HD Talks

Hotel Flashback: A Mile High City Landmark Reborn

Posted by on July 20, 2016 in Projects | 0 comments

By Mary Beth Klatt

When the Beatles stayed at the Brown Palace in Denver more than 50 years ago, the throngs of fans waiting outside and high security inside meant the Fab Four didn’t get to see the details that have made the circa-1892 Richardsonian Romanesque Victorian-style hotel—now part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection—famous. Since, each president—from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush—has stayed at the property, not to mention other big names including the Rolling Stones, Bob Hope, Katharine Hepburn, Oprah Winfrey, and Taylor Swift.

The Brown Palace's iconic triangular building, designed in 1892 by local architect Frank E. Edbrooke.

The Brown Palace’s iconic triangular building, designed in 1892 by local architect Frank E. Edbrooke.

Designed by local architect Frank E. Edbrooke on a right triangle lot, the hotel was considered so innovative that it was featured on the cover of Scientific American magazine. The first steel-skeleton structure erected between the Mississippi and the West Coast, the hotel claimed to be absolutely fireproof with its superstructure comprising iron, steel, and concrete with hollow terra cotta block interior walls and floors. Continue reading →

Local Influence and Beachside Elegance at W Punta de Mita

Posted by on July 13, 2016 in Projects | 0 comments

We are in the midst of summer, not quite the dog days, but still that crucial point where fantasies of beach vacations are frequent if not all-consuming. So, of course, when I went to Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ Starlab in Manhattan last week to learn about the W Punta de Mita in Nayarit, Mexico, it was hard not to envision a trip to the spa or relaxing poolside, even enjoying fresh ceviche at the Chevicheria, a converted 1950s Chevrolet 3800 pale blue truck that has been transformed into a beachside bar.


The exterior of the W Punta de Mita, with interiors by Mister Important Design

Because the culture is so rich in the Mexico town, a 25 mile drive from Puerto Vallarta, the W design team, along with Oakland-based Mister Important Design, used those influences (Frida Kahlo, luche libre masks, the papel picado paper-cutting technique, and, especially the traditional patterns of the Huichol people, one of the few remaining native groups in Mexico) as well as the natural architecture and verdant landscape for the 150-villa resort. Continue reading →

5 Questions for Larry Traxler

Posted by on July 6, 2016 in Events, People | 0 comments

Every year for our HD NextGen Forum (this June we hosted the event at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC), our editor in chief Stacy Shoemaker Rauen sits down with an industry stalwart to kick off the event. This year was no exception. Larry Traxler, Hilton’s senior vice president – global design, stopped by to discuss his early career, Hilton’s prolific portfolio, new brands, raising donkeys (I’m serious), and how Bora Bora is boring—his joke, not mine. But for a man who has traveled to 80 countries and continues to push the bounds of design and hospitality, he certainly knows what he’s talking about. Here are some excerpts from that conversation.


HD‘s editor in chief Stacy Shoemaker Rauen with Hilton’s Larry Traxler during NextGen Forum’s opening night event

1. How did you get into design?
I got into design by accident. I was a really good artist in high school, and I happened to graduate summa cum laude. Continue reading →

7 Design Best Practices From the Wave of the Future

Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Events, People | 0 comments

This June, we headed to Washington, DC for our fourth annual HD NextGen Forum at the infamous and newly reopened Watergate Hotel (which was decidedly less scandalous than its previous incarnation). During the event, our new class of Wave of the Future honorees sat down to talk about their careers and passion for design.

Here are few how-to tips we picked up from Matthew Goodrich, creative director and associate, AvroKO; Michelle Behr, vice president of design and construction, Highgate; Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse, co-founders, Masquespacio; Kevin O’Shea, founder and creative director, Salt Hotels; Teddy Mayer, vice president of design, Virgin Hotels; and Christina Luk, director, Lukstudio.


Our wave of the future honorees with editor in chief Stacy Shoemaker Rauen and Adam Kubryk, Global Allies, the NextGen luncheon sponsor

How to Let Go
Ultimately you can’t control your clients. “They come to your space, they love your ideas, but then they put rainbow clothes everywhere,” says Luk of some of her past retail work. Continue reading →

10 Keys to Luxury Today

Posted by on June 22, 2016 in Events, Trends

One of the things that plagues this industry the most (no, not Airbnb) is how luxury is defined. The concept has evolved from gilded ballrooms and butler service to a more experiential way to view the upper echelon of travel.

This was the topic addressed at the Differentiated and Experiential Luxury panel at the 38th Annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, held in New York earlier this month. Panelists included:  Alan Fuerstman, founder and CEO, Montage Hotels & Resorts; Michael Glennie, president and COO, FRHI Hotels & Resorts; Ben Leahy, managing director, Goldman Sachs; and Homi Vazifdar, managing director, Canyon Equity.


A rendering of the recently announced Sagamore Pendry Baltimore, set to open early next year.

Luxury is a holistic experience that comprises design, experience, and brand recognition that focuses on programming more than everything else. Here are 10 additional insights from the panel about luxury today.

1. Design has to be timeless. Continue reading →