HD Talks


Wave of the Future: Authenticity Drives Design

Posted by on July 2, 2014 in Events, Trends | 2 comments

In our June issue, we honored seven innovative and up-and-coming designers in our Wave of the Future series. Reading through their profiles certainly made my job harder, as I was definitely more enthralled with their stories than the editing process.

Luckily for me, our Wave of the Future honorees had the chance to talk more about their career trajectories by defining authenticity and how it inspires their design process during our HD NextGen Forum a few weeks ago. Authenticity is an abstract term but one that is pervasive in the hospitality design world. A hotel may look beautiful but if it doesn’t exude a sense of place, then it comes across as hollow. Each took a quick, Pecha Kucha-style dive into defining how authenticity drives their work.


Hospitality Design magazine’s Wave of the Future honorees

Julie Frank, global director of design for Le Méridien Hotels, opened the discussion by looking at authenticity in its rawest form. Continue reading →

Talking Industry Issues with the Owners

Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Events, Trends

HD NextGen ForumWhile the sessions at HD’s NextGen Forum two weeks ago in Chicago were inspiring, it was the Owners’ Roundtable, sponsored by RH Contract, that was truly enlightening. We at HD constantly cover trends and postulate about the future of the industry, but it’s another thing altogether to have leading hoteliers, owners, managers, and more, talking about these topics (and others) with candor.

I am naturally curious so I found a seat at the table in the W Chicago City Center ballroom and hoped to blend in—learning through observation. Yet, the journalist got the better of me, so of course I found time to ask some of questions, too. In fact, here are some key points I overheard at NextGen’s Owners’ Roundtable:

  • Sam Suleman, vice president of development and operations at Equinox Hospitality, asked a startling question when he first sat down at our table: Are online travel agencies (OTAs) signaling the end of the brand?
Continue reading →

A Woman at the Top

Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Events, Trends

While the hospitality industry is diverse in a lot of aspects, its lack of female leadership in C-level positions is conspicuous. If we listened to Beyonce, like we all should, we’d know who runs the world: Girls.

Indeed, the hospitality industry is rife with opportunities for women—from designers to food-service worker to managerial positions and more. And one of those women who continues to climb the hospitality ladder is Niki Leondakis—a feminist icon (at least to me), an innovator in hospitality, and a strong leader. Starting her career at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, she worked her way to president and COO, helping expand the Kimpton brand. Now, as CEO of Commune Hotels + Resorts, Leondakis is a critical asset in the hotel’s growth, helping launch the new Tommie brand as well as growing the Joie de Vivre and Thompson brands.


Commune Hotels + Resorts CEO Niki Leondakis sits down with Hospitality Design magazine’s Stacy Shoemaker Rauen during the HD NextGen forum.

Continue reading →

The New York Hilton Midtown Gets a Facelift

Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Events, Projects

The New York Hilton Midtown is known as much for its storied past as it is for its guestrooms and meeting spaces. Lucille Ball lived there. The Beatles stayed at the hotel before their career-making performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. John Lennon wrote “Imagine” in a guestroom.

Indeed, travelers coming to New York expect awe-inspiring experiences. As a recent transplant from Cleveland, I found that the large skyscrapers and constantly alive city can both overwhelm and excite. But how does a hotel, enveloped by its history, stay relevant in a city that rejects the status quo? With the help of Dallas-based Looney & Associates, the Hilton Midtown completed its first phase of renovations, refurbishing 187 guestrooms and 41 suites on five floors.

It definitely is a sight to behold as managing editor Katie Kervin and I had the chance to tour the renovated rooms along with other journalists for a media event this week. Continue reading →

The Alpina Gstaad Awarded Best of Show at HD Awards

Posted by on June 5, 2014 in Events

I have never been to an awards ceremony before. Of course, I’ve done my share of watching them on TV and live-tweeting them, but I’ve never sat in an auditorium amongst the very talented and well-deserving people. Luckily, that all changed with last night’s 10th annual Hospitality Design Awards ceremony at the Grand Hyatt New York. The event, sponsored by Durkan and Interiors from Spain, celebrated our deserving finalists and winners, who are also featured in our June issue.

Although winners and finalists had been announced beforehand, there were some small surprises: emcee and Hospitality Design magazine’s Editorial Director Michael Adams’s music choices for each finalist and winner was one; raffling off  an all-expense paid trip to Spain (courtesy of Interiors from Spain) was another; and most importantly, the much coveted Best of Show award was announced.


Editorial director Michael Adams and managing editor Katie Kervin warm up the crowd during the 10th annual Hospitality Design Awards.

Continue reading →