Hospitality design is becoming progressively focused on the young traveller which means staying away from the copy-paste design model typical of large hotel chains and focusing more on creating a personalised experience through design. This approach is lacking across the Middle East, according to Lulie Fisher, founder and design director of Dubai-based Lulie Fisher Desig Studio, who expalined that a lack of boutique offerings is forcing the region to lag behind.
"The norm in the Middle East is to see large-scale hotels ranging from 200-1000 keys that have three or four room types available for the guest to choose from and with the design language being largely the same for each room type. However the market is saturated with this genre and guests are looking for a change," she said.
"Smaller boutique hotels that provide a more personalised service and more memorable and unique experience are what the Middle East market is lacking. There are many excellent boutique hotel developments in Europe that have a distinctive aesthetic, (often a bespoke design for every room), unique offering and provide excellent service at a more affordable rate, which suits the young traveller or a small family."
She explained that this shift in hospitality offerings are a result of a new generation of travelers, driving forward various trends across hotels worldwide.
"There is an emphasis on practical design that is distinctive and memorable, rather than elaborate and luxurious," she said, adding thhat social media is another key factor, with clients often requesting for designers to create 'wow' moments for guests to share across social media platforms, which in turn markets the hotel and generates interest in the venue.
"Large meeting facilities in hotels are now being replaced with exciting co-working spaces and lounges that cater to both the individual business traveller as well as larger groups, whilst providing seamless connectivity, comfort and a more personalised experience with the use of comfortable furniture and adjustable/dimmable lighting," Fisher said.
"Queuing at a traditional check-in desk is becoming a thing of the past and is being replaced with self check-in from a comfortable and convenient location," she added.
The design studio has recently completed the public areas of the new Vida Emirates Hills hotel in Dubai, featuring a generous array of natural materials and forms such as circular timber columns, oak veneers, and woven wall coverings.
Lulie Fisher Design Studio is also the winner of the Boutique Firm of the Year prize at the 2018 Commercial Interior Design Awards, which will be taking place on September 11 this year.