Developing a Spec Hotel
by Don Barker
In a somewhat unusual approach, British developer Bondcare (Heathrow) Ltd. began designing a hotel "on spec" before finding an owner. The speculative approach, more often used in office or apartment buildings, could indicate a "change is in the air" for hotel developers, who normally team up with an operator before design begins.
Bondcare commissioned a preliminary design and obtained "outline planning permission" to build a four-story airport hotel on a prime location at Bedfont Lakes next to Heathrow Airport's Terminal Four, southwest of London.
Being next to an international business park that houses companies such as Cisco and SAP makes the location a catchment not only for transient international travelers but also for the business visitor. Bondcare's objective was to build a landmark four-star hotel with major conference and meeting facilities.
Without an operator to guide the design program, the developer needed to come up with plans that were workable yet flexible enough to enable any potential operator to later incorporate its brand specifications.
Enter Reardon Smith Architects, a London-based firm that specializes in international hotels. According to managing director Conrad Smith, "the developer wanted architects who could give the project a viable credibility. We design hotels, nothing else, and therefore have a depth of experience in this area." >>>
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