Hospitality trends: interior automation, outdoor furniture and bathroom fittings

From interior automation to outdoor furniture and bathroom fittings, CID looks at the latest products on the market and the trends shaping hotel interiors.

Tourism and leisure travel, mega infrastructure projects ahead of major global events, population growth, and rising investment interest in mid-range hotel infrastructure are four major areas generating growth and demand in the hospitality market across the region, according to the regional experts Commercial Interior Design talked to.

With diversification at the forefront of growth strategies in the region, Charles Constantin, managing director at Geze Middle East, says the hospitality sector is thriving across most GCC countries.

Looking at the GCC region in particular, Constantin explains that KSA is seeing a significant growth driven by religious tourism, alongside the increasing number of infrastructure projects along the Red Sea coast.

“The UAE comes in a close second with a robust investment injection that is seeing approximately 28,000 rooms and 120 hotels under planning and construction, leading up to 2020.”

As he explains, the population growth driven by diversification strategies is strengthening the demand for longer term accommodation from price conscious tourists and business travellers seeking budget friendly travel over the full five-star experience.

“The business travel sector is benefiting from an increased influx of expatriates working on longer term assignments, requiring accommodation of up to a year,” he says.

Steve Ramsden, managing director at ISG Middle East, agrees that the region’s hospitality market boasts a wealth of opportunity for designers, both in terms of new-build and refurbishment projects.

“It was reported earlier in the year that Dubai’s hotel occupancy level hit a nine-year high, achieving 86.3% in Q1 2017, up 2.7% compared with Q1 2016. This kind of demand fuels investment in the sector, especially ahead of Expo 2020, when unprecedented demand for hotel rooms across all categories, including both luxury and value segments, is expected,” he states.

He points out, however, that balancing supply and demand may pose a problem for hotel operators further down the line: “Challenges lie ahead relating to demand for hotel rooms post the Expo, when the tourist and visitor levels are likely to dip from the peak Expo period. Therefore, hotel operators need to work very hard to differentiate their offering to be able to stay competitive,” he says.

Tarek Zakaria, Jung’s managing director for the Middle East, says the UAE and Saudi Arabia are keeping the growth momentum going. Catering to this demand, a German manufacturer of electrical wiring accessories and automation systems has recently opened its 13th subsidiary in Dubai.

“This can be attributed to these countries’ governmental determination to prepare well for upcoming mega events and Saudi Arabia’s new strategy to encourage openness throughout private and public functions to increase all forms of tourism, especially to accommodate religious tourism,” says Zakaria.

Commenting on the current challenges facing the market, Zakaria says that many investors are tightening spending and go with the least expensive products and systems, which is often compromising the overall quality of projects.

Another challenge comes in the form of the extremely high expectations of hotel guests in this region, adds Ramsden. “It doesn’t matter if they are staying in a four-star or a seven-star hotel. They want to enjoy their time in spaces that offer a distinct look and feel, with the highest levels of comfort.”

He suggests that these challenges can be addressed by utilising technology to provide a highly personalised guest experience, and by designing indoor/outdoor spaces that enable guests to take in the stunning views.

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