Principal at BLT Architects (BLTa) Eric Rahe knows lobby design. BLTa’s hospitality portfolio includes more than a dozen high-profile properties, such as the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott, The Logan in Philadelphia, and the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J. Despite the breadth of locations and market segments represented by BLTa projects, Rahe and his team always seek to create in hotel lobbies a unique and engaging common space for guests that encourages foot traffic and offers opportunities for increased revenue.
Hotel lobbies in 2017 stand in stark contrast to the “front-desk-focused” lobbies of the past. “We’re definitely social creatures when we travel, and I think we’re seeing more people, especially the younger generations, spending time in these areas,” Rahe says.
As such, modern-day hotel lobbies are now turning to updated esthetics, guest-grabbing F&B and entertainment, and technology innovations in an effort to help keep guests in the lobby longer. “The idea of mixing work, socializing, and entertainment all in one space has been an ongoing pursuit, and our firm sees that trend continuing,” Rahe says.
“Food and beverage in particular has been a consistent revenue-booster for lobbies, but that shouldn’t be the only element hotels should be incorporating. Ambiance is also very important.” Rahe cites lighting, warm color tones like bronze and gold, and in some cases, outdoor spaces, as new trends related to creating the right ambiance in a lobby. “Additionally, there’s a real move toward using high-quality materials in a clean and simple way, rather than layering lots of design elements to create luxury.”
Rahe suggests that brand differentiation is also an important component of current lobby design trends. “Not only are hotels trying to create their own unique vibe, but they want to tie it into the local cultural vibe. There’s often a storytelling component that extends from the lobby into the guestrooms in regard to the artwork and other décor choices,” he explains.
As lobby design evolves, Rahe is confident that many of the new trends the industry is experiencing right now are here to stay. “People today are traveling for a number of reasons—their jobs, their families, and greater access to travel in general. Our job is to break down the barriers between staff and guest, and make our hotels feel more like home.”
Photos: The Logan in Philadelphia