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Hotel Design – How Many Stars?

Hotel Design – How Many Stars?

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 68) – All IMHO:

What is going on with hotels? This is whats going on; 5 star hotels with 3 star building services.

Travelling with work means I am fortunate to stay in many 4 and 5 star hotels. However there are several issues that always disappoint and repeat no matter what country or hotel chain. To be fair, these are nice to have problems, however, when paying for a 4 or 5 star hotel room experience, the following should not be happening:

  • Noisy heat pump or FCU even on low speed 
  • The supply air diffuser blows over the bed and is unadjustable 
  • Insufficient cooling at peak demand 
  • Complex heating, cooling and lighting controls 
  • Noisy or non-working bathroom exhaust 
  • Long run off times for hot water
  • High flow rate bathroom fixtures with poor drainage 
  • Complex shower and bath controls 
  • Toilets and bidets in the wrong locations

From a sustainability perspective consider this. I used to stay in a 5 star hotel in Qatar. The shower experience consisted of;

  • desalinated water (high energy consumption with corrosive waste by product);
  • being pumped to my building (consuming pumping energy);
  • heated at a volume I do not require due to high flow rate fixtures (wasting energy);
  • delivered via a building system with very long run off time (wasting expensive hot water);
  • delivered via a high flow rate shower head that floods the shower basin (wasting expensive hot water);
  • the water cannot drain from the shower basin because the flow rate is too high and the drain pipe too small;
  • with no heat or grey water recovery (wasting expensive water). 

If this experience were a mobile phone, it would be a 1980’s motorola ‘brick phone”. In the water scarce Middle East, were energy generation and water desalination are expensive and environmentally detrimental, this is crazy. 

I guess the above issues on their own are not deal breakers or Trip Advisor would have sections to rate this stuff. However, when added up and experienced in most locations, they all lead to a poor customer experience. Hotels seem to be a triumph of style over substance. The deception here, is that they charge for a 5 star experience and deliver a 3 star room experience.

IMHO all these issues could be addressed with consideration at the design stage and attention to detail in the construction stage. I get it, 4 & 5 star hotels have to look gorgeous so the finishes, particularly in the pubic spaces take priority. However, if the following were incorporated into the design brief, these issues would go away and the 4 & 5 star room experience would be delivered:

  • Use “right sized” FCU’s or VRF units, avoid heat pumps
  • Select FCU’s or VRF units to deliver capacity at low speed
  • Target NR 30 for the room with the FCU or VRF on full cooling
  • Take care to locate the supply diffuser to deliver air across the ceiling (cooling dominant locations) and away from the bed
  • Do not use flexible ductwork
  • Use reverse return piping with AAV’s for the heating & chilled water distribution pipework system. 
  • Use a ceiling shadow gap slot (i.e. low velocity terminal) for toilet / bathroom exhaust
  • Layout the bathroom so the toilet can be used without gymnastics and clashes with the door, door stopper and bidet. 
  • Use medium flow shower and bath fixtures and low flow toilet and basin faucets
  • Simplify all controllers and shower fixtures
  • Install an instantaneous DHWS with storage calorifers
  • Install grey water recycling and solar thermal heating for the DHWS

Hotel design is a bit like residential design, finishes tend to take precedence over engineering. From an owners and architects perspective, building services engineering is the “embedded, unseen technology” and is an easy target for value engineering (VE). Engineers need to take a stand and defend their design during VE using customer experience and sustainability issues as justification. 

Heres the thing, building services engineering matters, particularly to hotel water use, energy efficiency and particularly the customer experience. 

If the issues above cannot be addressed then IMHO, the room rate should be reduced by $100 per night! My insane old man valuation of course! Your experiences, ability to be satisfied and sanity may differ…… : )

Related posts:

#59 – Building Design Principals Hierarchy 

#53 – Completion, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder

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