How to land and survive your first hotel project
Like so many crucial work experiences, getting a first hotel guest can come down to being in the right place at the right time, but it pays to be strategic.
AD PRO spoke to experts in the field of the breakthrough in the hotel design game and its success. In Venice, Calif., Electric Bowery Company made the transition from residential and restaurant work to sparkling hotels, taking over orders such as long-standing work in progress. Wild flower farms for the Auberge Resorts Collection in the Hudson Valley, the recent Casa Cody renovation in Palm Springs, as well as various projects for the owner / operator of a boutique hotel Casette and Silver Lake Pool & Inn (part of the Palisociety group). Robbyn Carter, former partner of a powerful international company Hirsch Bedner Partners, started his business Carter Studio early 2020, opening of offices in Los Angeles, Singapore and Amsterdam. She now works worldwide with hotel brands such as Fairmont, W and Mondrian.
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The good news is that several current hotel trends favor interior designers with a solid foundation in residential work. All the better if you have experience in food and drink design. “The hotel job bridges the gap between residential and restaurant-type hospitality work in a very good way,” notes architect Lucia Bartholomew of Electric Bowery, who runs the company with co-founder Cayley Lambur. The overlap continues to grow, especially as major hotel brands expand into full-service turnkey residences.
Know your strengths
“It’s important to have an authentic perspective on yourself and your studio, and it’s best to work with like-minded clients,” Carter says. It could mean saying a very scary word: no. “Don’t be afraid to turn the customer away if you think it’s not fair,” she adds.
Consider starting small
You might not get a big project right away, but some other design experience can help you win down the line. Carter remembers a fellow designer who was hired specifically to complete a swimming pool for a hotel, for example, and now oversees entire luxury resorts. “I believe anything is possible. It takes dedication and patience to get there, ”she says.
Establish a relationship with the owners as early as possible
“It’s great to start with them from the beginning if possible and to work with the same hotel client on multiple projects,” notes Bartholomew, highlighting Electric Bowery’s relationship with growing business Casetta, by example. With this brand, the design team is keen to be “consistent throughout” while dealing with projects individually and contextually. (What resonates in Palm Springs may not be right for Taos.) Electric Bowery also carefully considers “more subtle” touchpoints, explains Bartholomew.