AECOM principal tells CLAD natural elements and authenticity key to spa and hotel design

by Jane Kitchen | 06 Jul 2016
We’re trying to introduce a feeling of the local place, so that visitors get to experience it though the architecture, the landscape, the use of indigenous species
– Ashley Scott

Natural elements such as spa gardens are increasingly important to today’s spa design, and creating an authentic experience through design and programming is key, said Ashley Scott, principal director of global design and infrastructure services firm AECOM, in an exclusive interview with CLAD.

“Spas were traditionally quite internal to the hotel and resort, but now what we are experiencing is that spas are very much destination components of the hotel in their own right,” explains Scott, who heads up AECOM’s resort masterplanning and landscape architecture team.

He also said spa gardens are becoming a requirement in today’s design.

“This means it's not just about the interior, it’s about the exterior too,” he said. “Offering treatments in an exterior environment – like a really nicely landscaped garden that’s an oasis for a person to stay for post treatment, or a special visual location on the secluded part of the beach front. It’s about getting back to nature and having more of an authentic experience rather than an internalised environment.”

Scott pointed to the recently-opened Park Hyatt Mallorca, which he designed with a series of courtyard spaces.

“(There are) both exteriors and interiors with panoramic views of the valley, to reinforce that sense of authentic architecture and an authentic spa treatment,” he said.

Scott said the resort industry is demanding authenticity across the board – a development in hospitality design that’s driving change.

“People want to go to a place they feel is authentic of the region,” he explained. “I think there was a period in the 80s and 90s where hotels became quite placeless. You could be at a hotel in Dubai and not know you're in Dubai, because it looked exactly the same as the one in Cyprus or Malta. So I think what we’re trying to introduce more and more is a feeling of the local place, so that visitors get to experience that place though the architecture, the landscape, the use of indigenous species.”

In the Park Hyatt Mallorca, for instance, using olive, fig and almond trees along with local plants was key in the garden design, and helped create an authentic experience with a local feel.

“We work with interior designers to make sure there is a good blend in their design that translates into exterior architecture and landscape to give a sense of continuity,” he said. “You don’t want the interiors to be completely alien to the location. Coordinating with architects, landscape architects and interior designers on a project is important and we’re seeing more of it.”

Scott said creating authenticity also adds to the variety that can be achieved in a project, and that AECOM is seeing more resorts that are inland or in an agricultural valley, where there’s an opportunity to create a “home away from home in an authentic location.”

Adding to the authenticity is a hotel’s soft programming, said Scott. Where once a hotel would include a few tennis courts and a spa, today people are looking for ever-changing and adapting experiences and programmes.

“I think what people are looking for now is yoga events on a special lawn, cooking classes, reading classes,” he said. “Elements like that are things that change day-to-day, season-to-season, and often what attracts people to come back to a resort is the fact the resort has a lot of these different soft elements happening and they change.”

AECOM  spa design  spa garden  authenticity  park hyatt mallorca 
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Natural elements such as spa gardens are increasingly important to today’s spa design, and creating an authentic experience through design and programming is key, said Ashley Scott, principal director of global design and infrastructure services firm AECOM, in an exclusive interview with CLAD. “Spas were traditionally quite internal to the hotel and resort, but now what we are experiencing is that spas are very much destination components of the hotel
CLD,SAB,HHR,HOT,ARC,DES,PHR,ECO
Ashley Scott is principal director of AECOM and heads up its resort master-planning and landscape architecture team
/ AECOM
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