Hotels have always been an indispensable aspect of any tourist's trip away. And for travelers with refined tastes, so-called "design" hotels are now the option to go for.
Promoted under the subtitle of "Design Experience, Build Brand," the third international Design Hotel Forum was recently held at The Peninsula Shanghai and offered attendees an intriguing insight into a rising industry. Design hotels share common themes with boutique hotels and luxury hotels, but also have completely unique elements.
In the words of one keynote speaker at the event, Professor Bai Changhong, the dean of the college of tourism and service management at Nankai University in Tianjing, a design hotel is expected to provide "fine" services. "Design hotels are there to create an 'experience.' This enables the guests, not only to experience modern, intelligent facilities in a hotel, but also to experience special services provided by the hotel and experience the emotional care from that hotel," he said.
China Design Hotels Association was founded at the forum.
The forum also saw the founding of the non-governmental China Design Hotels Association, whose headquarters will be based in Shanghai. "What defines a design hotel is its very particular architecture, interior decor and services. The highlights of a design hotel are its locality, its privacy and its customized details which specifically target upscale customers," said Huang Tiemin, chairman of China Design Hotels Association, as well as the vice president of Shanghai Tourism Trade Association.
A number of panel talks invited hotel owners and hotel managers to share their principles about the effective running of a design hotel. Baima Duoji, the chairman of Songtsan Lodges, a chain of hotels in Yunan Province, believes that his hotels should be the "destination of a journey, providing diverse consumption options for clients."
Christophe Peres, founder of Hotel Francais of Mohkan Shan in Paris, holds the view that a good design hotel should provide services as exemplary as five-star hotels while highlighting their own unique characteristics and environment.
For Wang Qiyu, managing director of the Stark Management Group, the priority is to offer customers an "enjoyable, affectionate experience from the first second to the last second staying in the hotel."
The Puli Hotel and Spa
Design hotels are particularly noted for their architecture, landscaping and interior design. And a great many of the architects and designers who attended the forum expressed the point of view that a design hotel should be built to fit in with the local environment and the natural landscape.
"The building of our hotels have to be perfectly adapted to the natural landscape in which they are located, so we will send designers to live on the selected site for some time beforehand so that they will get some inspiration before building the hotel," said Pan Yuen, senior director of Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts.
A guest-oriented philosophy is also an important part of design hotels. Charles Hayes, president of business consultancy, IDEO China, offers six solutions to attaining better guest-oriented services in design hotels: creating empathy, finding inspiration, prototyping ideas, telling stories, leveraging partnerships and integrating communities.