An Exploration into How Design Can Better Align the Attributes of Luxury and Sustainability for ‘High-End’ Hotel Guest Rooms




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


There would appear to be a tension between luxury and sustainability within the hotel industry. Luxury, sustainable hotels appear to focus more on adopting sustainable practices for financial benefit, often resulting in a conflict between comfort and hotel guest satisfaction. Hotel owners tend to focus on being sustainable in terms of operational procedures, typically asking the guests to decline room service for three days. Moreover, there is a lack of information for designers to follow in being guided in the design of sustainable environments, with interior designers tending to restrict themselves to less involved aspects of the design process, focusing on aesthetics while ignoring sustainability issues, such as emissions reduction and the impact of this on occupants’ health and well-being, and on energy savings. This lack of balance is due to the minimal knowledge about sustainability issues, meaning designers may not have the confidence to design sustainably. Additionally, most of the available information about sustainable materials is focused on construction and the lack of comprehensive accessible data on the selection of sustainable interior materials. Most existing environmental assessment tools (such as BREEAM in the UK) focus on construction materials. In addition, the Building Research Establishment for Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) does not cover the hospitality industry, including the luxury hotel sector. The environmental profiles produced by the building research establishment (BRE) are mainly focused on construction materials; but, nevertheless, these environmental profiles are beneficial for designers to use in life-cycle assessment during concept design stages. Because running life-cycle assessment (LCA) of material finishes consumes time and needs large amounts of data about the material to be produced, it is not always appropriate during the design concept stage. This research therefore proposes a design guide for luxury sustainable material finishes for high-end hotel guestrooms (carpets being used as a case study) in the luxury hotel industry (typically in London) that aligns a definition of luxury with sustainable materials, where the designer will be able to select and rate a luxury material that is also sustainable. This study adopts a mixed-methods approach, using the Dorchester Hotel in London as the case study. Interviews with 14 professionals (designers, manufacturers, hotel managers and BREEAM directors) and two online questionnaires (one questionnaire with 34 designers and the other questionnaire with 12 luxury hotel guests). The data collected was analysed using visual inspection, content analysis and descriptive statistics analysis. The findings of this data helped in producing a carpet test questionnaire which was conducted among 25 academics to produce luxury carpet specifications which were then analysed using descriptive statistics analysis. The interviews with professionals confirmed the research problem, which is the relationship between a designer’s ability to specify sustainable, luxury materials and the interest of hotel managers in sustainable solutions that reduce costs. Designers emphasised the need for a design guide that helps in selecting sustainable materials for luxury hotels. The case study, questionnaires, interviews and relevant literature informed the researcher in developing such a design guide. The design guide model is therefore intended to assist designers in selecting materials that are both luxurious and sustainable. An initial evaluation of this design guide shows an acceptance from designers in its use, citing the reduced time needed for the specification and application of appropriate materials and finishes. This research will produce a definition of luxury material finishes, specifically a definition of luxury carpet for high-end hotel rooms and the means to measure a luxury carpet via a design guide that combines luxury with sustainability. Therefore, this research will help designers select luxury, sustainable materials and finishes for luxury hotel projects and in so doing, encourage hotel owners to adopt sustainability within their hotel interior designs.





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