So, the world didn’t end. On to 2013!!!

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As 2012 draws to an end, I have taken this time to collect my thoughts and add some reflections to this past year and share these with everyone (or anyone who would like to read!).  While times have been rough across the board in the design, architecture, and hospitality industries alike, it has also been a year full of hope, opportunities, and great possibilities!

This past year I have personally gone through many evolutions and changes.  Leaving the hustle and bustle of New York City was a difficult yet necessary step in my life, both professionally and personally.  Many days I felt like a Charles Dickens novel, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”.  But in the end, after many nights of introspection, and with the invaluable support of friends, family, and many mentors in the industry, I made the monumental decision of launching out on my own and starting my own business.

With over 19 years of experience both in Design and in the Hospitality industry, I felt that my talent and expertise would be best suited to working directly with clients and owners, and the support and encouragement I have received has been overwhelmingly positive! Starting out on your own always has its challenges, but the opportunities and rewards easily make the effort worth fighting for.  “MAD Hospitality Studio” is an apropos name on most days, since there are times I truly feel I was crazy to go this route!  But then I focus on what the “MAD” stands for and I realize that it’s my name, “Michelle Acevedo Designs”, and that is the motivation that makes me push forward and keep working towards success.

“For Success, attitude is equally as important as ability”~ Harry F. Banks. 

Truer words have not been written.  I have learned a valuable lesson in having a positive attitude throughout this year, even when sometimes it seemed I was fighting uphill battles with no end in sight. Staying positive has been the conductor in opening windows and doors into opportunity for me and for that I am grateful. As we look forward to the next year, I am positive it will lead to many great ventures in the days, months, and years to come!

So I leave you with this simple thought:

“Every success is built on the ability to do better than good enough.”~Anonymous

I truly wish each and every one of you a happy, healthy, prosperous and SUCCESSFUL New Year! Happy 2013!

Michelle Acevedo

Merry Christmas & best wishes for the New Year!

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merry_christmas_everybodyI wanted to take a quick moment to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and may 2013 be a year full of possibilities and new adventures for everyone!  Here’s to a prosperous New Year!

Feliz Navidad! Bon Natal! Joyeux Noel! Merry Christmas! Froehliche Weihnachten! Feliz Natal! Mele Kalikimaka!


Michelle Acevedo


Ultrasuede Fabric – To Use or Not to Use?

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Everyone loves to use soft materials in Hospitality projects, it adds a touch of luxury and well, it simply feels good! One widely popular material specified by many designers is a microfiber product known as “Ultrasuede”. Made from the waste of the petroleum industry, this product is used as an artificial substitute for suede leather.

Ultrasuede has been widely used in the fashion industry, the automotive industry, and now the furniture and design industry due to its look and function. Most Ultrasuedes are composed of fibers that include polyester & polyurethane in various proportions. Polyester is a popular fiber used in many commercial-grade upholstery products due to its ability to have high color retension, its high durability, & the added benefit of reducing fabric wrinkling. The polyurethane content adds the benefit of abrasion resistance which eliminates pilling, or “fuzzing” of the fabric. The combination of these two ingredients creates a product that is soft & breathable like cotton which makes it mildew resistant, and is extremely stain resistant, so what could possibly be bad about using this product everywhere in your hotel?

I would first like to state that I don’t dislike Ultrasuede products nor am I saying NOT to use this product in your hotel property.  I just want to point out that there are certain applications where this product may not be the best solution because of the nature of its contents. While you can pour all the liquids you want onto Ultrasuede while you watch in fascination how it just beads & rolls off, there are some substances that this material simply is not resistant to, including some types of ink, oil/grease, & high heat or open flames.


While ball-point pen ink may be easily removed from some Ultrasuede colors, permanent marker, felt-tip-pen, & other types of ink cannot be fully removed from this fabric due to the fact that it is a dyed material. It easily absorbs dyes, which allows the wonderful variety of colors available in the market, but on the same token, it will absorb any permanent color it can take!  This means that using Ultrasuede upholstery in areas of the hotel that are highly prone to the use of permanent markers, such as the meeting/conference areas, is not recommended.  Also in the guestroom area, the desk chair may be prone to “ink accidents” and is also not recommended as an Ultrasuede candidate.

Oil and Grease

Due to the polyester fiber composition derived directly from petroleum, oil and grease are very difficult to remove from Ultrasuede. This material is a magnet to oil and grease, therefore it is not recommended to use material in the spa or pool areas of the hotel where body lotions and oils are widely used.  Another mistake a lot of designers make is using Ultrasuede as a headboard fabric.  With the variety of haircare products that many guests use, your headboards will look very dirty very fast, creating a negative perception of cleanliness in the guestroom.  Also, the luggage benches in the guestrooms. With the grease and oil from the suitcase wheels, you will have a constant stain on your furniture which will affect customer satisfaction. These stains can be removed, but it requires a very specific cleaning procedure of soaking a rag in ethyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and blotting the stain several times then allowing the stain to dry (never pour the alcohol directly onto the fabric). Using water and detergent on this type of stain will only create permanent water marks on top of the oil stain. Training housekeeping to maintain this product cleaning can be very difficult & oftentimes futile.

High heat or open flame

Because this is a petroleum-derived product, it will melt incredibly fast if exposed to an open flame or high heat. Using this material in areas of the hotel where guests smoke can result in high damage to your furniture. Avoid using this in casinos, bars, & restaurants in properties where cigarettes or ash can fall onto it.  Also avoid using anywhere that a guest can place a hot flat iron, curling iron, or plain iron on top of it or near it, such as in the guest room. This material will melt quickly and the edges will become hard and “plastic-y”.

Aside from these “caveats”, Ultrasuede can be successfully used throughout the hotel property and can add a luxurious and colorful touch to your design as well as great durability through guest wear and tear. The trick is to use it wisely!!

Global Hospitality

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“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.”~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Many people travel to foreign countries with the intent of learning and immersing themselves into different cultures, yet they still expect the host country to cater to and understand their own needs. When a Hotel brand chooses to open a property in a foreign country, this requires a bit more adaptation than just bringing in “your project” into “their country”.  It becomes vitally important to take a moment and start by learning about the culture and country where you intend to introduce your brand.  Simply speaking the language may not be enough.  What works in the U.S. may not necessarily work abroad, different customs, practices, and expectations are present in every country, and failure to understand and adapt to these differences can be what separates success from failure.

Perception of quality

One of the most important considerations to keep in mind is the perception of quality.  Quality can have many different parameters and understanding the nuances from country to country is imperative. This translates into being aware of the needs and expectations of the consumer market in that country and adapting the design product and services to meet these. For example, understanding how a culture regards personal space can be a key element in designing a hotel.  In some areas of the world, such as in the Mediterranean, people have less of an issue of being close to one another, whereas in other cultures, such as Japan, physical contact with other people is considered rude behavior.  This can impact how a hotel plans the reception lobby in terms of how densely or sparsely you furnish the area.  If you don’t understand the local culture, you could create a very negative impression on your guests from the moment they enter your property and this will skew their perception of the quality of service your hotel has to offer.  Remember, you never have a second chance to make a first impression!

Symbolism & Superstitions play a big role

Be aware of local superstitions, as this can have a greater impact on repeat business than you think.  While most western cultures avoid having a “13th floor” in their hotels, in Asia, the 4th floor is considered bad luck, while in Italy, the number 17 is essentially a portent of death.  Colors also have a significant role when it comes to cultural symbolism.  The Asian countries consider the color red to be a symbol of luck and prosperity, while in South Africa, it is considered a color for mourning and death.  While the Middle East considers green to be a lucky color, it is strictly forbidden to use green in Indonesia. You have to understand these differences to avoid creating a space that may have a negative impact in the country your are entering into. This becomes more than form or function, you really need to understand the history of the culture in order to cater to it.

How much color is too much?

One of the biggest mistakes a lot of brands make is thinking that they can just take the American version of their brand & insert it into another country and it will have the same success as in the U.S.  You have to be aware of the design, architecture, and art of the market you are entering to understand your design parameters and expectations.  For example, designing a mostly beige lobby with tonal accents in a Caribbean or Latin American market will most likely generate negative feedback from the guests.  These cultures are accustomed to brightly colored walls, vivid artwork, and loud and lively spaces with lots of lighting, whereas in London it might be seen as shocking and jarring. Hotel brands have to think outside the box if they want to be successful in other areas of the world.

In conclusion, hoteliers and hotel brands need to look at overseas prospects as more than just a business proposal viewpoint.  Taking the time to learn about the culture and the country will not only facilitate the project, but it will ensure a successful and profitable business investment for years to come!