How did your Hotel Administration background influence your thought and design process of REN Retreats?I basically created a simple product I would love to see in the market. I saw a gap between the low-end hostel segment and the design focused boutique hotel segment, and thought I would mesh aspects of both to create a hybrid that would be affordable yet chic and sanitary. The Cornell School of Hotel Administration provides such an immense background of knowledge from all aspects of the industry, so it was stimulating to have the opportunity to apply a little of everything we learn to a unique concept.
Coming from a non-architecture and design background, what challenges did you face in crafting the concept?I had some disadvantages initially when it came to creating the floor plan and other aspects of the design phase, but overall, I loved my concept so every setback was a challenge I loved to solve. I used my personal experience from working in many sectors of the industry in addition to following the latest trends to create what I thought was unique yet feasible for the industry. The most important part of the competition, in my opinion, was having a strong concept that matched some trends in the industry, so I crafted REN based on these ideals.
What are your thoughts on automated services vs. human relationships and interactions in the hospitality industry?The buzz word constantly thrown around is "high tech, high touch," meaning there has to be a balance between the increase of technology and maintenance of great customer service. I believe in the high end segment of the market this is especially true. There will never be a replacement for human interaction and fabulous service for this market segment. However in the lower end segments, many customers would prefer to walk into the hotel and swipe into their room with their phone. They don't want or need a front desk agent asking them about their day and trip as they mostly value convenience, comfort, and cleanliness. For REN Retreats, I believe the systems I chose will not affect the guest's perceived service quality, but rather provide a level convenience that has never existed before.