Bring an architect in during the early stages of the renovation process to help identify areas of opportunity.
Often times, owners think of an architect only when building a ground-up property or when they need to get drawings signed and sealed. However, an architect can bring a keen eye to the property in the initial planning stages and prior to purchase.
When embarking on a renovation, there are always opportunities for an owner to increase efficiency and create return on investment opportunities; one only needs to know where to look. Utilizing an architect at the start of a project can be a valuable resource to uncover these hidden gems.
Here are just a few of the places in your hotel where opportunity may be lurking.
Full-service brands are eliminating business centers as separate rooms and incorporating that them into the main area of the hotel near the lobby. The separate business centers are typically between 150 and 250 square feet. The relocation to the main lobby/seating area creates an opportunity to convert the original space into a small coffee shop for additional revenue, possibly a car rental entity to gain lease revenue, or conversion into a key (depending on location).
Standalone gift shops within a hotel are becoming less commonplace as they tend to generate little to no rent for the property. Repurposing the gift shop into meeting space, coffee shop or marketplace can create more income from guests.
Older hotels may still have telephone banks or rooms. As these are no longer necessary, they can be eliminated to create breakout areas for meetings, additional seating, or quiet zones within the lobby.
Creating additional dining opportunities within the lounge/bar area can help address slower demand periods for the restaurant. This may lead to a new food and beverage or operational challenge, but the potential upside is greater.
Rooftop spaces have become an excellent source of additional revenue. Creating a bar/lounge area or meeting space on the roof capitalizes on unused space and attracts guests. It’s important to keep accessibility and egress in mind when developing these spaces.
Depending on market demands, the architect can study the possibility of converting two-bay suites into two separate keys. This can increase the key count and lower the property’s overall cost per key.
With brands increasing the required square footage for fitness centers, it can be difficult at existing properties to be able to find additional space without impacting revenue-generating space. Your architect can work with you to help you find creative ways to incorporate the necessary square footage while limiting its impact on other spaces as much as possible.
Another market driven option is to convert your meeting space to a restaurant or vice versa. Restaurants that are underperforming can become valuable meeting space.
Converting indoor pools into meeting space is another option. Pools are a nice amenity for guests, but they are also an additional expense. Infilling your indoor pool allows the opportunity to expand or develop key meeting space that can generate additional income.
Investigate whether energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives make sense. Replacing poorly-insulated windows and updating guestrooms with programmable thermostats are two possible options for return on investment. These initial costs can be offset by the future energy cost savings.
Each hotel is unique and presents different challenges. The architect’s knowledge and hospitality experience can bring creative solutions to incorporate new purposes for the areas you no longer need within the project’s footprint. It’s important to bring the architect in during the due diligence phase to get these insights at the beginning so you can plan and budget accordingly. This vital addition to your team will lead to a more successful project for both you and your guests.
Warren Feldman, AIA, ISHC is Chief Executive Officer of Jonathan Nehmer + Associates, Inc., an international Architecture, Interior Design, and Project Management firm that specializes in the hospitality industry. He has expertise in all facets of Project Management, Architecture, Interior Design, Design Management, and Construction Administration. His experience includes work as Architect and Owner’s Representative in the direction and management of hospitality, commercial, institutional, educational, and residential projects. Complementing his education in Architecture, Mr. Feldman completed his Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University in December 1998 and is a member of the Maryland Bar.
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