COMMENT
Hotels ride out recession with individual design
INTERIORS + DESIGN INTERVIEWS

The Boutique Hotel phenomenon - and its growing sub-category of budget boutique properties - is helping to cushion the travel and hospitality sector from the worst effects of the worldwide recession, according to acclaimed architecture and design practice Conran and Partners.

Its experts are seeing the trend for individually designed hotels offering the traveller more value for money expand across the globe.

And it says the hotel sector is weathering the economic storm better than others as a result.

Sir Terence Conran's architecture practice has been involved in several major hotel projects in the past 12 months, including the recently opened Hotel Icon in Hong Kong.

Conran and Partners designed its restaurants, including 'Above & Beyond', the sleek-and-chic private members' facility on Level 28, and The Market, an open-plan restaurant.

Part of their success comes down to the partnerships that they have forged with UK-based manufacturers. "The manufacturing is one of the most important parts of the business. As we sub-contract the process, the relationship that we have with those manufacturers has to be really strong," says Ziglam.

With 262 guest rooms the hotel stands as a stylish testament to Hong Kong's creative energy and vibrant arts scene, showcasing work from the city's celebrated designers and visionaries.

Conran says it is that individuality and attention to design and its important creativity that is the hallmark of today's hotel developments – with boutique projects leading the way.

The group is also working with the five star luxury and boutique hotels group Park Hotels in cities across India on its boutique hotel concept, which offers a vibrant mix of eastern hospitality and western chic.

Tina Norden, associate director at Conran and Partners, says: "The hotel sector is continuing to do well despite the global economic slowdown, with the budget boutique developments showing the way ahead as travellers demand more value for money.

"People are still travelling and staying at hotels, whether it's for business or leisure, and the sector is still very lively despite the current economic climate.

"The big players remain strong, but we are also seeing a lot of smaller projects in the pipeline.

"Asia in particular is seeing a lot of activity, though interestingly it is one of the areas where there is a general move away from top end work and into the growing boutique hotel market.

"We're seeing sexy, good looking and well-designed hotels, but more at the budget end in terms of matters such as size of bedrooms and bathrooms.

"These are still good looking hotels, but offering more value for money in terms of room rates, something that is becoming popular with both business and leisure travellers who are looking to keep overheads down.

"People want more for their money because of the economic realities we are in the middle of and you can't get away with offering poor standard hotel rooms these days.

"We are seeing developments such as Swire Hotels rolling out its successful East formula from Hong Kong out into China.

"It is interesting to see the boutique sector continue to grow and the more design-led projects that it is creating with individuality at their heart.

"Here in the UK London remains very active with a number of projects underlining the vibrancy that still exists in the capital in the build up to the Olympics.

"It still remains the case that all the hotel groups want a London flagship and we've seen the Four Seasons and Savoy unveil real high-end, luxurious revamps.

"But again Boutique Hotel development seems to be growing in favour in the capital."

To underline that fact Conran and Partners is creating the interiors for a new 80 bedroom boutique hotel in Islington, on the edge of the City of London, for Frogmore, which will open next summer and be operated by D&D.