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Client Confidential

(January / February 2013) posted on Mon Feb 11, 2013

Hotel operators and owners offer insider tips for making the coming year a record one for designers.


By Mary Scoviak

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2013 could be a lucky year for hospitality design firms with the right stuff. Lodging Econometrics and STR Global predict the international hotel pipeline will hover close to a million rooms and the groundswell of renovation projects will continue. The National Restaurant Association’s industry forecast estimates nearly half of fine-dining restaurant operators will increase their year-over-year investments in remodeling, as will one in four restaurateurs in the casual dining, quick-service and fast-casual segments. Raw numbers aside, this year—like every year—is still a clients’ market, and it’s going to take some serious bells and whistles to get their attention.

Like their guests, hotel owners, developers and operators learned to expect and get more for less during the recession. So, the first New Year’s resolution for any firm hoping to get on their short lists is to become a one-stop shop. “The scope of work is evolving all the time, particularly in terms of taking design beyond the finishes and furnishings into all aspects of the brand [whether that means a collection of hotels or an individual property],” says David Sussman, senior vice president hotel development and design, Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, who’s looking at commissioning four to
six projects this year. “The definition of design can extend from concepts for guest rooms and public spaces to logos, uniforms and printed visuals.”

It’s important to match the skill set to the client’s needs. Keith Menin, principal of Menin Hotels, looks for a big tool kit since most of the company’s boutique hotel projects are renovations or conversions. “I need to know that, if an architectural challenge arises or if we find an under-utilized space, the designer can come up with a solution on a quick-turn basis rather than relying on processing a lot of change orders that can delay completion and push the budget,” says Menin, who plans to expand his six-boutique hotel portfolio with additional projects in Miami and Chicago and debuts in the Caribbean and South America. To get a hearing from Patrick Goddard, president and ceo of Trust Hospitality, with its 30-hotel portfolio and new Indie Hotels & Resorts brand, a studio has to be “as turnkey as possible, including having an alignment with high quality, budget-appropriate vendors and sub-contractors.”


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