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A diary of happenings at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone, Zambia with reflections on Zambia and personal matters too

HOTELS IN THE FUTURE
I find this kind of thing fascinating. What do you think will be important in hotels in years to come. I certainly agree with most of these! From Times Online

"Simplicity is the key to future hotel success", says Blackwell, founder of Jamaica-based Island Outpost hotels and the man who brought Bob Marley to the world on Island Records.
“And the key to simplicity is a beautiful location and good food. I believe in letting the location - nature - be the star,” says Blackwell. Fancy design is better suited to city hotels.
"Another important consideration for guests is music". All his rooms come with CD players - and a selection of reggae, naturally!

Victoria Mather, travel editor of Vanity Fair

Free phone calls and free minibars are only a matter of time, predicts Mather. She believes travellers going to top-end hotels are “sick to death” of endless extra charges: “If a hotel costs a lot it shouldn't nickel and dime over small things.” Regarding free minibars, she said: “High end travellers are not going to get wasted. But they'll find being charged for a Scotch in the evening when they get back to their room extremely annoying.” Complimentary internet is essential: “No hotel should ever charge.” As is free mineral water: “The worst thing in the world is to be charged for water. It's disgusting.”

Robin Hutson, director of Soho House

Wired-up guests who check out the latest website reviews on sites such as Times Online and TripAdvisor will finish off any hotels that still offer “smelly carpets and uncomfortable beds”, says Hutson, who co-founded the chic Hotel du Vin chain. The online world is bringing a fierce meritocracy to the hotel industry, he says. “If a place is not up to scratch, then it will get a roasting on a review website. The result is likely to be better service and a return to the “traditional essence of good hotel-keeping”.

Sinclair Beecham, owner of the Hoxton Hotel, London

People need to “stop wasting hot air talking about service” and “give guests what they really want”, says the no-nonsense Beecham, who has moved into hotels after co-founding the Pret a Manger sandwich chain. “Everyone talks about 'improving service', but then they don't actually do anything.” Guests want “practical things”, he says. At his Shoreditch hotel these include retail price snacks; fresh milk in minibars; 3p-a-minute calls and free newspapers.

Huw O'Connor, managing director of City Inn

In ten years' time hotels will have computers, not televisions, in rooms, predicts O'Connor, whose City Inn chain has just introduced iMacs in its rooms.They allow guests to watch TV, access the internet, listen to iPods, and video conference. The latter is possible via webcams. Security is ensured as computers are wiped when turned off.

Claus Sendlinger, founder of Design Hotels

Sendlinger, whose hotel group prides itself on its design, says: “Minimalism is going strong. It is really difficult to get right, but you can still have an 80sq m room with two pillows on the floor and have it look cosy. You just need to get the textures and the lighting right.” He rubbishes the idea that service in design hotels is poor: “If it was, why would people pay so much to stay there?” He added: “Staying at a hotel should be an event. It's about sharing a philosophy of life.”

Thierry Douin, general manager of the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore

“Highly personalised treatment of guests” is the way forward, says Douin. Shangri-La has a computer system that keeps a detailed “guest history” of customer likes and dislikes. For example, if the guest likes to go jogging a map with routes will be left in their room. If they don't like to have their bed turned down, that will be noted for their next stay. “If you use IT subtly it can be great,” says Douin. “People say: 'How did you know that?' The information can be as detailed as which side of the bed slippers should be placed. There's a Guest History Manager at each Shangri-La hotel.

Olga Polizzi, owner of Hotel Tresanton in Cornwall and Hotel Endsleigh in Devon

Rooms are going to get bigger, according to hotel owner and designer Polizzi. Ten years ago most rooms were 35sq m, but this has increased to 45-50sq m. Polizzi believes people want bigger rooms as the size of homes is getting smaller: “It's so expensive to buy a large home, especially in London, so when people stay at a hotel they want space. Space is a real luxury. Bathrooms are getting bigger and bigger. Separate showers as well as baths are becoming standard.”

Kit Kemp, co-owner of Firmdale Hotels

High-quality fabrics and original pieces of modern art will mark out the best hotels from those that won't stand the test of time, says Kemp, who runs seven London hotels. Kemp commissions pieces from up-and-coming artists, as well as her own carpets, fabrics and wallpaper.

James Lohan, managing director of Mr & Mrs Smith

Lohan believes that all inclusive, “but not in a naff way”, will come into its own. This will include tipping. “It's all about the customer feeling comfortable and not having to worry about anything,” says Lohan.
Posted: 11 April 2008 at 05:12
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