When to make big and small design moves at indie hotels
When to make big and small design moves at indie hotels
24 JANUARY 2018 1:21 PM

Independent hotels don’t have to complete big design renovations as often as branded hotels do, but designers suggest hoteliers implement small changes in between renovation cycles to keep the design fresh. 

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Independent hotels don’t have strict guidelines to follow like branded properties, but design experts advise that independent hoteliers stick to a schedule when it comes to refreshing a hotel’s image.

Independent hotels don’t have to follow a brand-prescribed design standard, “but they are more likely to renovate to keep their image fresh as their markets may demand,” said Christine Shanahan, managing director of design at HVS Design.

“However, independent hotels should plan to renovate on a cycle regardless of market trends to allow for the replacement of product that is worn or heavily used,” she said. “While independent hotels have the ability to often be ahead of the trend, branded hotels have the security of knowing a design trend has been vetted prior to rollout.”

Lisa Patton, associate design director at Wilson Associates’ Dallas studio, said a soft-goods renovation at a hotel typically takes place every five to seven years.

“Independent hotels are able to make small updates more frequently and with less oversight than branded hotels, so they’re able to be more on trend and appear to update their look more often,” she said. “Smaller, less expensive refreshes like accent pillows, drapery, decor, accessories and even lighting (like table lamps and floor lamps) can be done more often by an independent hotel.”

Strategic planning
Independent hotels have the flexibility to hold off a little longer on renovations than branded properties do, and Patton suggests independents completely renovate every 15 years, with at least two smaller refreshes within that timeframe.

“Smaller design updates in soft goods, such as fabrics, drapery, carpet, rugs, etc., should be done about every five years,” she said. “It’s typically up to the operator, but I would imagine that bathroom towels, linens and other (operating supplies and equipment) items should probably be replaced every few years due to wear and tear.”

According to Shanahan, major design overhauls have a different purpose.

“Big design updates are done when it’s time to reinvent and re-establish your place in the market,” she said.

Like Patton, Shanahan suggests implementing small, thoughtful design updates that can make a significant impact in between large renovation cycles.

“Social media and online reviews can drive occupancy at an independent hotel and guestrooms are an area where each guest interacts closely with all aspects of the room,” she said. “It is vital that both the guestroom and guest bathroom are maintained, so they may need updating or refreshing more frequently than the public space.”

While independent hotels have the option to be flexible, Shanahan added that independent hoteliers should take a note or two from the brands and evaluate the property on a regular basis to make sure the experience and the products being offered at the hotel are of good quality.

“Branded hotels have made a science of renovation cycles and the associated requirements, so independent hotels should take advantage of that research and follow that timeline with adjustments based on their market and clientele,” she said.

For design firm //3877, co-founder and principal David Shove-Brown said the schedule of a design refresh differs based on the hotel and its location, but the general rule of thumb is to segment redesigns into two timeframes.

“The first is the five- to seven-year mark, which is the best for replacing simple details (such as) wallpaper or carpeting, items that show the most wear,” he said. “The second, the eight- to 10-year mark, serves as a time to not only replace items that seem to be either worn or outdated, but provide a platform for independent hotels to completely redesign and re-establish their brand.

“This schedule falls in line with larger trend cycles, allowing the design schemes selected by hotels to reflect the most up-to-date elements, enticing guests.”

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