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Design Narrative

Hilton Hotels & Resorts Wednesday launched Hilton Design Studio, a new online, interactive platform that will allow owners, developers, and design firms to better implement the brand’s design narrative. The brand also unveiled two ready-to-use owner solutions—a new FF&E concept called Hilton Valet, as well as Hilton Connectivity Station, which evolves the traditional business center model.

Hilton Hotels & Resorts has 550 properties in 80 countries and nearly 140 properties in the pipeline. With the largest development pipeline in the brand’s history and a three-year, $3 billion plan of significant property renovations across the portfolio, Hilton Design Studio is intended to streamline the design process and minimize costs.

“We truly are refocusing our efforts on being a design-led brand,” said Dave Horton, global head of Hilton Hotels & Resorts, during a media event at Hilton McLean Tysons Corner in Virginia. “We think that adds cache to the brand, it builds style, and it really brings back that sense of surprising and delighting our guests, and giving them an environment that inspires them, is refreshing, and is fun to be in.”

A key area of focus for Hilton Worldwide’s design team is to provide a physical manifestation of each brand’s unique identity. The Hilton Design Center will effectively communicate Hilton Hotels & Resorts’ DNA in a thoughtful, purposeful, and consistent way, said Larry Traxler, senior vice president of global design services for Hilton Worldwide.

“It’s not about fabrics and finishes and carpet patterns,” Traxler said. “It’s more about how do we organize that space in a logical sequence that allows flexibility and allows guest preferences to be accommodated, that feels lyrical, aspirational, and very focused on what the Hilton brand is.”

Horton demonstrated the functionality of Hilton Design Studio to a group of journalists in the Tech Lounge at the McLean property, which acts as a “test kitchen” for new innovations. Located in the lobby, the modern business center has PC and iMac computer terminals, a four-panel, 60-inch media wall, plush banquettes, leather recliners, and a communal worktable.

The tool allows for creativity and flexibility in the design process while providing parameters based on the brand’s design guidelines. Users can explore the Hilton Lobby and new guestroom design narratives and an interactive “design a guestroom” component built on brand-approved specifications and three style palettes—classic, transitional, and modern. The real-time process allows users to quickly choose their guestroom layout, style and color palettes, FF&E, flooring, and artwork.

One of those FF&E options is Hilton Valet, a multifunctional armoire that includes a built-in ironing board and power outlet for an iron, an “unfolding” closet space, a built-in luggage rack, a safe for valuables positioned at standing height, and a refrigerator and coffee/tea service that both discreetly slide into drawers so they are only visible when in use. Horton said guestrooms with the Valet pick up 8 to 10 inches of additional space.
Once a room is designed with Hilton Design Studio, the technology produces detailed design specifications, CADD drawings and six dynamic renderings of each user-generated guestroom. The conceptual 3-D drawings utilize an advanced layered-graphic approach, with approximately 1,600 images available to produce the more than 1 billion unique room design options. Users also have the ability to save multiple projects for modifications or reference throughout the design process.

Horton said the site is not intended to dictate or restrict how owners and developers build hotels. It rather serves as a resource that educates owners, operators, and design partners about the Hilton design DNA and improves speed of design implementation. “The site keeps you within the swim lanes of what we’re trying to do,” Horton said. As the site expands, it will include fitness, spa, executive lounge, and meeting space narratives.

The brand also is leveraging technology to better implement its strategy. The new Hilton Connectivity Station is a base-level solution for owners of properties with smaller lobby space. The station provides digital connectivity and Internet access to guests and features four- and six-seat configurations with computer hardware. The Hilton Connectivity Station was tested at a selection of hotels in the U.S. and abroad in 2011 and is scheduled to roll out at more than 75 properties in 2012.

“Technology from so many perspectives is one of the key elements as we go forward to being successful as a company and will drive our business,” Horton said.

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