Traditional hotel design and construction for flagship brands is fairly straightforward; there’s a solid prototype, consistent finishes and similar site locations that require only minor design adjustments from site location to site location. There are also historical costs that a general contractor can reference to develop a solid estimate for the property’s construction. But, in an effort to reach a new generation of travelers between the ages of 18 and 34, major hotel chains are building fewer traditionally branded properties and are rolling out new hotel brands with non-cookie cutter, boutique-like features, targeted to this demographic’s tastes and needs.
When building a new hotel brand, the design process is fluid, more iterative and constantly changing because there is no existing or historical precedent. A general contractor with experience rolling out new hotel brands knows how to truly partner with the developer, owner, franchisee and architect, as well as the hotel brand management to keep the project moving forward without compromising vision, quality or the brand look and feel that make it unique and appealing to the target guest.
Understanding The Brand and Its Vision
Of course, none of this is possible unless someone can communicate and interpret the brand vision. Being able to understand and translate that brand vision into a tangible thing is a talent. You either have it or you don’t. And it requires a contractor who is willing to invest the time understanding the brand.
The contractor that gets it wants to participate in team meetings as early as possible to understand how all stakeholders—developer, hotel management, franchisor, franchisee and architect—interpret that brand so that the contractor can be most effective in bringing them all together through compromise and collaboration to reach an end product upon which everyone can agree.
Winter built the new Aloft Hotel in Charlotte atop an existing retail and parking structure.
Constructability reviews are standard to every project but with a new hotel rollout, these are intensified and the process more iterative, happening at every stage of design.
Expert value engineering is critical. A contractor’s depth of product knowledge and ability to procure acceptable alternates is often the difference in being able to get the project into budget and meet the construction timeline. Value analysis is also key in navigating the unknowns in the initial preconstruction phase as well as during construction as the brand’s physical manifestation evolves. Often, a contractor’s depth of resources and knowledge can facilitate a change in an FF&E manufacturer or an alternate source for materials that will result in a savings to the project.
A Nimble ContractorA contractor’s ability to move quickly cannot be understated. Flexibility and agility are essential. Changes can happen even after the FF&E installation phase has begun. A contractor must anticipate and be able to react quickly, efficiently and effectively to these changes, before, during and sometimes even after construction.
When completed, the new AC Hotel in Atlanta will be one of the first in the United States.For example, an owner may specify a certain light fixture but upon installation may not like the light levels it provides. Or maybe the owner decides at the last minute to offer more than just breakfast service, requiring design reconfiguration to accommodate a larger kitchen.
These changes can be of little consequence or they can require significant rework. A good contractor can mitigate the change with the least amount of impact to overall schedule and budget providing owners/brand reps with the information they need to make the best decisions regarding their properties through effective cost benefit analysis.