Hotels: increasing capacity without compromise

With Directors Peter Newman-Earp and Nik Clarke

The hotel industry has been booming in 2022, occupancy is high and hotel owners are looking to increase capacity and maximise space. We speak to Morrison Design Directors Nik Clarke and Peter Newman-Earp on how they support clients seeking to add capacity.

It may sound like an obvious question but why are hotel owners seeking to increase capacity?

Nik: “In the hotel industry saleable bedrooms are known as keys – the value of the properties, especially in London, is based on the number and quality of keys. Therefore, increasing the quality (refurbishing) and number of keys increases the value of the property as a whole.”

Peter: “Exactly, and the return from refurbishment or the addition of bedrooms to the property is high, so it makes good financial sense. On top of this, of course, there is the instant revenue from additional saleable bedrooms.”

Directors Peter Newman-Earp (left) and Nik Clarke (right)

Where do you start when a client asks you to look at increasing their capacity?

Nik: “We start by studying the existing plans and speaking to hotel management about how they use the spaces. We walk the floors and start to identify and areas that are under-used. If there are back of house rooms with a window, we immediately think about whether these can be transformed into guest bedrooms.”

Peter: “We look externally at and under-used spaces to extend outwards or upwards – extra floors are sometimes the only way to go in city centre locations. For our projects in the capital, we’ll refer and adhere to the London Plan which gives guidance on the acceptable height of buildings and work closely with structural engineers to see what’s possible.”

Nik: “Many basements are used for back of house operations, so we do see what space is available there. The key is getting natural daylight into the bedrooms – we use our skill and knowledge on optimising layouts to bring the daylight in.”

Point A Hotel exterior photograph
Point A Hotel, Dublin

Give us an example of a project where you’ve exceeded expectations…

Peter: “One of our most recent projects was Point A in Dublin. The client purchased the property with planning permission for 95 bedrooms. We worked within the current approved footprint and envelope to redesign and space plan the layout, generating an additional 35 bedrooms.”

“We then redesigned the lower ground floor level, which was previously meeting room space, to create nine new guest rooms with access to daylight via a lightwell. This was a completely new approach and a first of its kind in Dublin. The hotel opened with 141 bedrooms, a 48% increase from the original plans and it’s safe to say the client was delighted.”

At the drawing board

What makes Morrison Design the experts in this area?

Peter: “We’ve had so many years of experience working in hotels. We have the ability to foresee and combat any issues before they arise. We possess a deep understanding of the operations of a hotel and how they work behind the scenes to ensure space is maximised.”

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