Quick fixes to spruce up a hotel’s public area for wintertime can include simple things like dimmed lighting, fuzzy blankets and a hot cocoa station.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—When it comes to decorating a hotel’s lobby space for winter, it doesn’t necessarily mean decking the halls for a specific holiday.
Hotel News Now spoke with two designers and an event coordinator who gave quick tips and tricks to seasonally refresh decor in a universal way that can last all of winter.
1. What are some key elements to creating a wintertime feel in hotels?
Michael Suomi, principal and VP of design, Stonehill Taylor: “When approaching decor, start with the basics before diving into the shopping. Set a concept appropriate to your location and guest psychographic and determine the two or three key focal elements. Use real balsam branches to highlight a focal point, such as a fireplace or bookcase. Concealed water tubes or water picks and can be refilled and extend the lifespan of real branches.”
Tammy Miller, founder and principal, Alternate Resources: “Hotels should tastefully and eloquently deck the halls with green trees/branches, cream, silver, gold and soft pink accents and white lighting. These colors add a wintry feeling that is not necessarily a Christmas feeling.”
Courtney Kahler, catering sales manager and event coordinator, DoubleTree by Hilton Syracuse: “Mix and match neutral tones like white, silver or gold and try to avoid the color red as it has a (Christmas-specific) feel. Natural components like pine cones, fresh greenery and birch logs can make guest spaces feel even cozier as well. A fun, wintry addition would be hanging snowflakes.”
2. What are some quick fixes hotels can do to achieve that?
Suomi: “Ambient lighting sources can be gelled to warm candlelight colors—golds or ambers—to enhance the warmth of natural materials, and dimmed down to soften the (guest) arrival experience. Additional accent lighting, such as lanterns or premium flicker-flameless wax candles add upscale seasonal sparkle.
“An arrival refreshment table set with hot cider, seasonal tones and cocoa with mini marshmallows will warm guests up arriving from the chilly outdoors. And keep in mind that winter isn’t just about the holidays, this year is host to the Winter Olympics. Ensure that your public area televisions are set to showcase winter sports. And if appropriate, utilize a theme drawn from the Olympic events to guide the addition of decor.”
Miller: “I have seen a lot of fire walls or table-top fire bowls added to decor to encourage people to mosey over. … Plaid or flannel pillows placed seasonally around the soft seating or some knitted poufs make it feel wintry. (Try) burning candles that smell like baking chocolate chip cookies; scents relax people.”
Kahler: “Adding fuzzy blankets and a complimentary hot cocoa station is a great way to make guests feel welcome. If you have a fireplace mantel that can be decorated … maybe even display a festive sign or two.”
3. From your experience, what are some things that don’t work and hotels shouldn’t do when decorating for wintertime?
Suomi: “Hauling out the same old Christmas and Hanukkah decor every year becomes repetitive and dull. Empower an energetic and creative staff member with a credit card and the responsibility of transforming your guest areas each year. Avoid doing too much area with too little money and focus on a handful of experiences that are at guest touchpoints.”
Miller: “I am not a big fan of overdone decor where there is so much going on … that it is no longer inviting, but rather overwhelming to the senses. Too many candy canes, Santas, wooden soldiers, reindeer, multicolored ornaments, etc., can get to be too much. Err on the side of elegance and simplicity.”
Kahler: “Less is more in several instances, like limiting your color palette and amount of decorations. Think of it as quality over quantity. Personal touches and small details can go a long way. Glitter and confetti can be pretty, but both can make quite the mess. If you need some kind of filler, or fluff as I like to call it, consider using crystals or stones. They are larger, easier to maintain and reusable.”