Less is More: Changing the Face of Hospitality

Attention midnight snackers and airplane bottle aficionados! Your favorite travel companion is on its way out, thanks to recent hospitality trends that favor social interaction in public spaces over isolation in private guest rooms. A recognized leader in hospitality construction, Balfour Beatty is on the cutting-edge of these shifting priorities, helping a diverse client base create the modern experiences guests crave.

But the minibar isn’t the only amenity that’s been impacted by cultural forces that have transformed nearly every facet of hotel design and construction. Epitomized by a trend coined ‘bleisure’—a blend of work and play—research affirms that today’s hotel guests want more from communal areas like lobbies, bars and lounges and less from their actual rooms, both in terms of square footage and features like bathtubs that were once standard-issue. Mobile technologies are also a must for the highly connected traveler.

Hotels of the future are experiential, personal and highly accessible, and with over $1 billion in active hospitality work across Florida, there’s no better construction partner than Balfour Beatty to deliver them. If you ask Scott Skidelsky, COO for Balfour Beatty’s Florida operations, that differentiation has everything to do with preconstruction expertise that enables clients to meet or exceed their financial goals. “We immediately evaluate the product’s feasibility against the pro forma,” says Scott.

But our team knows a pro forma is more than quantitative analysis—it means balancing functional and aesthetic goals to develop properties that will delight owners and guests alike. “Our expertise isn’t just about cost,” affirms Neal Ernest, general superintendent, whose 25-year career has included iconic projects for renowned hospitality developers. “We understand their business and the industry as a whole.” 

Building upon Experience

Balfour Beatty is actively driving these trends by providing input during programming and design development. According to Bruce Capon, senior vice president and veteran hospitality builder, Balfour Beatty teammates possess such extensive experience in the market that they can begin preconstruction without any plans or specifications. “If we know the client wants to build a 250-room hotel with surface parking and a three-meal restaurant, we can leverage historical knowledge to drive decisions and generate accurate estimates,” says Bruce.

Decisions, for example, like a hotel’s layout can dramatically affect skin costs. By employing straight lines, minimal corners and offsets as well as an efficient structural frame, owners can reduce the overall building height, thereby minimizing skin expenditures. And then there’s the choice between single-load corridors, or rooms on only one side of the property, versus double-load corridors—determined by factors including the property’s location and client’s targeted room rate. Smart design is especially important when it comes to the MEP systems that service guest rooms. Constructing bathrooms in a split layout or with fixtures that do not sit against a demising wall is more expensive that creating a layout that allows for the vertical stack to serve multiple fixtures and rooms. Down to the artwork and headboard selection, our team begins hospitality projects knowing what questions to ask and how to help answer them with the client’s best interests in mind.

Alexa, Turn on the Lights

Much of Balfour Beatty’s guidance centers on millennial-friendly technology integration and enhancements to public spaces, which can require an upfront re-allocation of capital. Balfour Beatty has partnered with clients in Florida like Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World to identify strategic ways to scale back beginning with room size, the largest cost driver, in order to scale up communal spaces. Case in point—traditionally, high-end hotels have been built with multiple kitchens, each serving a distinct function like catering or dining. Balfour Beatty works hand-in-hand with suppliers to design and build a single, multi-purpose kitchen, eliminating some of a project’s most expensive equipment and MEP requirements. We’re also helping clients such as Tavistock Development Group go high-tech. From digital check-in kiosks to keyless room entry systems, Balfour Beatty is building convenience into customer service.

As hospitality developers continue to explore the industry’s newest trends, Balfour Beatty’s ability to steer design while stewarding costs is invaluable. And in an increasingly competitive market, hotels’ ability to meet the needs and preferences of the modern traveler has an immediate effect on their brand and profitability. Hotels have always been a haven for travelers, but with a construction partner like Balfour Beatty, they can become popular local hangouts too.