By Amy Bostock


Principal & Global Design Lead, CHIL Interior Design/managing principal, B+H Architects Vancouver Studio

Q: What is it about your approach to hotel design that makes you stand out?  

I’ve always felt that if you aren’t thinking about the guest and their experience first and foremost, then the design will be without purpose. Putting their experience at the forefront will guide meaningful design solutions.

Q: How does innovation drive your design choices?  

I strive to create something new with each opportunity — big or small. That means thinking of everything with a little less restraint and sometimes actively pushing yourself to view the design from a whole different perspective. Innovation can be found in everything — from conceptualizing the space to using new materials, but it’s really important to not recycle ideas.

Q: What are some of the top challenges you face during the design process?

Challenges range with each project as some can be about those hidden costs that arise in a renovation, for instance, that can erode the interior-design budget over time, or ensuring all the voices in the project from the owner to the brand to the operator are aligned. Others are about rising costs in materials or trades as well as ensuring momentum on a long project is maintained.

Q: How important is it to have sustainability at the forefront of hotel design?  

I’m excited when developers start a project with that at the forefront, especially in new builds. Having the hotel brands and operators also push sustainability within the operations of the hotel is so important and needs to be matched in all aspects.

Q: What part of the hotel do owners spend the most time and money on?

Over the last number of years, F&B and lobbies have been getting much more attention and budget invested in order to attract visitors beyond the hotel guests and to position the hotel as a neighbourhood amenity overall. In some markets, we’ve seen a more pared-back approach to the hotel guestroom in favour of elevating the public areas, which has made sense to many guests who look for a well-rounded and inspiring experience and often don’t use the five-piece bathroom, for instance, during their one to two-night stay.

Q: What is your favourite hotel project you have worked on and why?  

I loved The Dorian, an Autograph Collection (Calgary) where we were able to see our original concept and vision become a reality. This was a new-build hotel and spanned about six years for us with a client who was a great collaborator and inspiration in her own right. We still have to pinch ourselves that the client, brand and team trusted us to deliver such a truly unique and exciting project. They also really supported the design and created a completely holistic experience from tip to tail with their branding, F&B operations and general love of the property that makes us so proud to have been a part of. 


Partner, Chapi Chapo Design Inc., Toronto

Q: What is it about your approach to hotel design that makes you stand out?

I believe in timeless design, so we don’t follow what’s trending in the market. Instead, we follow what that particular location and brand requires, based on the culture we’re looking at. So even though our firm is Canadian, we work everywhere in the world. We want to make sure that wherever we design, it’s elegant and timeless. That’s a key because nobody wants to spend a lot of money to design something that you have to re-design in five years or so. Ownership appreciates when the designers can design not only a beautiful product, but something timeless that can last for more than 10 years.

Q: How important is it to have sustaina-bility at the forefront of hotel design?

My family is very cautious about what we use and how we’re using and I implement the same rules from my family to my company. About 80 per cent of the materials we use [in hotels design] are recycled. For example, we found carpeting made from wool and recycled plastic from a factory in London that’s collecting recyclable plastic from the ocean and using it as thread, which we can use in the carpets. It’s also durable, which is important in hotels. We’ve also used recycled brick from the construction to design accent walls — we always try to be creative. We also try to help the community where we build, such as using local suppliers and giving back in a charitable way.

Q: What are some of the top challenges you face during the design process?

My passion is resorts, but working in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic or Mexico comes with some unique challenges. For example, when I was working on a property in Mexico City, one of the unique challenges was that Mexico City has a lot of earthquakes and to make sure that that structure was very stable, there were big columns throughout the space. We approached it as a part of the uniqueness of this particular space and we treated it as artwork by painting them unique colours. 

At the St. Regis Resort Kanai, challenges came from the fact the property was located on mangrove swamps, which was protected by UNESCO. You can just chop through it, you have to gently remove it, place it somewhere else. That’s why it took eight years. The architecture was a circle, which was quite unique, so each of rooms was like a pizza slice and that was a challenge to design. At the end of the day, it’s up to me to make it work. It’s my job is to make the problem disappear and to make the [design] process as easy as possible.

Q: Do you have a signature design element?

No and I’m actually very proud of that. Every single hotel is very unique, and [the design] is based on the requirements for ownership is based on requirements from the brand. I want every hotel I design to offer a different experience, different unique details. My goal for the company is to create quality, not quantity.

Q: What is your favourite hotel project you’ve worked on and why? 

Every project is my favourite project. I love being involved in the process and seeing the reaction of the people on their faces when they see [the finished product]. And I love to come back to a property after it’s opened to see it and reading the reviews from guests. At the end of the day, that’s what’s important. 


CEO & founder​, LUX Interior Design, Toronto

Q: What is it about your approach to hotel design that makes you stand out?

Understanding that hotel guests are away from their home for either leisure or business, LUX Design’s primary focus at the initiation of the interior-design process is to ask ourselves, ‘How can we create a welcoming and immersive experience for the guests?’ Through strategic design, our goal is to create an environment that fully engages a guest’s senses and emotions that reflect the hotel’s theme, brand and narrative.

Q: Do you have a signature design element?

I believe that a great design doesn’t need to be overdone to be luxurious, so I create spaces with understated elements that give a feeling of ease, calm and longevity. 

Q: What are the top two trends in hotel interior design for 2024/2025?

Biophilic design is the top trend for hotel interior design this year. It involves incorporating natural elements into the hotel’s environment to connect humans with nature. This includes integration not only of vegetation but also natural light, raw materials and organic shapes. This leads to our selection of the second trend, which is organic shapes seen in materials, furniture and design elements that ultimately promote a sense of well-being and calm.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face during the design process?

Most of the challenges revolve around balancing interior design ambitions with budget constraints. While supply-chain issues were more prevalent in previous years, that has improved in 2024.

Q: What part of the hotel do owners spend the most time and money on?

Owners typically allocate a large portion of their budget to the lobby as it’s the first impression for guests and often serves as a meeting spot for guests, meetings or places to rest. 

Q: What is your favourite hotel project you have worked on and why?

At LUX Design, every project takes our team and clients on a creative journey, rendering it difficult to single out just one. However, a recent noteworthy project is The Tapestry Hotel by Hilton located in Niagara Falls, Ont. With the spectacle of the falls and the lively city surrounding it, our client sought a sanctuary for their guests that would provide a serene juxtaposition. Our design strategy to achieve this was to integrate tranquility through the use of natural elements, including wood panelling and features, as well as subdued hues, offering a space for relaxation from the bustling Niagara surroundings. The vibrant pops of colour in the restaurant give a sense of play, while the guestrooms have a darker ambiance to give guests a sense of pure relaxation and rejuvenation.


Owner, Lesley Wong Interiors, Oshawa, Ont.

Q: What are the top two trends in hotel interior design for 2024/2025?

The top trends I’m seeing for 2024/2025 are sustainable design and natural materials. Beautiful natural-wood finishes in flooring, cabinets and decor, and woven textures in fabrics and stone. A lot of brand design shows this and I feel they’re on point, considering the need for sustainable design and the move to be more of an informed consumer and steward of the planet.

Q: What are some of the top challenges you face during the design process?

Timing and realistic expectations. Timing has become a challenge in that there are many hotels with PIP’s that need to be done yesterday. Logistics and budget don’t always coincide with the timing of a project and that can put stress on the design. Realistic expectations are a common thread throughout the process. From engaging your designer to completion, to knowing there are many moving parts to design, we try to manage the project expectations by continuous communication. Keeping everyone in the loop truly helps.

Q: Do you have a signature design element?

I like to add a hint of black to a design in a subtle way. I feel this offers a place for the eye to focus as you take in a space for the first time. It doesn’t have to be much, maybe a simple light fixture finish or hardware on a piece of furniture. To me, this gives a sense of calm, as some spaces can be overwhelming.

Q: What is it about your approach to hotel design that makes you stand out?

We use a “guest-first” viewpoint for our approach to each design. When I first see a property that’s scheduled for renovation, I love to walk in and take in the whole interior — good or bad. Then, seeing the potential and knowing the design direction, my creativity goes to work. But always keeping in mind the guest experience — how will they feel? Is the lobby easy to navigate? These questions and others like them keep us focused on the guest’s interaction with the space.

Q: How important is it to have sustain-ability at the forefront of hotel design?

We have grown, in part, to be a “throw-away society,” but we’re seeing the folly in that philosophy. Simple changes can be made that we’ve been seeing in hotel design, such as the complimentary amenities no longer being a one-time use item. The consideration, too, of the lifecycle of FF&E is on my mind. Using more quality made pieces that will last a full life cycle is not only good for the environment, but also good for the bottom line.

Q: What part of the hotel should owners spend the most time and money on?

Depending on the size and layout, lobbies should be invested in. First impressions are everything and you only get one chance to make a good first impression. It doesn’t have to break the bank either but [having] some thought, again, to the guest experience, can really drive the design. Close behind in importance are the guestrooms. It would be a lost opportunity to forget the space your guest is sleeping in. Comfort should be a priority in the design. 

Q: What is your favourite hotel project you have worked on and why?

One of my favourite projects has likely been one of my most challenging projects – the renovation of a hotel in northern Ontario. The building was old, not maintained and big changes needed to be made. Architecturally, there were some hurdles, so that kept impacting the design. But in the end, it was a success. The hotel now gets great reviews and is often booked up in advance. My favourite piece in the whole design though, is the mural in the lobby. We had it commissioned by a young artist who really wowed us. 


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