2017 Boutique 18 Unveiled

Boutique Design has selected the 12th annual Boutique 18, its yearly roster of noteworthy, on-the-rise designers in the hospitality industry. The 2017 honorees will be inducted at a ceremony at The Theatre at Ace Hotel during the fifth annual Boutique Design West (BDwest)trade fair and conference, April 5 and 6 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. They will also be profiled in the April edition of Boutique Designmagazine.

This year’s honorees are:

* Carlita Alexander, director of interiors, Josh Held Design

* Nick Domitrovich, senior designer, Puccini Group

* Mark Eacott, associate, Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA)

* Christopher Evans, senior associate, Rottet Studio

* Jennifer Fleming, principal, interior designer, Rice Fergus Miller

* Britni Flores, interior designer, Studio McCormack

* Susan LaFleur, principal, director of hospitality interiors, Stantec

* James Lee, associate design director, Wilson Associates

* Patrick Martin, Los Angeles director, Meyer Davis

* Lindsey McPhail, manager, interior design, Holland America Group, serving Princess Cruises

* Jaclyn Moser, partner, Harken Interiors

* Chi-Thien Nguyen, interior designer, Elkus Manfredi Architects

* Staci Patton, principal, DLR Group

* Jenna Rochon, project designer, Avenue Interior Design

*Afrooz Sahraei-Esfahani, interior designer, J/Brice Design Intl.

* Elizabeth Schlotzhauer Putnam, senior interior designer, associate, Jeffrey Beers

* Brooke Taylor, director of interiors, Arcsine

* Kia Weatherspoon, president, Determined by Design

“This is our most seasoned and experienced class ever, and they demonstrate the creativity, innovation and passion for design that have always served as the hallmarks of the B18 honor,” says Matthew Hall, Boutique Design magazine.

LA boutique reveals makeover

Farmer’s Daughter Hotel Gets New Look

The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel in Los Angeles’ Beverly Grove district has taken the wraps off its multi-phase, property-wide renovation. Co-owner Ellen Picataggio teamed with locally based MLK Studio’s Meg Joannides to create a new look for the 1960s hotel’s guest rooms, lobby and courtyard. The 66-key independent boutique property’s revamp also involved updates to its public spaces, pool area and restaurant, as well as the addition of original art installations.

Double room
A double guest room in the barn building. Photo: Courtesy of The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel

This month the hotel completed the project’s final phase, with the transformation of guest rooms in its barn building. Dubbed Tack Rooms, refreshed double rooms feature custom-designed furniture, built-in desks, accents in denim and plaid fabrics, and a sliding barn door that opens to the bathroom, as well as wallpaper by artist Katie Bright featuring a mural-like display of subtle motifs.

King room
A Robin king room. Photo: Courtesy of The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel

The Farmer’s Daughter debuted the first phase of its renovation, which involved the main building’s accommodations, early last year. Those guest rooms were restyled to reflect a mix of art, technology, and urban residential design. The main building houses Robin Rooms, which showcase custom furnishings, grass cloth wallpaper, original art by Vermont artist Jesse Azarian, a book collection by Taschen, a built-in sofa and a bathroom separated by a wall of glass; the Farmer’s Suite, a light-filled space with a private bedroom, kitchenette and a living room overlooking the courtyard; and the No Tell Room, which is decked out with copper-encased mirrors on the ceiling, a full wet bar, painted murals and copper tables. Further emphasizing the art-centric vibe, every king guest room displays an installation box, each by a different artist, showing their interpretations of the rural girl lifestyle.

Restroom
Public restroom details. Photo: Courtesy of The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel

Also in the main building, the lobby features a copper elevator and ascending staircase that depicts the story of Jack and the Beanstalk leading to the floors above, as well as an Art-o-mat, a converted cigarette machine that vends custom-made art pieces. SHOP, the lobby’s boutique, offers fashion merchandise created by local designers.

Designed by Picataggio and BAM Design Lab co-founders Annie May and Barbie Palomino, TART, the hotel’s adjoining restaurant, has the neighborhood vibe of a European bistro. Market lights strung on the patio and a brick fireplace decorate the outdoor dining space. Indoors, black-and-white abstract artwork by Ronald Santos and vintage art sourced from LA’s Melrose and Rose Bowl flea markets hang on a gallery wall. Vintage-style peep show boxes designed by artist Katie Bright in collaboration with Last Night’s Party and Annie May displaying a short video adorn the F&B venue’s bathrooms.

“Community, culture, and warm, creative and entertaining hospitality are in our DNA,” say the hotel’s co-owners, Peter and Ellen Picataggio. “We’re excited to share the next chapter in the story of The Farmer’s Daughter and invite guests from near and far to join in our refined revelry.”

The Hospital Club Heads to LA

The Redbury Hollywood in California will be transformed into a collaborative space for creatives. London’s Hospital Club has unveiled plans to open its second outpost within the Los Angeles hotel early next year. Dubbed h.Club LA, the property will be converted into a dedicated space for artists, entrepreneurs and other creatives to connect and innovate. HKS Hospitality Group has been selected as the project’s architect.

h.Club
An illustration of h.Club LA. Image: Courtesy of h.Club

“LA’s position as a hub of art, culture and creativity makes it the ideal location for the h.Club’s first global extension,” says Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist who co-founded The Hospital Club in 2004. “The Hospital Club is a place where innovators from across the creative disciplines come together to collaborate, push boundaries and cultivate big ideas. h.Club LA will continue this legacy, bringing together a unique location and a truly special experience to the LA community.” (Musician Dave Stewart is The Hospital Club’s other founder.)

Planned for the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, the renovated property will feature similar elements to The Club’s London locale while incorporating new locally inspired details. Referencing the Modern Grand Tour of Europe, h.Club LA will house five floors of spaces designed to showcase creativity. Three dining areas and a rooftop restaurant overlooking Hollywood will be among the property’s F&B offerings. That rooftop venue will lead to a desert garden inspired by those of late English film director Derek Jarman.

Additional amenities will consist of an outdoor pool deck, a tea room, several bars, gym and wellness facilities, co-working spaces, a music studio, a screening room and live performance space. Works by local and international artists from the h.Club Art Program will be curated for the property’s 36 bedrooms, as well as the main club spaces.

“We looked at several properties in the area,” says Luciano Mazza, director of hospitality, architecture for HKS’ London studio. “But as soon as we walked into the Redbury, we immediately realized the great potential of the building. Our mission became to take one icon and transform it into another, but with a new, quite different feel.”

The original Hospital Club is housed within a converted 18th-century hospital in Covent Garden, hence the project’s name.

“The opening of h.Club in the heart of Hollywood positions it to become part of the soul of a vibrant, artistic and entrepreneurial city,” says Kerry Morrison, executive director of the Hollywood Entertainment District. “It is a nexus of the media, technology and music industries and here, h.Club members will find a place where their creative expression is celebrated.”

As part of the project, h.Club’s philanthropic arm, the h.Club Foundation, will facilitate the club’s support of the LA community; a percentage of each member’s joining fee will go towards the foundation’s work, including investing in local youth projects and emerging talent.

Allen acquired the Redbury for $41 million last June, and the 57-key hotel will close this July to begin its $10-plus-million makeover, the Los Angeles Times reports. The hotel’s ground-floor restaurant, Cleo, will remain following renovations, according to Eater LA.

Go Ask ALIS

From big data to Airbnb, this year’s lodging investment summit in Los Angeles showed forward-thinking concepts can have major return.

Of course, everyone heads to Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) with money on her or his mind. But this year’s conference, held Jan. 23-25 at the JW Marriott and Microsoft Theater at L.A. LIVE, was as much about tomorrow’s trends as last year’s numbers.

Several sessions touched on the evolution of data collection and its possible implications on the guest experience. Responsive robots, including a replica R2D2, roamed the ballroom corridors. Innovative and reimagined hospitality models—from the evolution of what it means to be boutique, to flipping existing apartment buildings into pop-up luxury hotels, to new brand incubator concepts—were at the forefront of the three-day summit’s hot topics. And while most speakers prefaced with “politics aside,” many noted they were “cautiously optimistic” about the Trump administration’s impact on the U.S. economy and what it will mean for the travel industry.

Here a few takeaways from the conference’s roster of panels:

Big data may have a big impact: “You already have the data—your guests are giving it to you—you’re just not using it,” said James Whittaker, Microsoft’s “distinguished technical evangelist,” during a TED-style talk in the Microsoft Theater. With the World Wide Web’s migration to “the Cloud,” data that was once scattered can now be organized. This is why machines, such as self-driving cars, are smarter than ever, noted Whittaker.

What does this mean for hoteliers? Well first off, they need to leverage their social media in a new way. Whittaker said intent to travel starts on platforms like Facebook and Twitter and operators shouldn’t wait for guests to download a brand’s app or find the hotel’s website. Instead, he suggests they use data to find out who is looking for properties like theirs—as well as gauge upcoming guests’ preferences.

In an earlier session the same day, Christine Warner, Facebook’s U.S. head of industry, travel, said the guest experience starts 43 days prior to arrival and that in that time, customers are spending more time on Facebook than any travel site. She suggested using digital platforms like Messenger to connect with guests before their stay. However, if that information doesn’t make it from marketing to the front desk to housekeeping, it’s pretty much useless, noted Alexander Shashou, president/co-founder of ALICE-App, a hotel operations platform.

But how will leveraging data impact design? Ideally, it will make it more functional. Micah Green, president and ceo of Maidbot and 2015 graduate of Cornell University, is launching a robot that he believes will revolutionize how we clean. (I think it may alter hospitality designers’ approach to interiors, as well.) In addition to upping efficiency, consistency and safety for housekeeping, his company’s Rosie robot also collects data while she sweeps. She can detect where Wi-Fi is weak, areas that are at risk of mold growth and even what type of fluid was the culprit for that questionable floor stain. But this data could also be leveraged to recognize drawers that aren’t being used, where different types of guests drop their bags and which bath fixtures aren’t working. With time, data collection from in-room robots could be a designer’s go-to when determining project layouts, furniture placements and even sourcing products. (Side note: Rosie is about the size of a Roomba and half as loud as the average vacuum.)

Seeing is believing: ALIS devoted a whole panel to the tools and applications associated with virtual reality (VR). In the age of user-generated content and guest reviews, the worst thing an hotelier can do is attempt to hide flaws.

Dorothy Dowling, chief marketing officer of Best Western Hotels & Resorts, said customers want to see professional and user-generated content together. She views VR as a natural evolution of 360 tours, and noted that Best Western has been an early adopter of the technology. Having invested $2 billion in the guest experience, the brand’s need to convey its product improvement to potential guests is crucial.

Of course, the increased prevalence of VR marketing ups the ante for designers, too. Cluttered layouts, forgotten ceilings and anything else that may have been concealed with traditional photography are not only an on-site turn off, but reservation deal breakers.

Dowling added that an unexpected benefit of VR has been the B2B effect: Buyers can now see their investments and experience the product without traveling to the location. Greg Jones, director, AR/VR for Google Inc., pointed out that VR is also having a huge impact on design and architecture—a trend the hospitality interior design industry has already seen with the implementation of VR models within their own firms and the rise of creative communications studios such as SONNY+ASH.

If you’re not paying attention to Airbnb, you might be in denial: “I instinctively feel Airbnb is a real threat,” boutique hotel pioneer Ian Schrager, chairman and ceo of his eponymous company, said in an on-stage Q+A shortly after receiving the ISHC Pioneer Award. He likens Airbnb’s impact on hospitality to Uber’s effect on the cab industry.

In a session the previous day, Brenna Halliday, vice president, strategic analysis for Host Hotels & Resorts, shared a different perspective, noting that hospitality professionals once viewed teleconferences as the possible end to business travel. While she admitted the industry “has been slow to respond to travelers shifting preferences,” she noted demand is higher than ever and that Host—whose average traveler stays two nights opposed to Airbnb’s seven-night guest—isn’t feeling an impact from the platform.

But the expansion of the online homestay network has been significant—and rapid. Last year the company generated a whopping $6.8 billion in revenue (in 2015 that number was $2.7 billion), according to the aforementioned session, which included Halliday as well as panelists from CBRE Hotels Research, Vornado Realty, Two Roads Hospitality and Airdna, an independent Airbnb data and analytics company. From 2015 to 2016, Airbnb had significant growth across the board, from a total supply of 37,344,113 to 81,037,452; demand of 17,988,315 to 39,836,147; occupancy of 48.2 percent to 49.2 percent; and RevPAR of $73.17 to $83.55 (the latter is a growth rate of 14.2 percent).

Forget old money; millennials are the new luxury traveler:
Gen Y is getting a little older, and gaining a lot more spending power. “Millennials are now the luxury travelers,” stated Adam Weissenberg, partner, Deloitte, who moderated another Boardroom Broadcast. Langham Hospitality Group ceo Robert Warman added that the industry used to think of millennials as post grads, but many of them visited luxury hotels growing up.

However, those born between the early 1980s and late 90s tend to jump in and out of the luxury segment. They’re also less loyal to brands, and crave escape from touristy settings and immersion into the local community, added Chris Cahill, ceo luxury brands for AccorHotels. Trump Hotel Group ceo Eric Danziger noted that the purpose of his employer’s latest brand, Scion, is to grab the luxury traveler earlier.

Looking ahead, major hoteliers will continue their global expansion. (Well, most of them.): While there has been a deceleration of RevPAR growth since late 2015, Mike Barnello, president and ceo of LaSalle Hotel Properties, said he feels there is currently an uptick in overall sentiment. In a different session, Jim Amorsia, ceo of G6 Hospitality, said “things have gone back up” following the U.S. presidential election.

Many speakers throughout the conference expressed feelings of “cautious optimism” with hopes that with increased inflation and decreases in taxes people will be spending more. Barnello noted that from a travel perspective, many want a weaker dollar.

Boutique Design also hosted a buzzing Drinks by Design cocktail party celebrating the fifth edition of the upcoming BDwest at Upstairs, the rooftop bar at Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, in conjunction with ALIS. Speaking of BDwest, for more forward-thinking ideas on the future of hotel design, be sure to join us for the two-day trade fair and conference, to take place Wednesday and Thursday, April 5-6, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.