Hotel design has to reflect the trends and culture of the locale the property is located in. And, arguably, no region in the world has produced more dramatic, striking properties than Asia in recent years.
But what are guests looking for in this region? Aldwin Ong and Susan Isaac, both design principals for Wilson Associates in Singapore, shared their take on current trends in hospitality design in Asia, which were incorporated into three of the design firm’s recent projects in the region: Renaissance Xi’an in China, Crowne Plaza Shanghai Pujiang and Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
“The trends in Asia right now are about individuality and social connectivity,” Ong said. “The common stereotypes about lobby spaces and hotel public spaces being confined and segregated is now a thing of the past. Social media has become ubiquitous—thus, the need for communal spaces; it’s an absolute must in hotels.
“For hotel lobbies, the old-fashioned, tucked-in-a-corner lobby bar is passé,” Ong continued. “People want to see and be seen. In Asian markets and China, communal tables, which were not always popular, are now well-received. We successfully forecasted these four years ago and have integrated them into the Renaissance Xi’an project.”
“I would say our projects are tailored to reflect the owner’s vision for the property, operational requirements, branding of the property market and positioning all in a way that mirrors the individuality specific and befitting to that project,” Isaac added. “Wilson Associates’ strength is seamlessly incorporating the surrounding environment and culture into the design concept in order to give the property a true sense of place. Each of these projects are special because they are designed based on the client’s needs and the beautiful cultures in which they reside.”
“It is also about integration of technology, such as the use of interactive panels, self-check-ins, and the ability to sync your smart devices that create the vibe of the otherwise stale interiors,” Ong added. “Charging points integrated into furniture are also very relevant to the times and needs of many since everyone is always connected through their smart devices.”
And, of course, artwork is important. “Artwork is another design feature that is more integrated and socially relevant than before,” Ong said. “Fun, culturally relevant art pieces and accessories are welcome even in luxury hotels. But what sets it apart is that these integrations can easily make a hotel look quite ‘trendy’ and intimidating to some. However, by clever and good design craftsmanship, we have successfully blended these into a very warm and inviting space that is alluring to guests of various age groups and cultural differences. It is truly a renaissance for hotels.”