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Hospitality Design Magazine > Hospitality Design People > HD Expo Preview- Owner's Roundtable

HD Expo Preview
Owners Roundtable

The most-anticipated event at HD Expo is back—the HD/ISHP Owners’ Roundtable, Thursday, May 16th at 9:30 a.m. It’s our version of speed dating, where attendees get face time with more than 30 owners, developers, and brand executives for free-flowing conversations as they rotate tables every 10 minutes. We caught up with three of our table hosts, who talk trends and recent projects.

Michele Sweeting
Senior Vice President, Capital Planning & Procurement
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

What project have you recently opened that you are particularly fond of?
In 2012 we opened seven new hotels, so it is truly difficult to pick just one favorite. But since you asked, I am going to select the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. Toronto is my hometown and where Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts was born over fifty years ago. It is wonderful to have a hotel in our city that reflects the service and quality Four Seasons is known for the world over.

What has been the most significant development in the industry in the 
last year?
From our brand’s perspective the most significant aspect of the luxury hospitality business is the growth we are experiencing worldwide not only in our brand, but also throughout the segment. We have married growth geographically with the overall travel experience the luxury guest expects, and we are supporting this need more and more through our web positioning and social media.

What trends/influencers are you predicting for ‘14?  
We continue to see that guests want more authentic and local experiences, whether their travel is for leisure or business.

Inna Levitan
CEO and Managing Partner
Talon Luxury Collection

What project have you recently opened that you are particularly fond of?
We recently opened the Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto. In 2012, it was named the tallest new building in North America. It stands nine hundred and eight feet tall and is the fifteenth tallest in the world. I am proud that our iconic property stands alongside the world’s best.

What segment seems to be the most robust these days and why?
The high-rise luxury downtown real estate developments have taken Toronto by storm. The segment seems to be robust and highly in demand. Toronto is a financial hub in North America; there was a definite void in the 
luxury segment.

A number of significant mega-hotels have shown signs of financial distress. Have we seen an end to that segment of the industry for a while?
The high-paying guest expects only the best. Hotels need to realize that the sophisticated guest will not compromise on the product and will demand unprecedented customer service. That is what we have done.

What trends/influencers are you predicting for ‘14?  
The global luxury real estate market continues to show strong momentum. In terms of design, with the aging population and higher life expectancy, the relationships between that generation and their grandchildren will influence the modern being fused more and more with traditional flare and nostalgia. I think we will see a great deal of white backgrounds as the canvas, with colorful and artistic patterns reflecting expression 
and personality.

Amy Hulbert
Managing Director, Design
Best Western International

What project have you recently opened that you are particularly fond of or what’s one you 
are looking forward to?
We have so much to be proud of. We are one of the first major brands to open a property in Haiti since the earthquake in 2010, which left the area in desperate need of quality hotels.  We also have a new build Atrea prototype hotel in Monterrey, Mexico, and a converted castle in Schluesselfeld, Germany—it is a wonderful conversion that is a historic castle with a ‘modern’ addition.     


What has been the most significant development in the industry in the last year? For design?
Over the past year many brands’ strategies have been around providing consistency, and Best Western is no different. We are working on a design initiative to ensure that the guest experience is consistent from property to property while still capitalizing on what makes Best Western unique—our one-of-a-kind properties that have great regional appeal. Brands are rethinking the way they approach design and their businesses in general, and just because it’s the way it’s ‘always been done’ doesn’t mean it’s the way it will continue to be done as we improve our products and experience for guests.

What segment seems to be the most robust these days and why?
The broad mid-scale market continues to be successful, as Best Western had its best year ever in 2012. The brands in this category know where they fit in the marketplace and capitalize on the opportunities. Best Western further enhanced that ability by implementing property descriptors: Best Western, Best Western Plus, and Best Western Premier. This strategy allows customers to choose the type of accommodations they would like based upon their travel needs. In addition, we are currently working on an extended stay prototype.

What trends/influencers are you predicting for ‘14?  
Trends relative to high guest impact items are big in 2013 and will likely continue to be important in 2014. Design continues to be a critical driver for just about every brand. Fitness centers, lobbies, and breakfast initiatives will likely continue to be front and center with most brands. Lobbies, in particular, are an area of focus as brands look to make best use of this prime real estate in the hotel. Having an activated, multi-purpose space, and possibly having the option to make additional revenue on customer demanded items in this space, is an area of focus for owners and 
brands alike. hd


hdtalks: the interviews

During HD Expo 2014, Hospitality Design’s Michael Adams sat down with HBA’s Michael Bedner to talk about his half-century in the hospitality design industry. View the video.



Produced by: Emerald Expositions
Nielsen      Contract Design | Hospitality Design | K+BB | DDI

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