One of the most-celebrated architects in the world, Lauren Rottet is the genius behind the design of many exceptional hotels around the world, from the Hotel Alessandra in Houston, Texas, the Surrey Hotel in New York City, to the new Hilton Conrad Hotel in Washington, D.C.
According to Rottet, whose Rottet Studio has offices in in Houston, Los Angeles, and New York, the coronavirus global pandemic will affect hotel design in the future and some features already implemented by the notable designer will become standard practice.
Rottet is a “Design Giant” among hospitality firms with past projects that include: offices for BGC3 (billionaire Bill Gates’ firm); The NYSE; The River Oaks Residences, Central Park Tower (the tallest all residential building in the world on Billionaire’s row in NYC) Four Seasons Hotels in Bogota, Colombia, Houston and Chicago; Loews Regency Hotel in New York City; St. Regis Aspen Resort, Aspen, Colorado; The Langham Chicago Art curation; fun courtyard hotels for Valencia throughout Texas; Renaissance Atlanta Airport Gateway; Belmond Cap Juluca in Anguilla, BVI; the recently completed Conrad Washington, D.C. and Marriott’s new Headquarters hotel in Bethesda, Md. among many others. In 2011, Rottet became the first woman to be elevated to Fellow by both the American Institute of Architects and the International Interior Design Association. She also holds the titles, Designer of the Year, Interior Design Hall of Fame, Platinum Circle inductee, Boutique designer of the Year and sits on the GSA Peer review for National Design Committee.
In the not-so-distant future, predicts Rottet, guests of many five star hotels will experience a remote check-in process. “Remote check in has already been happening at some properties, but is now being considered at the five star properties as a way for guests to maintain separation,” she says. “One can check in online or by phone before arrival and use an iPhone code to access the room. Guests can also be escorted to private areas for check in.” At Belmond Cap Juluca in Anguilla, a client of Rottet Studio, guests can check in wherever at the property they please—even with a rum drink in hand.
Rottet also envisions hotel cars will pick up guests from the airport upon their arrival. “So guests know the car has been sanitized and will be a safe/healthy ride to the destination,” she explains. Hotels will likely provide more transportation services for guests, in addition to airport transfers. “More services will be provided by hotels such as safe transportation to an off-property site and hotel-guided tours of destination locations so the experience is private and not a part of a crowd,” she adds.
Hotels will also offer a range of amenities to help the guest room stay sanitized and fresh. “There will be such things as ozone purifiers and the smart-disinfectant built-in closets, such the AirDresser from Samsung (a freestanding closet that cleans and de-wrinkles clothes),” she predicts.
Rottet foresees that room décor will evolve and bacteria-resistant materials will be commonly used. “There was already a trend away from wall to wall carpet—-that can be a dust and dirt trap—- toward hard surface floors such as wood or stone with a rug overlay that can be removed and cleaned often,” she says.
The trend toward light-filled spaces with cleaner lines and more contemporary forms will grow moving forward, Rottet says. “I believe this will catapult the trend of contemporary and minimal to equate that it is easy to keep clean, fresh and crisp and forward thinking,” she explains.
Less obvious to the guest, but critical to the solution of healthier environments will be an increased volume of “clean fresh air” while the amount of the air that re-circulates needs to be reduced. “The HVAC engineers are highly aware of this and it goes into LEED requirements,” she says.
While the hotel industry has been slow to embrace LEED due to other needs and requirements, Rottet believes the need for healthier, cleaner and more environmentally friendly hotels is now upon us. “I predict that LEED will become a requirement of private developments as it has been for public buildings,” says Rottet.
In addition to LEED, the USGB (United States Green Building Counsel) has formed the ‘Well Building Standards,’ which is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing. “For the most part, hotels have been slower than offices to adopt these practices, but given they are centered around air and water quality, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind, my guess is that it would be smart for a hotel to be able to note ‘Wellness Certification’ when their guests return,” she adds.
“The good news is that all of the hotel brands and boutiques we work with are asking us many questions seeking the most expedient, beneficial way to truly serve their guests,” says Rottet . “After all, these hotel companies are successful because they live and breathe hospitality, and, now that term will be coincident with respecting/servicing one’s health.”