What NOT to do in Hotel Design – Tip #7

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Would you like some e-coli with your coffee?

This issue is as divided as who coffemakercame first, the chicken or the egg.  Some people feel that placing the coffee maker in the guestroom bathroom is logical because it involves using water, therefore it’s easier to just have this machine near the sink to fill and wash.  While this concept works in a kitchen environment, a bathroom is a whole other pile of……….well, you know.tumblr_llp45uY7zD1qhczcmo1_400

From a hygienic point of view, having any kind of a food product in an environment that has a higher tendency for bacteria floating around is just not a good idea.  Coffee makers oftentimes have open grills or vents for the steam which also makes them easy access openings for any floating bacteria particles to get into.  Studies have shown that airborne bacteria from flushing toilets, use of towels, clothing, as well as coughing and sneezing can land on surfaces in the bathroom on a regular basis.  While a wipe-down with detergent will kill the majority of these bacteria making the bathroom clean and sanitary, the housekeeping staff is not cleaning out the coffee makers inside and out on a daily basis to guarantee the same sanitary conditions.

Designers hate to place the coffee maker in the room, calling it an “eyesore” or carving out valuable real estate to place it on one of the few horizontal furniture surfaces.  But rather than making it an after-thought and merely sticking it in somewhere the day before opening, we need to accept the fact that guests like to brew their own coffee, many of whom own personal brewer systems at home.  To avoid any health issues, it is better design practice to place these appliances in the guestroom or foyer area rather than in the bathroom itself.  Besides, coffee tastes better without bacteria.

You may go and get your anti-bacterial now.

What NOT to do in Hotel Design Tip #2

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Don’t use adjustable lamps!!

If my design existence had a bane, this would be it!!  Every time I see a spec for a wall or floor lamp that has an adjustable or a cantilever arm placed in a hotel guestroom or lounge area, I immediately know that the designer has NEVER spenlamp-brokent any time speaking with anyone from the engineering or housekeeping staff, like….EVER!  The primary rule to designing for a hotel is that if it can be easily destroyed, it will be!  Moveable parts in any piece of furniture or lighting that is used primarily by a guest are an invitation for destruction.  Moveable arms on a lamp will guarantee that the guest will always try to adjust the angle because, well, they can.

Cantilever lamps, while very stylish, broken lampare structurally unstable & can be easily tipped over if the base is not properly weighted ( a minimum of a 25 lb base is recommended). If you absolutely, positively HAVE to use an adjustable lamp because you simply CANNOT find a lighting solution without movable parts, just make sure that the joints are engineered for heavy duty abuse use, otherwise it will be a surefire guarantee that the hotel will need to replace this lamp within a few short weeks.

unwell lampIf there was one item that I saw consistently in the hotel “morgue” known as the engineering storage room, it was broken adjustable lamps.  Anything that looks like “lamp-on-a-stick” will not hold up well in a hotel environment.  Make sure that the materials specified are also good quality and have the proper metal gauge as well, oftentimes to save money some designers will specify aluminum for the lamp body and this will not hold up as well as some of the heavier gauge metals.  It is best to stick with functional lamps that will provide enough lighting in the room but that have as few adjustable pieces as possible.  The less interaction they have with the guest or housekeeping staff, the longer they’ll last!

What NOT to do in Hotel design! Tip #1

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In my years of working as a Hospitality designer from both the consultant side as well as the ownership side there are many lessons in Interior Design that I have learned, primarily what NOT to do when designing hotel interiors.  Many designers present new and innovative ideas every time a hotel design project comes around, but few of them actually take the time to learn from past mistakes or consult with the Hotel staff or ownership to see what works and doesn’t work.  This creates a repetition of common mistakes that occur over and over again in designing hospitality interiors.  Here I will share a top 10 list of things that I feel are important to avoid, and my reasons why.  While this is a generalized list and by no means the only issues, I want to be clear that these are solely my opinions and designers may take this advice or leave it.  However, these observations are based on years of having to go back into project installations and addressing these issues time and time again.  So lets begin:

It’s a fact that there are an infinite selection of supremely cool and fun fabrics in the market right now, but when it comes to headboards, designers should resist the urge and step away from the cloth!  With the variety of sticky, gooey, & greaheadboard dirtysy hair products used by the hotel guests, the fabric headboard is a sponge that will absorb these stains and will proudly display them for future guests.  This will give the automatic impression of a dirty, filthy room, decreasing guest satisfaction from the first impression.  Instead, designers should source from the variety of vinyl products and faux leather options, which are both easy to clean and are very durable as well.

Another thing to keep in mind is the hygiene maintenance and thisbedbug-1 includes the ugly truth about bed bugs.  Unfortunately with the increase in global travel and exposure to many new “critters” and bacterium, the bed bug epidemic has become an unpleasant reality.  These bugs love to burrow into fabric, especially the nooks and crannies.  By using fabric headboards it creates a more enticing atmosphere for these unwanted guests to take up residence, making it more likely to get bitten, or better yet, take them home as souvenirs!  Using a vinyl product detracts bed bugs from snuggling in, decreasing the chances of spreading or being bitten.

Anything that can be designed for a guestroom that helps maintain the cleanliness for a longer period of time is always a better solution.  Please keep in mind that if the mess can’t be easily cleaned in the 30-40 minute dedicated time slot a housekeeper has daily per room, it’s not going to get cleaned.  A good night’s sleep is better spent counting sheep, not stains or bed bugs!


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!!