Out with the Old; In with the New

Well it's finally happened — a revolution in guest-room design the like of which we haven't seen in a long time. Hotel owners, brands and designers are joining forces to raise the bar for standard guestroom design. Most hotel chains have jumped onto the bandwagon and are well into major changes in their design directions, design standards and brand standards requirements.

Why now, and what was the major catalyst? Was it the bedding revolution begun by Starwood? Was it design trends spurred by boutique and lifestyle hotels? Did technological innovations such as the advent of plasma TVs start it? Or was it simply time for a change?

Whatever the reason, a major shift in the direction of guest-room design is well under way, and it reaches across every hotel tier. Designers have been energized by the challenge to create new and exciting designs that elevate the level of design from what used to be the norm. These changes are having a significant impact not only on hotel room design, but also on the way hotels are operated. Design changes are calling standard operating procedures into question, and the need for new operating procedures sparks changes in design.

New design ideas have made some very great strides in changing our concept of what a standard guestroom ought to be. For instance, the concept of doing away with the bedspread/duvet in favor of triple-sheeting and laundering the bedding after each guest's stay is rapidly becoming the minimum standard. This change is having an enormous impact on housekeeping procedures, laundry facilities, storage facilities, FF&E reserves, and, ultimately, project costs. But it is having an even greater impact on guest satisfaction.

Carpeting is getting bolder and brighter, and with technology comes the ability to produce custom patterns and colors like never before. Positive cost impacts are also coming into play, such as warranties on carpet that have begun to extend out to 10 years. Textured guestroom walls are being accepted more often, replacing vinyl wallcovering, and guestroom light fixtures of all shapes and sizes are being manufactured to increase light levels and provide dramatic lighting design.

The guest bathroom is also undergoing major changes, both in character and in plumbing. Shower heads are bigger and better, with more features. A new twist (or shall I say curve) to the shower curtain rod makes the tub feel bigger, and recently no one is specifying a floor tile that isn't at least 12"×12". Marble or porcelain have become almost mandatory on the floors, and solid surface tub and shower surrounds have replaced tile as the bare minimum.

The recent embrace of this new wave in hotel guestroom design comes at an important time for our industry: occupancy and room rates are up, and guests expect, and deserve, greater value for their money.

So what's “in” and what's “out?” Here is just a small sample of the changes that are here to stay or are coming your way:

Armoires Bachelor Chests
Towel Shelves Towel Cubbies in the Vanity Skirt
Heat Lamps in Ceilings Wall Sconces at Mirrors
Flat Vanity Mirrors Decorative Framed Vanity Mirrors
Custom Decorative Bedding Triple Sheeting
Bed Spreads Bed Throws
Mattress & Box Spring “Sleep Systems”
Televisions Flat Screen TVs
Flat Screen TVs Plasma TVs
Straight Shower Rod Curved Shower Rod
Tile Tub Surrounds Solid Surface Tub Surrounds
Ceramic Tile Floors Porcelain Tile Floors
Alarm Clocks Wave Radios
Air Conditioning Switch Wireless Digital Thermostats
Room Numbers Graphics

Jonathan C. Nehmer, AIA, NCARB, ISHC is an expert in the development, design and construction of hospitality projects. He is the president and founder of JN+A, an architecture and project management firm, and also a principal in HVScompass Interior Design. A licensed Architect, Nehmer has more than 25 years of hospitality experience and has written articles and spoken extensively at hospitality industry conferences on all aspects of hospitality design and construction. He can be reached at 301-670-1635 or jcnehmer@nehmer.com.

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