People are attracted to good design. Coyle Hospitality Group’s network of independent professional mystery shoppers have been to hotels all over the world. While they critique universal standards like cleanliness and professionalism, they also have liberties in offering subjective comments on intangibles. Among thousands of reviews, atmosphere has proven to be a significant aspect in a positive stay.
We cannot overlook the importance of design in our accommodations. Think about entering a hotel and the sensations it elicits. When you first arrive, the lobby is your welcoming handshake. And that handshake is being modified by some hotels that forego the formal check-in desk, instead using roving employees who casually approach guests with tablet computers. Memorable touches create a memorable experience.
The transported-to-another-place ethos is key for architects and interior designers, who want to give guests an experience apart from their everyday lives. For more than 12 years, Starwood’s luxury boutique brand W has built innovative hotels and established properties that are described as luxurious, elegant, and even whimsical. This industry trailblazer is going strong – announcing six new properties in 2011, all unique in design. Sure, unusual or avant-garde features don’t suit everyone’s tastes, but unique, boutique-style hotels aren’t meant to be roadside motels catering to a common denominator of aesthetics. They may run the risk that what’s in today can be passé tomorrow – and sometimes ‘form over funtion’ doesn’t translate to a better guest experience – but the market for the new, hip and different doesn’t seem to abate.
Our network of professional hotel secret shoppers will tell you that what matters most when it comes to hotel facilities are that they are well-maintained and functional, but when hotels have sleek features and designs, it takes it all up a notch for guests. Hospitality consultants say that more and more travelers are looking for authentic experiences when they travel. A hotel that captures a sense of place is part of this experience. W has harnessed this in its planned openings, creating personalities that complement locations. The W Retreat & Spa Bali’s look is inspired by the thousands of temples found in the region, for instance; W St. Petersburg plays with tones reminiscent of a Faberge Egg; and W Paris, located in an Haussman-era building, couples French tradition and modern design.
These hotels serve not only as bases for one’s time in another city, but also reminders of that city and of the different experiences they’ll encounter. Good design done right does have value. Hospitality consultants say it must be memorable, it must be comfortable, and it must be accommodating. Styles come and go and consumer expectations and preferences constantly change (what is celebrated today can become uninspired kitsch tomorrow), but when the design resonates and reflects the destination in which it’s located, it’s a key part of the overall guest experience.