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Hotel Great Room; A Trend that’s Here to Stay

By 01/05/2011January 27th, 201730 Comments
My friend Rodd Herron, whom I met years ago when I was a sales manager at Westin Hotels & Resorts, sent me the link to this story. And New Years Eve, when I arrived at the brand new Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel to stay just for the night, it reminded me of this article.
Our room wasn’t quite ready when we arrived, so the clerk offered us a cocktail ‘on the house’ while we were waiting. And if you read the above article, that is exactly what Kenneth Hurd, a principal in Kenneth E. Hurd & Associates in Lincoln, Mass. said “If you check in and have to wait…and somebody comes and brings you a glass of white wine, your whole attitude changes real fast.” Very true.

My friend Dale Dyck, a hotel GM and Hospitality Consultant, wrote a great article here about authentic service in his blog, Hospitality Redefined, and we experienced some of that when we checked in. This is what he said about me in an article he wrote about mentors, and I finally get to link to his blog in this post!
Photo by Maria Killam
What I loved about this hotel is how current the finishes were. Matched slabs of Carrara Marble looked like art installed right across from the lobby bar and check in area.  “Allowing the check-in area to be visible from the dining terrace and bar reinforces the timeless “see-and-be-seen” appeal of the lobby,  People are always interested to see who is checking in.” Hurd said.
Photo by Maria Killam

Sheraton found that inspiration in parks. “Everywhere in the world there is a park that serves the community as a natural gathering place,” Harper said. “It is outdoors where people go to socialize, play games, read a book and not feel lonely. We wanted to bring that inspiration into our lobbies.” The way the plants separated the hallway from the lounge area kind of felt like it could have been an indoor park.

Above the bed was a backlit image of images from British Columbia forests.

This is how the pool looks at night.
Okay, so back to the decor. This hotel opened last year (February 2010) for the Olympics. Whoever was in charge of the design knew what time it is inside of current trends.  Very different from another hotel in the city which also opened just in time for the Olympics, The Pinnacle, in North Vancouver (not far from where I live).
The decor here is still entrenched in espresso brown, and the meeting space is also decorated in varying shades of chocolate brown and blue (hello 2003). This much brown in a brand new hotel will make it look 10 years old in about 2 years when gray really hits mainstream. Hotels are usually right on the edge of current trends. Unless they are in Tuscany. Sigh. Maybe this year.
What is your favourite hotel and why do you love it?

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me for on-line or in-person decorating and colour.

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  • Dale at Hospitality Design Inspirations says:

    Hi Maria. The Fairmont Pacific Rim interior design was a collaborative design between McFarlane Green Biggar (public spaces) and the former Coordinated Hotels (guestrooms).

    This hotel is now definitely one of Vancouver's best hotels in my opinion. It has raised the bar for design, and most of it is quite stunning. The only negative I hate to bring up is the noise issue. With all the hard surfaces in the lobby and in the restaurant, it is way too noisy. But boy does it look good!

  • Donna says:

    Maria…I just am bursting with stuff to say!!! And most of it will have to wait until tomorrow. :o)
    I adore hotel rooms..especially the ones with all the newest trends of decor. My favorite is the Half Moon Bay Hotel in San Deigo, CA. It's historic and movie stars once frequented it. I talked about it on my 'price line' post last spring.

    I'm off to bed..but you've hit a chord here for me. I'll catch you in the morning. Meanwhile, I think you would have such a fun time reading my 'worst dressed list of appliances for the year'. :o) It was a teeny tiny rant. Tee-hee! It's leading up to my favorite ones of the year.

    I LOVE the idea of the 'great room approach' to a hotel. Who's seeing who…and who's checking in? And you are right, if they offered me a nice glass of chilled white wine..I wouldn't fuss about a delay. :o)

    BTW, Thanks to you, I've been having the hardest time not walking around hotels taking photos of design elements!! It's almost an obsessive compulsive habit now.

    I just never 'saw' them before. I felt the effect but didn't know why I adored hotels so much. (I've been on the road a lot this year, hence all the opportunities.) :o)

    I truly LOVE this post! Great topic!


  • Karena says:


    There are so many great hotel designs and interiors now.

    A favorite of mine is the W Loft in my neighborhood!

    Art by Karena

  • Annie@A View On Design says:

    well I love the historic restored ones, in Aus like Intercontinental! I love the idea of a great room, and that marble, wow!!!

  • Razmataz says:

    I love the W hotel in Montreal and Le Germain in Toronto. Both very hip and amazing decor. And the Drake in Toronto for a really unique and fresh approach.

  • Jürgen says:

    I love this " Hotel Design ". The chairs are my favorits. Thank you for this post and a " Happy New Year 2011 " for you. Regards Juergen.

  • Between you, me and the Fencepost says:

    Every time I see chocolate brown now, I think to myself, like the snob I am, yikes! Brown is sooo on it's way out! To be honest not sure if I like the whole brown thing in the first place . . . Nice hotel you two stayed at. Next time Aaron and I have a sexy night away that's where we are staying.

  • Peggy and Fritz says:

    I travel too much and have too many favorites. So many beautifully done hotels however, I cannot say the same for service. I have stayed at what is considered some highend hotels and had horrible service. I'm a tough customer because I've been in sales for 20 years and have sold a service and actually waitressing paid my college education so I hold people to a high standard. One of my fantasy jobs is to work in a hotel. I'm great in customer service and deal with every kind of client imagineable and I'm very patient with resolving issues and thinking outside the box. Give me a highend hotel and watch the service sky rocket. Oh! Trust me…after i have just flown 8 hours, plus another 2 to get somewhere and my room is not ready or there is a problem….the best thing to do for me is hand me a martini and a glass of wine and I would give you a five star rating. I got to get off this comment board because I could go on and on.

  • Peggy and Fritz says:

    p.s. Ok I had to say one more thing…In design school my favorite projects were designing hotels and restaurants. This comment is for every designer,contractor, and hotel owner that is involved with the electrical and layout. There are never plugs in the right places. As a frequest business traveler this makes me crazy. There should be two sets of plugs in the bathroom one on both sides of the sink. In the room, I don't want to crawl under the desk or hunt down a plug. There should be a plug near the bed that is easy to reach that is not filled up already with the lamp, etc. I want to charge my phone and have it near me incase of an emergency. Also, near the desk there is never enough. Plug placement please 🙂

  • MEG MITCHELL says:

    I just found your blog through a recommendation from a friend and you are now my #1 fav. I am spending hours reading all your posts and learning so much about color, design, and creative ideas. I am just about to move into a new home and as they say, timing is everything. Thank you.

  • Kelly says:

    I think you should make an appointment Maria with the manager or owner of the Pinnacle and show them how you can make their place gorgeous!

  • Donna says:

    Maria, I'm Soooo glad you mentioned Dale's blog and his post on mentors and service. Wow..he obviously appreciates you as much as I do. And I'm so jealous that he gets to meet you in person!!

    YOU are one of my dearest mentors too. I have one other friend, Shona, who lets me know when I've blown it. She is always so good to be sweet about it. Donna—Mmmm those photos..we've gotta work on that. The content is great but the photos have to go! Ha!

    You have just encouraged me–period. Telling me when those photos are getting better. Telling me I'm a homemaking Diva. Wow–It makes me feel like I'm actually getting somewhere with my blog.

    Dale is right. There are two sides to the mentor coin–correction..and encouragement. You do both. Thanks so much for your feedback the other day. It was priceless.


    PS. I am Dale's newest fan. He talks about some of my very favorite topics..service, cleanliness, character. I'm looking forward to reading more of his posts.

  • Francine Gardner says:

    My goal is to actually design a boutique hotel, when checking into a hotel, i love to be transported to a different world. It is hard to say which one is my favorite…the 4 Seasons in Langkawi Malaysia, The Orient Express in Rangoon, Burma or the Villa des Orangers in Marrakech…I felt as I was living in times past.

  • Mona Thompson says:

    The New York Palace in New York City, formerly the Helmsley. They have had some of the same doormen for 30 years. It's like coming home when they greet you. The interiors are grand. Timeless elegance nothing trendy. I just love it.

  • Natalie says:

    If you're dreaming about Tuscany Maria, check The Hotel Rosso23 in Florence. You'll love it. Historical building totally renovated to perfection. The essence is lovingly preserved. Every possible detail is taken care of, all gadgets are state of the art and the breakfast is delicious. Location is superb. You'll enjoy staying there right on Piazza Santa Maria Novella beside the heavenly beautiful church of the same name.

  • Loretta Fontaine (APPLESandRUBIES) says:

    Maria– My favorite hotel is La Valencia in La Jolla, California. It's petal pink, glamourous, and I like to imagine who stayed there and lounged by the pool.

    I'm really enjoying your blog and just added it to the "Fave Blog" sidebar of my blog APPLESandRUBIES. And when you move your blog address to Typepad I'll update it!

    Happy New Year!


  • dovecote decor says:

    I feel like I have been running a hotel for the last two decades, rather than staying in one. My pet peeve is the poor lighting in literally every room in all hotels. I like your picture of the bar divided by the spiky green succulent, whose common name in this country is: "Mother in law's tongue." Really, is that not the perfect plant for a bar?

  • Dale at Hospitality Re-Defined says:

    Yet another great post. I particularly enjoyed your reference to the current colour patterns and the impact of "brown" in this instance.
    Also, as an advocate of service, I'm glad to hear that the Pacific Rim exceeded your expectations in that area.

  • Luciane at says:


    Seriously! The BEST city in this world!

    Lovely post, again, Maria!

    You've made me miss Vancouver… 🙁 🙂

    But now I know where I should stay!


    Luciane at

  • Ideezine says:


    Happy New Year. Love hospitality design, the expansion of space and intimate settings for large or small spaces is exciting.

    The Ritz-Carlton in Marina Del Rey, CA is my favorite. Room layouts, lighting, art, mood, scale and details are vital. Customer service sets the tone of your experience and can impact the taste you are left with and if you return.


  • Design Elements says:

    there are so man wonderful design hotels. My fav is Mondrian South Beach Miami – designed by Marcel Wanders.

  • La Boheme says:

    Hi Maria,
    I'm new to your blog and have been soaking up all your wonderful information for the past two days! I am now finally ready to comment and say huge thank you for spreading such great knowledge about blogging, colors, and design.
    I'm a design student and my goal is to work in the hospitality field because of the endless possibilities! Of course there will always be issues with budgets, restrictions etc. but I feel people crave fresh experience when visiting public spaces and hotels in particular. It is a place where we want to see and feel something new. That is why I like visiting different hotel lobbies (yes, it might be little funny) and just "feel" the atmosphere of each hotel. I found great concepts in very modern to very traditional hotels! And bathrooms, I always judge the bathrooms too 🙂 Great post!

  • Nancy says:

    Maria, I think it is so interesting that years ago people used to look for a hotel room that was as comfortable as home. Now people want a bedroom at home that is as comfortable as a hotel room. (I know I am showing my age) But when did this happen??? It is so ironic.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi all! I'm from London but am living in Berlin at the moment.
    Gotta like this place!

    [url=]Barrater is my life[/url]

  • Diana says:

    I love your blog and have learned so much from it! I've tried to keep my eye out for clean vs muddy colours. I read this very interesting post on another blog about an artist whose "inventive palettes of muddy colors with pure colors created a visual tension that heightened the sense of drama" It just seemed like a little tidbit you would enjoy reading 🙂 Thanks for the hard work you do on your blog. You really are a wonderful teacher of coulour!

  • Kelly Berg, IIDA, IACC-NA says:

    Fun post! It's so interesting to hear about your stint in hospitality. And so true about the complimentary cocktail.
    Have you ever read/heard of Chip Conley and his book Peak? He founded the Joie de Vivre hotels and now shares his business philosophies with all sorts of businesses. His philosophy revolves around Maslow and the hierarchy of needs…

  • Anonymous says:

    Yeah, that's just "SOOOOOO 2003". Good grief! How shallow are we that a handful of years pass by and suddenly these rooms are old, tired, and passe? Let me guess — you're in your 20s, right? Ah, the arrogance of youth.

  • Maria Killam says:

    Dear Anonymous,
    Thank you so much for the compliment. No I'm not in my 20's however I worked in a dated hotel in my 20's as a sales manager, and I had the corporate IT market. I was told point blank by one meeting planner that until my hotel was renovated (it was the Westin Bayshore at the time) they WOULD NOT STAY THERE. Everyone wanted to be at the Pan Pacific hotel which was the latest and greatest hotel at the time.

    So it is VERY IMPORTANT for the hotels revenue to be as current as possible because bottom line, that is what sells and that's where people want to stay.

    I am not a snob about chocolate brown and blue in fact the latest project I did for a client who was in love with those colours is indeed brown and blue.

    But in a hotel, it is critical. I hope that clears up the 'shallow' sounding comment.

  • rb says:

    My favorite hotels are old ones. On the West Coast, I like the Olympic in Seattle (now a Fairmont) and the Biltmore in LA (now a Millenium.) There are lots of great hotels here in San Francisco – I probably like the Fairmont here best as well – but as I live here, I never stay in them!

  • pve design says:

    Thank-you! I for one am so thrilled to have chosen gray for my kitchen and white….I hope we will be done by June for the big reveal. I know you have inspired me to take a leap of faith in my choices for creating a happy home.

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