A question of flair

Jenny Dixon, marketing executive at Vision Group, which incorporates hospitality textile brand Hilden, talks to Professional Spa & Wellness about this year’s Hilden Style Awards, which remain open for entries until August 31, design trends and competition know-how

Are you seeing any particular trends emerge from this year’s awards entrants?
One of the most popular trends seems to be a mix between old and new, for example a traditionally styled room, updated with modern features and furniture. We’re also seeing a lot of personalisation in the rooms; unique features such as local art or splashes of colour are appearing as establishments try to create their own identity.

This is probably because independent establishments are trying to separate themselves from the larger chains that offer the same, consistent experience in every location. We’re also seeing a much better use of space.

For example bathrooms traditionally only had one role to play, but now we’re seeing unusual uses of style in these typically traditional rooms – to really make a memorable impression on the guest. For example, we’re seeing a lot of the “spa style” crossover into your everyday bathroom in an attempt to make the guest feel more relaxed; think large standing baths, waterfall showers and dual sinks.

Are there any trends you think we are likely to see more of in the future?
I love the “new elegance” trend that is all about sophistication and simplicity with neutral colours, something that will never go out of fashion. There is also an increasing need for space; people want a lot more space and to not be cooped up when travelling or eating. So hotels and restaurants are now catering for this with big, open bathrooms and rooms in unusual shapes. Also, establishments are looking for ways to let their personalities shine through in the rooms and restaurants, whether through the use of colour, wall art or furnishings.

You enter the competition by uploading a photo of the bathroom, dining space or bedroom in question. Do you have any advice to entrants about what you think about when it comes to that crucial photo?
The use of a high resolution, quality photo is critical. It really is about selling that space and using lighting to set the scene: i.e. if you are a high-end restaurant, a romantic evening setting will sell the room better than natural lighting. The first stage of the process is judged based on the photo alone, so it’s very important to ensure the photo shows off the room as well as possible. For the next stage, the finalists will be visited by representatives from Hilden, who will judge the room in person.

There are so many competitions out there these days. How do you, as a business, know which ones are worth your time to enter?
You go for the competitions that will add the most credibility to your business. That is why the Hilden Style Awards are so important for the independent and boutique hospitality sector, to give smaller businesses something to shout about and [give them a competitive edge] against the bigger chains. It’s also why we only accept entries from independent and boutique establishments.

What would you advice hotels and dining establishments to keep in mind when it comes to the design of their facilities, given how competitive the market is and how savvy customers now are?
It’s all about adding unique and creative touches that the customer won’t see elsewhere and that they will take away with them and want to tell their friends about. For example, some restaurants are now focusing a lot on their bathroom space. It sounds like something that wouldn’t be high on a restaurant’s agenda, but it’s one of the things customers [take notice of] and that help give the customer a lasting impression of something other than just good food, because lots of places do good food.

The Hilden Style Awards remain open for entires until August 31. The awards, which are free to enter, cover three categories: guest room, bathroom and dining space. To find out more about the awards, and how to enter, see www.hilden.co.uk/style-awards