According to interior designer and Hames Sharley Principal Errol Chiplowitz, the popularity of integrated resorts worldwide (that combine accommodation, retail, gaming and entertainment) looks set to rise after the COVID-19 pandemic. Chiplowitz, who has 25 years’ international experience in the sector, says now is the time to prepare for an inevitable return of demand.
“The population’s appetite to be entertained outside of their own primary places of residence will not abate and is more likely to increase despite the anticipated financial troubles some may experience in the future,” Chiplowitz says. “Commissioners and managers of new and established integrated resorts need to be prepared for what will be an even more competitive marketplace, where innovation and value for money will be an important focus” Chiplowitz says.
Biophilic design (or design inspired by nature), psychographics (the attitudes, values and lifestyles of patrons) has long been deployed by integrated resort designers to help elicit feelings of wellbeing in guests. “Key to the success of integrated resorts is the creation of positive, uplifting environments designed to spark joy and happiness,” Chiplowitz explains. “After extended periods of isolation, I suspect these design devices will be even more important.”
Optimising natural light, landscaped spaces, and strong connectivity between internal and external environments are among the design devices Chiplowitz says work well within integrated resorts. Having worked extensively in the Asian and South African markets, Chiplowitz has also witnessed, firsthand, the rise in popularity of multi-faceted entertainment experiences within integrated resorts. He cites experiential technology as one of the newer initiatives leading the charge.
“More and more patrons are seeking ‘virtual’ experiences when visiting high-end resorts,” Chiplowitz says. “My advice to future-focussed integrated resorts is to seek out interior designers with expertise in creating experiential spaces, embedded within their facilities that deploy technology, lighting and thrust automation (moving platforms) balanced with a well-established resort authenticity to create an overall experience that feels ‘out of this world’.”
Additionally, Chiplowitz believes an ability to design for scale is imperative. “Typically, these types of resorts have capacity to accommodate literally thousands of people,” Chiplowitz says. “The real skill lies in designing interiors, and deploying materials, lighting and furnishings, that cleverly compartmentalise spaces to make guests feel welcome and comfortable.” Effective wayfinding devices integrated within the built form are also essential to the solution.
The layering of building services is another key consideration for interior designers who work within large-scale resorts. Chiplowitz and his colleagues are frequently tasked with technical problem-solving challenges including finding suitable ways to integrate air-conditioning units, camera surveillance equipment, LED screens and audio speakers into their designs.
Prioritising client collaboration
Chiplowitz is adamant that no one design approach is applicable to all integrated resorts. “We work very closely with clients to shape a brief that aligns with their overall business goals, their brands and values,” he says. “A series of user-group workshops help us to draw out the contextual considerations we need to keep top-of-mind throughout the entire design process.”
A qualified interior designer, Chiplowitz also relishes the opportunity to liaise closely with his team of architects, designers, engineers and various other specialist consultants to help realise clients’ aspirations.