Today’s hotels are more design-driven than ever before, thanks in part to the influence of millennial guests. In the past, the difference between three- and five-star hotels usually came down to cleanliness, but in today’s market, hotels are using design features to draw guests in. In this new modus operandi, furnishings, floorings and lighting are now some of the key components that hotel designers are factoring in when putting together a room.

Situated on Canada’s West Coast, there has always been a natural aesthetic to The Westin Bear Mountain. The 156-room property in picturesque Victoria, B.C. recently renovated the majority of its guestrooms in order to remain up-to-date with current trends. From its slate floors, real wood trim and neutral hues, Adele Pransky from Chil Interior Design took her design inspiration from the surrounding property and existing natural materials. Incorporating organic elements with a colour palette of rich neutral and caramel tones, Pranksy was able to create a synergy between old and new by working with existing materials as much as possible. She selected highly durable fabrics and finishes and created robust custom furniture items, including real wood tables. The biggest challenge, she says, was sourcing quality items that matched all the other elements of the room. “As designers, we are always looking for new and dynamic ways to skillfully balance pattern, texture and colour to create unique and memorable hotel experiences for guests,” she says.

From an operator standpoint, guest engagement was closely tied into the design process at The Westin Bear Mountain. “Design is paramount to an experience; there is no question about that…But to me it’s really how you connect with your guests personally,” says general manager Denise Palmer.

Designed to LEED Gold certification standards, the Delta Toronto is setting the standard for guest comfort, building performance and environmentally responsible design. “Our hotel’s philosophy is built around the guest’s appreciation of “the best of less” — this means smart, fluid design that delights and surprises along the guest journey, whether they’re travelling for business or leisure,” says Leslie Ma, Delta’s head of Marketing & Communications. In 2015, the hotel’s efforts were recognized with an Urban Design Award of Excellence as well as UrbanToronto’s Building of the Year title in 2014.

Delta’s new guestroom design, ModeRoom, is inspired by the Canadian landscape and boasts a fresh and modern colour palette focused on maximizing natural light. Combining nature and modern tastes, Delta Toronto’s rooms also feature the SmartDesk — a fully wired, multi-purpose area providing guests with a clutter-free workspace. When designing the property, Ma found the key challenge to selecting design elements was “identifying the essentials and distinguishing [these] from the other things that don’t add value.” The hotel, which opened in February 2015, placed art procurement at the top of the to-do list, featuring works by accomplished Canadian artists including Anda Kubis, Aleksandra Rdest, Jennifer McGregor, Rob Southcott, Adrian Forrow, Glenn Michael, Hyun Chul Kim, Rob Baytor and Teresa Aversa.

At Hotel St Paul in Montreal, trendy is part of the boutique property’s DNA. “Hotel St Paul was the first boutique hotel in Canada,” says Chantal Rambout, director of Operations of Iber Immobilier and GM of Hotel St Paul. “[Everything] was custom designed and crafted specifically for the hotel. They are one of a kind.”

In 2015, renovations carried out by Montreal-based Borrallo Interiors, were intended to “dress up the hotel with luxurious and daring colours.” Using oversized furniture and brass and bronze elements, the design team strove to evoke a nostalgic quality. Inspired by fashion textiles, rich and bold colours play a prominent role in the decor, including silks, moirees and velvets in eggplant, beet root, fuchsia and complementary greens. The biggest challenge for Rambout when selecting these items was “presenting and communicating our aesthetic in a Canadian context.” During the initial design process, the Hotel St Paul team knew it wanted to “create an incredible visual experience, a truly feel-at-home atmosphere and an architectural feel that was aesthetically high-end and sophisticated — a design that outlived trends and seasonality.”

Volume 29, Number 4
Written by Jessica Maiorano 


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