A sensory experience

Features, Back of House

Explosion in the numbers is making it increasingly difficult for hotels to stand out, especially in the current financial climate. A good hotel conveys a feeling of well-being and is characterised by a special air of hospitality. The decor, colours, light and sound, all make a significant contribution towards achieving this effect. Technologically perfect but flexible solutions, when it comes to sound, acoustics and light, are expected as there are a variety of uses. It is equally important to strike an optimum balance between luminaires and lighting control in order to produce high-quality, energy-optimised lighting solutions at a property.
Lighting is in keeping with the interior design concept of each area — its purpose, colours and intensity required. Devendra Modak, director of engineering at JW Marriott, Mumbai, reiterates, “The light systems in our hotel have been used innovatively to enhance aesthetics of the property.” Abhay Wadhwa, principal, AWA Lighting Systems, adds, “At Alila Diwa Goa, the aim was to create a fully immersive experience for guests in which illumination, from the overall plan to the material used for individual light fixtures, would emphasise the resort’s spirit of serenity, luxury and romance.” Adil Kazi, maintenance manager, Westin Mumbai Garden City also confirms, “Brightness is adjusted innovatively accordingly to the occasion, time and location. The lights of each area in the hotel are different and are based on the requirements of that area.”
If light plays a crucial role in setting the mood, focused sound brings the ultimate comfort and style. It is critical to keep guest needs in the forefront when designing the AV system. Yet, sound should also add to the general ambience of the hotel. Reception is, by far, one of the most important areas being the first point of contact for guests and they expect warmth, professionalism and a feeling of security. Efficient lighting is needed here, both for the guest, as well as the hotel staff. Usually a backlit reception desk enables a smooth check-in for a guest. In addition, a recurring “luminous field” element is sometimes incorporated to create a good effect. Spotlights are used for focusing on decorative fixtures.
On the other hand, lobby could be completely swathed in natural light during the day with dramatic skylights for the evening. Kazi emphasises the need for natural light, “Whether it is business or pleasure, we offer a suite of amenities that inspire. The elements of wood, stone and floor-to-ceiling windows provide ample natural daylight, leading to countless opportunities for relaxation and renewal.” Wadhwa adds, “A frangipani tree stands in the centre of the entrance courtyard at Alila Diwa Goa — its graceful form emphasised by cool LED lights placed around the base. These uplights are submerged in the pool that surrounds the tree. As a result, the water becomes a source of light, at the same time reflecting back the illuminated forms around it.” Adding to the home-like experience for the guest, Harman, one of the leading brands, offers its ceiling and wall-mounted speakers which ensure aesthetic supremacy of a lobby. The rich background music can be experienced perfectly with JBL Control 65 series (pendant speakers) that have gathered recognition from hoteliers the world over. Along with this, Control 226, 328 and 26CT series ensure great sound quality considering the ceiling heights in lobbies.
Convenience and comfort are primary focus in a hotel room. A multifunctional control unit which operates lights and blinds allows guests to individually adjust the lighting and create their own atmosphere as per their personal needs. To ensure that guests are at ease with sound systems, Harman offers in-room solutions including its docking stations which allow guests to play their personal iPods/iPads, even on Bluetooth technology.
Apart from rooms, public areas like restaurants, gym, spa, poolside, discos and nightclubs within the hotel, define the comfort of guests — and they all require customised music. Sunit Mathur, MD Decibles India Pvt Ltd, understands the needs of the hospitality industry. “As background music is required for elegant public areas and restaurants, sound system in the stately banquet halls needs to be configured for live performances and speeches. Rich and invigorating loud music complements the upbeat mood at the health club,” he explains. “The sound system design should consist of day trade ambient music speakers with a relatively low powered solution, both in terms of wattage and mains power requirement. For large capacity trading periods such as weekends and mid-week events, bigger speakers featuring extremely tight pattern control would be engaged.” This combination can be created with brand synergy by Jamo and Klipsch speakers.
Westin Mumbai uses DMX sound systems that is a programmed sound system which plays different music in different locations of the hotel. Many hotels opt for the BIAMP audio system through which different sound systems are used. Whatever is the mood, restaurants prefer mood lighting when they dim the overhead lights and place candles or small lamps on the table. This immersive experience can be felt in the Spice Studio restaurant at Alila Diwa, which is surrounded by stepped pools and is open on all sides. Layers of illumination begin at the dining area and siphon out onto surrounding horizons and peripheries. Candlelight accents complement the general illumination. Lighting also underlines the architecture and style of a restaurant and creates the desired ambience.
Restaurant lighting plays a crucial role as food should be a feast for the eyes as well. Substantiating this, Modak says, “A good example of this would be the lighting in Bombay Baking Company. LEDs and Halogen spotlights are placed to enhance the menu of BBC. In the restaurants we have PAR lamps as well as hanging lamps to highlight the tables.” Bar lighting must be more sensitive. Glare-free spotlights over the bar counter and LED illuminated panels along back, can make it look very dynamic.
Lighting control systems which make it possible to call up pre-set lighting scenes such as presentation, conference and banquet at the press of a button are definitely an advantage in banquet areas. “In ballrooms and conference rooms we have PAR lamps for better lumen,” informs Modak.
Aesthetics apart, hoteliers need to keep in mind certain factors while buying intelligent lighting solutions. Abhishek Guha, national sales manager–Lighting, Harman Professional India, says, “Hotels must focus on products that are easy to maintain and manage. This aspect plays an important role, since cost of maintaining the lighting system can sometimes be far higher than cost of the original product line.”
With global warming and increased environment awareness, energy efficient lighting is now imperative in the hospitality industry. Thus, there has been a shift from incandescent to fluorescents. LED lighting solutions, advanced lighting control systems offer enormous potential energy savings combined with improved operating convenience. “The latest trends for lighting are more focussed towards providing energy efficient solutions. LED’s have been front-runners as technology being adopted for energy efficiency,” quips Guha. Underwater colour changing lights available with Martin have very high intensity. Also, all Martin LED products are with colour calibration, hence offer uniform colour across each piece. “We are arguably the only company in the world to offer colour calibration across all the LED products,” Guha reiterates.
Hotels are environment conscious and are doing more than their bit. Alila Diwa Goa, the 153-room resort has adhered to ‘Green Globe’ environmental guidelines focused on reducing light pollution. Light levels were kept at a minimum, thereby sculpting a romantic and exclusive feel.
Hospitality sector has always understood the importance of sound and lighting. The implementation of good lighting and perfect sound, is a winning combination for a hotel, thus enhancing not only the value of the interiors, but also attracting attention and maximising
visibility.

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