By Joel Villalon and Kiko Singh, principals, BraytonHughes Design Studios
Most airport hotels cater to travelers who will be in and out after conducting business in the destination, but San Francisco International’s on-airport hotel Grand Hyatt at SFO departs from this “in and out” mentality, drawing guests’ imaginations to the surroundings and being a place where journeys begin rather than a terminal at the end of a line.
Empathetic design channels the location
In collaboration with architect Hornberger + Worstell and associate ED21, along with interior design firm RoseBernard Studio, we designed Grand Hyatt at SFO to channel the spirit of Northern California. Our empathetic design resonates through sensation: sight, touch, smells, and sound. Soft music plays in the escalator as guests descend from the AirTrain platform to the hotel level flanked on one side by colorful stained-glass panels. Marble reception desks shaped like vintage pilot’s wings exude luxury with a subtle nod to aviation. An art installation of intricately patterned forms floats above the lobby. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows provide close-up views of jumbo jets, showcasing activity outside from within a quiet oasis. The reception lounge chairs feel warm and luxurious.The smells of food emanate from the restaurant into a lobby where warm-toned vertical wood slats give the impression of being guided by tall trees through a eucalyptus grove.
In the double-height ground floor lobby, a full-height hand-cut glass and stone mosaic highlights the Marin Headlands, Mount Tamalpais, and Point Reyes, inverting a traditional map’s focus on cities, towns, and roads. Specially commissioned by the international airport in collaboration with San Francisco Arts Commission, Green Map captivates guests with the Bay Area’s beautiful parks and natural wonders.
Honoring a diverse and multicultural set of users
In line with the airport’s multi-phase improvement plan and Grand Hyatt’s goal to bring luxury and serenity to a busy airport campus,Grand Hyatt at SFO offers a backdrop for a range of experience sand respite for business travelers and leisure guests.
Mindful of international travelers’ schedules, we created seamless transitions from day to night, adding communal tables overlooking the airfield and giving guests the option to check out and continue to work, socialize, or dine at the third level Grand Club. Located between the South Bay and San Francisco, the hotel restaurant is a convenient meeting place and multicultural culinary experience to enjoy without traveling deeper into the city.
Guestrooms designed in homage to a beach and its sandy cliffsides inspire relaxation with serene grays, blues, and dark Eucalyptus millwork and the quiet views of the airfield or surrounding hills through soundproofed floor-to-ceiling windows.As the hotel caters to international travelers, cultural sensitivity informed the design. With respect toward the cultural practices and traditions of Asian clientele, guestrooms include bathtubs and tea kettles in addition to showers and coffeemakers. By giving guests the option to enjoy tea in their room (a slower, meditative experience compared to “fueling” with coffee), and a relaxing bath rather than shower, we show cultural sensitivity and greater care for the airport hotel user experience, so guests can luxuriate in slow moments, grow intimate with their surroundings, and experience a home away from home.
Photos: Courtesy of BraytonHughes Design Studios (headshots); Paul Dyer (Grand Hyatt at SFO)