear and concrete differences in the two concepts. For Kotler, marketing was a ‘social process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others’.

Kotler’s Five Product Level

On the core and facilitating product levels, box hotel companies present savings in building and staff costs – due to the standards of performance – as a major advantage to the hotel operator.

In the marketing policy, the uniformity of the concept and the strong recognition of the brand are used to influence the consumer’s choice.

For the widely-travelled tourist, however, the stay in a box hotel turns into alienation and anonymity. Many of them share the experience of awaking in a hotel room while asking oneself: “Where am I now?” This negative guest experience, caused by impersonality, predictability and boredom, has led to an important loss of clients and turnover with box hotel companies.

Art, Emotion and Hotel Design

This new lifestyle concept has led to the development, rather association of Art and Emotion as a part of hotel concepts and design. The four main themes identified by Otto Riewoldt in his book “New Hotel Design” are:

Ascetic modernism

Nostalgic opulence

Extravagant fantasy

Exotic exclusivity

Based on these themes, individual and chain hotels have tweaked their design strategies to enhance their brand value and recognition in the global marketplace. These have been further influenced by the emergence of three dominant trends.

Improvement in quality in business hotels, emphasising on comfort.

Urban regeneration, by refurbishing old housing in prime locales in places like London and New York.

The incorporation of ethno-cultural diversity, by developing designs complimenting the local cultures and traditions in luxury getaways.

“In a hotel, guest should find what they dream at home”, said Conrad Hilton, and hotels try and live up to this aspiration, whether the concept is based on a western Hollywood star or the work of a famous Italian designer.

If the hotel is able to effectively live up to their concept and intended feel, it gives the guest an illusion of escapism to a reality conceived by the guest’s own fantasies and obsession. The hotels acts like a stage, like a film set, a place where the guest can enact their desires and learn more about themselves. The spaces and props in this stage are drawn from the stylish repertoires of classicism, kitsch and avant-garde.

This has finally led to hotels to focus their energy into the creative impetus of interior design by adding an emotional dimension to the guest experience of space, generated by images from the media, variable lighting effects and illusionistic decorative techniques. The Aim: to seduce and captivate the guest subliminally.

To achieve this aim the design creators and developers have plundered the treasure trove of contemporary art, since they rarely use original works as a part of designs. This is the “land of the pure”.


Competition is fierce on the international hotel market and imitation of successful concepts is a proven method to attract new target groups. So it is no wonder that many of the ingredients which contribute to the lifestyle hotel experience have been adopted by box hotels. “Glocalisation”, the combination of globalisation and localisation, has been introduced as a leading principle in marketing policies of chain hotels. In promotional campaigns of box hotels, the role of local culture as component of the hospitality product is highlighted by means of slogans like “Think locally, act globally” (Holiday Inn) and “International standards, local flavours” (Golden Tulip).

The effective use of customer-relationship-management databases and one-to-one marketing actions has to be strengthened in order to be able to personalize products and services, thus increasing satisfaction, retention and loyalty. The quality of the staff will continue to be a key success issue because the lifestyle traveller seeks more than advice or recommendations. Hotel employees should not only be trained to manage the information exchange, but also be required to match guests to experiences. co-branding the property with a leading brand outside the tourism industry, e.g. fashion designers, retail companies, lifestyle brands. As the allocation to an existing brand name enables a quick transfer of the product values and contents to the client, co-branded hotels (e.g. Cerrutti, Armani and Bulgari Hotels) have a competitive edge in penetrating the market. However, co-branding in the hospitality industry requires a profound evaluation of both brand partners’ strengths and weaknesses.


Andrew, G. 2001. ‘Evolution of tourist offers: the importance of an individual hotel experience in an independent hotel chain’, lecture given at the Eurhodip Conference 2001 The Hotel and Catering Trades for Employment and Economic Development in Europe, Venice, November 2001.

Ford. T, 2007. What’s Next: Luxury Travel & Lifestyle Trends. Amit.

Naber, T. 2002. ‘Chain or independent: box hotel or boutique hotel?’ lecture given at the Eurhodip Conference 2002 Hospitality Management in Europe: Moving into a New Dimension, Maastricht, May 2002.

Schneider, J.W. 2007. The Inn Seven Radical New Trends in Hotel Design: Hoteliers and hotel design experts are questioning some ancient tenets of the hotel industry. For starters, they’re asking: Do guests really need a bathtub?. Journal of Business Design & Construction. 19  March, pp.26-35

Riewoldt, O. 2002. New Hotel Design. London: Laurence King Publisher Ltd. p6-13.

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