CW Interiors |
Round Table | October 2014

Panel Plans

There´s a buzz around the hospitality business. 300 new hotels being planned in the next three years. New design thoughts and concepts being planned. Being smart is the catchword.
CW Interiors conducts a special round table panel discussion amongst architects and industry professionals to get a feel of this buzz!

There is some serious action that is going on behind the scenes of the hospitality industry as it readies itself for the influx of at least 300 hotels in the next three years. Design, service, trends, technology have all taken quantum leaps in their individual areas in the past few years. It´s not just about ´good design´; it´s about ´smart design´. Similarly, it´s no longer just about ´good service´ but ´optimum efficient smart service´. Ditto with all else. Smart products by definition have to be products that are efficient, and improve the life of the utility and reduce the operation cost. Smart hotels have to result in a sooner return to investment without compromising on aesthetics.

The Indian traveller is now a global traveller. GenY is dominating the market. Technology is taken for granted. Speed and precision is predominant, and the expectation from good hotels is much higher than before.

We set up a round table of architects along with industry professionals, to try and understand just what is it that the hospitality industry needs to spruce up. A few parameters were placed before them based on which our panelists opined and thereby provide the key to a new-age blueprint on the business of hospitality.

Smart Design:
Sanjay Sethi
, MD, Berggruen Hotels: Energy and payroll are affected by design and very significantly by materials. Every square foot is accounted for. This reduces the number of people I need to maintain the place and cut down energy cost besides capital expenditure. Every element of smart energy planning should be taken into common architectural stage. Our hotel operates with 75-80% of energy consumption of other hotels´ typical consumption.

We operate our hotels with 0.7 employees to a room in full service and we are not a limited service at all. Industry standards say 1.2 employees to a room. Design efficiency is our biggest plus and we are able to pass on the benefit to our clients.´

Binoy Koshy, Head, Services and Solutions, Siemens: ´A smart hotel is that which is energy efficient, which doesn´t have an air-conditioning system that wakes up a visitor in the middle of the night because it is too cold, which has smoke detectors that can differentiate between the smoke from a cigarette and smoke from a fire thus doing away with the need from separate smoking and non-smoking rooms optimising on the occupancy of the hotel. The payback for installing such systems is not more than about a year and a half by when you would recover the amount and invest it further. Once the system is in place and it becomes mandatory to get the certification, smaller energy efficient systems will be put in place, an action that may be missed by the architect who generally looks at the bigger picture.´

Ramgopal Yadavalli, Director - Major Project Sales, Kone Elevator India: ´Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environ¡mental Design) certification is not manda¡tory in India at the moment. When it becomes mandatory, there will be huge savings.´

Shekhar Patki, Architect: ´You have to begin to think like a hotelier in terms of your sequence of arrival from reception to location of front offices and the way the restaurants are laid out and how they are connected. Basically the sequence of the activities in a hotel is very complex and if efficiently designed it can lead to huge savings. There is front end and a back end and a designer has to know how to integrate both of these into a working order, that too aesthetically.´

Qutub Mandivala, Architect: ´Every hotel and room is going to stay in that state for at least 8 years. An efficient design is that which makes the hotel last long and gives good value for return!´

Smart Maintenance:
Madhu Ruia,
Managing Director, Artisan Wallpapers: ´Indian architects are skeptical about the usage of wallpapers and don´t use it too often in their projects. Probably because it´s more expen¡sive than paint. One of the advantages of the wallpaper which is why it should be a popular choice for hotels and is so internationally is that if you put up wallpaper in corridors and somebody damages it form one corner, you can just remove one strip and replace it. If it is a paint job you have to scrub the whole corridors; plus there is dust and smell.´

Abhishek Saraf, Jt Managing Director,

Square Foot: ´Wooden flooring is quick to install, it fits all budgets and the variety is mind boggling! If you are a 2-3-4 star hotel you can use laminate floor available in different ranges and if you are a 5-star and you want to give an elite look you can go for hardwood floors. The choice of wooden flooring also helps you create an identity and attract a particular class of visitors. And I think the most important reason a wood floor is ideal for hotel rooms is that it´s warmth. No one wants to wake up in the morning and touch a cold floor!´ Shekhar Patki, Architect: ´A lot of hotels are departing from carpets and getting into wooden floorings. Stone is coming in a major way. These are easy maintenance options. We did it in Amar Villas and Raj Villas where we used Indian stone and treated most of the flooring. Tiles are also being used.´

Agrim Agarwal, Director,

Grescasa Ceramics: ´Tiles are certainly a smarter solution for flooring than natural stone which demands more maintenance. The new Mumbai airport uses 5.5mm 3 feet by 6 feet tile instead of the 40mm thick granite they used previously for the flooring. The work was done much faster and it was more effective and more durable.´

Smart Integration
Pronit Nath,
´Customisation and differentiation is a way forward in hospitality design across the world. This way, you can get local context and weave it very nicely into the design. This is the only way one can break into the formidable circle of foreign architects who are dominating the hotel design industry today´.

Qutub Mandviwala: ´When I was doing Hyatt in Mauritius the brief was to imbibe the local feel and bring it into the hotel design. I think that idea works even now. The mid segment of hotels´ choice of materials and technology is going to play a very important role. Basically you do some¡thing that will bring a lot of value for space.´

Shekhar Patki: ´A lot of focus has come on to bathroom materials. Seats and spaces. Customisation in terms of pillows is becoming common. Spas have become impor¡tant too´.

Pushkar Darrare, Regional Manager - Lighting and Furniture Business,

Wipro Enterprises: ´There is blind faith in western designs. We should have Indianised designs. This way the lighting industry with players like Wipro will get attracted towards the hospitality segment´.

Smart Customer Reality Check
Sanjay Sethi:
´We conducted a customer research survey to find out what customers want. Business travellers´ priority is quick check-ins and check-outs, efficient lighting in room, good work chair, quick breakfast and business meeting spaces. Also, once done with work after 6 in the evening, television is the only option of entertainment in the hotel. They said they wanted something within the hotel which would help them unwind. They wanted spaces to work and places to drink. And that was our tagline. We created a bar with Sony play-stations and regular pool tables, besides other stuff like sound systems and large television screens. In our restaurants from as early as 2006, we have had community tables with laptop points´.

Our panelists
Sanjay Sethi
, Managing Director & CEO, Berggruen Hotels
Shekhar Patki, Architect
Pronit Nath, Architect
Agrim Agarwal, Director, Grescasa Ceramics
Abhishek Saraf, Jt Managing Director, Square Foot
Ramgopal Yadavalli, Director - Major Project Sales, Kone Elevator India
Pushkar Darade, Regional Manager - Lighting and Furniture Business, Wipro Enterprises
Qutub Mandviwala, Architect
Binoy Koshy, National Sales Head, Solutions & Service Portfolio, Siemens Limited
Madhu Ruia, MD, Artisan Wallpapers

´Our hotel operates with 75-80% of energy consumption of other hotels´ typical consumption.´
Sanjay Sethi, Managing Director & CEO, Berggruen Hotels
´Customisation and differentiation is the way forward in hospitality design across the world.´
Architect Pronit Nath
´An efficient design is that which makes the hotel last long and gives good value for return!´
Architect Qutub Mandviwala

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