NEWH Owners’ Insight Panel with HMG’s Michelle Finn

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Michelle Finn, President of Hospitality Media Group, moderated last month’s NEWH Owners’ Insight panel held during the day at the 14th Annual HOSPY Awards. This panel focused on the future of Las Vegas hospitality and included Kara Sifferman, Western Region Project Director, Virgin Hotels, Sean Tanner, Director of Design, Boyd Gaming, Glenn Nowak, Associate Professor Architecture & Design, UNLV School of Architecture, Corey Nyman, Director of Operations, The Nyman Group, and Kevin Ball, Vice President, Golden Gaming Corporation. They discussed topics such as clinical tourism, walkable streets, the fantastic design community in LV, and how Vegas bounced back from the 2008 market crash. These panelists believe that in the future, Freemont and Downtown will come together and the new focus for food & beverage will be food halls.

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This year’s HOSPY Awards celebrated Kimberly Daoust, Principal at Tandem, and other individuals and firms for extraordinary achievement in architecture, design, and development in the hospitality industry. The event raises funds for student scholarships in architecture, interior design, construction, hotel management, gaming management and culinary arts.

To learn more about @NEWH, the 14th Annual HOSPY Award recipients and view more photos from the event click here:

AAHOA to lead Select Service Summit at BDNY

Whether you’re a member of the world’s largest hotel owners association, or a designer looking to win their commissions, you’ll want to take part in BDNY’s new “Select Service Summit” on Sunday morning, Nov. 11. It’s the first session on the 2018 agenda, one that conference director and BD executive editor Mary Scoviak calls “a profit game changer.”


Why? AAHOA members own nearly half of all hotels in the U.S. And with changing dynamics in the select service sector, many of those owners are shifting their focus—and resources—to design as a point of differentiation. This session, Scoviak says, will ease the learning curve for both parties.


“Many AAHOA owners don’t yet have a short list of design firms and may be new to the vetting process,” said Scoviak. “And many designers haven’t pitched this powerful group before. The Summit session will shine a light on the skills they need to win select service projects, and provide invaluable brand knowledge to inform their pitches.”


Association president and chief executive officer Chip Rogers will moderate the discussion with panelists Ashley Ewing Parrot, director of brand strategy, boutique & lifestyle hotels, Vision Hospitality Group; Chet Patel, senior vice president, Baywood Hotels; Hitesh (HP) Patel, president, Capital City Hospitality Group, 2018-19 chairman AAHOA; and Nimisha Patel, executive vice president, AAHOA.



BD welcomes 100+ attendees to Drinks by Design D.C.

More than 100 hospitality professionals attended Boutique Design magazine’s first Drinks by Design event in Washington, D.C., held Sept. 13 at the historic Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens.


A celebration of hospitality design in the D.C. region, the reception was held in conjunction with the NEWH DC Metro chapter, which celebrated its 25th anniversary by awarding $100,000 in scholarships to ten students with hospitality majors, including:


Victoria Ajayi, George Washington University

Keon Halley, Virginia State University

Wanlin He, University of Delaware

Noah Hedrick, West Virginia University

Nadia Hines, Morgan State University

Shirin Jafarinasab Kermani, George Washington University

Megan McDanald, Virginia Tech

Anna Nikitina, George Washington University

Elvis Reyes-Nativi, Northern Virginia Community College

Nathalie Ngassa, Morgan State University


The event also featured a preview of the ninth annual Boutique Design New York (BDNY) trade fair and conference, to be held Nov. 11-12 at the Javits Convention Center. Attendees included hospitality professionals from //3877, ForrestPerkins, Hilton, HVS Design, Marriott Intl., P3 Design Collective, Park Hotels & Resorts, RD Jones & Associates, Streetsense, Studio Partnership and more, who had the opportunity to tour the Hillwood gardens and museum during the event.


Sponsors for Drinks by Design D.C. included AVIXA, Beechwood Custom, Bryan Ashley, Century Industries, Chemetal, Composition Hospitality, Delta Faucet, Fairmont Designs, Faulkner + Locke, Garden on the Wall, HB Lighting, Hubbardton Forge, Pierpoint, Swavelle Hospitality, Wendover Art Group and Yellow Goat Design.

A celebration of design in the Orlando region

Boutique Design welcomes 100+ hospitality professionals to Drinks by Design Orlando

Hospitality designers from such companies as The Carroll Adams Group, Design Poole, HHCP Architects, NBC Universal Creative, Walt Disney Imagineering and Wyndham Destinations gathered in Winter Park, Florida, on August 9 for a celebration of design in the Orlando region.


More than 100 hospitality professionals attended the Drinks by Design reception, hosted by Boutique Design magazine in advance of the ninth annual Boutique Design New York (BDNY) trade fair and conference.
This was the third Drinks by Design event held at the award-winning, Baker Barrios-designed Alfond Inn, which is owned by Rollins College, a private coeducational liberal arts college in Winter Park, outside Orlando. Net operating income from the Inn is directed to The Alfond Scholars program fund, the College’s premier scholarship fund.


Sponsors for Drinks by Design Orlando included Bryan Ashley, Century Industries, Encore Hospitality Carpets, Fabric Innovations, Faulkner + Locke, room360 by FOH, Indon Intl., Norcross Furniture Company, Studio Twist, Sunbrite Outdoor Furniture, Vaughan Benz and Wendover Art Group.

BLLA announces name change

At its Boutique Hotel Investment Conference in early June, the Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association (BLLA), an association partner of BDNY and BDwest, announced its name change to the Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Assn.

The conference, which attracted more than 350 hoteliers, lifestyle executives, fashion icons and other attendees to Manhattan’s The Times Center on June 6, highlighted the common philosophy between boutique hospitality and the fashion, retail, wellness and technology industries.

Panelists and attendees conducted lively discussions about entrepreneurship, the next generation of boutique money and how the concept of boutique is shifting beyond hospitality.

“We noticed that the word ‘lodging’ didn’t describe our organization anymore,” said Ariela Kiradjian, chief operating officer of the nine-year-old trade group. “What we realized is that our association gathered all of the fantastic global minds of boutique.”

BLLA also announced that, the world’s first and only direct booking platform for boutique and lifestyle hotels, will officially re-launch this fall. For more information, visit or

Design ‘N Gather Heads to NYC


Artaic, designer and fabricator of architecturally compelling mosaics, is excited to announce that Design ‘N Gather, the company’s annual design competition now in its fifth year, is bringing the contest back to the East Coast, with its debut in New York City. This year, the jury-selected winner will have their digital artwork translated into a permanent mosaic installation set inside the rooftop Cupola of Sydell Group’s The NoMad Hotel, a historic landmark property in Manhattan. The contest, which is free to enter, will begin accepting online entries starting June 22 through its closing on September 1, 2018.
For the past two years, Artaic has partnered with destinations such as the MGM Grand’s Wet Republic and Hyde Nightclub at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. For 2018, Artaic and their long-term partner and lead sponsor Bostik, wanted to bring the excitement to the Big Apple, hosting this year’s competition in the epicenter for the design and architecture community. They teamed up with The Sydell Group on selecting their compelling Manhattan site for the contest, and Boutique Design magazine to highlight the unveiling during their annual BDNY trade show.
“We could not be more thrilled to shift the focus of this year’s Design ‘N Gather competition to New York City. New York has always been at the forefront of art and innovation. Similarly, our team at Artaic continually stretches the bounds of what can be designed and produced through the medium of tile, and we cannot wait to bring the beauty of mosaics to this uniquely stunning property,” says Artaic’s founder and CEO, Ted Acworth.
The annual competition, which was founded by Artaic in 2013, encourages designers from all disciplines — architecture, product design, fashion, interior design, photography, painting, furniture design, and any other creative field — to create a one-of-a-kind piece that will have a lasting impact on the space and on the individuals that experience it. Throughout the summer contest period, participants are asked to visit to download Artaic’s proprietary and easy to use design software, Tylist™. They will be provided a design template for the inside of the Cupola as well as background and inspiration to help with the creative journey. Entrants are welcome to design and submit up to two, original mosaic renderings utilizing any of Artaic’s Vitreous Glass tile selections and Bostik’s Dimension RapidCure Grout color variations.
Through a blind judging process, 10 finalists will be selected in September based on the originality, execution, and successful interpretation of thematic elements relating to this year’s location: The NoMad Hotel ‘s iconic rooftop Cupola. Originally designed as an architecturally significant water tower, the Cupola is used for special occasion private dining. The hotel serves as the perfect backdrop for Design ‘N Gather with its turn-of-the-century Beaux-Arts roots and grand interpretation of French elegance—it is a true New York City staple that is highly regarded for its grandeur style.
One winner will be chosen from the grouping of finalists where their mosaic will permanently be installed and unveiled at a private event at The Nomad Hotel on November 11, 2018, in conjunction with Boutique Design New York (BDNY). In addition to having their mosaic installed, the winner will also receive a trip for two to Paris, France, valued at $5,000, courtesy of Bostik.
“As a long time partner of Artaic, we have witnessed the evolution of Design ‘N Gather over the past few years from Boston to Las Vegas, and now to New York City. We are excited to be apart of the competition once more, and can’t wait to see all the wonderful works of art that will be submitted,” says Scott Banda, Director of Marketing & Business Development for Bostik North America.
This year’s esteemed panel of judges include: Joanne Yong, Senior Vice President & Principal of Wilson Associates’ NY Studio; Jean-Gabriel Neukomm, Principal at JG NEUKOMM Architecture; Rob Polacek, Chief Creative Office at Puccini Group; Joyen Vakil, SVP of Design & Development for MGM; Jake Lamstein, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer at The Sydell Group; Michelle Finn, President of Hospitality Media Group; Scott Banda, Director of Marketing & Business Development for Bostik North America; and Ted Acworth, CEO, & Founder of Artaic.
For additional details, including eligibility, submission criteria, and competition rules, please visit To learn more about Artaic, please visit

Smart Talk

What your clients aren’t telling you (but really want you to know)

By Howard Wolff

On behalf of those providing hospitality design services, I asked 20 clients what they want designers to know that they aren’t telling them directly. Six big themes emerged.

1. “I’ve got a pretty good bullsh-t detector.”

At the marketing stage, don’t show too much un-built work; clients know that anyone can produce an impressive rendering. They want to see built work and relevant projects.

Several clients mentioned that they have seen the same project in multiple presentations … with credit taken by the firm of record, by the lead designer who worked on the job (and since started his/her own company), and by the project manager who now works for a competitor. Explain your role precisely and honestly.

Your reputation as a firm founder and/or design leader may have gotten you to the shortlist, but don’t tell clients you’re going to be intimately involved in their project when you’re not.

Ted Brumleve, responsible for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ managed brands, advises, “Bring the ‘kids’ [from the staff] and/or let me know when I can meet them. I want the opportunity to build rapport with the people who will be doing the actual work on my project.”

2. “Don’t suck up. Speak up.”

Despite the adage that the customer is always right, clients want you to tell them when they’re veering off course, according to Raul Leal, ceo at Virgin Hotels. “My advice to designers, when they don’t agree with where we we’re headed: They should say, ‘We’ll do what you want us to do, but we think you’re on the wrong track and here’s why.’ Then, document that conversation.”

And Brumleve adds this observation and advice. “Don’t try to hide bad news, and don’t let it fester. Bad news does not improve with age. Tell us if something is wrong and get it out on the table early; otherwise, it will only get worse.”

Adherence to schedules is also a priority for your clients. Be honest and upfront about what’s possible. As Shawn McGowan, senior director of global food and beverage brand dervices at Hilton Worldwide, notes, “My concern is about meeting deadlines. If it’s going to take longer, tell me. I’d rather get it right than have to go back and fix things later.”

3. “Show me.”

Demonstrate that you can think on your feet. Several clients lament that the ability to sketch by hand is becoming increasingly rare. How ironic is it that the client is the one who pulls out a pen in a meeting and sketches some ideas?

Carl Kernodle, vice president planning and design at Hyatt, wants to see “sketches and models that make it clear where we’re headed.” He thinks it’s a shame that architects no longer draw by hand and a mistake not to provide physical three-dimensional scaled models. “A tangible model that a hotel executive can pick up and look at is worth the money and effort.” Kernodle’s pet peeve: “Don’t tell me you can’t do something. Find a way to do it. The art of problem solving and design thinking are getting lost.”

Several hospitality clients commented, as well, on the diminished quality of construction documents. A more detailed set of drawings means fewer questions on how to build the job and fewer problems for the owner and operator once the project is built.

With a good set of documents, you get a clear sense of what the building will look like, how it will be constructed and how much it will cost. Asking if he sounded old by saying so, Kernodle opines, “Remember the day that a working drawing had enough information on it that you could actually understand how the building is to be built?”

4. “It’s your job to know what I need.”

It’s not about building a monument to yourself or winning a design award. Dana Kalczak, vice president of design at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, puts it bluntly: “I dislike it when architects design to gratify their egos rather than creating thoughtful buildings that accommodate users in functional yet inspiring spaces.”

“And, more specifically,” says Kalczak, “I do not have much patience for design that values form over function. Beauty should be the goal, no question, but the user’s comfort, wellbeing and productivity should always be the starting point.”

“Let clients know that you understand the market they are trying to serve,” advises Barry Wallace, executive vice president of hospitality services, Outrigger Enterprises Group. “You need to demonstrate that you know how length of stay and mix of visitors affect design. For instance, geographic origin and purpose of visit impact size and layout of guest rooms as well as selection of furnishings and amenities.”

As architects and designers, you also need to demonstrate how you can meet the client’s financial and operational goals. “Owners want to know that their designers share responsibility for making the budget,” says Brumleve. “The client wants to see increasing detail on scope and spend alignment. Designers should validate budget conformance from the start and through all phases of a project.”

And when it comes to value engineering, offer cost-containment alternatives that don’t lobotomize the project. When there is a need to cut, make sure that the concept and design intent don’t suffer.

5. “Get your act together and hold on to your good people.”

Staff turnover is not only costly to you; it has an impact on your clients and their projects.

One client noted, “The lack of continuity and coordination amongst team members is a problem. It wastes a lot of time and money.”

Several observed that while it’s commonplace for designers to change firms, they feel that there is more that you can do to keep your key people.

On a positive note that indicates clients know more about what goes on inside your firm than you think they do. Some offered this unsolicited advice:

“Groom your people. Invest in them. Equip them with the right support. Help them grow with the company, and you’ll reduce turnover.”

“My advice would be to continue to foster the creative atmosphere while adding a little order to the chaos. Manage clients, engage the staff, and provide clear career paths and opportunities for advancement.”

6. “Don’t take us for granted.”

Your clients understand the shiny-object syndrome and the enticement of the next job. But they want to know that you value them.

One, who prefers to remain anonymous, shares this story: “We had a good relationship with a firm and gave them a lot of repeat business. We never even had them compete for our work. They screwed up big by taking us for granted and have lost over $1 million in design fees so far this year that we’ve given to another firm. They lost our business but never came and talked to me. How crazy is that?”

And while it’s important to ensure strong communication with existing clients on current projects, it’s also up to you to stay top-of-mind and relevant between projects.

Here’s some advice from one client: “Architects and designers could do a better job marketing by staying in touch with us, perhaps through a newsletter, providing updates on what they’re doing (via LinkedIn and email) and offering content that’s of value. For example, new approaches, tips, ideas, free advice … all based on their experience.”

And an executive from Starwood has this suggestion: “Keep me current on what you are thinking and doing. Find a creative way to stay in touch and let me know what’s new. (I’m not getting that from any other firm.)”

Today, it’s all about schedule and budget. Both are always tight. Clients’ operating margins are slim, but they still want inspired design. And they want to work with big-idea people who “get it.” They hire architects and designers who understand the overarching project goals and deliver. They expect you to listen on their frequency, to think like an owner, and to tell them the truth.

The message is clear. If you’re not sure what your clients want, ask—or ask an expert to ask for you. Design firm owners are often reluctant to ask for feedback directly. When they’ve engaged Full-Height Advice, as an objective third-party, to ask about the perception of their firms, I’ve gotten these reactions from their clients:

“I think that it’s great that the firm is doing this. I’m glad that they think enough of themselves to invest in their future and to be introspective, and I appreciate that they are interested in my opinion.”

“I love that they are doing this. It sends a strong signal about their own business acumen, brand awareness, and interest in growth.”

“I applaud them for considering how their firm is perceived and how they can improve.”

“Thanks for doing this survey for them. They’re good people and deserve to be successful.”

“The fact that they hired you to conduct this survey speaks well of them. They’re proactive. That’s smart.”

Howard Wolff, is the founder and most senior person of the strategic marketing consultancy Full-Height Advice.

Ten BDNY Sessions Net CEUS


Ten seminars for the upcoming Boutique Design New York (BDNY) have been certified as eligible for CEU credits from the Interior Design Continuing Education Council Inc. (IDCEC). These same sessions are also seeking CEU accreditation from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Photo above: The CEU-accredited “Up-and-Coming Hoteliers” session at BDNY 2016. That panel was moderated by Boutique Design’s Mary Scoviak and included speakers Mark Keiser of Baccarat Hotels and 1 Hotels; Jay Stein of Dream Hotel Group; and Jason Pomeranc (not shown) of SIXTY Hotels. Photo; Richard Cadan

The IDCEC-approved CEU sessions at this year’s hospitality/leisure design trade fair and conference, to be held Nov. 12-13 at the Jacob K. Javits Center, are:

Hotel Renovations: Bridging the Gap Between the Designer’s Vision and Asset Manager’s Expectations
Mastering Spec Writing
Marijuana: Its Effect on the Hotel Industry
New Markets and New Niches in Upscale and Luxury Hospitality
Making Waves: Takeaways from Cruise Ship Design Trends
Secret Sauces: Recipes for Star-Turn Restaurants
How to Build a New Hotel: Putting Together a Team
Keep it Real: Design and Copyright Challenges
What Your Clients are not Telling You (But Really Want You to Know)
Stunning Second Acts: Adaptive Reuse

View the Agenda Here

Boutique 18 Call for Nominations



Boutique Design is seeking to recognize the rising design stars who are creating today’s (and tomorrow’s) most buzzed-about hospitality venues. If you know someone who is changing the game for hotel, restaurant, spa, cruise ship, pop-up, hostel and casino design, nominate them for the 2018 Boutique 18.

Eligible interior designers must be working in the hospitality industry and either employed by an interior design, purchasing, architectural firm or hotel company/ownership group. Candidates will be evaluated on their accomplishments in the following categories: impact on recent projects; influence on and contributions to the industry; business design management and design process contributions to their company or firm; and outstanding individual qualities.

The 13th annual class of Boutique 18 honorees will be chosen based on those criteria by the Boutique Design editorial team; the number of nominations an individual receives has no bearing on the selection process.

The 2018 Boutique 18 honorees will be revealed at this fall’s Boutique Design New York (BDNY), Nov. 12-13, and then celebrated at an induction ceremony at next spring’s BDwest in Los Angeles, April 4-5.


Nominate a designer here


The Boutique Design (BD) brand is broadening its reach within the tech side of hospitality and expanding its international impact via a pair of high-profile partnerships with InfoComm International and IIDEXCanada, respectively.

Here are details on both of these new initiatives:

ST Media Group Intl.’s hospitality and retail brands, which include Boutique Design and VMSD magazines, the Boutique Design New York (BDNY) and BDwest trade fairs and the International Retail Design Conference (IRDC), have formed a strategic partnership with InfoComm, a trade association for the commercial audiovisual (AV) industry, to demonstrate how integrated AV experiences can generate improved business outcomes for brands in those two markets.
Aspects of the partnership will include speaking engagements, editorial roundtables, trend reports, end-user spotlights, the presenting sponsorship of the 2017 BDNY trade fair tech session and the presenting sponsorship of the 2017 IRDC conference—all of which are designed to share best practices for maximizing AV’s impact on the bottom line. Editors from Boutique Design and VMSD will also participate in design-centric seminars at future InfoComm events.
“Integrated audiovisual experiences are being used by more and more forward-looking retail and hospitality companies to create new brand experiences that foster stronger levels of customer engagement that lead directly to increased sales, repeat business and a greater sense of customer loyalty,” says InfoComm executive director and ceo David Labuskes. “Working with ST Media Group, we will highlight what specific companies are already doing and enlighten non-technical retail and hospitality decision-makers about the business-building benefits that can be derived from integrating AV experiences into their store and hospitality designs.”

BD and its trade fairs are partnering with IIDEXCanada to bring a wow-inducing hospitality focus to that design/architecture exposition and conference slated for Nov. 29-30 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Leveraging the success of its BDNY and BDwest events, ranked as two of the fastest growing trade fairs in the United States, BD will produce a special pavilion for IIDEXCanada, featuring an immersive design experience and inventive furnishings, lighting, fabrics, wallcoverings, flooring and other FF&E for hotels, restaurants, spas, clubs and cruise ships. Through this new venture, BD and its sister division, Hospitality Media Group LLC (HMG LLC), which launches, develops and manages hospitality-related trade fairs and events, will also contribute to the conference programming for IIDEXCanada’s 33rd annual fair. The event is part of The Buildings Show, North America’s largest exposition, networking and educational event for design, construction and real estate.
“We see the Canadian market as a growth area for Boutique Design’s brands,” says Michelle Finn, president of HMG LLC and senior vice president of ST Media Group Intl., the co-owners of BD. “A pavilion at IIDEXCanada, Canada’s premier commercial design show, is the perfect opportunity to launch and develop a strategic alliance.”

IIDEXCanada vice president Tracy Bowie says, “We see this strategic alliance as an important evolution in IIDEXCanada’s ability to connect with our industry and serve as an important mediator between manufacturers and designers. Creating the Boutique Design pavilion at IIDEXCanada 2017 will only intensify our strength to showcase new trends in the hospitality sector.”