The Hotel Show

Key points in designing a stripped-down international business hotel

Hotel amenities, such as restaurants and cafes, generate costs, but rarely revenues, said Andre Meyerhans, principal of Fischer & Meyerhans Architects, who gave an interesting presentation at this year’s Hotel Show, about how design can be stripped down to the bone in order to provide the “no frills business hotel”.

While considering a bed and bathroom essential along with free Wi-Fi access, his designs counted such amenities such as pool, bar, gym and restaurant as optional extras – in a bid to cut construction and operational costs to the bare minimum.

“With the high mobility of business people there is a global trend to reduce operational cost while still maintaining international expectations in regards to cleanliness and certain services. The objectives of ‘no frills’ business hotel are to provide a price-competitive solution, maintain quality on what is offered”.
Meyerhans told the audience that this concept was developed in the early 2000s and in some cases had optimised revenue by up to 15%.

He showed an example of a successful cut-price hotel with the London originated the concept of Easy Hotels, developed from the model of the low-cost airline EasyJet. This type of hotel, which is now available in both UAE and across Europe, asks guests to pay for extras such as Wi-Fi, storage, early check-in and cleaning, but it also offers central and convenient locations and is open to franchising for food and beverage outlets.

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To cut costs design is standardised to the highest possible level and branding dominates the feel of the room. According to Meyerhans, success factors include: focusing on essentials, good quality in delivering them, minimal involvement in extra amenities (linking to such providers as nearby cafes and restaurants), accessibility and location, clean room, functional wet area and connectivity and Wi-Fi.

Meyerhans said: “Amenities generate cost, rarely revenue, but leasing allocated space for the convenient store, coffee shop or a restaurant carries with it a no financial risk but also provides guests what they might need. Another option is to provide self-serving solutions, such as vending machines. For hotel operators who want to minimise costs, deviation from the 90degree angles in design incurs out-of-proportion construction cost. It is also important to minimise semi-public areas while maximising revenue-generating areas.”

In order to keep the project at a low budget, he believes “standardisation is optimisation” and as much use as possible should be made of prefabricated and prefinished constructions. On the other hand, Meyerhans said that the quality can be maintained by clever interior design, detailing and materials.