Four Big Ways Hotels are Changing
The status quo is never safe, according to Cooper Carry principal Bob Neal. (Forget chocolates on the pillow, now it's Chocolat in HDTV, on demand.) He'll be among the experts revealing the latest trends at our Bisnow Lodging Investment Summit (BLIS) in Washington, DC, on May 13 and 14. Here are four major drivers:
1) Millennials are the biggest influencers.
They’re becoming the most prominent group of travelers and will be so for the next 20 years, says Bob, who's been designing hospitality projects with this firm since 1988. Bob, snapped with fellow Cooper Carry hospitality principal Keith Simmel, says that Millennials have captured the attention of their clients and how they need to be flexible.
2) Technology is paramount.
The ability to connect and connect fast from your smartphones, tablets, and computers while in the hotel is important. It's moving so fast, in fact, "that we can’t accurately predict where it will be in five years," Bob says. That means hotels have to be creative enough to prepare for the infrastructure to accommodate this change. (Does that mean bigger nightstand drawers to accommodate iPad-loaded Gideon Bibles?)
Thank goodness Bob loves to travel, because as you see, his job takes him everywhere. (Above, he's snapped in Zurich, looking very Sam Spade.) He's also a serious runner... but is he as fast as the ultra-high-speed gigabit Internet that will service a hotel Cooper Carry is working on in Alpharetta, Ga.'s mixed-use Avalon development? Some ways hotels are incorporating technology: ability to access rooms from your smartphone; swapping the registration desk for iPad-wielding receptionists; and guestroom TVs that recognize your personal communication devices and provide immediate access to hotel functions, restaurants, and entertainment.
3) Say goodbye to the bulky armoire and boring lobby.
The physical guestroom design is also being reconsidered. Gone are tubs in favor of standing showers, while big armoires and chairs are being replaced by lower furniture and edgier soft goods (Millennials must love oxymorons). The rooms then feel bigger, he says, even if their footprints are smaller (to which some markets, like NYC, trend). One hotel Cooper Carry recently designed is DC’s brand-new Washington Marriott Marquis, a collaboration with Atlanta-based tvsdesign, above. (That's where we're holding BLIS, so you'll get to experience new design in action.) And guests aren't staying in their rooms as much, either, but looking for social experiences in the lobby, he says. They're being designed in zones so guests can choose to sit at a communal table, order a drink in the lounge, or choose a more private experience.
4) Roofs are now tops.
Guest are no longer limited to the lobby lounge for a drink. Cooper Carry is designing Ohio's 600-key Cleveland/Cuyahoga County convention center Hilton Hotel (rendered above)—with the bar on the top of the 26-floor hotel, overlooking Lake Erie. (And views are important to guests—we spoke to Bob as he watched sea planes land from his 16th-floor hotel room in Vancouver, where he was discussing his firm’s Lancaster, Pa. Marriott project at ULI’s spring meeting last week.) That came as a result of meeting with the local community and hearing their thoughts on a new hotel—turns out they wanted to experience their city from the top.