When new demand arises in the realm of hotels, trends are created on the drawing-board, says AR Prem Nath.
Hotels constantly go through various transformations. Owners of three-star hotels speak of ‘beauty within a budget’, and those of five-star hotels set the trend for ‘luxury within a budget’.
It’s only Las Vegas and special locations that can afford hotels with ‘unlimited luxury with an unlimited budget’. A new niche in the market will be entertainment and recreational hotels.
India should have special tourism hotels. An architect has to be at the forefront of trends to anticipate and understand people’s inclinations. Trends are created on the drawing-board when new demand arises, and then set into reality.
Hoteliers and managers from various departments/facilities have a point of view when it comes to planning a hotel.
These opinions are formed by a perception of what they are lacking and of what is convenient to them. There are very few who address the image and iconic presence of the building itself. An architect has to understand these intricacies in order to come up with a design that more or less pleases and lives up to most expectations.
Hotels and resorts are, by nature, designed for luxury – those seeking change of place for business, vacation, socialising, entertainment, events, product launches, etc. Hotels are places where people like to be seen. They are not only for the general public, but also serve as accommodation for business magnates, billionaires, presidents, prime ministers, heads of state, ministers and diplomats.
Hotels can be trendsetters for lifestyle and interior design. It is, therefore, necessary to plan and design a hotel in a way that makes it saleable before it is marketable. There are hundreds of hotels and restaurants in Las Vegas, but only few are memorable for their design.
Various hotel consultants may say many things about the look of a hotel; but as an architect, aesthetic appeal is of the foremost importance. The lobby and public area around the lobby are instrumental in creating the first impression of the hotel, followed by the lounge and bar. Magnificence and opulence of space, combined with functionality, are the balancing factors for good design.
Security is a prime concern in hotels today. It is necessary to have safety measures/systems that make a guest feel safe. Cameras and alarms are important. Future security measures should include self-monitoring security – a guest could be given a self-protection device/sensor or wired protection as part of a package, which sets off an alarm when needed.
Hotels – luxury, budget and boutique – have come a long way, and India now builds great hotels that are in tune with international standards. The world has gone through a meltdown and is still coping with recession. The Indian hotel industry, on the other hand, can do much by optimising on business, health, education and travel tourism.
It is now time for entertainment and recreational hotels in India. The West has theme hotels for specific activities such as local sports, festivals, rejuvenating treatments and regional culture catering to international and domestic travellers.
India is yet to have special tourism hotels like those on the Australian Gold Coast, in Dubai, USA and South Africa – where hotels have the widest possible range of quality entertainment and facilities. These offer a vibrant mixture of fun and relaxation including luxury, shopping malls, leisure areas with golf courses, water sports, artificial snow, indoor ice-skating rinks, etc.
India is a land of flamboyant culture with diverse topography. We have good climatic conditions and a very good coastline, which needs to be developed. Theme and entertainment hotels can be built in metros as well as in the undeveloped areas. They could be major tourist attractions for vacations and weekend breaks.
These may not be casino and gambling hubs, but places that are designed for a family vacation/entertainment with facilities like golf, horse riding, sand-skiing, paragliding and water sports. Golf-course hotels are thronged by Western tourists. Japanese tourists may also look forward to such hotels.
Within its boundaries, a hotel can create an experience by building a market space with local cuisine, souvenir shopping and the feel of a local street or an Indian mela.
Hotels of the future in India would definitely be landmark hotels. The trend has already started with projects like the Amby Valley and Lavasa.
Note: Ar Prem Nath heads Prem Nath & Associates. A member of the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India, he designed the first health spa (Golden Palms, Bengaluru) as well as the first revolving restaurant (Ambassador, Mumbai) in India.