Articles and PublicationsSeptember 10, 2021

Engage With Landscape Architects During Hotel Projects

Coordinating From the Inception of a Project Can Increase Return on Investment

Scott Dyde, ISHC

By Scott Dyde
HNN columnist

August 31, 2021 | 8:38 AM
This article was originally published by CoStar

Whether you are planning to develop a new urban hotel or remote resort or to refurbish an existing property, employing a professionally qualified landscape architect at the very beginning of the process — before you set the brief or even define the site extent — can save considerable expenses, significantly increase your long-term return on investment and create a more sustainable development.

Here are a few ways landscape architects can add considerable value to your investment.

Understanding Place

Trained in the visual arts and environmental sciences, professional landscape architects have a keen eye for context, culture and a deep, nuanced understanding of the environment. This unique skill set helps them to identify the opportunities and constraints of a site in relation to its physical conditions such as climate, landform and ecology, and its cultural connotations on both a global and local scale.

Master Planning

This kind of landscape-led, environmental, social and cultural analysis will help to develop a brief and master plan that marries well with a site and will greatly enhance the experience visitors will have of the place. It is about working with context, topography, vegetation, hydrology, history and views. These factors are too often overlooked or even destroyed by overdevelopment, and the consequences are clear. Land values drop, bad publicity is generated, and fragile ecosystems are destroyed.

By working with the land, not against it, landscape architects create development briefs and master plans that are cost-effective, environmentally responsive and responsible. These often reduce the need for heavy engineering that more often than not forms a significant part of the upfront construction costs. It is a more resilient approach and more effective in the urgent need to address the climate emergency.

Establishing an Appropriate Development Character

Landscape architects, by establishing appropriate solutions that are sensitive to the uniqueness of the place, create genuinely special, locally inspired experiences that are highly valued by visitors and that often involve local communities helping to create productive circular economies and revive traditional skills and knowledge. Contributing to the authentic experience of the hotel, this approach decreases the need and expense of shipping in goods from abroad.

The Value of a Good View

At a more detailed level, acutely aware of the impact of a beautiful landscape, landscape architects work beyond site boundaries, integrating inside with outside, distant and near vistas to maximize the number of rooms with a good view. The dramatic impact this has on guest experience, evident on revenue per available room, is vital for the long-term sustainability of the hotel.

Social Media

Integrating the master plan and hotel design, its architecture and interior to the location has a powerful impact on the arrival experience and sense of welcome. Creating a sense of awe within the landscape provides talking points and Instagrammable moments that will support the hotel’s online presence and marketing.

More Than Just Green Washing

Landscapers have been practicing sustainability since the 19th century. Landscape architects work with the tried and proven concepts behind sustainability as well as new and emerging green technologies and approaches to planning and design. Cutting through the superficial and highly criticized “green washing,” they can advise on the most effective ways to help you meet any sustainable development obligations while being aware of the long-term impact on operational costs, the reputation of the venue and the quality of visitor experience.

Furthermore, a truly sustainable project may be eligible for grants, tax breaks or green bonds as well as green certification and awards.

Scott R. Dyde, ISHC, is a founding partner of SALA Design Group, an environmental design consultancy based in Hong Kong, and a certified member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants.

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