The Gallery on Lex is part of a growing trend among hotels to bring forth flexible, multifunction public spaces that serve different purposes simultaneously, depending on guests’ needs.
NEW YORK—The Grand Hyatt New York on Thursday unveiled The Gallery on Lex, another example of hotels trending to more modern public spaces that are extremely flexible and encourage meeting and mingling. Similarly, many hotel brands are in the process of redefining and redesigning their conference and/or lobby area to meet the needs and expectations of a new breed of traveler looking for social spaces that serve multiple purposes, particularly networking and impromptu meetings.
At the Grand Hyatt New York, Bentel & Bentel Architects “re-imagined” 4,400 square feet of flexible, multi-use space accented by commissioned artwork from the German artist, Burghard Müller-Dannhausen. The new space is meant to feel like two pavilions that share a glass reception/networking area with a long high-top table and a foodservice/bar area suited for events from cocktail receptions to intimate presentations. At the heart of the upscale design is its flexibility, as it allows for multiple arrangements. The gallery, which cost about US$3 million to design, is part of a comprehensive US$130-million renovation currently underway at the Grand Hyatt.
“Welcome to, what we consider, a very innovative space,” noted Mark Pardue, GM of the Grand Hyatt New York. “Gallery on Lex brings a great new option for corporate and social clientele looking for a creative and exclusive alternative to a traditional meeting space,” he said. It is anticipated that the Gallery on Lex will serve as a great complement to the property’s Manhattan ballroom, offering a unique pre-function atmosphere.
Social evolution for brands
Several other hotel brands have unveiled similar concepts to bring forth flexible, multifunction spaces that have a more residential feel. Many have decided to focus on transforming their lobbies into living rooms that serve many different purposes simultaneously depending on guests’ needs.
Also Thursday, The Hampton Inn Scranton at Montage Mountain announced the completion of property renovations that included a new lobby concept called the “Perfect Mix,” which was designed to encourage people to gather in the space by offering small seating options for relaxing, dining or working.
“The lobby has become a destination for our guests to enjoy,” said Ryan Alpert, GM at the Hampton Inn Scranton at Montage Mountain.
The lobby was redefined using warm earth tones, soft seating, library shelves, flat-screen TVs and high-speed Internet.
Flexibility, intimacy and convenience also are at the heart of the new lobby design at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia, unveiled just last month. Created with a residential feel, the space offers small pods where guests can meet, mingle or work. At the center of it all is an 18-hour bar, which changes its offerings according to the time of day. Computer workstations also have been integrated into the lobby experience in what Hilton calls its Technology Lounge, breaking away from a traditional business center. In addition, guests check in at pod-style front desks, allowing for more interaction with staff members.
|Hilton Hotels & Resorts' new lobby concept was created with a residential feel, offering small pods where guests can meet, mingle or work|
"Proprietary global research tells us that locals and travelers want hotel lobbies to be inviting and dynamic spaces for both socializing and conducting business. Our new design approach transforms the lobby into an inviting 18-hour destination with a living room feel where people interact, dine, meet in small groups or plug in and get work done,” said Dave Horton, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts.
Similarly, Courtyard by Marriott has an initiative underway called Courtyard’s Refreshing Business lobby that redefines the space with small seating nooks, a small library and a bistro that serves breakfast and dinner. Instead of a traditional front desk, Courtyard created separate welcome pedestals for more private interactions with their guests, and offers the GoBoard, an interactive 55-inch LCD touch-screen monitor that allows guests to access things such as weather forecasts, stock market quotes, airport delays, local restaurants. So far, Courtyard by Marriott has renovated more than 300 of its hotel lobbies.
“It is important that we constantly evolve to meet the needs of today's travelers. This innovative and redesigned lobby gives guests more control and choice over services and amenities, allowing them to have a healthy balance between working and relaxing,” said Janis Milham, VP and global brand manager of Courtyard by Marriott. The brand expects to reach 500 properties updated with the lobby concept by January 2012.
Holiday Inn also has plans to integrate several spaces into one. Holiday Inn’s Social Hub concept integrates the lobby, bar and restaurant spaces, with multiple places to eat, drink, relax and work. Softer seating areas with couches and individual lounge chairs will be offered, as well as a media lounge, multiple large-screen TVs and a fire pit outdoors. The initiative is the result of brand research as well as a mock-up of the space in a warehouse that was visited by staff, designers and more, and revised based on feedback. Holiday Inn will test the new Social Hub concept at the Holiday Inn Gwinnett Center in Atlanta later this year.