Pow­er­houses of the Mid­dle East

HN spoke to three ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign firms that have in­vested heav­ily in ex­cit­ing projects through­out the re­gion to learn more about their vi­sion of the hos­pi­tal­ity land­scape for the com­ing years

Hospitality News Middle East - - IN THIS ISSUE - gensler.com


Gensler is an Amer­i­can global de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture firm whose an­nual rev­enue has, for the fifth year run­ning, sur­passed all other firms op­er­at­ing in the con­ti­nen­tal US. Its Mid­dle Eastern branch has of­fices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. HN talked to Virna Ra­mazz­ini, re­gional client re­la­tion­ship man­ager, and Se­jal Patel and

Lisa Chomon­de­lay, lead­ers of Hos­pi­tal­ity Stu­dio, to learn more about the firm’s re­cent un­der­tak­ings, which are aimed at defin­ing very spe­cific trends that will shape the in­dus­try in the years to come.

What are some of the most sought-af­ter trends in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try?

Gensler’s global hos­pi­tal­ity de­sign com­mu­ni­ties have been en­gag­ing with our lo­cal/global clients in a di­a­logue to de­fine and un­der­stand the most re­cent trends in this in­dus­try. This en­ables us to re­spond with de­sign so­lu­tions which are ef­fec­tive and rel­e­vant. The re­sults of our re­search show that the new driv­ers in the ho­tel in­dus­try are:

1. Dis­solv­ing De­mo­graph­ics

While trav­eler seg­ments over the past decade were pri­mar­ily clas­si­fied by busi­ness ver­sus leisure, the next gen­er­a­tion of trav­eler clas­si­fi­ca­tions will be more fo­cused on be­hav­ioral pat­terns and expectations of their travel ex­pe­ri­ences. The ho­tel ex­pe­ri­ence is be­com­ing even more per­son­al­ized. In ad­di­tion to var­ied choices in bed type, room size and food, some are reach­ing new per­son­al­ized heights by im­ple­ment­ing DNA din­ing, a com­bi­na­tion of sen­sory din­ing and holis­tic health­care, based on a bi­o­log­i­cal blueprint.

2. Mem­bers only

There is a grow­ing cul­ture cen­tered on the ‘mem­bers-only’ and ‘club’ men­tal­ity. Con­sumers are look­ing for ex­clu­sive of­fer­ings and ex­pe­ri­ences that set them apart from the main­stream and are will­ing to pay the price. Ho­tels within clubs and clubs within ho­tels are a few of the de­vel­op­ments fol­low­ing this trend.

3. Shar­ing econ­omy

Con­sumers seek­ing real-time, com­mu­nal, mean­ing­ful ex­pe­ri­ences are pri­or­i­tiz­ing ac­cess over own­er­ship, driv­ing the fo­cus away from per­sonal space and more to­ward com­mu­nal and col­lab­o­ra­tive spa­ces, such as ho­tel lob­bies.

4. Au­then­tic­ity

De­vel­op­ers, ho­tel own­ers and brands are turn­ing to adap­tive-re­use as a method of pro­vid­ing a more unique, lo­cal set­ting with a story for their prop­er­ties. Key­ing in on re­gional dif­fer­ences and lo­cal­iz­ing a prop­erty is cru­cial in to­day’s mar­ket. Guests want to live within the con­text of a prop­erty’s neigh­bor­hood. Of­fer­ing ar­ti­sanal dé­cor, prod­ucts and ser­vices al­low for that lo­cal feel. Lo­cal art and lo­cal cui­sine are also es­sen­tial el­e­ments re­lated to this trend.

5. Dig­i­tal­iza­tion

The guest jour­ney at ho­tels is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a dig­i­tal one. Ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy are driv­ing con­sumers to opt for con­ve­nience and look for more con­trol dur­ing their stay. Not only are new tech­nolo­gies mak­ing the book­ing eas­ier and to­tally cus­tom­ized, but an in­te­gra­tion in the ho­tel ex­pe­ri­ence of new el­e­ments, like key­less en­try, in-room tech­nol­ogy for to­tal con­nec­tiv­ity and au­dio-vis­ual (AV) in­te­grated in the cus­tomer ser­vice to up­date guests and re­spond to all their ques­tions are much sought-af­ter ameni­ties.

From a de­sign per­spec­tive, where do you see the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try headed and what ar­eas of fo­cus are avail­able to in­vestors look­ing to break into the Mid­dle Eastern mar­ket?

We be­lieve the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try will be fo­cused on new life­style brands that have a special in­ter­est for mil­len­ni­als. An­other trend we see ma­te­ri­al­iz­ing is the emer­gence of new special hos­pi­tal­ity con­cepts for tran­sient visi­tors, like pod ho­tels in air­ports. Lastly, hy­brid prod­ucts with a strong res­i­den­tial feel and/or longstay com­po­nents will also soon be in vogue, in par­tic­u­lar branded res­i­dences, such as Ritz, Four Sea­sons, Emaar Ad­dress, Vida, Mar­riott, Fair­mont and Kempin­ski. This will also be cou­pled with long-stay

ho­tel apart­ments, since the sale of the branded res­i­dences helps to fund the ho­tel component at­tached and boosts the ho­tel’s over­all re­turn on in­vest­ment (ROI).

Mil­len­nial brands are fo­cused on be­ing both trendy and af­ford­able. The fi­nal prod­uct has to be as­pi­ra­tionally up­per-scale, while re­main­ing within clear mid­scale in­vest­ment pa­ram­e­ters. This ex­er­cise needs an ex­pe­ri­enced and ver­sa­tile de­sign team, with good ex­pe­ri­ence across a wide spec­trum of ho­tel brands and types of ho­tel projects. At Gensler, thanks to the col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach be­tween our 44 global of­fices, we can cap­i­tal­ize on the best prac­tices and of­fer this ex­per­tise to our clients in the re­gion.

Now that the mar­ket in the re­gion is ma­tur­ing, many ho­tels are chang­ing hands and brands, hence they need to be repo­si­tioned or to­tally re­designed. More­over, in an ad­di­tional trend, many tra­di­tional retail de­vel­op­ers are look­ing at en­hanc­ing their ex­ist­ing malls by cre­at­ing new ho­tels at­tached or in the neigh­bor­hood, which is a re­al­ity that proves quite use­ful to in­di­vid­u­als or or­ga­ni­za­tions think­ing of break­ing into the hos­pi­tal­ity scene.

Se­jal Patel

Virna Ra­mazz­ini

Lisa Chomon­de­lay

Four Sea­sons Burj Al­shaya, Kuwait

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