Over evening cocktails at Six Senses Duxton’s bar in Singapore, Scott Lee, the firm’s President and Principal of San Francisco-headquartered firm SB Architects talks about creative strategies and hospitality trends to note.
We immerse ourselves in the region, and we discover the essence of a place. It’s an interesting time for hospitality design. It’s becoming a slow evolution that we should be inspired by the past, juxtaposing the new with the old. For instance, in historical buildings –it’s about restoring the building to gel with the period in which it was built, rather than do something contemporary.
We have various projects in Vietnam. We have two 40-storey towers in Ho Chi Minh City. We have a handful of spa and hospitality projects in Phu Quoc and Ho Chi Minh City. We have a presence in China for the past 15 years. We worked on developments like the Mission Hills Haikou, Jade Shores in Qingdao and Golden Pebble Winery in Dalian.
We have approximately 100 on-going hospitality projects. I would say around 90 of them have branded residences associated with them. The ratio between hotel rooms and residences is changing. It started with a 100 hotel rooms and 10 residences. We are working on projects now where the ratio has flipped. It’s now 10 hotel rooms and 100 residences. In fact, we are now doing a project in Park City, Utah, where it’s a 100 per cent for sale product.
Our job, prior to any architectural work, is to assemble a group of people to make the project happen. For example, in the upcoming Six Senses project in Florence, we understand what the brand wants and how the hotel will operate. Our notion of this project is to restore the villa to it original lustre, adding pieces to it; by contrast, which are very modern. We would bring on the most appropriate landscape architect and interior designer to complete the team. We compose the team based on their experience, so it’s a symbiotic process with people doing what they are best at.
Wellness is not just a spa anymore. It’s a resort within a resort. At one of our projects, Dorado Beach, a Ritz Carlton Reserve, the spa is a place where you can spend the entire day. Wellness is expanding beyond the boundaries of the spa, and going into areas such as sleep, diet, nutrition, and the farm-to-table movement. We are placing a big bet that wellness is here to stay. It’s not a passing trend. Wellness and fitness is the new currency. These days, it’s not about what car you drive or what brand your watch is. It’s about how well you are.