EXCLUSIVE: RPW Design chief Ariane Steinbeck calls for more personality in hotel and spa design

by Kim Megson | 03 Feb 2016

The new managing director of hospitality interior design practice RPW Design has encouraged designers and hospitality operators to infuse their projects with more distinct personalities.

Ariane Steinbeck, who joined the London firm in December, told CLAD that despite the abundance of new hotel and spa offerings being developed, true diversity is hard to find.

“Consumers face a difficult choice between all the different brands that aim to serve a specific market segment, and may struggle to firmly distinguish one from another,” she said. “The hotel may have some variation in brief, but it’s increasingly hard for new locations to stand out from the crowd.”

Steinbeck – who has previously worked on the refurbishment of Peninsula Hotel’s flagship venue in Hong Kong and the Arabelle Restaurant at the Plaza Athenee in New York – added that “guests tend to relate more to their experience in a hotel than they do to brands specifically.”

She said: “If you look at Tripadvisor reviews, the brand image is what may have initially steered the purchase decision, but it’s the service that keeps guests coming back, or leaving glowing reviews. That is why the service element may be more important than a witty or familiar design.

“Many hotels at the top end of the market are known not necessarily for their specific brand, but for their personality – which is a unique combination of the atmosphere, design and service. Ultimately, they’re in the business of delivering special experiences.”

Steinbeck also stated that hotel brands could do more to take advantage of the growing trend for multigenerational travel.

She said: “These days, parents will travel with their children, their friends or their own parents, so you have different guest profiles you have to satisfy. It’s fine for a brand that is confidently tagging one profile – such as the aspirational traveller or the millennial traveller – but many other brands could do more to make their buildings more inclusive for different generations travelling together.”

RPW are currently working on interior design projects for the UK’s first Hilton-branded Curio hotel in London; the Fairmont hotel in St Andrews, Scotland; the London Marriott Hotel County Hall in London; and a health club for the Marriott London Park Lane – a hotel it previously refurbished.

Steinbeck said the studio is infusing each building with local personality.

“That sense of individuality should be the designer's goal,” she said. “My personal belief is that a good hotel is a good hotel, so your first priority should come from a design, service and technology standpoint to create the best guest experience, independent of anything else.”

Ariane Steinbeck  design  interior design  hotels  spa  architecture  RPW Design  personality 
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The new managing director of hospitality interior design practice RPW Design has encouraged designers and hospitality operators to infuse their projects with more distinct personalities. Ariane Steinbeck, who joined the London firm in December, told CLAD that despite the abundance of new hotel and spa offerings being developed, true diversity is hard to find. “Consumers face a difficult choice between all the different brands that aim to serve a specific
CLD,SAB,HHR,HOT,ARC,DES,DEV
Steinbeck said 'guests tend to relate more to their experience in a hotel than they do to brands specifically'
 / RPW Design
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