If it seems like the usually staid Four Seasons is suddenly taking design cues from Las Vegas bling, it’s just part of a larger trend in hotel design.
Like its classically inspired competitor Ritz-Carlton, Toronto-based Four Seasons is looking to build business beyond loyalists by diversifying its traditionally homogeneous look and integrating regional elements to hotel decor.
Most notably, Four Seasons Las Vegas, the 424-room luxury hotel located on top of the Mandalay Bay tower, announced in July that it is undergoing a $30 million guestroom renovation, set to be completed in December.
The inspiration behind the new designs not only came from Las Vegas’ iconic glitz and glam but from other Nevada landmarks notable for their distinctive architectural style.
“While the design scheme was inspired by the Art Deco era, there are two local structures specifically, one historic and one new, that provided great inspiration for the designers: the Hoover Dam and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Las Vegas,” said Erica Johnson-McElroy, director of public relations at Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas.
The Four Seasons will include polished ribbon mahogany, cream lacquer finishes and nail-head accents. Bold-palette modern art will also be included in the renovation to reflect the city’s bright lights.
Much of the new art will be commissioned to suggest a private residence collection, giving guests an even deeper immersion into Nevada.
Meanwhile, Ritz-Carlton began breaking away from its “cookie-cutter” approach in 2004, according to Allison Sitch, vice president of global public relations for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. Since then, no two Ritz-Carltons have been designed the same way.
That’s not to say Ritz-Carlton is avoiding the classical altogether. In fact, the Ritz-Carlton Vienna, which recently opened at what used to be four conjoined 19th century palaces, integrates touches such as ceiling paintings, original staircases and wall paneling into its public area.
Still, the hotel will have contemporary fixtures and furnishings to create a dynamic, multifaceted look for the 202-room hotel.
Either way, these redesigns are a departure from some of the design standards that many of these luxury brands have worked for years to perfect, with the luxury badges forging much of their reputations based on a certain type of look, architecture and ambience.
For instance, the original Ritz-Carltons were known for a formal, classical look with velvet curtains, polished marble and dark woods.
Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of New York University’s school of tourism and hospitality management, said these redesigns also parallel a broader trend of hotels catering to an experience.
Breaking away from uniformity and consistency is vital for luxury hotels that market themselves as destination hotels rather than a place to stay on the way to somewhere, Hanson said. The local color is essential for guests to feel their location.
“What has been an emerging trend for a little more than a decade is that travelers are seeking experience more than consistency,” Hanson said. “From a purely economic standpoint, it’s a taste and preference structural change.”
With all this local flair emerging in their interior designs, more individualized looks are blossoming, breaking the mold and potentially appealing to a younger group of luxury travelers.
For example, Ritz-Carlton removed the lobby fireplace, a chain-wide staple, at its Kapalua Maui Resort & Luxury Hotel.
“In the past, there was an element of consistency,” Sitch said. “Now design is key, with modern interpretations.”
Johnson-McElroy expects the break from the company’s normal palette, especially in non-traditional Las Vegas, to be successful.
“We are certain the guests will love the change,” Johnson-McElroy said. “It is sophisticated but also current and contemporary.”