Hotel architecture, planning and design


Hotels and resorts are the backbone of the P280–billion tourism industry. The quality of accommodations and services majorly affect the decision-making of tourists. A destination could have the most exciting adventures and the grandest views to offer, but at the end of the day, the tourist will need a place to recover and relax.

On the other hand, it is the responsibility of these establishments to protect the landscapes and the culture because it is their source of income. In a bigger picture, the architecture and the design of the hotels and resorts have tremendous effect to the way people will live in an area. Sustainable design will bring more jobs, livelihood, and infrastructure needed by the community. Irresponsible and bad design will exploit both the people and the environment.

Let me share some basic theories in hotel architecture, planning and design.

Hotel architecture and design is divided into two major parts: the front-of-the-house and the back-of-the-house. The front-of-the-house is the area that guests get to see and experience. It includes the lobby, dinning spaces, rest rooms, hotel rooms, corridors, and passenger elevators, among others. The back-of-the-house, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with hotel personnel to achieve maximum efficiency and utmost control on circulation patterns.

The front-of-the-house
The lobby of the hotel creates the first and most lasting impression among the guests. It sets the mood. Upon arriving, the first person they will be talking to is the front desk. It is there that the concierge gets to recommend places the guest should visit and what amenities the hotel offers. After giving the keys of the room to the guest, he will set what the guest will look forward to during his stay.

The guest rooms are the prime product that a hotel has to offer. The first consideration is size; the more spacious a room is, the more luxurious. Rooms with twin beds, with a night table in between are preferred by most guests and hotel operators.

The restaurant and amenities are what attract guests to stay longer in the hotel. It could be a restaurant facing a beachfront or a swimming pool, or a restaurant that is known for its culinary experience.

Most hotels offer transport services from the airport to hotel, or vice-versa. Some hotels also offer transport services going to tourism areas outside the hotel. Especially for international tourists, this is an important consideration. It gives them a worry-free access towards their desired destinations.

The back-of-the-house
Everything that the guest expects and should get will be a result of what takes place in the back-of-the-house, such as clean beddings, properly maintained air-conditioning units, and supplies for the restaurants. It also includes the structure, the furniture, the interior, and the waste management of the hotel.

The service entrance gives direct access to a street or road capable of handling truck traffic situated out of the view of the main entrance towards the receiving dock.

The other crucial parts are the laundry facilities, housekeeping, mechanical and security, and food services. Locally sourced products and services are preferred.

Energy efficiency
Let’s say that a new hotel is being built in Palawan. One of the challenges is to find the source of energy that can meet the expected consumption of the building. A standard today in tropical design is making sure that the building has passive lighting and cooling. Not necessarily placing a plethora of wide windows, as this is may be counter-productive because of the heat it allows, but strategically placing enough windows for morning and afternoon light. A good architect can light up the building naturally while keeping heat at a comfortable level. With passive cooling, on the other hand, the wind flows naturally throughout the building.

Material selection
The standard today is to use LED lights to conserve vast amounts of energy. Before, an incandescent bulb used as much as 40 watts to give the same amount of light of eight watts from LED. In short, incandescent bulbs should no longer be used. With new technology, a hybrid solar power and grid power can also conserve at least 20 percent of energy cost annually. Inverter air-conditioning, on the other hand, uses 30 percent to 40 percent less energy than regular air-conditioning.

Also, instead of using fresh water to water plants and flushing for toilets, use a greywater system. It collects and filters water for such use.

In terms of dengue prevention, especially in a tropical climate, it is recommended to fill the surroundings of the building with tanglad/lemongrass and citronella to repel mosquitoes.

In January alone, around 500,000 tourists arrived and spent P21 billion. For the rest of the year, the Department of Tourism is expecting six million tourists and P280 billion of spending in tourism-related activities. We can well expect that hotels and resorts will be at the forefront of the country’s growing tourism industry.


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  1. Hi Jun,

    Relative to basic theories, may I also share my thoughts on how to invite more tourists to the Philippines.

    1. Presently, cruise ships docked at the pier near Manila hotel, the same pier being used by cargo vessels. The location is so chaotic, not safe and inviting to the tourists considering the may trucks (all kinds) plying the vicinity, not to mention the stevedores and squatters residing thereto. If the Philippines wants to lure more tourists, specially foreign, safety to life, limb and personal belongings must be given a primordial considerations. Relative thereto, why not build a WORLD CLASS PIER dedicated solely for cruise ship in Manila bay area near the U.S. embassy and fronting Mabini church. In this way, the world class pier and, particularly, the cruise ship will add value and beauty to Roxas boulevard area. Making the tourists feel more safe and comfortable.

    2. Develop and beautify the area from Anda circle (where some tourist spots are located, to name a few, Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, old Universities, etc., and the entire area of Roxas boulevard up the Baclaran. Require the local governments of Manila, Pasay and Paranaque to pass a resolution mandating land owners located along the stretch of Roxas boulevard to ONLY build high rise building similar to Honkong. Convert portion of the service road of the Roxas boulevard to a regulated night street food vendors and the parking areas must be reconstructed.

    3. Flyover be built at the junction of Roxas boulevard and Ocampo Street (formerly Vito Cruz) for smooth traffic flow to and from PICC and nearby areas (Manila and Pasay).

    I sincerely believe that the stretch from Anda circle up Baclaran area have a great potential in contributing tourism industry in the Metro Manila if given enough and dedicated attention initiated by the national government inconjuction with the local governments involve and private business.

    Finally, a new department of Architecture must be created so that all infrastructure projects be built not only for the purpose of public convenience, but also for beautification similar to Hongkong where it has department of Architecture. Sabi nga, tulay pa lang tourist spot na. Look at the Helix bridge in Singapore na talagang pinupuntahan ng mga tourists and mapapa WOW ka because of its design and the materials it used is stainless.

    Thank you.