HD Expo Recap

Since the editors at Hospitality Design (HD) magazine, our sister publication, are running around the Las Vegas show—Hospitality Design Exposition & Conference (HD Expo)—moderating panels, running architectural tours, visiting on the show floor, etc., we rarely have time to blog from the show floor. They decided to do a recap:

I started this year's HD Expo with a panel on the new JetBlue Terminal 5 at JFK Airport in New York with Lionel Ohayon, ICRAVE, Rick Blatstein, OTG Management, and Henry Myerberg, HMA2, representing Rockwell Group. For those that don't know, Terminal 5 reinvents airport dining and interaction, tapping into the anxieties and needs of air travelers. What amazed me listening to the panelists (Ohayon designed the restaurants for OTG and Myerberg worked on the marketplace, where the three concourses come together) was that this design and concept is common sense—why should airports offer such bad alternatives. As Blatstein said, paraphrasing, "We are in New York City with some of the greatest restaurants in the world, why can't that be true for the airport." Ohayon, bringing his expertise from creating some of the best restaurants in New York and LA, really thought about the traveler and used that in his design, like there are no doors closing off the restaurants from the gates to lessen anxiety, people can order straight from gate-side food bars, and there are plenty of single seats in the restaurants those traveling alone. The real treat was seeing Ohayon's original sketches, even some ideas that didn't get implemented. And the innovation paid off: this terminal has the highest F&B revenue per enplaning passenger among U.S. airport terminals.

Then I sat in on the Radical Innovation in Hospitality Competition. Co-founded and produced by the Hospitality Design Group (HD Group) and the John Hardy Group, the award, now in its fourth year, promotes innovation and global-thought leadership in hospitality. A fantastic jury of hotel experts narrowed down the many submissions to three…they usually do two, but couldn't decide. The finalists presented at this panel (formerly during HD Boutique), and the audience got to select the winner…no, I didn't vote. The three finalists were: Aircruise, a vertical airship cruise from Seymourpowell powered by natural gas that docks (yes dock) in this vertical contraption and as it travels around the world, tether over different cities, adding to the skyline; Trespass: A Wanderer's Hotel from Weetu, which would help solve the problem of empty retail malls by anchoring it with a hotel; and Mosaic from WATG, which takes the pop-up phenomenon to a whole new level, for adventure travel and voluntourism. And the winner is: Mosaic from WATG. Yes, same firm from Sustainable Suite, but no, they aren't paying anyone off. Aircruise took home the first runner-up honor. What I heard from the audience was that Mosaic could happen five years from now, and Aircruise was more like 20 years away. In fact, rumor is that WATG may use the $10,000 cash prize to build a prototype. For more, click here and look out for an upcoming issue of HD.

I also went on two of our four architectural tours to CityCenter (proceeds benefit the scholarships of NEWH). If you haven't heard of it, you have been in a bubble, but just in case, it is MGM Mirage's latest and greatest statement on the Strip. It's the largest privately funded construction project on the western hemisphere, and has bragging rights for its six LEED Gold certifications. On Wednesday and Thursday 35 people got to check out the public spaces of casino-hotel Aria and walk through the entertainment-retail complex Crystals. And thanks to our sponsors MechoShade and Control4, the attendees saw a corner room suite at Aria and got a demonstration of the amazing technology they implemented there and elsewhere at CityCenter that allows guests to turn off all lights and close all shades (and vice versa) with a touch of a button. Yet the best part was an insider's look from Sven Van Assche, vice president of design for MGM Mirage and CityCenter, who led both tours. He went into detail about the nature-inspired designs, since as he said, yes I am paraphrasing again, they "didn't want a themed place, but contemporary design and architecture, not modern, and everyone has a good feeling about being in or around nature," the extensive fine art collection, and working with the countless design and architecture firms. Seeing it through his eyes really brought the project's many layers and magnitude together. See more of HD's exclusive coverage on our gallery page and in the April issue. Thanks to the entire team at CityCenter and MGM Mirage who made those happen.


Hospitality Design (Stacy Shoemaker Rauen)

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