Lighting trends in hotels have evolved, and it’s not just about the visual appeal. Design and hotel experts are seeing energy-saving benefits, too.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Striking the right balance between function and form can be a struggle when implementing lighting in hotels, said Susan Cordovilla-Gorton, assistant director of design at HVS Design.
But with the advances in LED lighting and the ability to find a synergy between the technical features of a fixture, it’s gotten easier, she said.
And with the rapid change in the last few years from “incandescent to compact fluorescent to LED, many owners are having to re-evaluate the compatibility of the dimming systems to make sure they can properly control the latest lighting fixtures and bulbs,” Cordovilla-Gorton said.
LED bulbs remain the champion
Chris McDonough, principal at The Gettys Group, said LED bulbs continue to be the focus for hotels and many properties are fully transitioning to that type of bulb.
“LED technology has also dramatically improved in recent years, giving designers a much greater selection in bulb style as well as in color temperature, which is key to a successful guest experience,” he said.
Be creative and design-oriented
In 2015, the W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills completed a $25-million renovation that included adding LED lighting throughout its lobby and bar area with zoning controls and lighting sensors, which allows the hotel staff to program different settings, said property GM James Wroblewski.
He said providing innovative design to guests was one of the goals of the renovation and investing in lighting helped to achieve that.
To create an experience, he said, the lights in its lobby and bar area transition from a yellow hue during the day to a darker blue/purple hue at night to mimic the California sun.
“We installed zoning controls as well as lighting sensors to adjust the hues according to the outside time of day,” Wroblewski said. “We used Cat5 cables as well as DMX cables to install the lighting and programming.”
The ability to change lighting can significantly affect the perception of a design, Cordovilla-Gorton said. Without flexible lighting, guests might not resonate with the area and time of day.
But with flexible lighting, hotels can create the appropriate ambience to the time of day, she said.
“A spectrum of color can be added to focal points from the building’s exterior to back bars—anywhere desired—as long as that technology isn’t overused,” she said.
McDonough said other ways to achieve a color-changing effect can be through LED strips and box-type fixtures. One thing to consider, though, is the speed of color transition.
“If it’s too fast, it can be quite distracting to a guest,” he said.
Cordovilla-Gorton said she’s seeing more of a push for controllable lighting within guestrooms.
Incandescent bulbs have a wide range of dimming options, McDonough said, allowing the “light to get low and moody, which is important in public spaces where the operations team wants to change the feeling of spaces for guests.”
He said LED bulbs can be dimmed, but their ability to get to the “low-light quality can be challenging,” and the specifics of the bulbs and the lighting system controls need to be considered.
Wroblewski said his property also recently completed an LED retrofit to the entire back of house, parking structure and all emergency exit stairways to improve sustainability by reducing energy consumption.
He said he started to see a return on investment for the lighting enhancements about a year and a half after the property’s completed renovation.
The push for LED everywhere is pretty universal, Cordovilla-Gorton said, and it’s the best option in terms of lifelong cost and energy efficiency.
“Payback (period) and lower heat put-off from these bulbs make them a win,” she said.
Given the demand for LED bulbs, McDonough said there are now Edison-type and other “exposed filament-looking bulbs that give designers flexibility.”
To control cost and quality, The Gettys Group often will partner with a lighting consultant, he said.