Hospitality facing the competition.

You could easily be forgiven for assuming this calming scene is only accessible to intrepid hikers in a pristine wilderness, however, it is easily accessible to all guests and visitors to the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Singapore.

“you only get one chance to make a first impression.”

The hotel entrance lobby is the most important location for creating a lasting first impression.

Of all the innovative ideas hotel owners and operators are incorporating in hotel design and renovation, to maintain position in the face of increasing competition, the most important is by far redesigning the lobby.

The original idea of the lobby solely being a place for guests to check in has changed dramatically.

People enjoy attractive, pleasing areas and are much more likely to choose to stay, meet and dine in attractive landscapes, so there is a high correlation between attractive landscaping and high occupancy rates of hotels, large and boutique.

“Our lobbies have historically been transitional spaces,” agrees Paul Cahill, senior vice president for global brand management at Marriott Hotels & Resorts/JW Marriott Hotels. People check in. People check out. Maybe they hang around for a few minutes if they’re waiting for someone. Non-guests are an important part of the hotel lobby experience. Guests want to see “like-minded” people around them and feel as if they’re part of a unique local experience, he says.

From a place of transaction to a place of interaction

Lobbies as dynamic multi-use spaces –

As the hub of the hotel, today’s lobby is evolving a multifunctional approach to engage guests and visitors in a relaxed, social setting. “Areas that used to be considered totally separate rooms—such as the business center, game room, meeting areas, bar, lounge and restaurant—are being combined into a larger social area to provide a common place for guests (and visitors) to relax, organize, meet, greet, eat or do work-related tasks.  By spending money in the lobby, owners can enhance every guest’s experience.”

Creative space segmentation is necessary, providing both intimate and social zones, as well as furniture delivering comfort and functionality. More upmarket entrance features include large green walls, indoor waterfalls, large chandeliers and multimedia stations in addition to spectacular floral displays.

Creating a more functional, more vibrant and more interesting lobby can make a positive difference in guest perception and comfort of the hotel. The new synergies created from these interrelated spaces and functions can produce increased revenue ultimately leading to guest loyalty.

 Outstanding examples

Described as a hotel in a garden, PARKROYAL on Pickering, in the Garden City/State, Singapore, is a hotel that offers an exciting showcase of lush greenery made up of shade trees, tall palms, shrubs, overhanging trailing plants and flowering plants. PARKROYAL on Pickering is a garden sanctuary in a busy city.Covering 15,000 square metres throughout the building, this showcase of interior landscape at its best is featured in the sky gardens and planted terraces, by the reflecting pools and waterfalls, and on the green walls. The landscaping is more than double the total land area of the hotel.

There are many successful hotels in the United States for example, that feature extensive interior landscapes, Embassy Suites, Hyatt Regency, Marriott’s Orlando World Centre, to name a couple, and not forgetting John Portman’ s iconic Hyatt Regency in Atlanta in 1967. I am indebted to my good friend Nelson Hammer ASLA for introducing me to these hotel landscapes in his book Interior Landscapes: An American Design Portfolio of Green Environments, (in which I also contributed).

The value of living plants

Hotel design goes through cycles, and incorporating living plants in the new age lobby is a great way to create a space that’s beautiful and relevant without spending a lot of money,

Many hotel atria combine the soothing effects of natural lighting and plants with the refreshing sights and sounds of moving water to create the impression of inviting, pleasant, natural environments. This effect can extend to the restaurants as well as the lobby and other public spaces.

High quality interior landscape helps people feel good in the space, contributing to a positive experience for visitors.

I have presented this list in a previous post, however it is useful to offer it again, as it is applicable wherever people are in an enclosed space indoors, that can benefit from living plants.

18 deal maker points:

Offer flexibility of location and relocation according to needs;

Are environmentally sound;

Have aesthetic appeal to building occupants, contributing to productivity;

Represent a solution that could be readily developed and refined for each application;

Contribute to noise absorption and do not produce acoustic problems;

Do not interfere with any existing air distribution systems or patterns in a room;

Professionally supplied and maintained, retain their effectiveness over time with comparatively low maintained costs;

Offer flexible routine maintenance, i.e. the frequency is not absolutely critical;

Help create an harmonious effect on staff morale, and thus increase motivation;

Can help form attractive and acceptable visual breaks and barriers in open plan settings;

Reduce glare and eye strain by reflecting in the yellow-green band, which is most receptive and soothing to the human eye;

Installation does not entail alteration to the fabric of a building;

Provides a means for discrete implementation of a solution to an environmental problem;

Entails relatively minor capital and running costs;

Involve only a very remote chance of a sudden breakdown or failure of operation.

Reduce concentrations of indoor air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) : they stabilise relative humidity; attract and hold particulate matter; contribute to oxygen/carbon dioxide (O2/CO2) exchange;

Even where low emission or no emission materials such as paints are used, plants provide ‘air polishing;’

Are cost effective in conjunction with air conditioning filter systems;

Innovative Plant Technology through years of practical experience based on sound horticultural science, has developed a systems approach, PLIMA® (Plants, Light, Irrigation, Media, Air) to manage even the most complex indoor/outdoor plant installations, from the design/concept stage through to completion and performance verification.

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