{468x60.media}
Mr. Ashen

Architecture & Design

Less is More: Streamlining Design

By David Ashen, Principal and Founder, dash design

When designing today's hospitality venues, whether they're fully outfitted resorts, boutique hotels, or beach side bungalows, hoteliers are finding ways to streamline design and simplify the guest experience. Muted colors and minimal furnishings in combination with earthy textures, expansive views of the outdoors, fresh scents and liberal doses of natural light not only foster a sense of peace but also help today's travelers set aside everyday distractions for the serenity that simplified living provides. In this article, David Ashen, partner and founder of dash design, explores how today's hoteliers are making the most of the trend to simplify.

During a recent business trip to Curacao, I stayed in 10-room boutique hotel called BijBlauw. The Dutch couple that owned the place, which included a wonderful restaurant, furnished it simply, but that's not to say it was meager. I stayed in the largest guest room; an elegantly serene suite that had a painted bed prepared with modest, yet beautiful linens. Above the bed, a section of driftwood was suspended. There were, perhaps one or two other pieces of furniture in the room along with a terrace that overlooked the impressive expanse of the Caribbean Sea's crystalline turquoise waters.

There were no hanging pictures or television sets in the room, but not because the hotel lacked the capacity for either-other rooms had both. But the owners had purposely left this room devoid of the distractions. After all, the view of the Caribbean was magnificent; a treat unrivaled by anything that a television or furnishing could provide. My focus shifted. The luxury of simplicity.

alt text
Sutton Place Apartment by dash design

As a society, we process an incredible amount of information daily. The U.K.'s The Telegraph reported in 2011 that a study found that the amount of information that people are hit with every day could fill 174 newspapers. It's no wonder that a simpler approach to life has emerged as a growing trend.

Although lavishly appointed properties provide for virtually any need, modesty certainly has its place. How businesses and hospitality venues carve out their spaces and treat sensory conditions can leave their customers feeling overwhelmed and confused or relaxed and focused. And it's not just smaller operations that are taking note of those effects. Simplifying surroundings with a subtle approach is a universal way to instill a sense of calm.

In Miami, 1 Hotel, an expansive, 400-plus-room property with four swimming pools, restaurants and other amenities, elegantly sidesteps what could be an overpowering presence by instead maintaining an elegant simplicity throughout the property, including a gentle, underlying scent of the serene North Pacific.

There's a cultured, multi-layered balance to how the hotel's design, services and atmosphere are executed that translate into a sophisticated and subtle, yet a fully sensory, experience. By embracing a real simplicity and straightforward design, guests come away with a greater connection to the materials used and how they're pulled together. It all starts as soon as guests walk in the door, when they're greeted with neutral tones that are reminiscent of the outdoors and sustainable living for an immediate sense of peace.

alt text
Commonwealth Meeting Room, and example of simplicity by dash design

Another hotel called Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel & Spa in the Dominican Republic consists of 10 bungalows that were built by a Chilean couple and are situated on a beach. All of the structures were constructed from local stone and have thatched roofs. None of them has a television set, radio or air conditioning. They're not needed, anyway. An open-air hut serves breakfast; another one serves dinner. I've stayed at Natura Cabana several times and plan to return. It's quiet, making it an easy place to be myself and with friends. Distractions are few and there's overriding connection to nature plus a high level of service. There's something super-luxurious about that.

Another favorite of mine, 8 al Mar, in Pichilemu, Chile, offers overnight stays in simple rooms set on rocks that overlook the Pacific Ocean. The site's eight boxy rooms on two floors each were designed with a muted palette and minimal furnishings, including a bed that floats in the middle of the room and faces its end wall, which consists of a large window pane with expansive views of the scenic Pacific.

Staying in the room is a calming experience that is focused on the view. The room's few furnishings impart the idea of space as a luxury; in essence, the freedom to allow one's body to have uncluttered space. That simplicity carries throughout the hotel where a breakfast of fresh cheese, milk, cereal and homemade bread is delivered in a woven picnic basket. As for relaxation, there are four Japanese hot tubs made of teak but without fancy jets. They sit over the ocean inviting guests in for an unfettered hot soak amid the seaside landscape. Simple.

Design can help people slow down and connect back to themselves and others. Interior designer, Clodagh, the Irish woman behind Clodagh Design in New York City, is known for her work's focus on the five elements of nature: earth, air, water, fire and metal. Her connection to body and nature are evident in all of her work, including the interior design of EAST, Miami, a hotel where the aesthetic emphasis is on the kind of luxury found in simplicity and functionality in design. Throughout the property, holistic principles of design and being permeate, as do select textures, lighting and windowed expanses, for a sense of harmony, balance and connections to earth, air and sky.

For hoteliers, the concept of simplicity as a draw follows that of luxury retail stores, which have found their customers respond well to tranquil shopping experiences where excessive stimulation and distractions are minimized.

Some people are so anxious for the peace that quiet brings that they look to isolation booths or sensory deprivation tanks for solace, an up and coming trend. One place, Lift / Next Level Floats in Brooklyn, has five floating tanks where people can float, naked, in body-temperature water with a high salt content in a dark, closed tank, preventing them from seeing anything or hearing any more than piped in music of their choice.

Similarly, the newly opened Zephyr Float in Kingston, NY, offers clients a way to destress from everyday overload by spending time floating in one of the business' closed tanks where sights and sounds are eliminated.

Properties designed with simplicity in mind are only part of the picture. There's a lifestyle that goes with it. When I stayed at BijBlauw in Curacao it wasn't only the hotel's uncomplicated approach that was so appealing. It was the lifestyle that surrounded it. There was a store that sold simply designed clothing in black and white linen. The textures were beautiful to look at, as well as tactile and soft. The place was furnished with the visual appeal of reclaimed wood and scented with its subtle aroma; a smell that amplified the store's simple visuals in a natural and calming way.

Simplified design isn't only the purview of hotels with dramatic views. It doesn't matter where a home, business or place of escape is located, whether it's an urban, suburban or remote location. Properties that are designed well aren't about their location or size of their spaces. It's the execution of the design and how it's expressed in terms of functionality, beauty and serenity that matters. Streamlining design embraces a 'less is more' philosophy for impactful, memorable and meaningful experiences.

David Ashen is a principal and the founder of dash design, an award-winning New York-based interior design and branding firm specializing in hospitality and retail projects. Known for his ability to tailor each project to answer clients’ specific business needs, Mr. Ashen and his design team update spaces and reinvent brands. Clients include market leaders and Fortune 500 companies from all over the world including Shanghai, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Philadelphia, Cleveland, New York City and Aruba. Among dash design’s recent high-profile hotel projects are: the multi-million renovation of the Lexington New York City hotel; the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino; and restaurants at the Mandarin Oriental in Shanghai. Mr. Ashen can be contacted at 718-383-2225 ext. 201 or dashen@dashdesign.net. Please visit http://www.dashdesign.net for more information. Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

OCTOBER: Revenue Management: Technology and Big Data

Gary Isenberg

Hotel room night inventory is the hotel industry’s most precious commodity. Hotel revenue management has evolved into a complex and fragmented process. Today’s onsite revenue manager is influenced greatly by four competing forces, each armed with their own set of revenue goals and objectives -- as if there are virtually four individual revenue managers, each with its own distinct interests. So many divergent purposes oftentimes leading to conflicts that, if left unchecked, can significantly damper hotel revenues and profits. READ MORE

Jon Higbie

For years, hotels have housed their Revenue Management systems on their premises. This was possible because data sets were huge but manageable, and required large but not overwhelming amounts of computing power. However, these on-premise systems are a thing of the past. In the era of Big Data, the cost of building and maintaining an extensive computing infrastructure is incredibly expensive. The solution – cloud computing. The cloud allows hotels to create innovative Revenue Management applications that deliver revenue uplift and customized guest experiences. Without the cloud, hotels risk remaining handcuffed to their current Revenue Management solutions – and falling behind competitors. READ MORE

Jenna Smith

You do not have to be a hospitality professional to recognize the influx and impact of new technologies in the hotel industry. Guests are becoming familiar with using virtual room keys on their smartphones to check in, and online resources like review sites and online travel agencies (OTAs) continue to shape the way consumers make decisions and book rooms. Behind the scenes, sales and marketing professionals are using new tools to communicate with guests, enhance operational efficiencies, and improve service by addressing guests’ needs and solving problems quickly and with a minimum of disruption. READ MORE

Yatish Nathraj

Technology is becoming an ever more growing part of the hospitality industry and it has helped us increase efficiency for guest check-inn, simplified the night audit process and now has the opportunity to increase our revenue production. These systems need hands on calibration to ensure they are optimized for your operations. As a manager you need to understand how these systems work and what kind of return on investment your business is getting. Although some of these systems maybe mistaken as a “set it and forget it” product, these highly sophisticated tools need local expert like you and your team to analysis the data it gives you and input new data requirements. READ MORE

Coming Up In The November Online Hotel Business Review




{300x250.media}
Feature Focus
Architecture & Design: Authentic, Interactive and Immersive
If there is one dominant trend in the field of hotel architecture and design, it’s that travelers are demanding authentic, immersive and interactive experiences. This is especially true for Millennials but Baby Boomers are seeking out meaningful experiences as well. As a result, the development of immersive travel experiences - winery resorts, culinary resorts, resorts geared toward specific sports enthusiasts - will continue to expand. Another kind of immersive experience is an urban resort – one that provides all the elements you'd expect in a luxury resort, but urbanized. The urban resort hotel is designed as a staging area where the city itself provides all the amenities, and the hotel functions as a kind of sophisticated concierge service. Another trend is a re-thinking of the hotel lobby, which has evolved into an active social hub with flexible spaces for work and play, featuring cafe?s, bars, libraries, computer stations, game rooms, and more. The goal is to make this area as interactive as possible and to bring people together, making the space less of a traditional hotel lobby and more of a contemporary gathering place. This emphasis on the lobby has also had an associated effect on the size of hotel rooms – they are getting smaller. Since most activities are designed to take place in the lobby, there is less time spent in rooms which justifies their smaller design. Finally, the wellness and ecology movements are also having a major impact on design. The industry is actively adopting standards so that new structures are not only environmentally sustainable, but also promote optimum health and well- being for the travelers who will inhabit them. These are a few of the current trends in the fields of hotel architecture and design that will be examined in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.