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How will hotel design transform in 2021?

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From digital-led design to flexible hotel spaces, these are what our post-COVID-19 spaces will look like.

COVID-19 has transformed the way we think about communal spaces. Here are some of the key ways the architecture and design industries are innovating and transforming hotel spaces as a result of 2020.

DIGITAL-LED DESIGN

Although the digital-led design was already gaining traction in building design, the events of 2020 have arguably accelerated that trend. There is now an expectation amongst guests that properties will have options that prioritise social distancing and reduce risk. These can take the form of anything from QR code restaurant menus, to accessing fitness classes from a hotel room via an app. However as guests become accustomed to the benefits of these digital services, it increases the likelihood that they will survive long after the pandemic. Indeed, as Dwayne MacEwen, Principal & Creative Director, DMAC Architecture explains: “here to stay is the use of mobile apps and other touchless technologies that ease the flow and capacity of spaces.”

FLEXIBLE SPACES

Flexi-work spaces are not just for the office place. According to key architecture and hospitality bodies, it is a trend impacting hotels too. “Hotels have started converting otherwise empty guest rooms into office spaces. Hotels can convert the existing living space into more of a working touchdown area, complete with adequate lighting and appropriate, designed backgrounds for video conferencing. Gone are the traditional guest room desks in place of multi-purpose pieces with various plug-ins, says JoyceLynn Lagula, Associate AIA, Design Principal, Wilson Associates, Los Angeles and Las Vegas studios. Robyn Novak, Vice President of NELSON Worldwide also highlights how flexi-spaces can support remote workers: “With the expected long-term increase in remote workers… offering private offices, co-working spaces, or Zoom suites, with minimal adjustments to the guest room, it allows hotels to have a flexible offering throughout the day”, he says.

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A RENEWED FOCUS ON SAFETY

Prior to 2020, ‘safety’ largely related to the security of guests at a hotel. However, COVID-19 has seen a semantic change in how guests perceive risk and safety – now the term is seen mostly in terms of health and contagion prevention.  “From hotels to restaurants, we will see more open floor plans, open-air spaces, high ceilings, outdoor areas, and operable walls. Guests no longer want to be packed into a tight space. We will also see more biophilic elements incorporated throughout hospitality spaces, offering guests the sense of being outdoors. The main goal for any hotelier and restaurant owner is to provide guests with a great experience in a space that feels safe and comfortable,” explains Griz Dwight, Founder & Principal, GrizForm Design Architects.

A NEW BOOM

Most optimistically, design expert Griz Dwight the Founder & Principal of GrizForm Design Architects foresees a post-COVID-19 boom in the industry, which will see a surge in demand, hotelier expansion, and travel. “With the positive news that a vaccine is well on its way, we will see a big boom for the industry in 2021”, he predicts.

Photo Credit: Sara Dubler on Unsplash


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