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Hotel futures with Woods Bagot, and the launch of Et Al

In the next 10 years we’ll see 14 million new hotel rooms built – a large proportion of them being in Asia, says the Oxford Economics Outlook report. Woods Bagot is already gearing up to meet the market demand head-on with Et Al, a collaborative platform intended to transform luxury hotel service and experience.

Today’s hospitality and hotel environment is a complex eco-system driven by blurring lines of service, operation and delivery, Millennial travellers willing to spend on highly personalised experiences, and the changing values of ‘luxury’.

“The precept around the idea of the hotel sector [has traditionally been around] a hotel room with bed, bedside table, mini bar with water, Coke, a beer. It’s all pretty reassuring, even if you don’t know anything about your location,” says Woods Bagot’s Et Al creative director Wade Little.

Wade Little, creative director of Woods Bagot's Et Al.

Wade Little, creative director of Woods Bagot’s Et Al.

“But in the modern world, we can research everything everywhere,” he says. Armed with expansive knowledge, modern travellers seek out connections between context, experience and social awareness. So how do we begin to distil that back into the hotel sector?

“The demands of the modern luxury traveller require that they be treated as individuals, so a traditional approach doesn’t always work,” says Little. It’s here that Woods Bagot’s newest multi-purpose initiative, Et Al, steps in to cover the complex ecosystem and unite that intersection between design and service that contributes to a memorable and impressive experience.

Inviting many parties to the table on complex, multi-faceted hotel projects, Et Al blurs constrictive delivery methods to provide a holistic approach to luxury hotel design. As Woods Bagot CEO, Nik Karalis says: “[Et Al] is creating an alchemy that elevates the front of house, back of house, guest rooms, food and beverage, wellness, styling, and branding.”

Little highlights the recently completed The Ville Resort-Casino in Townsville, designed by Woods Bagot for The Morris Group. The project encompassed a $44 million redevelopment of The Ville’s resort rooms and suites, lobby, functions space, pool precinct, and five dining outlets. 

“Echoing the vernacular architecture, the hotel encourages natural cooling through its broad verandas, abundant fanlights, and aligned doors and windows.”

“Our design,” says Little, who was project lead, “was inspired by the stunning natural and historic qualities of Townsville. The intention was to create a lush pleasure garden using unpretentious forms and materials – to represent the laid-back atmosphere of Townsville. Echoing the vernacular architecture, the hotel encourages natural cooling through its broad verandas, abundant fanlights, and aligned doors and windows.”

The resort is built around a raised infinity pool, surrounding elevated timber terrace and lush landscaped lawns overlooking ocean views. A light, airy, retro feel defines its nine-storey, 194-room hotel which caters to corporate travellers and holiday-makers. Here striking leaf-print carpet and velvet cushions channel the spirit of the tropics, furnishings reference mid-century California hotels.

The five dining outlets range from a lobby-level Asian-inspired eatery, to a ‘hotspot’ bar overlooking the resort pool, and a full-service buffet restaurant with live cooking stations and show kitchen.

Not to be overlooked is The Ville’s conference, wedding and special events venue, equipped to cater to 1200 guests, or be configured into one, two or three private event rooms.

The project was no small undertaking, but with a little ‘Et Al’ thinking… “The transformation that occurred,” says Little, “[stands as] a great example of how a single vision statement can lead to a [single team] collaboratively driving those outcomes. This is not something that happens every day.”

Photography by Simon Shiff.

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