The new wave in hotel lighting

LEDs and the Internet of Things (IoT) are the new game-changers, enabling hoteliers to drive revenues, footfalls and save on the energy cost, even as they serve up some dramatic lighting options

Installation by Vibhor Sogani
CopyrightAll rights reserved
Installation by Vibhor Sogani

Lighting plays an important role in accentuating a hotel’s design and elevating the guest experience. The ambience ultimately determines how a guest feels about a hotel. We also cannot neglect the fact that it is important to set the right mood, at the right time, by the selection of the right kind of lighting. It is with lighting that hoteliers can convert an ordinary environment into an extraordinary one. “Increasing customer expectation has transformed the hotel environment from just a place to sleep in, to a destination where they meet, work, play and entertain. Great lighting and light control systems deliver an immediate impression of style, quality and sophistication, which are in tune with the changing needs of the different spaces in the hotel throughout the day. An investment in lighting is directly proportionate to the increase in guest footfalls,” informs Rakesh Kumar, Director of Engineering, Andaz Delhi.

The drop dead chandelier at Grand Hotel Quellenhof tumbles down several floors

When it comes to lighting, hotels cannot afford inefficiencies, particularly in the lobby, the public areas, guest rooms, boardrooms and ballrooms. “While lighting needs to be adequate, it should also be controllable, based on the time and demand of the space,” opines Raghavendra Khot, Director of Engineering, Westin Pune Koregaon Park. In the current business environment, where any sort of malfunction can invite negative remarks and reviews on social space, hotel designers have no room for complacency when it comes to lighting and illumination, claims Masihuzzaman Siddiqui, Director of Engineering, The St. Regis Mumbai.

Nature-inspired light installation at Jeju Shinhwa World Project, South Korea by Sans Souci lights.

The global lighting solution brand, Osram, had conducted a study on lighting in London hotels a couple of years ago. The report highlighted that at least 10,000 negative reviews on online sites, sparked by the sparse, dim lighting in London's hotels, resulted in low footfalls. These hotels decided to change the ambience by installing advance lighting with the latest technology. The result was a 360-degree change in customer footfall and hotel revenues. Apart from achieving a perfect ambient design, modern-day lighting is playing a crucial role in enhancing the depth, expanse and warmth in a space. Hotels have effectively enabled layered lighting to augment the utility of space effectively.

The flamboyant light system at W Dubai, The Palm, Dubai, UAE is by Sans Souci.

“A lot of detailing goes into planning the lighting in hotels. While working on a hotel project, a lighting designer has to play a multi-faceted role — right from understanding the space while conceptualizing and creating a tangible three-dimensional object that has a definitive function. In the process, one has to thoughtfully combine technology, ergonomics, aesthetics, function and several other factors. To be able to design successfully each time, the designer has to get under the skin of the client/subject and comprehend the requirements in a pertinent context,” informs lighting designer Vibhor Sogani.

While in the past, the application of lighting and associated technology was limited as compared to its present avatar, today the hospitality industry is putting immense effort and funds towards achieving excellence. “Lighting can bring about a dramatic change in the quality of architecture and its perception. This realisation and the availability of suitable alternatives are leading to a spike in demand for quality lights, energy-efficient sources and even lighting consultants. A highly positive trend, it demonstrates that the hotel industry is responding to new developments and evolution in material and technology. Lighting design is gradually moving towards computation and automation, becoming more interactive and interdisciplinary in its approach,” adds Sogani.

The lighting industry has seen a gradual shift in design, utility, concepts and technology. “From, halogens, CFL lights to LED, the transition has been cost-effective and offers better illumination. There is also the sensor light trend that is helping save electricity and costs,” states Kush Kapoor, CEO, Roseate Hotels & Resorts. Another trend is focused lighting. “Restaurants earlier had a common light but now, many of them focus spotlights on each table. Similarly, in rooms, side lamps and even spotlights are popular, particularly keeping in mind not just the cost factor but also the practicality. Besides, light sensors work well in public restrooms, which is a space you need to save energy,” adds Kapoor.

Today lighting is increasingly becoming decorative. “The seamless design offered by concealed lighting was used to garner all the attention. Now, fixtures are becoming as important as the  light source itself, and marble has seen a huge comeback since its  disappearance a few years ago,” says Thomas Abraham, Area Vice President – South India and General Manager, Park Hyatt Hyderabad. Achieving a minimal design with low volume and high impact by adapting to the latest technologies available in lighting and its peripheral areas is a huge trend. “The innovations taking shape are of more relatable design, such as organic forms that appear familiar to the viewer. Inspirations are mostly picked up from nature in this case,” says Suman Suneja, General Manager, Murano Lighting.

When it comes to creating an effective mood/ambient lighting palette in hotels, there are ample of pre-set options available. “Hotels usually prefer warm lighting with a dimming option. However, they are also experimenting with lighting design, such as the use of up-lighters, down-lighters, strip lights and slim panel lights. Some hotels also cool lights in the heart of the house areas,” informs Masihuzzaman Siddiqui, Director of Engineering, St. Regis Mumbai.

While the market is inundated with several energy-efficient lighting products, LED is likely to become the mainstay in the world of hotel lighting due to innovations in design: they are getting smaller and yet increasingly brighter while consuming lesser power. Lighting is likely to penetrate more areas across hotels. "They used to be sandwiched between glass panes. Now, they are focused on surfaces without being visible. This will open a vast area for lighting design,” says Tilak Swarup, Director of Gurgaon-based, Liviano Lighting Systems.

Accentuating spaces

Apart from accentuating the décor, lighting helps create the first impression for the hotel. It also serves as a silent guide for a guest by directing them along corridors to their rooms, lifts, bars or restaurants with some intelligent use. “Hotel facades and entrance lobbies have become the most important areas in which a property creates its first contact with guests. An eye-catching facade lighting and a decorative blown-glass installation with a dynamic lighting effect is the new trend. Walkway lighting systems is used to save energy. Common areas such as the entrance lobby, lift lobby and living rooms should be well lit to create a warm glow. Today sensors are also installed in the passage area, leading to the rooms that automatically switch on when they detect motion,” says Sandeep Kaushik, Country Manager - India/Sri Lanka, Sans Souci. Lighting can elevate the architectural experience of a hotel. “In the F&B areas, lighting can create warmth around each table, while in an outdoor area, diffused lighting placed within green expanses help creates a sense of being one with nature. The lobby lighting is set brighter to increase customer attention as there is a lot of  movement in the area,” adds Tilak Swarup, Director, Liviano Lighting Systems Pvt. Ltd.

Case Study: Pratap Mahal, Ajmer, an IHCL SeleQtions property

Manvendra Rathore, General Manager

“Located in the middle of the Aravalli range, within the lap of nature, we use lighting to offer our guests a spellbinding experience at the hotel. Besides using all kinds of lighting, we make use of the hills around to light up a few portions, particularly for a wedding. Our mix of lights include laser lights, sharp lights and LED lights.

The regular lighting in the hotel is subtle. We don’t believe in the concept of heavy lighting as we prefer not to spend too much on it. At Pratap Mahal, we use energy saving LED lights. As the decor of our hotel is quintessentially Rajasthani, we suspend lanterns from trees in our garden area for a rustic appeal. Apart from LEDs, we have used motion sensors near the lift area. Whenever there is no one in the lift area, the lights automatically turn off, which proves to be cost effective.

The impact of smart LED/IoT-based light in the hotel industry has very significant. This new technology has proved to be cost effective and we have saved huge amounts of money on the electricity bills and also on the manpower used in managing the lighting. We have a 320KW solar plant to generate light in our property. Like all other technologies, the lighting industry has also evolved in India. These savings have helped us to use our resources in a way that we can provide better stay experience at the hotel to all our guests. We have used natural resources without harming nature.”

Innovations in technology

Technology innovations are adding a new dimension in the hotel lighting space.

LED: LEDs, smart lighting controls and sensor-based functions are making the lighting experience smart, seamless, cost-effective and energy-efficient. “Technology is evolving very fast. We began by the use of incandescent lamp and then moved to fluorescent, CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp), LED (Light Emitted Diode) in a basic colour, LED in multi-colour and LED in temperature-control colour. OLED (Organic Light Emitted Diode) is the latest technology. Lighting mirrors the recent developments in TV panels as LCD light engines give way to LED-powered LCD panels, with OLED beginning to make big inroads,” states Kumar of Andaz Delhi.

Hotels are attempting to attain LEED classification, which places a strong emphasis on energy-efficient lighting solutions. “Guests are comfortable using smartphones to adjust lighting and other electrical equipment in their rooms, and hotels are incorporating this technology to enable them to personalise their experiences. LEDs have replaced incandescent lamps due to their energy efficiency and have enabled hotels to lower costs of maintenance and replacement. They are easy to integrate into any design element and also help in a flexible adjustment of colour and brightness in a given space. That apart, wireless lighting has seen a rise in popularity,” says Abraham. Automation: With automation and its different memory settings, individual lights can be used in a combination of effects to create different moods and ambience.

“Different moods are set for the morning, afternoon, evening and night, and for different occasions as well. From romantic restaurants to strong service/business zones to comfortable shopping areas, each zone can have its pre-set moods and create an effective ambience with minimum effort,” Sogani says.

Smart Lighting Systems: The buzzwords in the lighting space are the new-age systems. Sandeep Kaushik, Country Manager - India/Sri Lanka, Sans Souci says that while smart lighting systems have been in the market for some years, consumers are now aware of options and are adopting environment-friendly solutions. “There has been a tremendous increase in Smart Lighting Systems in residential and commercial spaces, as they offer control over lighting products and its overall features, for both technical and decorative
segments, with the help of the Internet of Things (IoT).” Smart lighting systems are convenient in other ways; they offer a change in colour as per the user’s mood or a light pulse to replace the doorbell. The possibilities are endless. “The lighting manufacturers are expanding their range to include architectural smart lighting, human-centric lighting, horticultural lighting, fishing lighting and special lighting.”

With a smart lighting control, Tilak Swarup, Director, Liviano Lighting Systems Pvt. Ltd., adds, hotels can program the luxe feel for each area by the hour. As evening draws, the lighting can automatically switch on and focus on the aesthetics of the hotel facade, waterbodies and decorations. “The fixtures have become discreet and are available in organic shapes, led by innovations in LED. They are capable of being installed in areas that were earlier not possible due to space constraints.

LED has also helped curb power consumption, significantly reducing the peak load. Bluetooth and WiFi enabled networks allow for lighting control through proprietary apps. Our smart and green mesh app control groups of table lights, bar counter and cocktail tables, all at once or in separate groups within the same environment. It can be programmed to switch on at a set time with a colour of choice, then switch to another colour or intensity at a later time.”

Lighting controls are evolving beyond infrared motion sensing, manual dimming and timer switches. As Siddiqui says, “Smart lighting controls are a step ahead in technology and aim to improve positive user experience.” The growing demand for energy- efficient decorative lighting has encouraged the manufacturers and designers to seek solutions that are energy compliant and offer superior experiences to guests without comprising on either the functionality or its ability to create dramatic spaces.