PortfolioThe Bentley Suite at the St. Regis New York
New York, New York, USA
The TED video below shows Blaise Aguera y Arcas of Microsoft demonstrating the new Bing Maps capabilities. The three technologies he demonstrates are SeaDragon (Deep Zoom), Photosynth and augmented reality. All three are technologies that WATG has been researching or is currently using. Beyond that he mentions "Live Dynamic Mapping" that uses live video feeds in the geo-spacial space.
Luxury hospitality has been hit harder by the worldwide financial disruption than any other segments of the hotel business. According to Mark Lomanno of STR, it may rebound the quickest, but it has the farthest to go.
While all indications are that affluent travelers will indeed return, what they will be hoping to find in the hotels and resorts they visit will have morphed in a number of subtle ways. Shifting perceptions about luxury will account for changes that we are already seeing in high-end hospitality design.
The changing nature of luxury
To the extent that conspicuous consumption and ostentatious décor might be considered bad form in a global recession -- where so many people and businesses have been hard hit -- design aesthetics will be tamped down in new and renovated properties, thereby changing the look and reconsidering the definition of luxury.
While luxury conjures images of excess and indulgence, Isadore Sharp, founder, chairman and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, views it as something that goes deeper than aesthetics: "For our guests and clients, luxury is about making the most of their precious time. It's about feeling welcomed and recognized. It's about not having to worry about a thing."
Among affluent travelers, there seems to be a general self consciousness about the appearance of over-indulgence and a desire to feel vindicated in some way. Sonu Shivdasani, CEO of Six Senses, identifies the shift as "a move away from conspicuous consumption to conscientious consumption."
In other words, bling has blung. When it comes to luxury hotel design in 2010 and beyond, expect to see less flash and more substance; comfort over coolness; friendliness over pretentiousness.
Back to basics
Though clearly a five-star brand, St. Regis recently went through the conversion of a property in Princeville, on the island of Kauai, that involved removing tons of polished marble, ornate railings and chandeliers, European themed furniture and artwork, and gilded Corinthian columns. Designers repositioned the Hawaii property to reflect its locale through the use of indigenous materials, paintings and sculpture by local artists, and custom-designed carpets and furnishings with a residential feel that exude warmth and hospitality.
In 2010 and beyond, polished brass and shiny chrome will be out. Natural stone and salvaged wood will be in. Recycled materials and accessories will enhance the guest experience and give a property a unique story to tell.
Simplicity and sustainability will be the key drivers for success.
It took just under a year after the property opened but at the end of January, we received word posted on our USGBC project site that Bardessono had completed the final certification review and was being awarded Platinum certification. Talk about wanting to turn cartwheels in the office and scream FINALLY! What a relief. I have to say, the review process was challenging, interesting and stressful towards the end. We ran into a few hiccups – having to issue clarifications, reissuing information that the review team had received yet we believe was lost at some point. Checking and rechecking – dotting I’s and crossing T’s. During that time in the back of my mind I thought – what if we miss this and receive LEED Gold – do we write Highest Amount Gold Points Achieved below the plaque? Missed it by ONE point? No – that wouldn’t do. In the end, the perseverance of a dedicated design team along with a determined owner/client paid off. Bardessono is an excellent product and I understand it’s faring well despite the economy. Guests are impressed and have returned. I’d do it all again, in a heartbeat.
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