Hotel design: Can you save cost during planning?

March 29, 2021

Post Image

Hotels and in particular resorts are complex enterprises. Each property is unique and putting together instructions on how to build it will require inevitably a customized process. Custom-made and well-fitting products have inherently an elevated price tag but the associated budget can very well be controlled and kept to a minimum. A thorough understanding of the logical sequence of steps and assembling a reliable team that will provide the required expertise will streamline the process and save money in the long run without jeopardizing quality.

Here is what this means in detail:

The biggest interrupter to a streamlined process is a change of direction. Therefore, let’s analyze first what change means for our industry in more detail:

Planning resorts and hotels is essentially a business of constantly implementing changes. If you are reluctant with changes or you can’t let go of an idea that is starting to create too many compromises and conflicts the road to a successful design will be difficult and costly. Often, the best changes are minimal and clever to keep the general direction intact. This is where creative and experienced designers can shine and show their expertise with a well-structured thought process.

On the flip side, changes can also easily become one of the costliest items of additional expenditure during the design process. The key to saving money during the planning and design stages is therefore to exert strong control of the changes that need to happen. This control includes preparation and foresight of the challenges along the way to minimize changes further down the road. Implementing necessary adjustments early to arrive at a solid direction will cause less disturbance later when many more trades are involved. For that reason, the key advice objectives that have an effect on the linear design process and thereby on the design budget are:

Establish a solid program

A program that is scrutinized and agreed by the main decision makers such as owner and operator will lay a strong foundation. It improves the planning process to move along in a linear way. Starting with meticulous due diligence including a feasibility study are as important as having the operator on board. It solidifies a program that reflects market reality instead of wishful thinking and personal dreams that might easily ignore the true demand. When changing the program later in the process it will require the consultant team to redesign, resulting likely in extra charges for their unforeseen additional services.

Get the main consultants on the team on time

© / Olivier Le Moal

Good design consultants add their own ideas to a project. When the team is guided efficiently these ideas are essential in making a development a success story. It is important to include these consultants at the right time to fully implement their expertise while the design direction can still be easily tweaked. Great ideas that come late in the planning stages and effect previous concept decisions often lead to compromises in order to avoid a costly redesign when the design is already too far along. As a consequence, they will remain exactly what they are, a compromise, and not the best solution that may enhance the bottom line in the future.

Involve an estimator

Hire an estimator from the early beginning. These professionals provide an independent overview of the building costs through benchmarking and analysis. With this knowledge in hand the architect can adjust the planning throughout to stay within the budget constraints and it bypasses lengthy and cumbersome value engineering exercises at the very end which inevitable lead to increased design expenses.

Understand the entitlement process

Know exactly what you need to do to get your entitlements in place. Being familiar with the public decision-makers as well as the community and bringing them on board with the project will avoid unnecessary delays and hiccups, or worse, shut-downs.

Establish a timeline

© / Olivier Le Moal

Based on thoughtful planning, a continuous schedule is vital for smooth teamwork during the design stages. Stopping the design team will reshuffle team members, particularly in larger firms, and contribute to loss of information relevant to decisions that were made for specific reasons. Accordingly, following your timeline without interruptions will keep your decision-making process, and the design, on track.

Beside the changes that can derail a linear path for a while, it is also important that the consultant team brings the right expertise and experience to the table. Not all consultants are the same. Knowing, what scope of work they include as well as what the quality of their deliverables is going to be, will reduce the possibility of any surprises. More specifically, this translates to:

Evaluate the main design consultants carefully

Engage design consultants with solid hotel design experience and understanding. They not only will be able to provide you with a more efficient design process, they will also create a stunning design that will work well for the operational side: You don’t want to inherit a design, that is only inviting for breathtaking photographs on the grand opening day, and then turns into a nightmare for housekeeping and maintenance once the daily operations are in full swing.

Pinpoint the experiences that matter the most

Focus with the main design consultants on spaces that will get the most attention and visibility. These areas are often the most memorable ones for the guest. Locking in those experiences will pay off when guests turn into your best marketing voice. At the same time, it allows to strategize which allocations will give “the best bang for the buck”, reducing expenses in those places where simplified solutions will have less of an impact.

Compare apples to apples when it comes to scope

Hiring the consultant with the lowest fee doesn’t necessarily save you money subsequently: ensure that the consultant possesses the needed expertise and that the fee proposal includes all the required work along with the desired quality. Furthermore; by understanding from the beginning, how options and revisions will be implemented, it will set a clear agreement to prevent costly revelations later on.

The key in savings during the planning process is therefore the thorough understanding of the consequences of your timeline and your instructions, as minor as well as inattentive decisions can shift the design process immensely. Knowledgeable experts are a valuable help to stay on the right track.

FSC Architects is an international resort design firm focused on creating bespoke authentic guest experiences they believe are the most memorable by enriching life. They specialize in hotel architecture, resort design, resort master planning, integrated resorts, boutique resorts, mixed-use and residential projects that require their excellent place-making skills and transcendent adaptation of culture, climate, place and natural environment.