Are Design Focused Hotels Luxury Hotels?

Discussion in 'Luxury Hotels' started by RestlessLocationSyndrome, Feb 12, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    The evolution of high/higher end hotels has definitely changed over the past 20 years. Where I grew up knowing that the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton as the luxury hotels has morphed into multiple players in the market presenting different "value" propositions. Are these newer brands and hotels that focus primarily on design/fashion truly "luxury" hotels?

    Personally, my recent experience staying at the SLS was anything but "luxurious". The check-in staff was snobby and indifferent. The checkout was poorly executed. It felt like the hotel was run by x-models or people in the fashion industry who truly knew nothing about service and only knew how to pick a really "hot" outfit.
     
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  2. BondAir007
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    What does SLS stand for?
     
  3. FlyingOnceMore
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    I seem to remember they decided on going down the marketing BS route and pretend it had no meaning. In reality it's supposed to mean Style, Luxury and Service.
     
  4. diver90
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    For me the answer is NO. Perhaps they are Designer Hotels or Fashionable Hotels but that does not make them Luxury Hotels. A fashion model may be good looking but that doesn't make them a good person or someone you would want to spend any "quality" time with. Same thing applies to a hotel. A Luxury hotel should offer a complementary blend of design, style, amenities, facilities, attention to detail and, above all, exemplary and impeccable service.
     
  5. Most of the new hotel breaking ground around the world have been Design/Function focused and these serve extended stay and economy markets. In the last two years, Luxury Hotel construction nearly disappeared for two reasons:

    1) Credit was very tight and money for large projects was very hard to get, stopping many construction projects cold.
    2) More cash was required to ensure risk coverage, shelving many big budget plans.

    Banks and Investors are still very risk averse and it maybe years before big splash\splurge efforts become common again.
     
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  6. Jenny & Curt
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    I also expect that, in a luxury hotel, service, staff, the "inner workings," if you will, will be almost invisible. That is pretty much the antithesis of the "design" or "concept" hotels, with the self-consciously trendy or hip approach. Of course, they can overlap, but do not necessarily.
     
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  7. TRAVELSIG
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    The one area I have found mysteriously poor consistently in design hotels is the soundproofing. Is there something about design that limits the use of soundproofing?
     
  8. Jenny & Curt
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    It may be the use of lots of hard surfaces -- glass, tile, granite, chrome, etc.
     
  9. TRAVELSIG
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    Hmm- well also Four Seasons and RC use a lot of these materials- but I don't hear every word of conversation in the room next door in most for example. I am wondering if an emphasis on Design takes away some emphasis on function?
     
  10. studio76
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    No, not at all. It is simply being cheap. Many of these 'design' hotels go for high visual impact low cost design elements.

    Design does not = luxury, but it is good that Luxury hotels have embraced design as part their experience.
     
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  11. I think they can be, just that most aren't. The focus of the staff at most of the design hotels doesn't lend itself to the focus and attitude appropriate for a luxury hotel. I'd like to see it happen though!
     
  12. The Boat
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    The Boat Gold Member

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    There are a few design hotels near where I live, and after having spent the night at one, just to try it out, I was not impressed as the cost of staying outweighed the overall experience. This has to do with the fact that the hotel that I stayed in wasa converted factory, and was drafty with a good deal of ambient noise. The other, major issue is that they did not understand the idea that because I had a 6AM departure (sometimes I'll spend the night closer to the airport) I needed to be at the airport at most, at 5:40. By 5:30, when I called to see if the car was there, they replied that they don't run a service to the airport that early in the morning. Nevertheless, I dug into my bag of tricks and quickly got a cab to take me the 4 miles from the hotel to the airport.

    Check-out was another issue as the staff did not know how to initiate the computer system. At the airport, I found out that the hotel is set up and run by design and textile merchandising students.
     
  13. tommy777
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    I thought it was Something Lovely Started?
     
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  14. WonderBret
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    I think it all comes down to service. Many other "define luxury" threads all tend to end up at that same place. I've never heard of anyone being particularly moved by the "really neat tile in the sink basin". Maybe I'm just a purist [​IMG]
     
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  15. Wurm
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    Some do, but not all. One example is the SIDE in Hamburg, which commissioned no less than Robert Wilson to do the light installations in the lobby.

    I do agree with WonderBret that it ultimately comes down to service. Specifically, I'm not talking about obsequious fawning - to me, it's important to have services available, whether I end up using them or not (examples: clothing mending service at night and on weekends, full late-night room service available, not just a pared-down mini-menu, and a concierge who is truly connected, and can not only get you into hard-to-access places, but also can send you to new and little-known gems, not just the "usual suspects" than anyone can read about in Zagat or on Chowhound.
     
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  16. studio76
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    To a large extent yes. And while Four Seasons as a chain get's it right more than most - there are a couple of Four Seasons properties out there that are so bland, you just as quickly forget the stay.

    For me a great hotel has to impress on both counts - it has to be experiential.
     
  17. TRAVELSIG
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    Agreed completely. FS Miami for example is a not-impressive hotel at all.
     
  18. The Boat
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    I kinda feel the same way about the FS Washington as on one side, it is bordered by the Rock Creek Parkway, and it is at the Eastern end of the Georgetown area--while in a good area, it is a hassle to get anywhere in the city from there.
     
  19. TRAVELSIG
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    FS Washington DC at least has very good service.
     
  20. The Boat
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    True, I also like the RC Pentagon City (direct connection via the mall to the Yellow and Blue lines)
     
  21. TRAVELSIG
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    Unfortunately, I have been to so many really disappointing RC hotels. A colleague of mine describes them as "Marriott with more marble in the bathroom".
     
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  22. The Boat
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    It's not as disappointing as the Capitol Hilton. But I also like the Omni Shoreham and the Mandarin.
     
  23. TRAVELSIG
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    Back to Design Hotels- I am still racking my brain for one design hotel I have been to that is really Luxury....
     
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  24. The Boat
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    Right--sometimes I think I have ADHD...

    But anyhow, the last design hotel was in RI and I was staying there overnight for two reasons--the first being that I had at flight very early in the morning, and the second was that I just wanted to try it. The result was an extreme feeling of displeasure at the staff for not being on target.
     
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  25. TRAVELSIG
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    Speaking of brain "troubles"- where is RI? I cannot seem to remember.
     

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