Hospitality 50

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This month’s Spotlight throws light on the UK hospitality sector. Whilst the focus of our magazine is usually on the commercial office environment, we are aware that many of our readers also either work in the hospitality market or at least have a genuine interest. Our Hospitality 50 will be an eclectic round-up of the past 12 months, looking at the people, places, products, trends and statistics that deserve additional airtime.

Moving Hotels

So would you think £40 per person for a hotel would be expensive in the wilderness of China? We met a group of Chinese designers recently who thought it was. When they asked about the £40 price, the hotel operator said it is because the season is too short. Familiar issue for the hotel trade, we hear you say, the approach by Wenjun Ge at Neo Design was however a little different. Creating a hotel that followed the seasons was their idea and Moville was born – the perfect solution for a hotel operator in a vast country. Have a look at Moville on Youtube.


Studio Proof
London-based Studio Proof has recently created the Grand Café Krasnapolsky as part of the firm’s comprehensive redesign of all public areas at the legendary Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam, which is part of the NH collection of five star hotels. The new café offers volume and light-suffused space that flows from continental patisserie into an hors d’oeuvre bar and onto an area with sharing tables. Features such as a custom-poured terrazzo floor, bespoke modern chandeliers and beautiful metal elements, as well as great views onto Dam Square, mean the venue has it all, following the great tradition of noble European cafés. Hear more from Studio Proof’s David Morris in our London Hotel roundtable on page 56.


The Market/CIPS purchasing managers’ index showed that the UK service sector, which includes restaurants and  hotels, recently recorded the biggest month-on-month increase in the survey’s 20 year history

Accor hotels

At our recent hotel roundtable with Hansgrohe (page 56) our guests talked about the increasing segmentation of the hotel market. Well we are just about to see another example with the recent announcement of Jo & Joe by Accor hotels. The hotelier says that the new brand ‘blends the best of private-rental, hostel and hotel formats’. We are told that it plans to have 50 properties by 2020 including Warsaw, Paris and Rio. Aimed at, you guessed it, Millennials and located close to public transport and ‘less than 15mins from major points of interest’, PENSON took to Twitter, saying ‘PENSON have an announcement and it’s their biggest to date!’ – we look forward to updates in due course.



When we say Dishoom, two things may come to mind: ‘Love it, always recommend and would be happy to queue’ or ‘The 2016 Indian action-adventure film written and directed by Rohit Dhawan’. You would be right with both but we are particularly interested in the £19m-turnover hospitality outfit that many experienced at the recent Designjunction at King’s Cross. Currently in Shoreditch, King’s Cross and Covent Garden, Dishoom is now setting its sights on north of the border with its first foray into Edinburgh. The design is a homage to the Irani cafés that were once part of everyday life in Bombay. At Designjunction, without any foreplanning, it became our office, hosting three separate meetings during one morning. Said meetings were certainly helped by wonderful design and great staff.

We are told Dishoom will open in Edinburgh this winter at 3a St. Andrew Square. Edinburgh was the city where co-founder Kavi Thakrar went to university and is the first outside of London. When asked about rumours of a Manchester opening we were told that Dishoom loves Manchester and they’d love to open there one day.


Hotel rates across major cities in UK and Ireland rose by 9% last year, with London overtaking Zurich as Europe’s most expensive city.

Hotel meets office

We had a delightful chat with our friends from Allermuir at Designunction in London recently, enjoying a quiet half an hour on press morning. When asked about the world of office and hospitality, Allermuir’s Alex Gifford offered us his thoughts. ‘We’ve seen a gradual convergence of hospitality and workplace in terms of the style of interiors and the types of products being specified. One example is the rise of co-working style spaces in hotels, bars and restaurants, as designers aim to cater for trends in agile working.

Despite this, a lot of hospitality furniture still doesn’t take into account issues such as power provision and ergonomics, which are needed for spaces to be functional for working. We see a great design opportunity to design products and spaces that combine style with the practical demands – without one detracting from the other.’


Hotel occupancy in London has declined for its 6th consecutive year-on-year quarter, according to the latest Hotel Bulletin: Q2 2016


Belfast is a city on the march. The American-owned Marriott group has announced its first hotel in Northern Ireland and is due for completion in early 2018, based in the City Quays development of the Harbour. Headed by Gilbert Ash, this £20m project is the latest in a series of new hotels in Belfast, with more than 20 projects planned. Visit Belfast tell us that hotel room sales exceeded one million last year, with occupancy at a healthy 78%. A region the Mix team knows well looks finally to be realising its amazing potential (as Louis Walsh would say).

Belfast City Hall was designed by Alfred Brumwell Thomas and completed in 1906, it is the home of Belfast City Council. The principle landing and Rotunda area area enriched with marble work similar to the main entrance. A major feature is the mural by Belfast Artist John Luke, depicting the industry and the foundation of the City.

A Woman Worth Knowing

Newly appointed Jane Pendlebury has taken over as CEO for HOSPA – the Hospitality Professionals Association. A woman that knows her hospitality finance, revenue management and IT.

More beds for millennials. Whilst there are some city oddities, Airbnb is expected to continue its inextricable march to greater market share. Some estimates suggest that by 2018 Airbnb room nights will reach 5 million a year.


Here’s a little insight into Loungers, probably the fastest growing chain of casual dining/restaurants in the UK, with around 90 Lounge sites and 15 Cosy Clubs, turning over £48m in 2015. With the first opening in Bristol in 2002, it was the intention of three friends to open a place they would want to visit themselves. Since then it has been non-stop, as founding member and Executive Vice-Chairman Alex Reilley explains: ‘It was selfish really, we wanted somewhere that we would want to go and drink.’ They opened the first, simply naming it Lounge, a place to go out without really going out. With the first few being situated in suburban areas, the aim was for a place the local people could go, with a comfortable, casual and independent feeling, a ‘neighbourhood’ place, you might say. With no sign of slowing down anytime soon, they hope to reach 100 Lounges by the end of 2016 and have identified a capacity for 400 Lounges and 100 Cosy Clubs UK-wide. Our good friends (PJ and Alex) at Momentum in Cardiff have been supporting the team at Lounge, commenting on how often they see other bars / restaurants that try and recreate that ‘Lounge’ feel through the interiors. Alex tells us he was flattered, ‘All good ideas are borrowed from someone else. But their style and interiors are always evolving; they’re fresh, so by the time anyone copies them, it’s Lounge’s last season look!’

Truro Lounge (10th-11th January 2014)
Truro Lounge (10th-11th January 2014)

The US market has a long tradition of allocating a significantly larger percentage of profit to refurbishment than their UK counterparts. However, figures suggest that this is changing – perhaps a response to Airbnb – with figures suggesting that spending on refurbishments is up by 57% to £1.6bn in the past year. Great news for designers and guests alike.

Zager for IHG

From the 1st October Michael Zager will be VP, Operations for Continental Europe at IHG. Zager will join the Operations Leadership Team and will be based at IHG’s Frankfurt office.


The sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 3.8% through to 2025 – significantly faster than the overall UK economy (with a predicted annual rate of 3% per annum) and much faster than sectors such as manufacturing, construction and retail.


Name three design practices in London that specialise in hospitality. We’ll bet one of them was Blacksheep. What do you know about them? If you have read the Desert Island Desks on page 24 then you will know a little more about Tim Mutton, the firm’s CEO. We met him at the recent London Design Festival and it’s fair to say he doesn’t do the norm – which we like. As a youngster he was pragmatic about his ideal job – an assassin; half a dozen ‘jobs’ a year with lots of foreign travel and no shortage of perks. He didn’t become the Jackal from his favourite film of the time, but instead started working in a bar, and he was good at it. Tim was very good with people and a had keen eye on what worked and what didn’t – right down to the number of steps from the kitchen to the furthest table. Via an art and design course in Southampton, studying interiors at Middlesex University and a placement with Terrance Conran, Tim has gone on to run a successful company with 35 other talented people. Their focus is on food and beverage branded experiences, which ultimately leads to brand growth and ‘making the lives of the staff better’. Take a look at the Blacksheep website to see some of the firm’s amazing projects.  We will be catching up with Tim and the team with developments over the next 12 months, but for the time being at least, you know a little more about this Blacksheep.


From Holiday Inns to Crowne Plaza hotels, the West Kilbride-based Valor Hospitality Europe is undergoing refurbishment on four hotels in Stratford-upon-Avon, Harrogate, Solihull and Plymouth.

Eden Project

A trend that will continue to attract the attention of all in the hotel sector, from investor through to guest, is sustainability. Hotels by their nature use an enormous amount of energy (see the Roundtable in our October issue). The Eden Project will welcome a fully sustainable hotel this year, in nearby St Austell.

Macaulay Sinclair

Based in Nottingham’s Lace Quarter, designers Macaulay Sinclair have been showing impressive growth and have been responsible for some memorable projects over the last 18 months, including five stunning interiors for Hawksmoor – one in Manchester and four in London. Have a look at their website for a wonderful mix of styles across different brands. Founders Michael Sinclair and John Stuart Macaulay will now take inspiration from their own experiences in India to help create the eagerly anticipated new Dishoom restaurant in Edinburgh.

Treating the Mind

The trend of wellness is just one approach that is being taken by hotels to eke out a competitive advantage. We are seeing smaller hotels invest in spa treatments, not least of all in their battle against Airbnb. Perhaps images of a spa ‘treatment’ come to mind but wellness clearly goes beyond the bodily treatments. Expect to see more hotel promotion focused on the guests’ intellectual, emotional and spiritual state.


Küng Sauna

Wellbeing has featured heavily in this issue. Exhibiting at 100% design in September, Küng Sauna continues to bring its handcrafted Swiss saunas to the forefront of modern design. With smaller hotel properties looking at their wellbeing options, this looks like something we will be seeing more of. The company’s Infraflex Trias brilliantly addresses compact spaces.


Rick Stein heads to London

Stein’s Trading Ltd, the £4m+ business which is led by Jill and Rick Stein, has acquired Tideway Restaurants, owners of The Depot. When questioned in the past about a potential London restaurant, the response has always been ‘no’ but Rick said: ‘I went to have a look at The Depot and it struck me how perfect a place it was: overlooking the Thames, being wonderfully close to central London but far enough out…


Federico Toresi

Federico is now Director of Hospitality at 1508 London. After three successful years at Aedas, Federico joins 1508 to launch its hospitality division. Over the course of his 20-year career, Federico has successfully delivered numerous hotels, resorts, bars and restaurants. He has worked with major brands including Fairmont, Starwood, Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, Radisson and Jumeirah on projects across the UK, Europe, Russia, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Northern Africa. 1508 London’s ethos is to approach each and every project differently and avoid a ‘cookie cutter’ take on design with an uncompromising attention to detail, Federico will apply this to the sometimes predictable world of hospitality design. 1508 London was established in 2010 and has three partners – Hamish Brown, Louise Wicksteed and Shona Patel – with over 40 staff specialising in high-end and boutique interior spaces in the residential, hospitality and commercial sector.


Despite the adverse currency effects and lack of major events to draw in visitors from abroad, it’s thought that there’ll be over a million more visitors to the UK from overseas in 2016 compared to 2015. According to Visit Britain, 36.7 million overseas visitors will come to the UK this year, compared to 35.4m in 2015.


Interior landscaping and hospitality specialist Vantage may ordinarily be used to transforming client environments but as it continues its successful growth, the team has recently completed the fit-out of its own headquarters. Established in 1977, Vantage is a £1.8m turnover company that focuses on striking interior greenery and luxury refreshment solutions to more than 400 clients nationwide. The six-month, £210,000 project in Leeds was carried out by Dale Office Interiors with the design influence of Spatial DDB. Commenting on this element of the refurbishment, Vantage’s Managing Director, Robin Edwards, explains: ‘We want clients to understand exactly what is possible with Vantage’s hospitality solutions. So what better way to inspire them?’ The Leeds works have coincided with the opening of a new Vantage showspace in Clerkenwell – which is shared with Maxwood Washrooms and now gives the team a permanent London presence.


Greater Manchester’s hotel industry had almost 800 new hotel bedrooms delivered throughout 2015 and current pipeline figures suggest that there are almost 3,000 additional new rooms preparing to come into the market in 2016 and 2017.

We asked Margaret Waters, from Park Plaza Hotel Cardiff, at the recent MixInspired event in Cardiff, what were the most important components of a guest’s stay. Not surprisingly, Margaret highlighted the vital but often overlooked element – a good night’s sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation advises guests to use their beds only for sleeping and avoid reading, working or eating in bed as those actions will make it more difficult to relax in preparation for a good night’s sleep.

Brands that achieve this often-elusive good night’s sleep, in our experience, include Hotel du Vin, Radisson Blu and DoubleTree – and just look what Premier Inn has achieved with its clear and consistent message through young Lenny Henry. Premier Inn regularly scores highly for offering a good night’s sleep.

Lyndon Design

Lyndon Design has created a delightful collection of handcrafted wooden tables, perfect for hospitality interiors. 10 distinct table collections, from dining and occasional tables, coffee and side tables through to low medium and high tables, plus a new bistro table, the collection personifies the great wood craftsmanship for which Lyndon is renowned. Designed by Mark Gabbertas, the new additions include the ‘Pause’ side table (pictured), ‘Wait’ coffee table and ‘120’ low coffee table.


We ask Anthony Bennett from Bennet Hay about his insight into the hospitality sector from a F&B perspective:

Issues affecting the sector: New payment systems; specifically which ones will stick – with the likes of Apple Pay, FingoPay and contactless cash cards, the possibilities and opportunities are already here, but which will stand the test of time remains to be seen. There is an increase in paying for food as and when you need it, on a price per head basis, rather than incurring the cost of a full time chef and front of house team. The increased demand for fresh food delivery to buildings with no kitchens (deliveroo / Ubereats), leaves room for mass change in the catering and hospitality industry.

Opportunities for the hospitality sector: The ability to create an experience unique to customers and clients is ever-evolving. We can rely much more heavily on customer data now, using tech to do this. Social media is also a key component to this – using apps, for example, to track or capture customers and encourage them to eat in a certain place or way. Similarly, the idea of pre-ordering food and drinks through an app is on the rise – as we’re on the go more and more!

24/7 services: These are on the rise and should be utilised – people want to access everything at their fingertips, whenever they need it, without having to abide by ‘breakfast between these hours’ and such like restrictions.

There are repercussions on how a blended team can respond to the changes and opportunities in the sector. We all rely on the team that are on reception and in hospitality, therefore they need to be trained to respond to a customer’s needs. When the coffee baristas have gone home, for example, they can cover everything and at all times.


Swissôtel are introducing their first ever Vitality Room at their property in Zurich. Vitality is a big factor within the Swissôtel philosophy – in Switzerland people enjoy hiking in the Alps, eating organic foods, and staying in shape on their own schedule. Swissôtel is now introducing their own Vitality Room, a holistic concept room designed to help guests ‘live it well’. It will be introduced at the Zurich site and will then be rolled out across a number of Swissôtel properties.


AXOR WaterDream by Front

If you have seen the Hansgrohe showroom in Clerkenwell, you will have seen this. Better known for their amazing top of the range products and expertise, we thought the ‘WaterDream’ was well worth including. We’re told that this showering concept allows us to experience the path water takes in its most original form. ‘Front shows how something that is normally hidden from view can become a visually appealing and valued spatial construct,’ says Philippe Grohe, Vice President of Design Management at Hansgrohe. ‘We used our personal perception of the shower and showering to draw attention to the technology behind the wall, which is often concealed,’ explains Front’s Charlotte von der Lancken. ‘For this reason, we played around with the most elementary components that are used to bring water to us – pipes, valves, couplings, and funnels,’ adds the design group’s Sofia Lagerkvist.

Axor / Alexander Schneider
Axor / Alexander Schneider


Kaelo is new to the marketplace. This rather neat device creates the perfect drinking and serving experience for the home, bar, restaurant or even super yacht!

This ice-less ice bucket keeps a bottle perfectly chilled. We’re told that bottles are kept dry in the device thus mitigating the need for serving cloths to catch water drips or condensation. Who doesn’t like a chilled bottle of sparkly stuff? And it uses less power than a 60W light bulb!

The sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 3.8% through to 2025 – significantly faster than the overall UK economy (with a predicted annual rate of 3% per annum) and much faster than sectors such as manufacturing, construction and retail.


Manchester-based property services business Styles&Wood have had a good year with notable success across different sectors and regions.Two of the firm’s North West hospitality schemes include the full internal strip-out and refurbishment of a vacant six-storey site on Liverpool’s Castle Street, creating a 70-room hotel. In Manchester, a similar full internal strip-out and refurbishment of a grade II-listed, five-storey building on Dale Street will also be completed, the result being a new 115-bedroom hotel. Tony Lenehan, Chief Executive of Styles&Wood, said that securing work across a range of sectors is a further endorsement of the firm’s diversification strategy, which ‘continues to bear fruit’.

Hitchman Stone

The green light is expected for plans to build a 175-room hotel near Birmingham Airport. If given final approval, the nine-storey structure will be built on a former taxi car park adjacent to Diamond House and Concorde House at the roundabout of Concorde Road, Airport Way and Vanguard Road. Hitchman Stone Architects has designed the hotel on behalf of Castlebridge Hotels.

Managed by Interstate

Robert Crook is Managing Director for the UK and Western Europe at Interstate Hotels – a great business that runs some of the biggest brands, including Hilton Worldwide, InterContinental Hotels Group and Wyndham Worldwide. Already boasting almost 7,000 rooms – we hear exciting news is to be announced shortly.


Lowry Hotel

The £4m spent on the refurbishment of the Lowry Hotel in Manchester is a recent example of confidence in the sector by the owners in its ability to repay their investment. Speaking at a recent MixInspired event in Manchester, the very affable General Manager, Adrian Ellis, was – not surprisingly – upbeat, commenting that ‘the new owners are very supportive and whilst interested in the financial aspects, they also allow considerable autonomy in the operation, which is very much appreciated’. Adrian is also the head of the Manchester Hoteliers Association – so we think a very exciting time is ahead for both the Lowry and the Manchester hotel sector.

As Cardiff has Central Square, Edinburgh has St James Centre, which is soon to be home to plenty of shops and a 5-star hotel. Demolition started in May with an expected completion date of 2020. Council officials were apparently happy with the retail units – but not all were happy with the hotel. Designed by Jestico + Whiles from London town it was regarded as a little controversial, resembling a coil of golden ribbons (see for yourself – we love btw). Regardless of some dissenting voices, the City Council planning department have approved the plans.


Trends in hotel F+B

The room service offering is certainly making a comeback. The trend of accessing things as and when needed is an increasing trend in life generally; we can certainly see this overflowing into the food and hospitality industry.

Foodwise, the health focus on plant-based diets with Middle Eastern influences is a continued trend and seems to be ongoing.

Collaborative working continues to develop and food and service are being used to encourage this collaboration. Café areas are being used more for meetings and flexible working and there are less set ‘cafeterias’ in workplaces now.

Despite the adverse currency effects and lack of major events to draw in visitors from abroad, it’s thought that there’ll be over a million more visitors to the UK from overseas in 2016 compared to 2015. According to Visit Britain, 36.7 million overseas visitors will come to the UK this year, compared to 35.4m in 2015

Norma Bresciani


Someone we know is a busy person. Norma Bresciani, Managing Director of Hotel Services, Servest. Servest Group is a £500m international group, employing in excess of 40,000 people with operations in Europe and Africa. Their focus is in facilities management, helping a broad range of clients, from across all sectors and delivering exceptional services. We caught up with one of the busiest women in hospitality for her insight.

How do you usually start your day? A usual day starts at 5.30 / 6.00am. When your clients operate around the clock, you need to be visible and ready to attend meetings at any time of the day or week.

What does a typical day look like? The day always starts with an operational meeting with my team at either 6am or 7am. Then I usually meet with owners, general managers, FMs, operations managers and the housekeeping and procurement teams, depending on the hotel. Discussions range from upcoming events, refurbishment plans, opportunities to expand services, new hotels, trials of new innovation and, depending on the time of the year, conferences and the associated staff requirements.

What are your main duties? My key focus areas are identifying opportunities for growth, managing finance and people management.

What is it like working with the Servest team? I only meet with the wider Servest team once a month because we all focus on our specific sectors. I look forward to these meetings because the team is fast – paced, dynamic and it’s great to be able to throw ideas around. Also, they’re a great bunch of people to work with.

Tell us more about your clients. They’re always pushing for more and better – and rightly so. I enjoy the challenge. They are dynamic, engaging and demanding. Most importantly, we share the same values – placing people at the heart of everything we do and ensuring staff are looked after.

What are some of the key challenges?

The industry is ever changing and the current political climate makes the changing landscape of recruitment really tricky to manage. We are definitely feeling the impact of Brexit.

Due to the demanding physical nature of our industry, it’s also a challenge to keep our staff interested and engaged.

The demographic of our clients’ guests is changing, and this will be interesting to watch and to see the impact over the coming years.