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Discovering Calgary

Delta Hotels Calgary Downtown had a problem: It was a typical commuter hotel. The solution? A design strategy that helped turn the property into a community hub for both tourists and natives alike, one that was local and authentic—without veering into stereotypical “Canadiana” territory. CHIL Interior Design was tapped for the task of creating the new look and feel.

But first, of course, came research. “CHIL’s design and discovery process began with reevaluating what people want in their experience of the Delta Hotel in downtown Calgary,” said Adèle Rankin, principal of CHIL Interior Design group, the hospitality design studio of B+H Architects. “From the outset, we collaborated closely with Marriott, the hotel team and our client Silverbirch to do a deep dive into the current demographics of both current guests and visitors and, crucially, those we wanted to target. In order for this hotel to evolve into a destination for locals and guests alike, we knew we needed to listen to what they want.”

With this data in hand, the team came up with a strategy to completely open up the lobby as a flexible public space and prioritize the hotel’s F&B with a multifaceted lounge and restaurant, Shoe & Canoe. In addition to functioning as an attraction for travelers and community members, she said, “We also wanted to spark sense of discovery through the design, creating small vignettes or ‘moments’ throughout that space that would welcome and intrigue guests.”

There were two guiding narratives behind the design of the hotel: one for the restaurant and one for the hotel at large. “The public area and guestroom design was inspired by the unique diversity Calgary has to offer,” Rankin said. “From the business professional to the agricultural industry and party atmosphere during the stampede, the city is in a constant state of movement.

“The design was also inspired by the city’s reputation for drastic weather changes,” she added. “A natural palette, clean lines and abstract textures capture all that Calgary has to offer through its constant transitions. In the reception area, we replicated the feeling of a chinook wind coming in with cloud-like fixtures above the desk. Throughout, we also created textural moments of woven wood, rope and fabric into feature walls and furniture pieces.”

For Shoe and Canoe, CHIL focused on the notion of rediscovery. “Inspired by David Thompson, a cartographer from Hudson’s Bay Company, we wanted to emulate his journey of discovery in the region,” she said. “We pulled inspiration from the historic handmade canoes used to navigate the river, creating a bespoke upside down abstract canoe as a ceiling fixture. We also incorporated more natural fabrics and woven textures of rope throughout, as well as designing a custom wood map mural of the area as a nod to Thompson’s journey.”

Key moments of the design include the reception cloud fixtures and suspended canoe, as well as the custom wood map mural, Rankin said. “Other moments carry through, from the saturated denim or indigo tones along the beautiful headboard wall in the guestrooms, to the variety of textures and materials used,” she added.

What’s Rankin’s absolute favorite element? “The space bridging the lobby and the bar area, which are raised banquettes surrounded by custom woven rope screens,” she said. “This is such a cozy, intimate area that allows guests to work on their laptop, grab a drink and watch the world go by.”

Overall, Rankin said, the team completed its task when it comes to the hotel ambiance. “Above all else, it feels inviting,” she said. “It is warm and welcoming, but modern and streamlined. It’s unpretentious but design-loving guests will notice the many nuanced yet conceptual moments tying back to the ethos of the hotel.”

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