At Studio Design Group Architects, we understand how design and architecture are influenced by the environment, current events, and changing expectations of the user. The past couple of years have hit the hospitality industry especially hard, and professionals agree that many of the changes they have made to improve safety will likely be permanent. But we think that’s a good thing.
As we begin the process of reopening and getting back into our regular routines, the hospitality industry should be prepared to evolve with the changing expectations of their guests. The pandemic forced us to rethink how we travel and entertain ourselves, but it also prompted many businesses to make some innovative new upgrades that can safeguard buildings and people from future disruptions. These new standards focus on safety, flexibility, and creating open, welcoming spaces without sacrificing beauty or comfort.
Since many travelers are understandably still concerned about the health and safety of themselves and their families, the challenge for hospitality design is to be inviting and welcoming, while keeping staff and visitors safe.
Until now, hotels and restaurants went to great lengths to hide their cleaning procedures. Now, people want to know that the places they spend their time in are clean. While big changes like improved air filtration won’t be seen by the public, simple things like strategically placed hand sanitizer stations or distancing reminders on the floor can go a long way in assuring guests that you have their health in mind.
Another modification that is here to stay is the implementation of touchless and contactless features throughout buildings. While not a new technology, touchless doors and faucets help prevent the spread of germs and instill confidence in visitors, especially in high-traffic places, such as lobbies. And speaking of lobbies, expect to see fewer people when you arrive, as online check-in and concierge services are now available through new hotel guest apps.
In hotel rooms, visitors want to feel confident that everything is clean and sanitized. Many hotels are installing surfaces that are easy to wash and disinfect, and reducing the number of porous and fabric surfaces to help visitors feel safe. Antimicrobial countertops, laminate floors, and app-controlled amenities are all important in post-COVID guest room design.
Hotels are finding ways to make their common spaces more adaptable by designing open, uncluttered areas with lightweight, portable seating for easy maneuverability. Utilizing distance instead of walls or other barriers helps keep guests from feeling trapped or confined, and since no one wants to spend time in a crowded room right now, designers are creating smaller, attached rooms that can be opened to accommodate more people when the need arises. Some hotels are even repurposing their dirty, old work-out rooms and offering room-service-type delivery of exercise equipment to guests.
Restaurants that had to hastily create places for outdoor dining in parking lots and sidewalks are now finding ways to make al fresco dining permanent. Look for more rooftop bars, parklets, and other innovative outdoor gathering spots that help customers feel safe and relaxed while they are out socializing.
Responding to a need for calmness and comfort, hotels, bars, and restaurants are getting more creative in how they blur the line between outside and inside. Making outdoor areas feel more like living rooms, and indoor spaces more natural and open can promote a sense of wellbeing and happiness. Implementing Biophilic design elements such as plants, natural materials, and water features can evoke a comforting feeling of connection to nature.
In the hospitality sector, increased safety is one trend that is here to stay. The new normal is about creating spaces that maximize safety and minimize stress. Increased standards for cleaning and distancing, better flexibility, and attention to creature comforts combine to create a better, safer experience for guests.
If you would like to see how Studio Design Group Architects can help you prepare for whatever adventures come next, give our office a call at 805-541-3848, or reach out to us here.