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Hospitality Design: the Outlook for 2017

As they launch their Hong Kong studio, the designers at CHIL Interior Design talk about what’s on the cards for the hotel industry in the year to come.

Hospitality Design: the Outlook for 2017

The modern traveller is not looking for the familiar: they’re after a bespoke, authentic experience, says Adele Rankin, Principal at CHIL Interior Design. “The most significant change that is happening in hospitality design is really coming from the brands. They’re so well educated about their entire offering and they’re really progressing. Some of that is because of the disruptors like Airbnb or smaller boutique hotels that are providing a unique experience,” she says.

And Rankin and her fellows at CHIL Interior Design should know – the design studio has a client roster that includes hotel groups such as Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Fairmont Hotels, Marriott International, and, the upcoming Lisboa Palace Complex in Macau, the first of fashion maven Karl Lagerfeld’s chain of six-star hotels. Other recent and current Asian projects include a Shangri-La hotel in Shanghai, two luxury river cruise ships in Myanmar and a beachfront resort in Cambodia.

The demand for hospitality design in Asia is a key reason CHIL Interior Design established the Hong Kong office as a Hospitality Studio of B+H Architects in late 2016. Says Paul Morissette, Principal + Global Lead, CHIL Interior Design / B+H CHIL Design, “We think there is a lot of opportunity here – all the hotel brands are here.” Adds Bill Nankivell, CEO of B+H Architects, “Growth in China in the next three years is really going to impact on hospitality all over Asia.”

According to the team at CHIL Interior Design, by 2020, “15 million Chinese tourists are expected to travel abroad each year.” For these tourists and the rest of the world’s growing number of travellers, glocalisation is the name of the game; that is, products or services that are tailored to the area or culture they are offered in.

“It’s not suitable anymore to go to a Marriott in Ohio that looks like the Marriott in Hong Kong,” says Rankin. “For us, that’s a tremendous challenge, one that allows us to really design in response to the region and to the brand; so much more than we used to. That’s only going to keep progressing, too.”

And it’s not just happening at the luxury end of the market, says Nankivell. “Hotel brands are looking for a unique guest experience at all levels. It’s also at the three-star level.”

Incorporating bespoke cultural and architectural elements into the design is one way of doing this, as are special interest activities such as cooking classes and arts and culture tours, say the team at CHIL Interior Design. Technology is also another way of personalising the experience for guests, as is community and environmental support on the part of the hotel, restaurant, bar or club.

“That’s what excites us about design [these days],” says Morissette. “Every opportunity is different … so we wake up and have a different experience every day.”

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