Designed to Attract

External factors often influence the mood of a person. Walking leisurely on a beach or sitting in a waiting room at a hospital have obviously different effects on the human psyche. Similarly, the atmosphere of a hotel could attract or deter a guest.

A hospitality property’s lighting, furniture, room arrangements, etc. greatly contribute towards the overall ambience of the property, and also towards the property’s perception among its guests and potential guests. Ashok Malkani gets the views of some of the hospitality industry professionals to gauge how the hospitality properties can create an inviting environment, which can add to the luxury of the property and give satisfaction to the visitors.

In hospitality industry, first impression is crucial to struck a chord among the guests. However, that first impression should not be marred in second, third or even in the nth impression… for guests in the hospitality industry, especially in this age, are becoming increasing choosy and they are armed with lots of choices too. 

In the hospitality, the guests’ experience starts with the façade of the property. The exterior of your hotel is, therefore, of vital importance. And once you have got the guest in she/he has to be awed by the lobby. And it is always better if this awe-inspiring experience continues through her/his stay at the hotel.

We can say that a hospitality property’s design and décor play a crucial role in making the property the talk of the industry.

Facilitating First Impression

Norton Pereira – General Manager, Le Meridien Goa, Calangute averred, “The hotel’s design story and décor has a big impact on the guests’ stay experience – it could be a gateway to the destination that one is visiting. The hotel’s design or décor can introduce guests to lesser-known aspects/history of the destination. Right from the artifacts, to furniture (both style & placement) from furnishings (colours & texture) to lighting fixtures, all these aspects have a lasting impression on the guests’ stay and can impact their decision on revisiting the hotel.”

“A guest often makes the first impression of the hotel from the lobby and hence it is imperative that the lobby design represents the hotel’s distinct personality. At Le Meridien Goa, Calangute we call our lobby as the HUB – the purpose being that it enables our guests to convene and converse with each other, share their travel anecdotes and engage themselves in the destination’s unique offerings brought alive through the Hub’s design. While planning the Hub, we have kept in mind that the colour palette complements the space, furniture is cosy – the seating style facilitates engagement; there is ample natural light and the lighting fixtures are contemporary while using midcentury styled furniture,” Norton elaborated.

“The design and decor of a hotel can attract guests strongly towards its products and services. The boutique hotel, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, for instance, is a perfect blend between Indian and French cultures, intricately weaving the two together through different design elements. At our luxury property, the offerings are clearly reflective of four brand pillars of gastronomy, culture, well-being and design. The last one plays a vital role in highlighting the ambience and decor of each of our eclectic dining outlets and gives them a different positioning to go along with our gastronomic offerings,” pointed out Shilpa Kosambia, Executive Housekeeper, Sofitel Mumbai BKC.

“The lobby at our boutique hotel, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, is a medley of art-deco French and Indian inspirations. Tables, chairs and carpets are examples of art-deco at its best while the reception counter and the fixed seating reflect their design from traditional Indian monuments and symbols; such as the Chakra denoting long-life. The entire area is surmounted by the silhouettes of the hand-made crystal chandeliers that are the crown jewels of the hotel. The stupas in the lobby are positioned perfectly in alignment with the chandeliers to reflect each other and portray the French and Indian mélange,” added Parag Shah, Front Office Manager of the same hotel.

Satyajit Kotwal, General Manager, The Resort, Mumbai asserted, “Interiors play a very pivotal role in guest experience. When you enter any hospitality property, it is the first moment of truth and speaks about the ethos of the organisation.”

“A clutter-free, warm, welcoming lobby attracts guests and leaves a positive impression. We have recently got the lobby of The Resort Malad, Mumbai renovated. It is minimalistic on furniture and very spacious.  We have good usage of see through glass which allows the guest to see lawns outside, and the restaurant from the other side. It feels like one whole space though well compartmentalised,” observed Satyajit.

“The elements of a hotel’s design can bring out the cultural aspect of the area/destination where the hotel is located. They could be through the artifacts, furniture or lighting, each of which help elevate the guests’ experience and gives them a feel of the surrounding culture,” opined Sushma Khichar, Director of Operations, Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield.

“Décor of the hospitality property plays a vital role in guests’ mind. A cheerful and nice ambience is what makes the place very welcoming and vibrant. The décor does not have to be plush or garish but it certainly needs to be aesthetic and visually pleasant. Most importantly, it should go along with your brand and the segment you are catering to,” proffered D. Pratap Singh, Rooms Division Manager at Four Points by Sheraton Navi Mumbai, Vashi.    

“As far as the hotel lobby is concerned, I would say that an attractive, nice lobby gives a very welcoming and secured feel to guests and that creates a positive first impression about the hotel. A lobby can be made attractive by various ways like making attractive seating arrangement. Nice looking chandeliers can increase the grandeur. Fine artwork or artifact, great floral decoration combined with lights can surely enhance the attractiveness of the lobby. But apart from all that, what is most important from a guest’s point of view is ease to locate places and easy accessibility. As far as our hotel is concerned, as a select service brand, we might not have that opulent feel to our lobby but our focus on providing more personal attention to our guests compensates for that. The guests receive personal attention as they enter the lobby and they are escorted to their destination by our personnel, which adds a touch of human warmth. In the evening, with the addition of candles and floral decorations, the lobby acquires a vibrant and fresh look,” elaborated Pratap.

Green and Classy Features

But lobby merely gives an impressive first impression. There are several other aspects to be kept in mind for the overall ambience of the property. Interior design is very important for the success of a hospitality property. Designing of a hotel or a resort or any other hospitality property should be done in a manner so that the guests not only feel comfortable but also get pleased with the aura, inducing them to visit the place again. So what are the different design specifics employed by different hospitality properties to attract the guests? 

“At The Resort Malad, Mumbai, there is a lot of importance being given to green features like oversised windows for natural lighting & green walls to name a few. We have managed to blur the indoor-outdoor boundary very well. Lobby is more of a dynamic multi-use space. The creative space segmentation helps in providing intimate and social zones,” claimed Satyajit.

“At the heart of the guests’ experience is the hotel room itself. Our hotel rooms, at Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield, come with easy functionality and spaciousness, which is apt for both leisure and business travellers. The bliss of natural sunlight pouring in through almost every room is something our guests enjoy and treasure the most,” averred Sushma.

“Interior design adds taste and class to the hospitality business and keeps the guests interested. When implementing hotel’s interior design, there needs to be a balance between visual appeal  and necessary amenities. Visually, this can be done by adding specifically themed colours, textures, and lighting. Also one should try and look into locally sourced materials, recyclable material and sustainable fabric,” pointed out D Pratap.

“Exclusive interiors of a hotel add to the guest satisfaction. At Sofitel Mumbai BKC, every detail is carefully balanced, showcasing the Art de Vivre that Sofitel is known for. Sofitel Mumbai BKC is embedded with stones, shapes and geometry, and the tilted glass work in the lobby and rooms, asymmetrical pillars are some of the features that one can see at the hotel,” disclosed Parag.

“The classic paisley engravings, wall covers and prints that run through rooms, lobbies and corridors reminiscent of Indian temples, art and monuments, the elephant-inspired lightings and structures at various locations are few fascinating facets that can be noticed at the hotel,” he asserted further. 

“The rooms at Sofitel Mumbai BKC create the feel of a soothing retreat, in the heart of the city. The artwork in the rooms is a unique collection of prints under the banner of ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’ which brighten each room, while the use of royal purple adds an additional touch of luxury. The artwork in the room depicts French and Indian aspects that have bright colours depicting red and mauve, which have also been adopted in different areas and furniture within the rooms,” elaborated Parag.

“At Sofitel Mumbai BKC, the bedroom interiors are a perfect blend of French elegance and Indian culture. The bed structure is reinterpreted f r o m the Indian style; with a new concept offering a classic yet modern feel,” pointed out Shilpa.

“Textures, patterns and colours are influenced by the paisley motifs integrated with the French Baroque style to recreate a whole new classic look. The wallpaper features a paisley design originating in Kashmir that is often found on shawls. The paisley was introduced into Europe by Empress Josephine, the wife of Napoleon, who used Kashmiri shawls as cushion covers at her palace,” Shilpa informed.

“All rooms at Sofitel Mumbai BKC come with luxurious hardwood timber flooring, large bathrooms with oversized tubs, and separate showers. Junior Suites offer spacious surroundings with combined living and sleeping areas. On the other hand, Prestige Suites present a sense of luxury and elegance with their distinctly separate living and sleeping areas. Additionally, the magnificent Imperial Suite ensconces guests in a spacious and luxurious interior design; blending the French flair with Indian inspiration,” she elaborated further.

“Further, our trademark MYBED, an all feather bed combined with an extra light down duvet, invites guests to sink in for a restful sleep. The seven layered bed, including the mattress, featherbed, duvet and more, is made f r o m extremely soft materials to ensure guests have a comfortable sleep. Adding to the grandeur, guests are offered a special pillow menu named ‘MyPillow’ that allows them to choose f r o m a variety of pillow options. Be it firm, fluffy or adjustable, the menu provides an array of relaxing pillow options to fit one’s body contours,” Shilpa articulated.

“As representatives of the hotel, the biggest challenge we face is finding the right architect and interior designers whose vision for each facet of the edifice is compatible with ours. It is imperative that we find common ground in terms of themes that we want each aspect of the hotel to portray. Isabelle Miaja, having worked with numerous properties across the globe, has designed every detail to match our theme of a French and Indian cultural mélange at Sofitel Mumbai BKC,” Shilpa affirmed.

Reflecting the Destination

“Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts across the globe are known for their design philosophy; they represent timeless European chic and imbibe the culture of the destination to give their hotels’ design story a distinctive edge. Le Meridien Goa, Calangute’s design story is inspired by two significant points in history – one is the arrival of the Portuguese into Goa, which is widely known and the other is that of the Kunbi tribe, the first settlers of the state,” observed Norton.

“The artworks in the hotel are a contemporary take on the life and lifestyle of the Kunbi tribe. Be it the striking artwork in the lobby that showcases the various ornaments and tools the Kunbi women use in their daily life or the traditional chequered weaving pattern of their sarees  that find their way to various parts of the hotel. Lovely frames in the room showcase the tribal women in their traditional saree with the front-top knot and signature jewelry,” he elaborated. 

Lighting, Furniture and Others

The layout of the guest rooms, in addition to the colour scheme, lighting and furniture choices are some of the aspects that are taken into consideration to create an ambient atmosphere. But these are not all! It also extends to the bed quality, fabrics, linens, mirrors, hygiene, et al.  

“We have received overwhelmingly positive response f r o m our guests on the layout of the rooms. We offer seven different kinds of pillows for guests to choose f r o m so that their sleep experience is not compromised,” asserted Norton.

“I may add that lighting plays a very important role in creating that wholesome experience at the hotel. Hence selection of proper lighting is the key element in interior design of hotels as it enhances everything in a guest room - f r o m the furniture, flooring, fittings to the finishes and textures,” Norton disclosed.

“The light fittings and lamps chosen to compliment the style and décor of the room have potential to give life to the space. Yes, selection of the right lighting can help you achieve a perfect balance between style, comfort and practicality in creating aesthetically beautiful yet functional interiors,” he added further.

Sushma avers that furniture and lighting play a prominent role in creating an attractive room. “Furniture matters the most when designing a space as along with its functionality, they go well together during the space-planning phase of the interior’s design. The furniture can bring a different aura to the room. Well-designed furniture can exude class,” Sushma conveyed.

“Furniture too plays very important role in the ambience and décor. However, one has to keep in mind, more the furniture less the space for guests and more turnaround time for housekeeping.  We don’t have much furniture at our resort; we only keep very basic furniture as required. Bed, sofa cum bed, balcony furniture and study chair. Both comfort and functionality are being kept in mind,” articulated Satyajit.

“The guest room is incomplete without its radiant ambience. Incorporating the right lighting is essential in elevating the ambience of a room,” Sushma noted further. 

“Lighting changes the ambience of a room just as it does the perceived size of a room. Placement and type are crucial facets of interior design, and they work in conjunction with colour selections, room size, availability of natural light and furniture selection. The elements that come together when the right lighting is achieved can transform a room into a seamless combination of functionality and style,” Shilpa maintained.

“Lighting is the key to creation of perfect ambience. It has mood inducing ability, making it a great tool not only just for illumination but for the décor as well,” Satyajit affirmed.

“Great lighting, comfortable & modern furniture, spa like bathroom features, blurring of indoor & outdoor boundaries have worked the best for our property. We, being a resort, it was very essential for us to allow the nature to pour in to the rooms, restaurant, lobby, etc.,” pointed out Satyajit.

“A hotel room definitely needs to be attractive. A guest who is visiting a hotel, be it for leisure or business, should feel relaxed and nice when in the hotel room, throughout her/his stay at the hotel. An attractive room is where you have something good and eye-catchy, for example, a classy painting on the wall, well-kept huge curtains, designer carpets, attractive toiletries, an artifact. Most importantly, a well-organised and well cleaned room also adds to the pleasure of the stay,” disclosed D Pratap.

“Lighting can be an effective means to make spaces seem larger than they are in reality. Both, natural and man-made lighting, facilitate with the illusion of space. Even strategically placed mirrors can do the trick by capturing light and reflecting it through the room. Light coloured walls mixed with warm lights can create the feeling of a large yet inviting space. Dimmers may also be a good route to enable guests to adjust to their lighting preferences, with lower light closer to bedtime and full light when doing work,” Pratap pointed out.

Digital Savvy

In a digitally saturated world of marketing how do the hospitality properties manage to get the message across that the ambience in their property is par excellence?

“The answer to that is investing in good photography and rich website content, ensuring that the hospitality property’s unique design elements as one of the salient features being listed,” declared Norton.

“This is very simple. Hospitality properties need to have the best high-resolution images uploaded on every online channel. These images have to be 100 percent true to the reality,” Satyajit stated.

“Since these days bookings are done online, a large number of guests rely on online portals that display the details of the hotels along with the photographs. We thus ensure that our latest high quality images are always updated online through our website and other social media platforms so as to give the guests an insight to the hotel area. This helps immensely in promoting the hotel as well,” disclosed D Pratap.

“360 degree images and high resolution images of the hospitality properties make it very easy for guests to picturise the designs of the properties they are looking at. It is our endeavour to ensure that Sofitel Mumbai BKC is portrayed at its best on all booking portals across all verticals – whether be it rooms, restaurants and banquet venues. Social media also plays a major role in attracting guests. At Sofitel Mumbai BKC, each facet and corner of the hotel has distinct designs and own story to tell. We make use of platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to convey these tales, which guests can relate to on their visit – whether it be for a stay, spa therapy or even for a dining experience with us,” explained Parag.

It is true that a hospitality property’s room photographs often make guests want to check-in at the concerned property. It is therefore important for owners of hospitality properties to highlight the distinct design and decor of their rooms through the photographs online. This initiative is likely to induce more guest inflows at the property.

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