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August 29, 2008updated Feb 13, 2013

Ritz-Carlton Hotel Compnay Embraces The Sensuous Aesthetics Of Hotel Design

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

As The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. opened the doors to the latest, and one of the most dazzling luxury hotels in its growing global portfolio, so the resort in Sanya, China marked another milestone in quality design execution for the brand. The property is designed by WAT&G Design and draws influence and inspiration from the classic building design of Beijing’s Summer Palace, with high pitched ceilings, dark rich wood, intricate carvings and mosaic detailing, coupled with grand water features and opulent furnishings. Merging seamlessly with this Asian graciousness is a Western modernity, coupled with The Ritz-Carlton’s outstanding level of commitment to service and guest satisfaction. This all adds up to a great sense of place with immaculate detailing and service.

Perhaps one of the most noticeable shifts from the traditional designs for which Ritz-Carlton was known came with the opening of The Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street in 2006. The building is of sleek, contemporary design. Modern, colorful and imaginative creations adorn rooms with incredible diversity – yet retain relevance and even celebrate the culture of the city in which it is situated. So, is this indicative of a style Ritz-Carlton will be adapting from here on? “Not necessarily,” according to the company’s Senior Vice President of Design and Project Management, Bill Barrie, “we view each new project as an opportunity to create the best hotel within its environment – with a sense of place. Consideration is given to the market needs and how we can best create a hotel that will be a signature property within the group.”
According to Barrie, while most new builds tend to be more contemporary with modern interpretations of elegance, two hotels opened in 2007 are in total contrast. “The Ritz-Carlton hotels in Moscow and Powerscourt, near Dublin are both be classical in design. In Moscow, our hotel is situated in a historic neighborhood, so the façade and interiors have been designed to respect and complement the area. Similarly, in Powerscourt the property is located in the famous gardens of the Slazenger estate and its architecture is in keeping with the traditional surrounds. That said; the interior approach to these new hotels was to provide a fresh feel through lighting, fabrics and furnishings.”

Drawing on these themes, Ritz-Carlton adopts design strategies to enhance the brand image in an increasingly global marketplace. The company philosophy is to design hotels that are casually elegant, with the occasional classical touch as and when appropriate. Where there are multiple hotels in one city, the preference is to provide diverse physical products and contrasting styles. “Our company design standards are the blueprint from which we establish engineering infrastructure, operational requirements, safety regulations and room sizes – however they do not drive the character of a hotel. We do not work to one design mold, but rather allow the process to be destination and customer focused as we grow into many new global locations.”

Lodging by design

Each Ritz-Carlton property around the world personifies unique design befitting of its location. For this reason, Bill Barrie’s selection of flagship hotels includes:

The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park South. Designed by Frank Nicholson, this property features unrivalled views across Central Park, bold contemporary artworks, an eclectic mix of modern and regency furniture and stunning floral decorations. The overall effect is one of relaxed sophistication that has strong appeal to both local and international travelers.

The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch in Colorado is another hotel that showcases design relevance through the use of beautiful natural materials. Designed by Wilson and Associates, notched and joined massive timber, forged ironwork and stonework, oversized sofas and large open fire places are in perfect harmony with the mountainous surrounds.

According to Barrie, designers of the Hotel Arts in Barcelona have captured the city’s strong emphasis on the arts and culture. Skidmore, Owing and Merrill designer Bruce Graham encased the 44-story Hotel Arts tower in steel and tinted glass. The interiors of the tower, which were recently renovated by CGA, feature elegant combinations of classical wood, modern steel and contemporary furnishings.

The Bulgari Hotel, Milan was designed by architects Antonio Citterio and Partners in line with Bulgari’s bold and contemporary style. The hotel features rare and precious materials which create new combinations of surfaces: black Zimbabwe marble in public spaces, Vicenza stone and Turkish Aphyon in the spa, solid teak durmast and oak in the intimate rooms and suites.

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And of course the opulent yet contemporary style of The Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street makes the hot list. Coupled with an assorted mélange of furniture, unique aspects include the hanging calligraphy brushes, paintings, luxurious fabrics, brocades and Chinese wall silks. The use of bold, yet cleverly integrated colors is aesthetically pleasing and is the vision of interior designers Hirsch Bedner Associates.

Today’s sophisticated and trend-conscious hotel guests take pleasure from savoring the very latest discoveries ahead of the crowd – in hotels just as much as in the worlds of art and fashion. The new Ritz-Carlton hotels on the horizon that create much excitement and anticipation to set trends, include a super modern 120-story structure in Kowloon, Hong Kong, which is being designed by Lim Teo & Wilkes Works PTE Ltd. In contrast, the Molasses Reef project in Turks & Caicos will be a tranquil and remote escape. The iconic property which guarantees the best location in its city is the statuesque Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo. Architecturally this hotel is an icon of cosmopolitan sophistication, rising to a height of 245 meters. This leviathan of chrome and glass is in a commandeering position, surrounded on all sides by sweeping views of the city and Mount Fuji.

Quite apart from their design attributes’, hotels of today also have to fulfill two key requirements. As temporary homes of business travelers they must function effectively as workplaces; and they must offer a wide range of relaxation possibilities for the discerning leisure traveler. Recognition of this is evident in The Ritz-Carlton hotels around the globe. And yet, even with marked success in these areas, the hotel company continues to assess the design enhancements required in its existing hotels, and as a result, investment to continuously better a guests experience runs into the millions.

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