Jerry Allison

The following is part 2 of an opinion piece written by Jerry Allison published in the July 1988 issue of Restaurant Hotel Design International. Click here for part 1.


The business of pleasure travel is the business of creativity, creating special places in special places--to translate every man's dreams into reality. Call it the Pleasure Principle, if you like. But never lose sight of this very real fact: In this business, pleasure is paramount. Believe it--there is a correlation between the degree of success we achieve in pleasing people and the color of the bottom line.

This business we're engaged in has a very valid raison d'etre. It is not simply a modern version of Louis XIV opulence. For all the super rich who can afford to spend their lives doing nothing but trekking from one resort to another, there are thousands of ordinary people who work diligently on a year-round basis, subjected to highly stressed lifestyles. They need and are wiling to pay for the rejuvenation that comes from a complete change of pace--pleasure in a special place.

This is our major market segment, our growth potential.

What does it take, in a hotel, to richly reward our travel expectations? What is required to keep it out of the cookie cutter class and assure its role as a destination of distinction?

Keeping in mind that the primary function or service provided is pleasure--although the hotel is eminently practical--attractiveness and the ambience of the physical structure are vital to its economic success. Every hotel needs thoughtful, imaginative design. Resort hotels, which exist solely for the pleasure of their users, demand it.

But it is not simply a matter of serving up a physically beautiful hotel. We recreational travelers seeking new experiences in exotic places are looking for far more than that. We want to observe and to experience that which makes our destinations different from the places we have left. Universally, we seek that special place in a special place. That is what drives us to other parts of our own countries and to other parts of the world. We seek other cultures, other lifestyles, and the uniqueness of the region we visit.

Toward fulfilling these goals, the hotel design can be a key element. Generally, the first unhurried introduction to a new region is the hotel in which we are to stay. It becomes our temporary home base. The place where we may eat, sleep, exercise, socialize, shop, listen to music, look at art, or simply "hang out" as the younger generation would say. It should be very much a part of our escape objective, not simply where we sleep and change clothes. It is also at our hotel that we may have the closest relationship with natives of the host locale. This offers an opportunity for good social interchange between guest and host. The hotel provides a captive audience eager to learn.

From the developer's and operator's points of view, design appropriate to the region will quite likely result in cost savings as the facilities will be easier to construct and maintain. The design will often make use of readily available materials and technology appropriate to local construction techniques. Proper design may even eliminate the need for elevators, air conditioning and other high maintenance building elements.

Designing with this kind of approach should lead to a degree of guest satisfaction that results in solid demand, excellent occupancy rates, enviable room charges, and long stays.

Successfully meeting these goals is not a project confined to design of buildings. It is, rather, a highly complex matter encompassing the whole project continuum from master planning, design, approvals, and financing right through construction to maintenance, management, and even marketing, and in some cases periodic additions.

Meeting the challenge requires a lot of understanding-understanding by management of the challenges inherent in creating a design that fits the locality and cultural mores, and understanding by the design team of management's problems in providing services to guests and of maintaining the property in top condition. At times, it is difficult for clients, particularly in developing countries, to understand that locally inspired designs and native materials in new buildings can be as marketable as ancient temples.

To summarize this relationship between special places and success in the pleasure travel arena: In the long run, the hotel providing the strongest possible sense of place will become the most desirable. The pleasure traveler seeks novel experiences, not a rerun of "Chicago." If the hotel patronized provides all the amenities required, while reinforcing the sense of being in an exotic location, the satisfaction quotient should be high--and this means the traveler will stay longer, return sooner, and pay more for the experience.

As part of our 70th Anniversary celebration, we'll be revisiting past articles and interviews of our founders and past employees of WATG.

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Ashley Fauguel

Recently we were approached by British Airways to help promote their 'On Business' programme. We fly continuously throughout the year to expand our global business and reach new destinations and as a regular user of British Airways for our business travel needs they wanted to share our story.


The video shows a fly-through of the London office and a short interview with our CEO, Mike Seyle. This will be featured on BA's in-flight entertainment and social media channels.

Keep an eye out for us on your travels!

Michael Chang

The Baymax build...One can at a time.

We humbly ask for your support to help fight hunger. Please click here to make a donation. Each dollar equals one vote for the "People's Choice Award" and all collected money will be donated to Orange County's CANstruction. You can donate as much as you please and the team with the most money collected will win the award.  Please click here for donations.

CANstruction is an international community service project by the design & construction industry. This philanthropy benefits local food banks where teams of architects, engineers, and designers compete by designing and building structures made entirely of canned food items.

At the conclusion of CANstruction OC on September 27th, all canned food Items will be given to the Orange County Food Bank.

The Orange County Food Bank is a program of the Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC), a private non-profit social service organization. CAPOC's tax exempt number is 95-2452787.  All donations to the Food Bank are tax deductible to the extent permissible by law.

Michael Chang

OC CANstruction Team Photo

Last Friday, WATG Irvine and R.D. Olson Construction Group completed an impressive nine-foot tall Baymax character made of over 10,000 cans for the Orange County CANstruction charity competition. Our team worked hard over the past 5 months and we are very proud of our CANsculpture!

We would like to ask for your support by donating a few votes for our sculpture "Lend a helping hand…one CAN at a time" by WATG/R.D. Olson Construction Group to bring us closer to earning the "People's Choice Award."  Each dollar equals one vote for the "People's Choice Award" and all collected money will be donated to Orange County's CANstruction. You can donate as much as you please and the team with the most money collected will win the award.  Please click here for donations.

CANstruction is an international community service project by the design & construction industry. This philanthropy benefits local food banks where teams of architects, engineers, and designers compete by designing and building structures made entirely of canned food items.

At the conclusion of CANstruction OC on September 27th, all canned food Items will be given to the Orange County Food Bank.

The Orange County Food Bank is a program of the Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC), a private non-profit social service organization. CAPOC's tax exempt number is 95-2452787.  All donations to the Food Bank are tax deductible to the extent permissible by law.

Thank you so much for your support!!!

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Jerry Allison

The following is an opinion piece written by Jerry Allison published in the July 1988 issue of Restaurant Hotel Design International.


 Special places in special places--redundant? Not really. In the context of resort travel, those words are a fair description of what we all seek when we become travelers for pleasure. Certainly when we head for a resort in anticipation of cherished days of respite, we look forward to finding a special place within a special place.

Speaking for myself--with everything else being equal--I am far more likely to accept an invitation to speak in Portugal, for example, over the same opportunity in Chicago. I have never experienced Portugal. It holds great promise of pleasure. I have been to Chicago and experienced Chicago. I stayed in a Chicago hotel. And I also stayed in a Chicago hotel in Hong Kong. And in Tokyo. And in Singapore. A couple of them in Sydney, another in Auckland, and a whole list of other places around the world. Also Athens, the well spring of architectural history. It is truly amazing how widespread Chicago hotels are. Even in Kuala Lumpur and Bali you can wake up in the morning and say, "What a nice hotel--for Chicago."

That's what I want to talk about--how it is not necessary or even desirable to design Chicago hotels around the world. They belong in Chicago. Please understand, this is not meant to denigrate Chicago, the city. Or special places appropriate to Chicago, where they reflect the special character of that city.

The repetition of the architecture of any particular place--over and over in other places--and mindlessly superimposed out of context--inevitably adds up to sameness and usually inappropriateness. This homogenizing sameness means, at best, overlooking the vast potential that awaits sensitive, responsible development. Sameness in hotel design has the effect of watering down the individuality of place- the very thing that should be enhanced, spotlighted. This sameness is-by inference-disrespectful of the character and culture of the host community. Further, it tends to limit rather than contribute to guest opportunities to experience the place chosen for special qualities. These clone hotels are anything but special places.

I concede they routinely offer the basics for comfortable travel--plumbing that works, hot water for bathing, safe water for drinking, and clean sheets--but not deeply rewarding travel. And I would gladly accept a little sag in the bed in exchange for a little lift of the spirit.

Do you think this is a bit overstated? I don't think so. There are highly successful premium priced resorts in which all rooms have views and none have telephones, radios, TVs, or mini-bars. Let's consider the implications of "travel for pleasure." What does it mean? It means that for reasons of pleasure we leave one place to go to another. Why? The expectation of change, relaxation, escape, newness, excitement, enrichment, fantasy. Rejuvenating experience.

A successful resort, then, is one that satisfies these expectations. Put another way: The realization of these expectations is what sells hotel rooms and dining seats. And that's really what spells success in the hospitality industry; because if you don't fill those rooms and those seats, you are destined for failure.

So what are we talking about in terms of satisfying this wish list of expectations? First--and I know this is repetitive, one thing we are not talking about is cookie cutter sameness, because change, not sameness, is what the pleasure traveler seeks.

Note of caution, however. Never underestimate the power of the cookie cutter. As rich as the possibilities are for individuality and appropriateness in hotel design, the cookie cutter mold is an ever-present temptation. It's always there, available, quick, cost efficient (in the short haul), ready to stamp out more and more copies of itself. It is often sneaked in under the guise of expediency, among other things. Perhaps one of the most heavily weighted reasons for reliance on cookie cutter hotels has been guest acceptance. Fortunately, this is eroding. Discrimination in matters of taste is an acquired, or developed, attribute. Jet travel, growing affluence, the opening up of heretofore undeveloped areas, renovation of the grand old hotels of Europe and America, and a rapidly expanding inventory of truly fine new hotels world wide all contribute to the growing pool of pleasure travelers who grow more and more discriminating as they amass travel experiences. Thus, the more success the travel industry enjoys, the more dedicated to excellence it must become--to keep pace with the enlightened, discriminating traveler it is in the process of producing.

If we disdain cookie cutter hotels, we endorse hotels that are an expression of their particular environment and its people, that have a vibrant sense of place, and provide guests a rich array of optional pleasures. These hotels work, in part, because they recognize the name of the game is "pleasure" and they do afford guests the means whereby their individual expectations of pleasure can be realized. And because people are as individual in their preferences as in their personalities, the potential for creating uniquely wonderful--special--places is limitless.

While the ideal site for your special place may be in the Swiss or New Zealand Alps or mountains of Colorado, my fantasies may focus on the shores of Bora-Bora or Cannes. Australian rain forests and desert sands of the American Southwest have strong appeal. Country lanes and, surely, city streets have allure. Both the exoticism of Bangkok and the familiarity of American apple pie in Memphis attract, as surely as the warmth of the California or Riviera sunshine, and Scandinavia's bracing winds and weather. History and culture buffs are drawn, as if by a magnet, to Williamsburg and New Orleans, London and Paris, Rome and Lisbon...

How about castles in Spain? Or--Italy? Surely they too capture the imagination. Fly to the Pacific for safe viewing of primeval furies of Hawaii's volcanoes; or, to the Atlantic for leisure listening to mellifluous songs and vibrant rhythms of the Caribbean. Sip a Singapore Sling at fabled Raffles Hotel and talk about the tiger that was killed in the bar and the writers who created legends there.

Small jewel-like resorts--simple to sophisticated, informal and formal, each catering to a single facet of recreation--are cutting a nice niche in the marketplace--for example, the European and African resorts of Serena Hotels. Leave your istana (ancient palaces of Malaysian sultans) inspired quarters in Terengganu to watch the ageless ritual of a giant sea turtle lumbering ashore, laying and burying her eggs and then with silent dignity return to the deep from whence she came.

As part of our 70th Anniversary celebration, we'll be revisiting past articles and interviews of our founders and past employees of WATG.

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Greg Tong

The following is an interview of Greg Tong conducted in the February 1988 issue of Hawaii Architect when the highly anticipated Hyatt Regency Coolum was still under construction. The Australian resort was the first of its kind, featuring medical facilities, five-star hotel and condominiums, and business management training facilities, all at a single site.


Several years ago our firm was approached by a group of Australians headed by Dr. John Tickell and management consultant Ray Dalglish, who were planning to develop a Queensland, Australia resort in which a health wellness center would play a major role. They had visited an impressive list of resort cum health wellness centers in the United States and wished to advance the state of the art as they had come to know it.

They came up with a concept which is now described as an executive health management resort. Probably the first of its kind anywhere, it will combine--on a single site--medical facilities, resort hotel and condominiums, and business management training facilities. All of the above are to be supported by integrated programs.

Scheduled to open in late 1988, the Hyatt Regency Coolum is the brainchild of Melbourne medico and health management consultant Tickell, who, more than a decade ago, pioneered Australia's first corporate health management and stress evaluation clinics. Since then more than 400 Australian and U.S. companies have used his stress management services, and he has become something of a hit in boardrooms and on the international speaking circuit. Of Hyatt Regency Coolum he said, " ... (It) is the perfect destination for recreation, rejuvenation, relaxation and believe it or not, doing business.

"The magnificent oasis has the elements of five-star luxury, top class sporting and exercise facilities and the integral but magnetic attraction of health management and rejuvenation facilities, medically based, but open minded.

"The implementation has not been easy, as it is the only place where an international hotelier, big business, the National Medical Association, and a university business management service have been brought together."

The site is in Queensland on Australia's East Coast- their Sunshine Coast- in the foothills of Mount Coolum. A village setting with one- and two-story buildings of Queensland-inspired architectural character set the theme for the resort, which is set on a 350-acre site featuring lush rainforest, coastal marsh and beach dunes. Major components of the resort comprise:

  • A reception building in which the guest is introduced to the complex and has his /her transportation mode converted from automobile to foot power, pedal power or electric cart;
  • 100 suites clustered in groups of 40 units around a pavilion designed for serving breakfast and cocktails;
  • 150 two-bedroom condominium suites also clustered in groups around a pavilion;
  • A village center featuring several food and beverage outlets and shops;
  • A corporate management center with facilities for lectures, seminars, briefings, retreats;
  • A commissary that functions as the back of the house and gives each food and beverage outlet autonomy; a unique feature of the commissary is that it will utilize containers for movement of supplies and waste, very much as the airline industry does;
  • Recreation facilities for golf, tennis, swimming, jogging, aerobics, squash, bicycling, hiking, fishing and surfing; and
  • For a later phase, 20 executive residences.

Hyatt Regency Coolum

Although others have done similar things, we believe this is truly the first of its kind and that, as a first, it will be a prototype, a forerunner of other projects of this kind.

We envision other developers--worldwide--coming to this project to study its design and operation, to carefully monitor its success.


As part of our 70th Anniversary celebration, we'll be revisiting past articles and interviews of our founders and past employees of WATG.

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Pete Wimberly

This is a story about Pete & Pete. This is the tale of George James (Pete) Wimberly, the architect, and N. Peter Canlis, the man who founded a unique covey of restaurants. For decades after its opening in March 1954, Canlis' Restaurant was a Waikiki landmark and one of the most popular and highly praised restaurants in Hawaii. Canlis Restaurant closed in March 1989 and Luxury Row now stands in it's original location at 2100 Kalakaua.

It was in 1945 and I'd just finished a darn good looking officers club on the grounds of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Very soon after V-J Day I got a phone call from Peter Canlis. All he said was "One of these days you and I are going to build the world's most beautiful restaurant" and then hung up.

A couple of years later, Canlis opened his first restaurant where the Hyatt Regency now stands and it was not exactly what you'd call beautiful. Actually, he was a guy who had a $1500 budget to convert a World War II blackout Chinese restaurant, called the Golden Palms, into an acceptable steakhouse. And what do you do with $1500? You install a broiler so you don't have to enlarge the kitchen. You push out and build a wall along the sidewalk so you can put in more tables which you protect with a striped awning. You get your wife to upholster banquettes with sailcloth so you don't have to buy too many chairs. And when I asked Peter what kind of a lighting budget he had, he said zero so we lit mostly with candlelight. Finally, the place opened. Peter didn't have a liquor license so you brought your own booze. People complained about the high prices (a filet was $2.50) but flocked there anyway.

And then, in 1953, the lease expired ... they were going to build the Biltmore on the site ... and Pete had to look for a new location. He talked with the Magoons and wound up at 2100 Kalakaua Avenue.

We must have worked on a dozen schemes. My partner, Howard Cook, worked 80 hours a week and construction started when we only had a half-finished plan.

Those big timbers in the ceiling we hassled from a construction company that was going to build bridges for a plantation. Ben Norris was my aesthetic consultant--he was in the art department at UH and knew all the artists. Bumpei Akaji did the mosaic behind the bar, Mick Brownlee did the tiki and Harue McVay did ceramics.

We argued and threw things and jumped up and down. Peter always knew what he wanted. He wanted a menu that would work in a small kitchen. He wanted the ladies room located so that a woman could walk by the bar--and perhaps catch an eye--legitimately. Later, when we added a private dining room, he insisted that guests walk through the restaurant to get there. He figured people like to be seen by other people going to a fancy party.


The whole shebang was finished in around 120 days at a cost of $ 150,000 and the public did proclaim the restaurant beautiful. Wimberly attended the grand opening, then piled into Queen's hospital for a week, suffering exhaustion, His partner, Howard Cook, had a slipped disc.

Canlis payed Wimberly practically nothing for the 1946 job and not much more for the 1955 building but, in the long run, the association proved profitable for the 67-year-old architect. At first the Lotus room (where Paulo plays today) was open to the skies but a steady run of customers dictated that the area be covered and used for dining fulltime. A porte-cochere was built and, in 1960, the Orchid room.

And Wimberly went on to design Canlis' restaurants in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, all providing comfortable commissions. A $300-a-month consultant fee ran on for years, a $2500 stock investment appreciated to around $40,000 and Mr. Canlis gave Mrs. Wimberly a mink stole.

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Ashley Fauguel

WATG is an employee owned company and being an employee owned company is something to celebrate and be proud of, so on Friday morning - Employee Ownership Day, our London office gathered together to eat breakfast, chat and hear a few words from Jeremy Heyes about the trust and exactly why we should be celebrating.

Jeremy Heyes explaining the new employee-owned trust

At WATG, people are important, we want to continue remaining a dynamic, creative, innovative and empowering. We are being offered the opportunity to decide the future direction of the company, the profitability and amongst other things, who our Board of Directors should be!

Being an "owner" means that we are all contributing to an exciting and positive future for our company.

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Ashley Fauguel

We issued a challenge and it was answered. Were joined by Zaha Hadid Architects, Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, Squire + Partners, ARUP, HOK, BDP and Foster + Partners for innaugural "Great Architectural Bake-off." The creativity and energy the respective design teams brought to constructing distinctive, edible recreations of iconic London buildings made for an exciting event. The atmosphere was buzzing with eager team members, intrigued spectators and excited children.

Teams were provided with a selection of materials, including sponges, chocolate fingers and icing but were able to bring additional edible items. The teams used jelly, sticks of rock, oreo biscuits, pre–prepared / sculpted sugar glass, edible silver spray, licorice and honeycomb! The most exciting additions were the tools used to create the masterpieces, we witnessed blow torches and Dremel drills!

The competition was judged by an esteemed panel of judges: Maxie Giertz, a cake development expert from Konditor & Cook, Gavin Hutchison, chair of Cities of London and Westminster Society of Architects (CLAWSA), and Jennifer de Vere-Hopkins, an Associate from Jestico + Whiles. The judges took their roles seriously and based their decision on creativity, technical / execution, most realistic representation, teamwork, and taste.

Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners came in third place with their oreo and sugar glass interpretation of Lloyds of London. Zaha Hadid Architects took second place with their portrayal of the Tower Bridge (which included a jelly river and cake flotilla). And in first place, Squire + Partners wowed the judges with their jelly Serpentine Pavilion lit from below with a light box. Jennifer de Vere-Hopkins said "the winner has combined lots of different elements, we liked the execution, the idea behind it, the preparation and most of all the team recognized that there was an element of showmanship in creating a cake for this type of event."

(First Place Winners: Squire + Partners)

Thanks to all who participated and making the first Great Architectural Bake-off a huge success!

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Ashley Fauguel

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of WATG London, we will be staging a unique event this Saturday as part of the firm's participation in the London Festival of Architecture. WATG will be hosting a bake-off, where teams will have 1.5 hours to create distinctive, edible recreations of iconic London buildings.

Join us for an exciting fun-event with London's top-ranking architects.

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