HBG Design Welcomes a New Generation of Leaders

Earlier this year HBG announced the promotion of Nathan Peak, AIA, to Practice Leader. Today, HBG is excited to announce additional promotions and elevations of staff that emphasize the depth and breadth of talent across the span of our entire firm. We welcome these next generation of leaders whose voices are already making an impact on how we operate and practice industry-leading design.

Congratulations to the following HBG Design employees on their recent firm promotions and advancements!

  • Deidre Brady, AIA, NCIDQ, LEED AP BD+C, Promoted to Principal / Project Management Leader
  • Chris Devine, AIA, Promoted to Senior Associate / Documentation & Specification Leader
  • Leslie Thompson, Promoted to Senior Associate / Process Improvement & Resource Leader
  • Jason Fox, Promoted to Senior Associate / Construction Administration Leader
  • Michael Ochoa, AIA, Project Manager, Promoted to Senior Associate
  • Chase Percer, AIA, Associate, Promoted to Design Technology Leader
  • Christopher Wood, IIDA, NCIDQ, Interior Designer, Promoted to Associate
  • Tamara Goff, CPSM, Principal, Transitioned Role to Director of Communications & Brand Experience
  • Dana Ramsey, CPSM, Associate, Promoted to Director of Marketing
  • Paul Towery, AIA, ICCC, Senior Associate, Promoted to Codes & Compliance Leader
  • Morgan Streitmatter, Promoted to Human Resources Manager
  • Patty Sprecco, Promoted to Human Resources Coordinator
  • Leah Goodwin, Promoted to Practice Operations Facilitator


Urban Hotel Design: Embracing the Complication

by Thor Harland, Senior Architectural Designer, HBG Design

Urban Hotel Design Thor

For me, the excitement of urban architecture originates from its inherent complications. It is the limitations and layers of thought that we as designers must critically analyze before introducing new concepts into an already dense city environment.

In most urban settings, available sites for new construction are tightly positioned between existing structures. Each building serves a different user function yet remains connected to the whole. Aesthetics and materiality often vary significantly from building to building, irregular and sometimes raw depending on the age. Some sites retain elements of structures long unused.

New project designs created within the urban framework should be informed by these and other constraints. Historical precedents and environmental context supply ample opportunity to evolve the city’s character.

Our design teams approach these projects with an open mind to the intensity and diversity of a city’s composition. The solutions to these challenges inform the shape, materiality, and function of all new building designs. After all, the more problems a building solves the more value it brings to its surroundings.

In downtown Memphis, Tennessee, three recent hotels designed by HBG Design serve as diverse examples of how a new, evolved design character can reinvigorate the urban landscape bringing immense value to the city collective.

The Canopy by Hilton Downtown Memphis, the Hyatt Centric, and the Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis hotels all represent projects that required thoughtful and rigorous design study to reach their ultimate solutions. Lying vacant for 12 years, the site of a former 50’s era hotel, and a riverside lot with an adjacent 19th century machine shop were each initially viewed as being of limited interest to prospective tenants; some even considered them to be urban blight. Through a new lens, the Canopy, Centric and Caption hotels unveiled opportunities for designers to bring out each building’s individual characteristics and iconic identifiers, ultimately creating enormous community impact.

Canopy by Hilton Downtown Memphis Hotel – Renewing a Gateway Site into Downtown Memphis

Located at an important gateway into downtown Memphis’ urban center and its historic, world-famous attractions, the Canopy hotel replaced the dilapidated Benchmark Hotel, that was still occupying the site. This corner of Union Ave. and BB King Blvd. is the iconic location of the Peabody Hotel and AutoZone Park, only a few shorts blocks from Beale Street.

The new build went up, and, when the Canopy by Hilton opened in 2020, even amid the pandemic, one could not call the achievement of architectural and administrative willpower anything but glorious. - Memphis Business Journal

The Canopy design and construction was extremely complex to navigate, given the owner’s desire to keep existing building structures and foundations from its previous hotel incarnations. The conflicting structural challenges were ultimately transformed into useful square footage and its solution informed a simplified hotel geometry and a comprehensive expression that created a unique dichotomy between upper and lower floor masses.

The project consists of a 171,100 square foot hotel block elevated above a visually transparent podium level and one level of subterranean parking. The hotel block maximizes the site’s guestroom potential through a double-loaded guestroom corridor ring surrounding an internal light well. A sense of transparency and natural daylighting in the hotel’s base level is achieved through floor to ceiling storefront systems along the South and East edges and two large skylights located under the light well that amplify the restaurant, lounge, and bar amenities.

A Discerningly Rebellious Urban Design, of its Time and Place

To me, great architecture evokes unexpected beauty and resistance but is based in unarguable logic. Through our project visioning, brand interpretation and concepts, the Canopy architecture became less about individual expression and more about amplifying the neighborhood experience in Memphis as the city is today.

The Canopy hotel structure is meant to be a building of its time, and an evolution of Memphis’ downtown personality. We considered the historical precedents and the progressive concept of the Canopy brand; and we used these themes as idea generators for our explorations. The result is a concept that is respectful to place, but also a representation of its contemporary generation.

Downtown Memphis architecture has a long industrial history with rows of ornate brick hotel, office and former warehouse buildings lining the urban streets. The materials, proportion, scale and well composed fenestrations of the Canopy are meant to evoke the characteristics of the existing network of mid-rise masonry architecture in the downtown area.

Brick was an important material for continuity, but the size of the brick is slightly different at the Canopy. We used a larger scale brick, and the patterning isn’t a typical running bond; it’s a stacked bond pattern. So, there is some deviation there that helps give the building its own identity. It’s the slight, subtle differences like that and just the overall geometry of the heavy upper floor mass floating above the open public space below that helps to differentiate the design from its neighbors.

A dark charcoal gray palette and simplification of form contemporizes the visual aesthetic of the architecture. It’s discerningly rebellious. I love that an Avant Garde result can be created through rigorous historic, aesthetic, and structural investigation and a direct reaction to the project’s context and objectives.

In the Canopy design, we have produced a unique complement to neighboring buildings, and also a structural acknowledgement of Memphis’ continued evolution as a city with its own intricate personality.

See more Canopy Hotel photos here.

This is part one of two in Thor Harland’s series,
Urban Hotel Design: Embracing the Complication

In part two, Thor and other designers will discuss how Memphis’ One Beale Mixed-Use Development gave rise to a full historic city block of branded hospitality, including the Hyatt Centric, and the Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis hotels.

 


Spotlight on HBG's Emerging Professionals Studio

A discussion with HBG Design’s Emerging Professional Studio (EPS) Leader and recently licensed architect, Ryan Callahan, AIA

Ryan, as the new leader of HBG’s Emerging Professionals Studio (EPS), can you give us some background on the program?

While my involvement in the Emerging Professionals Studio began five years ago, HBG Design’s EPS program was conceived about 15 years ago as a group led "by EPs for EPs", providing opportunities for leadership experience within the firm at an early career stage.

The EPS originally focused on helping emerging architecture professionals through the AXP architecture licensure process and also provided opportunities for team building. The program has evolved to serve expanded EP career needs, including welcoming HBG’s interior designers into NCIDQ licensure study while also focusing on individual leadership development.

As a practice that integrates architecture and interior design to create hospitality design experiences, it was imperative that the EP Studio evolve to support the way our firm works and collaborates. Architects and interior designers have different licensure requirements and different ways we approach a project based on the nature of our disciplines, but we share similar goals and many commonalities, which are incorporated in the EPS program.

Emerging Professionals Studio

Our EPS today is rooted in the idea that emerging professionals desire structure in working towards licensure, but also want the flexibility to easily modify the pace of their journey as their personal or professional life changes. Mentors play a key role in helping EPs find their path individually and as a group, actively developing support strategies and needed resources for licensure in ways that matter most to each individual in their particular stage of development.

How did you become a leader of EPS?

I had just passed my remaining Architectural Registration Exams (AREs) a few months before Nathan [Peak, HBG’s Practice Leader] asked me to lead the EPS group. I think he asked me specifically because I was newly licensed, but also because I was part of HBG’s pre-Covid EPS program culture. As our workplace returned to the office, we all wanted to find ways to reengage our EPs into a group-learning mindset and provide the kind of supportive group environment that we had before the pandemic, and had been missing for over two+ years. Covid was so disruptive to everything, to the way we do things, even to my own growth. I entered and came out of Covid in a different phase of life. A lot of things changed. For example, I was just newly married entering Covid. When we went into work-from-home mode during this weird, sort of hyperbolic isolation, I came back to the office as the father of two boys. Now, I’m more aware of the level of involvement that people in different stages of life can have after work hours, but I’m also more focused.

And, of course, I could not lead EPS without others. In our Memphis office, Chris Wood is co-leading on the interior design side. And in our San Diego office, architect Nathan Blair and interior designer Alexandra Milkovich are leading the local EPS activities.

How has the EPS changed since you started?

For the first two years of my involvement in EPS, we had about 20-30 EPS members. It seemed like our EPS culture revolved around in-person knowledge exchange forums, recreational sports, and group learning activities. Of course, the pandemic changed everything, and put a damper on group events. We are now recapturing that level of camaraderie and have a great EPS group and supportive firm culture. I am seeing our group involvement increase every month.

The “work-from-home era” did teach us how to become more technologically resourceful and interconnected across distances. With more variety of tools enabling us to work virtually, we were able to put study information at each EP’s fingertips. All HBG’s EPS study information was organized, cataloged by topic, and made accessible through our MS Teams cloud-sharing platform. I’m proud to say we didn’t let the pandemic become a huge obstacle to getting our EPs help. For me, the biggest hurdle was just getting started.

What’s new for the EPS at HBG Design?

Emerging Professionals StudioKnocking out AXP experience hours quickly is everyone’s goal when they get out of school, because there are a lot of hours required! EPS continues to coordinate supplemental training, quarterly site visits/project tours, exam study sessions, and professional engagement with design industry organizations. And our project staffing tracks EPs who are actively pursuing licensure to connect them with needed AXP hours.

EPS leadership has also been developing onboarding courses to help new hires become fully engrained and fluent in HBG’s design processes. This is the information they didn’t and couldn’t learn in school.

This is a bit like HBG’s version of the NCARB AXP program re-formatted into a series of lessons from seasoned professionals at the firm who each offer over 20 years of industry experience. These seasoned professionals lead regular meetings to share topics on the firm’s building processes ranging from codes to life-safety; space planning to hospitality design to sustainability to construction detailing - all supporting knowledge sharing and the path to licensure through ARE, NCIDQ and LEED testing.

“Knowledge of how something is constructed is very valuable. It doesn’t matter if you are selecting a finish or drawing a wall or designing a building. If you know how it goes together, it goes together better,” says Ryan.

How are EPS participants given a voice?

Everyone in the EPS group is empowered to initiate a discussion, lead an event or portions of a group project, or given freedom to implement a new process they feel passionate about and that will lead to growth of their peers and colleagues.

Gun Lake - Emerging Professionals Studio

Weekly ‘Coffee + Collaboration’ mornings offer an all-employee open platform to initiate design discussions based on active project reviews to help inform the general direction of design or seek input on how current projects could be improved. EPs and student interns work together as valued project team members, gaining exposure to design challenges as well as opportunities to exchange ideas. They get a lot of encouragement to add their input in project design critiques in an environment where every voice is respected. This adds to EP’s experience in acquiring increasing levels of hands-on design leadership and really finding their voice.

We also have a number of international AIA members and EPS gives them a road map to licensure in the U.S. after becoming licensed in another country. The EPS is really benefiting from the variety of viewpoints and experiences of our EPS members. They each bring different approaches and well-rounded perspectives to the group.

Is EPS all business?

Career fulfillment is heavily dependent on engagement with co-workers. Now that we are MOSTLY out from under the pandemic, I think it’s important for the EPS to continue promoting relationship building and providing bonding opportunities among co-workers and within the EPS. These group experiences build an authentic sense of camaraderie that builds trust and makes the work experience much more inspiring and positive.

From painting parties to kick-ball and indoor soccer teams; group nights and happy hours at new restaurants to family-centered outings, EPS is actively improving our post-Covid in-person firm culture and making the firm a stronger, more dynamic organization.


Behind the Design: Eagle Mountain Casino

Article by Eagle Mountain Casino

Counting down the days to Fall: HBG provides exclusive details about the design of new Eagle Mountain Casino

(Eagle Mountain Casino, Porterville, CA 93257) –  In the Fall of 2019, HBG Design was selected as designer and architect for Eagle Mountain Casino’s highly anticipated casino relocation project. The nationally-recognized Top 10 hospitality and entertainment design firm, which has offices in Memphis, San Diego, and Dallas, started design of the project in 2020 and continued design right through the pandemic. Virtual meetings continued with the Tule River Tribe and the design advanced through all the obstacles faced from Covid-19.

“One thing that we learned during our process is that, for us, this project started fairly recently. For the Tule River Tribe, however, this project’s vision began in the 1990’s. It’s like a 25-plus-year process of acquiring the land and envisioning a property in the Valley, closer to Porterville in the population base, so it’s remarkable the perseverance that the Tribe has shown to get the project realized,” said Joe Baruffaldi, AIA, Principal, HBG Design.

The Tribe met with HBG Design and shared elements of the rich tribal history, including archival images of beautiful baskets, the process of basket making along the Tule River, legends of tribal origin, and focused on the details of the higher elevations of the tribal homeland.

As we started to get more and more involved and inspired by those Tribal themes, we began to wonder how we could integrate some of that history and some of that cultural richness of the giant sequoia tree, the mountainous region, the tales of the ‘hairy man’ as they call it, and the basket patterns themselves, which each hold very particular meaning. So as we started to learn about these things, it layered on to us a desire to create a property that spoke very closely to those themes,” said Rob Jurbergs, AIA, Principal, HBG Design.

HBG designed the new casino property with the vision of a lodge and a more mountainous style of architecture with a home in the Valley. A DESIGN THAT SERVES COMMUNITY AND CULTURE

“For the Tule River Tribe, it was really important to tell their story. We researched their culture; they provided books to us, and photos of artifacts. They were really open about sharing their culture, which allowed us to find patterns within baskets to incorporate into our design that would give this property a uniqueness in the market when you look at some of the other competitive casinos, because it tells their story. It would also be very meaningful to the tribal members for us to incorporate basket patterns that, on the one hand, are cool casino elements and, on the other hand, recognizable to anyone with knowledge of the Tribal culture,” said Baruffaldi.

HBG Design was also trying to meet the market from a business perspective. One example of this is the inclusion of a Sports bar called ‘The Redwood Taphouse’ in the new casino property. The city of Porterville does not have a variety of options to view televised sporting events, and it is anticipated that this will be a hot spot for all sports lovers. “Talking with Matthew Mingrone, the General Manager of Eagle Mountain Casino, he wanted to have a place in Porterville to go watch the game, so you start to have these business drivers that merge with these creative storytelling drivers to create an overall unique business driven property,” continued Baruffaldi.  DEVELOPMENT OF CONCEPTUAL THEMES

The Tule River Tribal Council as a whole were essential in helping HBG Design learn about tribal culture and embraced the idea of using the new relocation property as a platform for sharing their culture, while meeting the needs of the community. HBG Design created specific conceptual themes after speaking to tribal community groups and Tribal leadership to showcase and present some of the more significant meanings related to the Tribe.

“The design storytelling within the property as a whole involved the development of an overall concept that ties all of the different spaces together, as a platform to create an individual identity for each restaurant or venue within the property,” said Baruffaldi.

HBG Design took multiple aspects of the design inspiration depicting the story of the Tule River through the Tribe’s native traditions, art, patterns and imagery. “During our early visioning workshops, we focused in on the words ‘Grounded’ and ‘Soaring’. "Grounded” and “soaring” are more conceptual terms as it relates to the concept of the Giant Sequoia tree which is so large it can only be experienced truly by either the rooted connection to the earth, the trunk, and the soaring nature of the canopy because it is so tall and dwarfs everything else in the forest.  With a better understanding of the tribe’s ancestral homeland and hearing the stories from tribal members related to both the Tribe’s past and the desire to create a project to represent a strong future to the Tule River tribe, we started to connect the theme from “Grounded” and “Soaring.” “Grounded” is about honoring the past, the heritage, the traditions, the elders, and all of the history of the tribal foundation. “Soaring” represents looking forward and creating opportunities for the Tribe with the new casino,” said Jurbergs.

The giant sequoia concept was visualized in three parts: the roots, the trunk, and the canopy. Designers identified words and images that depict the nature and character of each part of the tree. An element that the Tule River Tribal Council started to understand and embrace was the storytelling behind the design and how HBG tied each of the giant sequoia aspects into different parts of the building.  Additionally, the Tule River became a key design inspiration. The river is very dynamic, and as it travels from higher elevations, it creates majestic pools of water and waterfalls. STRONG LODGE-STYLE ARCHITECTURAL EXPRESSIONDesigners were influenced by a lodge aesthetic with wood and other stone structural expressions and wanted the design to be grounded in the land. Creating strong architectural elements of wood and stone became the forefront.

The porte-cochère will incorporate an eagle pattern design for the pendant lights, and the lodge-like lines and truss work with wood textures both in the main structural elements and in the ceiling itself, creating a lot of warmth and richness, making it very inviting for guests. ENTRANCE AND CASINO FLOORAs you drive up to the new relocation property and the porte-cochère, you will first notice water and a series of small pools reminiscent of the Tule River itself. It will be a part of the entry experience and will engage guests from the moment they arrive on the property. Water elements will wind in a serpentine fashion up to the front door and feature Native grasses and plant species native to the mountain that the Tribe felt necessary to incorporate into the property.

“Flowing forms recall the winding Tule River and organic curves of nature. When we were laying out the casino floor, we were thinking about how guests move through the project; we wanted to convey that flowing nature,” said Jurbergs.

There are so many incredible elements to be discovered as guests explore the new property. As you enter the property into the entry concourse, which ultimately will lead to a future hotel, it features a sculpture carving by a Tule River tribal member of a culturally significant figure, “the hairy man” or more commonly “big foot”. Guests looking up at the ceiling will notice the unique geometry of a basket pattern with individual triangles that are super scaled to cover the whole casino ceiling. In addition, the use of four tribal basket patterns is featured on the concourse floor, and the light fixtures also feature basketry patterns. The column work is inspired by the giant sequoia trees’ bark and creates a contemporary element. The corridor will also showcase museum-like statements of actual works of art, bringing a rich historical feel to the entire property.  The countdown to Fall continues, and the excitement is building as the construction of the relocation nears completion. Soon the guests of The People’s Casino will be able to experience all of the fantastic designs and countless years of hard work put into this one-of-a-kind property.  Currently, Eagle Mountain Casino is located 17 miles east of Porterville and is a full-service casino owned and operated by the Tule River Tribe. Guests must be 18 years of age to enter. The casino is open 24/7. In addition, the Grizzly Food court is open 24/7, and the River Steakhouse is open Friday – Sunday from 5pm – 10pm. Eagle Mountain Casino is a short drive from Bakersfield or Visalia.  The new casino property is scheduled to open in late Fall of 2022, off Highway 65 in Porterville, CA, next to the Porterville Fair Grounds. The new property will double in size, growing to over 100,000 square feet, featuring new dining options, 1750 slot machines, 20 table games, and a 2000 seat state-of-the-art event center.


Creating Depth, Meaning and Authenticity in the Gaming Experience

"Casino design is its own special artform that has long since evolved from being simply a structural box with slot machines inside. At the best casinos and resorts, the casino designs are exciting and lively, but are also inspired by meaning and authenticity, with a beautiful flow from one amenity to the next.” - Christopher Wood, NCIDQ, IIDA, HBG Design

Chris Wood IIDA

Christopher Wood, NCIDQ, IIDA, Lead Interior Designer and a casino design specialist contributes to this month's 'HBG Design Thinking'. Chris discusses how inspired, authentic and meaningful design can help differentiate and enhance the guest's gaming experience.

First, Chris, why are you passionate about casino and entertainment design?

Chris: As a casino design specialist here at HBG Design, I love creating spaces of refined elegance with a bit of glitz and glam. I love finding subtle ways to elevate a space. And it helps that I have a penchant for all things that sparkle. That tends to work well in casino design. The casino is the nucleus of the guest experience for a casino resort. Bringing in intricate detailing and refinement through materials that truly shine is something that always gets my creative juices going.

As a casino designer, where do you and your team find your design inspiration?

Chris: At HBG, we are fortunate to work with many distinctive tribal and commercial gaming clients with strong cultures, brands and regional ties, in some cases, to native ancestral lands. I love learning about our clients’ cultures. Being able to highlight stories of heritage respectfully, creatively, and typically within a more contemporary casino design framework, is challenging yet exciting.

Ho-Chunk Gaming BRF Casino  Ho-Chunk Gaming BRF

Shown above: the design of Ho-Chunk Gaming, Black River Falls, Wisconsin was directly influenced by the light and shadow filtering through the northern Wisconsin woods.

Nature is also a tremendous aspect of regional design inspiration. There is so much beauty in the world. Finding new ways to bring the outside world into our designed spaces is an unexpected surprise, especially in a casino. I like to reference underlying elements that we don't often think would be associated with a casino. For example, a sunrise, light and shadow, the night sky.

Each story can form the basis of a string of conceptual ideas that are personal and unique to each Owner. One-of-a-kind design really complements and elevates a gaming experience. We use ambience and emotional response to separate a property from the [casino] pack.  

Can you give an example of a design inspired by culture or nature for regional customers?

Chris: Yes, the Tule River Tribe in California is currently developing their new 105,000 square foot Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville, CA, which will enhance the tribe’s gaming and F&B amenities with a fresh interpretation of Tule River Tribal culture and heritage. Our design team merged cultural storytelling concepts with amenities and distinctive venues designed specifically for the Porterville gaming customer.

Eagle Mountain CasinoKey design concepts are rooted in the land and agrarian context of Tulare County and Central California with the design influenced heavily by a lodge aesthetic with wood and stone structural expressions. Inside, guests will experience an abstract depiction of the Tule River Tribe’s native traditions through art, patterns, and imagery. Soaring vertical features recall the majesty of the Giant Sequoia and the Golden Eagle, each important representations of tribal culture. Flowing forms will recall the winding Tule River and organic curves of nature.

Custom terrazzo medallions of tribal basketry patterns will enhance the entrance concourse. Display cases will feature tribal artwork. The casino ceiling design features the Tule River Tribe's Flight of the Butterfly and Quail Tufts cultural pattern. Chandelier designs are inspired by native basketry. The carpeting is evocative of a shadowed forest floor. Wood accented columns help bring alive the idea of the towering sequoia.

Is there a particular aspect of the Eagle Mountain Casino project that you think will stand out to guests?

Eagle Mountain CasinoChris: The Eagle Mountain Casino’s ceiling design and center bar is a design that I am particularly proud of for its eye-catching aesthetic. Guests will witness a culturally significant center bar design that harkens to the concept of fire as a community gathering place. We designed in elements reminiscent of glowing embers of a dwindling fire, and sourced custom floating ember-look light fixtures. A focal back bar element recalls stacked firewood. Warm crimsons and deep navy blues help express the color range that fire can have, leaving those gathered feeling warm and social.

Are most Owners receptive to integrating cultural elements into the casino design?

Chris: Our team’s experiences working with Tribal design, especially, have been very diverse. We have created literal interpretations and incorporations of cultural identity into the entertainment experience. And have also designed more contemporary, abstracted nods to culture and heritage.

We design to each Owner’s specific vision; so no designs look alike. And, because many of the tribal casinos are often legacy investments supporting tribal communities, the casino design treatments can be incredible opportunities to create personality, emotion and memory within the context of a meaningful destination experience.


No Surprises: Guest Room Design is All in the Details

This month 'HBG Design Thinking' is taking a look at our approach to guest room design and utilizing design to help improve operational functionality and the guest experience.

Expectations run high in the hospitality industry. When customers spend their hard-earned money at a particular resort or a hotel, they are looking for one assurance: that they will receive a great experience in return.  

Creating environments and spaces that promote guest enjoyment is the result of a well-thought-out strategic and creative process where resort owners and designers collaborate to deliver on guest expectations. There’s both art and science involved in creating the desired results. Hotel design relies on a framework measuring both aesthetics and functionality; with a distinct emphasis on ensuring the details are vetted, tested, and thoughtfully expressed to evoke memorable, positive guest experiences in return.

“HBG’s hotel design process, specifically our mockup/model guestroom approach, has become an integral framework for both exploration of options and fine-tuning tangible design details. Long before a single guest ever walks through the guestroom door, we’ve tested and measured every detail against a high benchmark for guest satisfaction,” says Deidre Brady, AIA, NCIDQ, LEED BD&C, Senior Associate and Project Manager at HBG Design.

Deidre recently led the interior renovation of the 10+ year old, 395-room Hotel Tower One, known as the Casino Tower, at WinStar World Casino Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma--the recognized ‘World’s Biggest Casino’. WinStar and HBG Design have been strategically working to enhance amenities and elevate quality and branding of the three hotel towers on property, detail by detail.

 

WinStar Tower 1 guest room design
New hotel interiors of WinStar Tower 1 were derived from the regional landscape where subtle hues of the Oklahoma plains and the exaggerated curves of the Red River that hug the resort property.

“With approximately 1400 hotel guestrooms in three towers at the WinStar property, the operators need highly functional designs that are proven to work – aesthetically, and in terms of comfort, durability and maintenance,” says Deidre.

Winstar World guest room design

The guestroom mock-up process, whereby a model guestroom and/or suite is built-out in entirety and “tested” well before any other construction has completed, has become an essential component to achieving operationally efficient and accurate designs. Early FF&E specification and stringent analysis of every design element in the mock-up also helps regulate the procurement budget and schedule throughout the project duration.

 

“The Casino Tower renovation involved a holistic refresh of almost 400 guestrooms and suites, with thousands of furnishings, décor items, surface coverings, lighting and plumbing fixtures and equipment being integrated into the design scheme,” adds Deidre.

“Such a large up-front investment makes it imperative that there are no surprises after design elements have been procured and once the project is under construction.”

For the WinStar Casino Tower guest room design, the project team created full-scale model rooms of a standard king, standard queen, and a player’s suite (junior suite) on site. These mockups reflected the intended design as a baseline to be able to test concepts.

Winstar World guest room design

“We created brand cohesive guestroom designs to meet WinStar’s project needs and vision, and then tested those designs thoroughly for a variety of aesthetic, operational, maintainability and durability aspects,” Deidre adds. “For example, the ease of cleanability and maintenance; overall ambience; colors, patterns, and textures; and the luxury level of the in-room amenity package, such as the lit mirrors, in room refrigerators, and expansive showers.”

Early collaboration between the design team and hotel operators, contractors, hotel housekeeping and maintenance helped ensure that each hotel design performs for both guests AND for hotel staff.

“The mockup/model room process was a great opportunity to collaborate with the Chickasaw Nation ownership group, the WinStar General Manager, the hotel operations team, and other decision-maker / stakeholder team members,” says Deidre. “The General Manager also brought in the head of housekeeping, the head of maintenance and head of engineering to participate. Those who were invested in day-to-day hotel operations were an essential part of the testing and decision-making process.”

Everyone participating in the guest room design mock-up process is integral to the result because they each look at aspects of the guestroom experience through a different lens. “This becomes a chance to experience every individual detail before the guest does, and potentially correct any design misalignments early,” adds Deidre. For example, how does the furniture and bed feel? Are the clearances between the wall and bed wide enough? Should we source higher quality fabrics to avoid wrinkled sheers and drapery?

Design considerations being tested typically include:

  • Selection of fabric types and patterns that are easily cleaned and maintain a clean appearance
  • Curtains tailored to fit to avoid light bleed
  • Maneuverability around furniture / clearances between furniture
  • Easy access to power and USB outlets without visible cords
  • Removable headboard panels for maintenance and cleaning
  • Durable lamp shade types selected to minimize wear and cleaning hassles
  • Fingerprint tests on material surfaces
  • Selection of bathroom tiles that withstand daily steam cleaning
  • Correct bed heights to ensure ease of access
  • Correct bedding sizing to ensure proper fit

The team takes guest comfort and convenience very seriously. “A lot of chair testing also takes place,” jokes Deidre. “We lounged around on all the furniture, put our feet up, spilled things, observed light temperatures, made sure nothing could roll under bed, and checked for light bleed around the curtains.”

Immersive feedback and varying perspectives are used to make decisions and any design alterations to materiality and furniture, as needed.

“Walking around in the actual spaces-- with the Owner and Operators-- really gives the project team a tangible understanding of the interplay between design and operations,” adds Deidre, “and a “real-world” look into how future guestrooms and suites will function together and with the adjacent hotel towers.”

“And we become partners in helping our clients deliver on their brand promises,” says Deidre.

“After all, the only surprise we want customers to experience is the jaw-dropping ‘Wow!’ excitement of stepping into a spectacular, well-designed resort escape, or even better…hitting a jackpot on the largest gaming floor in the world!”

Read more about the WinStar Casino Resort's Casino Tower renovations here.


American Spa Magazine Takes Us Inside Astral Spa

Offering a contemporary, luxurious take on the iconic Hot Springs bathhouse spa experience, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort (Hot Springs, AR) has opened Astral Spa, the first major full-service spa to be built in the Spa City in more than a century. Completed in November 2021, the full-service 8,000 square foot spa is designed with a relaxed nostalgic ambiance that frames each guest’s spa journey through a complete sensory experience.

We had the chance to speak to Jessica Renee Rose, spa director at Astral Spa, about the new spa. Here's the scoop on Astral Spa.

Tell us a little bit about the spa’s design? 

Our vision for Astral Spa was to create a unique experience that regional guests have never seen before. With multiple amenities, taking advantage of Hot Springs’ great history of entertainment, gambling, and relaxation, Astral Spa offers a throwback vibe with modern luxury which includes a cold room, steam room and infrared sauna, dipping pools, and needle showers.

Marrying crisp modern lines with historical overtures, Astral Spa’s design led by HBG Design and WTS International celebrates the history of Hot Springs and Oaklawn’s thoroughbred horseracing in an era when ladies and gentlemen donned their best bespoke styles to see and be seen. Relaxing in the lounges, we want our guests to imagine what Hot Springs was like in the roaring ‘20’s yet be in contemporary comfort. The interior design is complemented by the 21st century bathhouse-inspired program and spa services menu developed by leading spa consultants and operators, WTS.

Can you please describe each of the treatment rooms? 

Designed for complete relaxation, the 2,035-square-foot treatment area rooms contain beautifully dressed beds with soft organic linens and warm cocooning cashmere blankets. The Duet Spa Suite allows two guests to share in a meaningful spa experience. This beautifully appointed suite offers coordinated treatments complete with a specialty duet soaking tub, reminiscent of a vintage bathhouse experience. This exclusive suite allows guests to take pleasure in an intimate spa journey within their own spa suite.

What makes the spa unique and sets it apart from other spas in the area?

The resort’s new full-service spa and wellness experience is the first major spa to be built in the Spa City in more than a century. Guests can uniquely experience modern spa services in a nostalgic setting, including:

  • An array of spa services, including couples' massages, hydro-facials, hot stone treatments, and a full-day Journey of the Springs experience with several additional offerings.
  • Dedicated 1,925-square-foot women’s spa and 1,500-square-foot men’s spa, each with distinctly tailored parlors, dressing room areas and aqua thermal lounges featuring vintage-inspired needle showers that harken to historical bathhouses.
  • A 750-square-foot full-service salon, multiple private treatment areas, and a co-ed lounge with upholstered chaise lounges and the area’s only Himalayan salt wall.
  • Unique hot/cold wellness circuits in the large women’s and men’s aqua thermal areas, allowing guests to ‘Heat, Cool, Rest, Repeat’ in vapor rooms, infrared saunas, ice lounges, vitality pools, and thermal loungers.
  • An illuminated wall of quartz crystal, an important healing element, in the reception area references crystal mining popular in this area of Arkansas, in celebration of the region’s natural resources.

I think what sets us apart is the level of service we provide to the guest, the beautiful aqua thermal areas that are located in each the men’s and women’s areas, and the services that we provide.

How would you describe your typical clientele? 

The typical clientele usually travels to Hot Springs for a weekend getaway from a city within a 200-mile radius of Hot Springs, AR.  They usually come in for the weekend to see a horse race, gamble at the casino, or are celebrating a birthday or anniversary.  Hopefully soon, we will be seeing guests that are specifically traveling here because of the spa. We see quite a few guests from Little Rock (the closest major city and the capital of Arkansas), as well as Memphis, TN, and Shreveport, LA.

How are you marketing the spa to your hotel guests? 

When a guest checks into the hotel, there is a key card offer from the spa for a $25 spa credit for a service 50-minutes or longer Monday through Thursday. Even if the guest isn’t here on a weekday, they could bring the card back during a week day to redeem their offer. The spa is also mentioned in their hotel reservation confirmation email, and present in the iPad compendium in their room.  The in-room toiletries are from our bodycare line, Zents, that state they are available for purchase in the spa.

How are you marketing the spa to local guests or those not staying at the hotel? 

We run monthly specials that we send out in an email to our spa database, as well as post on the spa’s website under the Seasonal Treatments Tab. We have a pretty large following on Facebook from local residents. We have weekday treatment prices to encourage local guests to come to the spa during those days. In December, we launched a Sip & Spa menu that is a spa happy hour to encourage local guests to come in after work. This promotion is only available from Monday through Thursday from 2 p.m. – 7 p.m.  Guests can choose a package, or one of our express services during those times as well as use of our full-service locker rooms and includes one glass of bubbly.

Can you tell me a little bit about the creation of the menu?

I worked with Susie Hammer, vice president of spas at WTS International, while creating the spa menu. I researched spa offerings in the area, as well as other casino resort spas, and Forbes Five-Star-rated spas. I wanted to keep the menu simpler, so the guest didn’t feel overwhelmed trying to decide between too many selections. I really wanted the guest to feel like we were creating something incredibly special just for them. After quite a few drafts, it went to the management team and the owners for edits and approvals.

We do offer signature Journeys that range 2 to 4 hours. The Journey of the Springs was inspired by our location. After you have changed into your robe and slippers, you are greeted in the parlor with a warm neck wrap, and a heated mineral foot soak and a cup of hot tea made from one of the local hot springs. Then in the treatment room, you receive a scrub, a soak with a eucalyptus and mint blend to draw in the vapors, an 80-minute massage with chakra balancing with locally sourced crystals, and a Rose Quartz Lift and Contour Facial. Throughout the journey, the guest is given a flight of water from the local hot springs in town. When the guest checks out, they are given an exclusive Journey of the Springs bath bomb made local in the state of Arkansas from Cotton Halo.

What are most spa-goers looking for when they visit your spa? 

The majority of spa-goers are looking to relax and are typically celebrating a special event in their life. The top-selling service is our 50-minute Heavenly Massage, followed closely by our 50-minute Couples Massage. Massage is 68 percent of our business.

What treatments are a harder sell? How do you promote them? 

Our nail treatments are the hardest sell. We include them in our monthly promotions, and encourage other providers to cross promote.

What product lines do you carry at the spa?

Babor, Knesko, Foreo, NuFace, Zents, SachaJuan, Clove + Hallow, Jala Clothing, VitaJuwel Water Bottles

What do you find your biggest challenge to be, and how do you meet that challenge? 

The biggest challenge is what everyone is currently facing, COVID--challenges with staffing, business levels, product arrival time, etc. I am meeting the challenge by being as organized as possible. We have a very heightened sanitation practice, we maximize our revenue on the busy days, so the slower days don’t hurt as much, and try to make sure I’m allowing ample time for the ordering process.

What plans do you have for the future? 

For the spa, to become not only to be a great amenity of this amazing property, but to also become the reason people travel to Hot Springs.

Click to learn more about Astral Spa


InspireDesign Reveals the Inspired Mind of Practice Leader Nathan Peak

What energizes HBG Design’s new Practice Leader, Nathan Peak, as he takes on each new day? From good conversation that leads to fresh perspectives, to the freedom to let his body and mind run--InspireDesign magazine has the inside track on the personal and professional inspirations and collaborative mindset of HBG’s leader, Nathan Peak, AIA, LEED GA.

Nathan Peak has been with hospitality architecture and design firm HBG Design for more than 20 years. In January, he was named practice leader, overseeing the work at they company's offices in Memphis, San Diego and Dallas. Needless to say, he knows something about inspiration.

"Inspiration, for me, is a joining of ideas that originates from the dialogue of many, rather than the thoughts from my own mind," he said. Listening is a powerful mechanism that breeds and cultivates creativity through conversation and exploration. My best ideas will never be enough to create the design solutions that our clients envision and deserve. But our collective ideas and connections through investigative listening empower out design staff to create the breadth of inspiration needed to develop innovative and viable design solutions.

"Inspiration can also be the reawakening of past experiences through new ones," he continued. "I often ask our clients to imagine their most memorable experience while dining or enjoying time with friends or family. What was the mood like? Was the lighting warm and dramatic like a stage set? Did the ceiling volume feel too high or did the space feel cozy and comfortable? All of these memories evoke a response to how we look at design and create memorable experiences.

 

 


New Four Winds Casino New Buffalo Sportsbook Lounge is Designed for Comfort

Four Winds New Buffalo Casino Resort's newest amenity, the Sportsbook Lounge made the cover of the latest Tribal Government Gaming issue and was prominently featured in the "Sports of All Sorts" article. A small excerpt is below.

Sports of All Sorts

By: Roger Gros

See full article in Global Gaming Business' Tribal Government Gaming issue

https://issuu.com/globalgamingbusiness/docs/tribal_government_gaming_2022

Retail or Mobile

A retail book will soon become a staple for tribal casinos as sports betting continues to grow across North America. There’s really nothing like the excitement of an NFL Sunday or March Madness inside your casino when players can bet money on the games.

Most tribal sportsbooks won’t look anything like the Superbook at the Westgate in Las Vegas or the world’s largest sportsbook at the Circa in Downtown Las Vegas. But that doesn’t mean the excitement level will be anything less.

When HBG created the sportsbook at the Four Winds casino in New Buffalo, Michigan, it was designed for comfort. The Sportsbook Lounge is adjacent to the casino floor to take advantage of the surrounding gaming excitement. It’s designed to be a comfortable yet active retreat where guests can watch football, basketball, baseball and hockey action, while never having to leave the gaming floor environment.

The lounge’s custom layout and design provide sports fans with a comfortable ambiance to enjoy a beer while cheering on their favorite teams on any of the venue’s 22 televisions. Above the bar and on a large-scale central column are eight 85-inch, six 65-inch and eight 43-inch screens for ideal viewing from sectional sofas and lounge chairs, casual dining tables with chairs, and bar stool seating at the large sports bar.

Frank Freedman, chief operating officer of Four Winds Casinos, says the response of the customers has been very positive.

“We feel the layout, design and finishes will provide guests with the right ambiance, comfortable seating options and splendid views of multiple screens to enjoy a refreshing beverage or cocktail while cheering for their favorite teams,” he says. “Every addition we’ve made to our Four Winds Casinos locations has been for the sole purpose of enhancing the guest experience, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer this new amenity at Four Winds New Buffalo.”


Eagle Mountain Casino Named Top Tribal Project for 2022

See full list of Top Tribal Projects for 2022 in Tribal Government Gaming 

HBG Design is excited to share that Tribal Government Gaming Magazine has selected Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville, California as a Top Tribal Project for 2022.

Creativity & Innovation

The maturation of tribal gaming means constant change. Sometimes it’s a move of location, other times it’s enhancing what you already have. The tribal casinos that qualified this year are indicative of the changes in gaming overall. The legalization of sports betting and its introduction to existing tribal casinos have meant some creative use of existing spaces. The addition of amenities like hotel rooms and suites, high-class restaurants, spas and pools and more have given tribal casinos more of a resort feel, allowing them to compete for new customers whose entertainment wallets are ever-evolving. Congratulations to all the designers, thought leaders and tribal gaming operators who envisioned these amazing changes.


Right Place, Right Time
Eagle Mountain Casino, Porterville, California

Location, location, location,” says Joe Baruffaldi, AIA, principal/project manager at HBG Design, and leader of HBG Design’s San Diego Office.

“HBG Design’s client, the Tule River Tribe in California, is relying on their relocation to a high-visibility property in order to up their game and cement their reputation as a significant competitor in their regional gaming market just southeast of Fresno.”

The relocation of the casino from the reservation to a higher-traffic, higher-visibility area in Porterville, California creates a more conveniently accessible entertainment experience for their local customers, he says. It also opens new opportunities to capture destination traffic and overnight guests traveling between Fresno and Bakersfield.

The new 105,000-square-foot casino property will offer 1,750 slots, 20 table games and a choice of four dining options, including a steakhouse, diner, café and sports bar and grill. A 2,000-seat event center and a 125-room hotel also will be added.

According to Baruffaldi, designers merged storytelling concepts based on significant Tule River tribal cultural elements with amenities and distinctive venues designed specifically for the Porterville gaming customer.

Key design concepts are rooted in the land and agrarian context of Tulare County and central California. The design is heavily influenced by a lodge aesthetic with wood and stone structural expressions. Inside, guests will experience an abstract depiction of the Tule River Tribe’s native traditions through art, patterns and imagery.

Soaring vertical features will recall the majesty of the giant sequoia and the golden eagle, each important representations of tribal culture. Flowing forms will recall the winding Tule River and organic curves of nature.

HBG’s design of the Eagle Mountain Casino feels connected to the woodland. Natural materials and colors help bring a sense of comfort for guests arriving at the property, for an overall relaxed and welcoming experience.

https://issuu.com/globalgamingbusiness/docs/tribal_government_gaming_2022