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The Risks and Rewards of Hotel Redesigns

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An interesting piece that serves as a nice follow-up to a post we put up a while back about Motel 6 redesigning their room interiors: BusinessWeek‘s “Hotel Rooms by Design.” The focus is on a local stop, Chicago’s The James hotel, which has pulled out all the stops in making their rooms, and the entire building interiors itself, swanky and modern, in the hopes of capturing that higher-end market willing to spend $400 a night for a well-designed room (as opposed to the inexpensive $350-a-night rooms at the Chicago Best Western, we guess). But the larger reach of the story is whether or not all of this new trend of redesigning and uniqueness in the hotel industry is a good idea or if it’s going to lead to a world of hurt as the economy struggles. It’s an interesting piece, from all angles. Here’s a bit:

Through the 1990s, the big names in hostelry — Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Holiday Inn — used design to convey consistency across all their properties. They rethought that cookie- cutter approach after Starwood Hotels & Resorts opened its first W Hotel in New York in 1998 and turned high-fashion, high-energy design into a marketing tool. Today, the industry’s mantra is differentiation, with design supplying a property’s “story.”

“We now see design at the forefront of the planning process,” says Roger G. Hill, head of the Gettys Group, a Chicago design shop that managed the Blackstone and Cass reno­vations. “Capital markets want to know far in advance what the ultimate project will look like.”

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