Hotels can improve their competitive positions by relocating claustrophobia-inducing spaces.
By Matthew Hall
What I did on my summer vacation: flew in June with my family to Washington, D.C., where we took in some historic sights and sites. For budget and logistical reasons, we stayed at a big-brand, mid-tier hotel that was convenient to the capital city’s Metro subway system. And while most of the hotel’s amenities were quite nice—our room was quiet and spacious, and the on-site breakfast buffet was clean and appetizing—the workout room was a definite dud.
I visited that space just once, because it was located in the basement, which gave it a claustrophobic feel and (worse yet) a musty odor. That experience, in turn, reminded me of something I heard during our first State of the Industry confab, which took place earlier that same month in downtown Cincinnati. Part of the conversation centered on how boutique hotels can make their mark by offering venues that cater to smaller meetings that their larger counterparts often overlook or can’t accommodate.
But the panel participants also stressed that it’s a real turn-off if such rooms are relegated to basements or other windowless interior spaces. The same guests’ demand for natural light clearly applies just as much to interior spaces where they hit the treadmill, the elliptical or the weight racks, along with the areas where they work or dine.
So, when I got the inevitable “How was Your Stay?” email survey from our hotel, I expressed my misgivings about the on-site gym. I also acknowledged that changing that wouldn't be cheap—but felt if enough guests express a similar opinion, it just might happen.
In the long run, I think that would be best for the hotel in question, which is in a highly competitive sub-market near D.C.’s convention complex. And it’s something any hotel stuck with similar, dungeon-like amenities should take action on, as well.
For other takeaways from Boutique Design’s first-ever State of the Industry session—which took place in an energizing, light-filled meeting room within the offices of CR architecture + design—click here.
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