HBG Designers Select Their Pick of the Trends

HBG Design is on the forefront of the latest ideas in 2023 hospitality and entertainment design. Read our lead designers’ pick of the trends for the year ahead.

HBG ‘Design Thinking’ Contributors:

  • Emily Marshall, IIDA, NCIDQ, Principal / Interior Design Director
  • Alexandra Milkovich, IIDA, NCIDQ, Associate / Lead Interior Designer
  • Landon Shockey, IIDA, NCIDQ, Lead Interior Designer
  • Thor Harland. Lead Architectural Designer

Focusing Capital Budgets on Distinctive Amenities and Unexpected Experiences to Attract a Wider Market

HBG's pick of the trends
The Aquadome at Gun Lake Casino

Competition in most markets will continue to be intense in 2023.  Properties large and small across the U.S. are elevating competitive advantage by renovating and expanding new market-driven, revenue-generating amenities. Many of our resort clients are betting BIG on unique features to bring in a new untapped customer base from greater distances. “For Gun Lake Casino Resort in Wayland, Michigan, that ‘wow’ factor is something we have coined ‘The Aquadome’. As amazing as its name, the new six-story, 32,000 SF architectural marvel is set to be an oasis for ‘superregional’ customers in Chicago and Detroit looking to escape those harsh Midwest winters,” says Thor Harland. “With a year-round temperature of 82 degrees, The Aquadome is a never-before-seen expansive, mixed-use environment, completely climate-controlled under a stunning glass roof. At its heart are terraced, landscaped pools that transform into a one-of-a-kind event center within the atrium environment. A resort pool by day and a performance complex by night, the concept includes three distinct pools, a swim-up bar, live palm trees and tropical flora, and a large entertainment stage that can host events for up to 2,400 people.”

“We always work closely with our clients and their operations teams to keep project costs down,” says Emily Marshall, IIDA, NCIDQ. “By identifying and eliminating superfluous or unnecessary square footage, we help Owners focus their design budgets on those eye popping, revenue-generating amenities that create visual and experiential distinction in their markets.”

Multi-Functional Hotel Lobbies and Centralized F&B

HBG's pick of the trends
Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis Hotel

Gone are the days of guests zipping through the lobby as a passageway to other destinations. The new hotel lobby beckons you to sit and stay a while. “Furthering the residential trend that has taken off in the hospitality space, lobbies are appearing more like a comfortable living room – offering a place to eat, drink, work, and play,” says Marshall. The new lobby lounge coined ‘Talk Shop' at Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis reimagines the guest arrival experience with a lively multi-functional welcome area, all-day lounge and workspace, coffee shop, eatery, grab-and-go artisanal market and cocktail bar. “Energy reverberates throughout the colorful space, which was designed to encourage social interaction inside and outside at the adjoining beer garden courtyard,” she adds. Similarly, the adjacent Hyatt Centric Beale Street Hotel’s lobby offers a variety of amenities to suit visitors, locals and remote workers alike, including a large lobby bar and lounge, a communal worktable with integrated outlets and charging stations, a convenient grab and go market, and high-profile dining venue.

“We are also leading changes in F&B design that improves operational efficiency, as a direct outgrowth of the industry’s ongoing staffing shortages,” says Marshall. She explains that menus and food selections may be branded around an experience, but online ordering and room service / delivery / locational pickup means that food preparation no longer needs to be in separate kitchens attached to individual venues.

“Another good example is a property like Resorts World in Las Vegas where food and beverage operations are streamlined by creating centralized, shared hub and spoke type kitchens that service all dining venues on property.” There are many diverse solutions; it all comes down to creating efficiency and functionality that produces high quality with reduced resources.”

Dark, Dramatic, Statement-Making Design

HBG's pick of the trends
The Oak Room at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort

“We are taking bright colors like coral, violet or turquoise and deepening their tonality to create more subdued, rich, darker shades that are visually interesting and restorative,” says Landon Shockey, IIDA, NCIDQ.

The simplicity of white interiors and a minimalist palette is always in style, yet as casino resort designers we LOVE that deep, moody colors are back. One example: The Oak Room at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Arkansas–a perfect blending of contemporary and traditional design–features an early 1900s era aesthetic reminiscent of a dimly lit, moody speakeasy. The noted F&B venue mixes deep, luxe tones and geometric patterns with brilliantly colored, stunningly energetic LeRoy Neiman original paintings as a playful contrast in the eclectic eatery. Globe pendants, tufted leather banquettes, and custom oak detailing finish the look while transporting guests to a different era.

“Complementing inky hues, we’re blending rich textures like leather, velvet, natural stones, and a variety of woodwork that adds depth and softness which is irresistibly cozy and welcoming,” adds Alexandra Milkovich, IIDA, NCIDQ.

Continued Alignment of Sustainability and Design

HBG's pick of the trends
Reception at Gun Lake Casino Hotel

Sustainability is taking center stage these days and major hospitality brands like Hilton, Hyatt, Starwood and Marriott are committing to significantly reducing their environmental footprint in the coming years and focusing on wellness as a key benefit for guests.

“HBG Design is actively aligning our design concepts and interior selections to help clients down this path,” says Milkovich. “Our teams have prioritized sustainable materials in our interiors library and are training designers to select materials for their durability and ease of maintenance and to extend the duration between property refreshes/renovations.”

"Durability leads to a longer lifecycle, especially for furnishings; and the lifetime of a product is something that is extremely important to not only the environment, but also to our client’s bottom line,” adds Milkovich. “For instance, instead of using an exotic wood species such as Mahogany or Walnut that may be overharvested, we would specify Eucalyptus, which is a more renewable species and sustainably sourced. Today’s products made from Eucalyptus can often mimic the appearance of a rarer wood.”

Design That Supports Guest Wellness and Well-Being

HBG's pick of the trends
The Cedar Spa at Four Winds South Bend Casino Resort

Many of our clients are excited to promote wellness, mindfulness and health benefits among their guests, making spas within the resort environment even more popular today.

“Reduction of stress and increased well-being and healing are some of the overall benefits of biophilic design through the infusion of natural and nature-inspired materials into the built environment,” says Marshall.

The new Cedar Spa at Four Winds Casino Resort in South Bend, Indiana, is a great example of how the demand for wellness is being incorporated into gaming resort properties. At Four Winds, the resort’s signature design elements of copper, cedar, birchwood and stone--each representing significant cultural elements of the Owner’s heritage--are integrated throughout the spa, holistically adding to the wellness experience. Located on the first level of the new 23-story, 317-room hotel tower, The Cedar Spa provides a variety of traditional and unique spa therapies, including steam rooms, saunas, vitality pools and separate lounges for women and men.

“The transition from the high energy zone of the gaming floor to the relaxation zone of the spa is highlighted by an illuminated feature that appears as sunlight shining through a canopy of cedar trees,” adds Marshall. “This simulation was created through ornate copper ceiling elements allowing pockets of light to peek through, creating dancing shadows around the spa entry.”


GGB Casino Style Magazine: Designing Emotional Connection

Read how HBG is designing emotional connection into three of our new casino resort projects.

“An entertainment experience is all about emotion—basically about having fun and enjoying yourself in an extraordinary environment,” says Dike Bacon, principal at HBG Design. “For many casino patrons, the resort is their country club. It’s their escape. It’s what they do to have fun.

“I use the analogy of a golfer. Even in tough economic times, golfers will find the money to play golf because that’s what they like to do. Even in tough times, gamblers will find the money to gamble because that’s what they like to do.

Gaming operators jockey to find an edge. They mirror the Field of Dreams concept from the famous movie: if you build it, they will come.

“Owners and operators are expanding with larger, more targeted and exceptional property developments and improvements,” Bacon indicates. “From small-scale renovations and incremental expansions to huge multi-faceted super-regional resort-level entertainment additions. There are also exciting expansions to existing jurisdictions like Illinois and New York and huge investments in new jurisdictions like Virginia.”

Bacon hails the industry’s resilience. It faces headwinds regarding economics, the pandemic and oversaturation, but finds a way to emerge stronger.

“The industry seems to always be battling Chicken Little headwinds in some form or fashion, but always seems to just push through better than ever,” Bacon says.

“Owners are currently molding and reshaping their expansions and renovations to accommodate changing economic conditions, but many regional gaming properties continue to ride a wave of success. In many markets, expanded facilities are creating entertainment experiences that often rival or eclipse what’s offered in Las Vegas. At HBG Design, we are working with great clients; we are busy; and we are doing great things.

READ MORE IN GLOBAL GAMING BUSINESS' 2022 CASINO STYLE MAGAZINE

Designing Emotional Connection

Gun Lake Casino Resort, Wayland, Michigan

One of HBG Design's largest projects is the $300 million Gun Lake Casino expansion for the Gun Lake Tribe in Wayland, Michigan. The project is located just south of Grand Rapids, which is only a few hours’ drive from Chicago and Detroit. Gun Lake owners have set their sights on creating the premier entertainment destination in the Midwest, Bacon says. It’s a true super-regional resort with an expansion program designed to drive traffic from those two major metropolitan areas. The new project will consist of a 252-room hotel tower, multiple support amenities, and a new climate-controlled atrium called the Aquadome.

Rock & Brews Casino, Braman, Oklahoma

The first-ever HBG-designed Rock & Brews Casino and Restaurant owned by Kaw Gaming opened for business in Braman, Oklahoma this year. Co-branding with recognizable names from outside the casino industry to anchor key amenities is not a new concept, but is gaining more traction with tribally owned casinos as a means to broaden market appeal and greater name recognition from an expanding customer base, Bacon says. The 71,000-square-foot gaming project features an expertly curated interactive rock-inspired entertainment experience that only Rock & Brews—and its co-founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of iconic rock band KISS—can provide. The Rock & Brews brand and venues are noted for using heavy integration of rock ‘n’ roll imagery and iconography to elicit emotion and nostalgia in customers.


Designing for the Caption brand - InspireDesign Magazine interviews the new brand's lead designer

See Full Story in InspireDesign Magazine

Hospitality design firm HBG Design is embracing the new Caption by Hyatt brand with a focus on redefining what hospitality looks like in the modern world; and it couldn’t come at a better time. The first U.S.-located Caption by Hyatt hotel, and second to open worldwide, is a beacon of hope following widespread disruption to the hospitality industry caused by the pandemic. Caption by Hyatt’s upscale, select-service lifestyle brand is targeted to conscientious locals and guests, with a focus on creating social spaces that punctuate connection and interaction with their locale. The Memphis, TN location celebrates the spirit of this iconic American city, steeped in history with many stories to tell.

Caption by Hyatt will become an integral component of downtown Memphis’ One Beale mixed-use development located at the base of Beale St. on the Mississippi River bluff, and will connect with the adjacent Hyatt Centric hotel, also designed by HBG Design, which opened to guests on April 15.

We spoke with Mark Weaver, FAIA, principal/senior architectural designer, HBG Design, who is leading both the architectural design and interior design of the project:

What inspired the hotel’s design?
When complete in 2022, the new Caption by Hyatt hotel will become an integral component of downtown Memphis, Tennessee’s One Beale mixed-use development…The new development represents a merging of vibrant live/work/play functions among downtown Memphis’ landmark structures.

Each hotel sits prominently within the One Beale development offering its own distinct interpretation of brand and Memphis history and culture. Specifically, the new Caption design will offer an inimitable contemporary boutique hotel experience while paying homage to Memphis’ historic riverfront legacy and industrial architectural vernacular.

Where and how do you seek your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from so many places for our hospitality designers—local culture and the regional landscape, branding and market influences, our clients’ project visions, storytelling, and biophilic, sustainability and wellness concepts. We design hospitality and entertainment projects all over the U.S., in both urban and more agrarian environments, and design language based on regional context and culture resonates highly with our clients and their guests.

The Caption hotel benefits from our designers’ knowledge of Memphis; this is HBG Design’s home and has been our company headquarters since 1979, even before we added our San Diego and Dallas office locations. The hotel property is situated in downtown Memphis, a hub of activity near the banks of the Mississippi River, and not far from our design studio. The city has a long industrial history with rows of ornate brick warehouse buildings lining the downtown streets. Our designers walk these streets daily and are inspired by the city’s former life and the possibilities for its current and future growth.

How did local culture, landscape and history influence the design?
Design influenced by local flavor is an important aspect of the guest experience. For example, the hotel design is being integrated into the historic architectural remains of the William C. Ellis & Sons Ironworks and Machine Shop building on Memphis’ Front St., which will house the hotel’s ground and second floors.

The Ellis company was one of the earliest, longest-running businesses in Memphis. The original blacksmith shop once made wrought-iron straps for carriages and shoes for horses and mules, and other structures on-site were used for river trade manufacturing and the repair and building of agricultural machines such as cotton compresses and railroad equipment.

Conceptually, the integration of the historic Ellis facade serves as a distinguishing artifact that will be remembered and appreciated as part of Memphis history.

The Caption’s 136-key hotel guestroom tower will then rise dramatically above the Ellis facade offering guests superb views of the river and the city skyline. The tower’s modern, darker exterior is designed to complement the light-colored Ellis building in front.

The interior design concept reflects this duality with a comfortable, refined ambiance featuring subtle references to the industrial roots of the hotel’s location highlighted with soft colored tones and metal accents. The guestrooms will reveal uniquely designed custom furniture that offer signature touches of comfort and luxury.

How do you define a design vision for the first U.S. property of a new brand?
At the heart of the Caption by Hyatt brand experience will be the F&B concept Talk Shop, which will serve as a welcome area, all-day lounge and workspace, coffee shop, eatery, grab-and-go artisanal market and cocktail bar. A patio and beer garden courtyard will be incorporated into the building’s historic Ellis facade on Front St. The unpretentious style and approachability of the space combines with locally inspired experiences, ideal for socializing and appealing to both travelers and locals.

Additionally, each Caption hotel builds on signature brand features, including marquee signs above each main entrance, local hand-drawn graphic art and animated social and F&B spaces with tech-forward features like digital check-in, digital keys and mobile-order food service.

Keeping with that, what challenges and opportunities did you face in doing so?
There are always challenges when integrating historic structural elements with new builds, but HBG Design is accustomed to this challenge through our 40-plus years of experience revitalizing other historic projects, many of which are in downtown Memphis. We are intimately familiar with these older Memphis buildings and appreciate the opportunity to reuse and integrate the long-vacant Ellis Shop on Front St., which has been adapted to hold Talk Shop lounge space and hotel meeting space. Talk Shop’s double-height lounge will be enveloped by the historic building’s original heavy timber framing, decorative brick walls, archways and clerestory windows. The historic building will also accommodate the new Foundry Ballroom and new meeting rooms with names like the Welding Shop and Pattern Shop, serving as a connecting point between the Hyatt Centric and the Caption by Hyatt properties.

Is there anything else readers should know about the hotel and its design?
Developed by Carlisle Corporation, the Memphis Caption by Hyatt hotel is currently in construction with an expected opening date of spring 2022. HBG Design has worked with Carlisle Corporation for over 15 years exploring and leading the planning and design for the One Beale mixed-use development through multiple iterations of development possibilities.