Press > Hospitality Wellness Expert Panel

Hospitality Wellness Expert Panel

Homepage, Design, People, Tourism, Investment, Luxury

Leaders In Hospitality & Design Share Unique Insights & Outline Key Performance Drivers For Successful Wellness Developments

On October 9, 2019, leading global architecture firm, OBM International (OBMI), hosted a Hospitality Wellness Expert Panel and art exhibition. Rika Lisslö, Hyatt Vice President of Development, Vivianne Garcia-Tunon, Wonder Flower Principal and Founder, Marianne Canero, Alma Community Founder & Executive Director, and Giovanni Medina Marenco, OBMI Associate Senior Designer, participated in the conversation at the Sacred Space Miami. Together, with moderator, K. Denaye Hinds, OBMI Director of Corporate Sustainability, who led the panel, the four experts discussed their insider outlook on health and wellness in the hospitality and real-estate industry, the trends impacting its direction and the crucial elements to consider for successfully designing wellness developments.

The sold-out event gathered over 175 professionals across the hospitality, real estate, design, development and wellness industries to hear diverse perspectives and to be inspired by illustrations of wellness concepts in the elegant venue, The Sacred Space Miami. In line with the panel’s theme, experts advised the audience on the challenges and opportunities to successfully execute wellness offerings in developments, designing for wellness beyond the spa, and the importance of investing in human capital for wellness programs.

Referencing reports from the Global Wellness Institute, the experts relayed the international wellness market grew to $4.2 trillion in 2018, and that wellness-focused tourism is fast outpacing overall tourism growth. The panel also remarked how the hospitality sector has been highly motivated to keep up with today's wellness guest by evolving the scope of programs and developing key partnerships for membership models to deliver elevated and catered wellness activities as an opportunity for the hospitality industry to ensure a return on investment. An example shared was Hyatt’s clever acquisition of the Exhale spa chain.

Vivianne Garcia-Tunon and Giovanni Medina Marenco both remarked on the importance of weaving wellness into the design of the entire property, as well as factoring in space planning and offerings for various demographics of consumers and future generations. Both panelists agreed this all-inclusive approach would help in achieving a socially equitable and viable development.

Rika Lisslö and Marianne Canero remarked on the importance of cultivating the local labor pool and integrating the community into the wellness space when delivering a positive experience for end-users and ensuring a return on investment to stakeholders. Focusing on the wellbeing of your corporation’s employees resounded equally essential as training and educating in the wellness industry, according to panelists.

“When looking for revenue drivers, we must talk about the value proposition and take time to educate the room on how wellness will benefit the end user and the investor,”  noted Rika Lisslö, Hyatt Vice President of Development. “We see wellness the way we look at internet. Without it you’re obsolete. It’s where we are now and we’re baking it into proforma. The client is everyone, and wellness is in the overall experience.”

For more information, contact Marissa Howe: or (+1) 305-537-7100.

Press > Rosewood Announces OBMI to Design Half Moon Bay Antigua

Rosewood Announces OBMI to Design Half Moon Bay Antigua

Homepage, Design, Projects, Luxury

Rosewood Hotels and Resorts has been tapped by Vancouver-based Replay Destinations to manage the new Rosewood Half Moon Bay Antigua, which is slated to debut in Antigua in 2021.

The OBMI-designed resort will be situated on 132 spectacular oceanfront acres along Half Moon Bay, which is internationally lauded as one of the world’s most spectacular beaches. The former Half Moon Bay Hotel was established in the 1950s and for decades was a sought-after vacation destination and resort playground for the international jet set. The new Rosewood will feature 47 pavilion-style suites, including a three-bedroom presidential suite. Each accommodation will feature breath-taking ocean views and thoughtful amenities finely tuned to the desires of today’s affluent explorer, including private infinity plunge pools, hammocks, open-air baths and showers and live orchid walls in each bathroom.

Boasting a design that reflects the lush locale, the aesthetic borrows from historic Caribbean and architectural pioneers to offer a classic and timeless feel coupled with modern amenities and services.

“With its secluded location and breathtaking beach, Half Moon Bay is one of the world’s most stunning hidden gems and a natural destination for Rosewood’s affluent explorers,” said Sonia Cheng, Chief Executive Officer of Rosewood Hotel Group. “We look forward to integrating Rosewood’s Sense of Place philosophy into Antigua’s incredible natural environment, to create unforgettable experiences for our guests.”

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Press > Regional Hotel Design Builds Relationships with Guests

Regional Hotel Design Builds Relationships with Guests

Homepage, Design, Luxury

Andrés Osorio, OBMI Hospitality Designer, discussed how the designing of properties needs to appeal to experience-driven consumers in the Caribbean, while he shared insights on how regional hotel design can help build relationships with the guest.

Quoted in Hotel News Now, Andrés remarked, "In regional design, you have to be true to your location, have a stable plan to enhance and preserve your environment and connect to your community. There's no way to create great experiences without investing in the community." Speaking to the firm's project in St. George's, the St. Regis Bermuda, Andrés discussed the importance of designing a property that not only fits into, but also integrates with the land, "you have to accommodate the hotel to its place."

The other panelists added their insights on regional hotel design and what it meant for them. Neil Kolton, Director of the Caribbean and Florida resort sales and services for   Interval International  stated, "Each location has pluses and minuses, it's important to know the demographic you are catering to and recognize it."

Speaking at the Caribbean Hotel Investment and Operations Summit in Bermuda, Osorio was joined by nearly 300 hospitality industry executives to discuss opportunities and challenges in the region.

Read more about Contemporary Regional Design at Hotel News Now.

Press > Best Hotels Design Hot List: Royal Mansour

Best Hotels Design Hot List: Royal Mansour

Projects, Luxury

Cocotraie Magazine Features Royal Mansour Architect

As one of the world’s most celebrated architectural firms, OBMI was selected to design the Royal Mansour hotel. OBMI CEO and internationally respected designer, Doug Kulig explains OBMI’s part in the hotel’s design and build.

“The hotel was designed to the highest international standard, with a clear focus of providing the opportunity for guests to realize a true and authentic Moroccan experience. Whilst it was mandated that we use historical references in the design, the systems and technology employed are the latest in state-of-the-art applications. We began the project by studying what were the best and most authentic hospitality experiences in the world. Two were chosen as the ultimate in hospitality and inspiration references. They had stood the test of time and both are considered ‘Palace Cities’, the Alhambra in Spain and Katsura in Japan.”

Royal Mansour was born from Mohammed VI’s dream. The current King of Morocco wanted an absolute balance between the traditional and the opulent. With influences from North African, Spanish, and Portuguese Moroccan traditions, the hotel offers history, comfort, and exclusivity for its high-paying guests.

Edified on an 8-acre site, within the walls of Marrakech’s old city, the hotel is fully enclosed by a 5-meter-high wall, back-to-back with those of the old city, offering a sumptuous refuge for those who seek it.

Press > Expert tips for buying a private island – and upgrading its amenities

Expert tips for buying a private island – and upgrading its amenities

Tourism, Luxury

You Just Bought a Private Island. Now what?

The immediate benefit of buying your own private island is the opportunity to custom design your own paradise. However, the path to creating the ultimate tropical fantasy isn’t easy. There are the pleasant aspects of course, such as the planning process which includes determining how you will use and decorate the space; but deciphering local regulations and estimating a budget to get an island up and running often require expert advisement.

Bloomberg called on OBMI CEO Doug Kulig for his years of experience designing developments on remote islands such as Oil Nut Bay and Scrub Island, to help guide buyers through the typically challenging process. In chronological order, Kulig maps out how he as an architect advises his clients on how to successfully develop private islands.

Kulig suggests completing the myriad approvals for regulations, restrictions, and processes be done prior to purchase. “The island can have environmental concerns, usage concerns, you also have to understand if you’re getting a clear title to the land,” says Kulig. “Only then do you figure out what the development rights are.”

Figuring out what you want to do with the island is the more fun part of the development process. Do you want the house designed as an informal bungalow, with indoor/outdoor spaces, or do you want something more formal? “We talk about lifestyle,” Kulig says. “When are people going to use the island and how are they going to use it? It’s more than just whimsy. If you’re considering a wooden beach-house type of structure, you want to consider storm impacts in the area,” says Kulig.

Press > Photographer: Ben Popick PURSUITS You Just Bought a Private Island. Now What?

Photographer: Ben Popick PURSUITS You Just Bought a Private Island. Now What?

Tourism, Luxury

You see it listed online: a seven-acre island off the coast of Belize, surrounded by clear blue water and striking distance from an untouched barrier reef. Price: 492,000 pounds, or around $760,000. “You couldn’t buy a 1 bedroom in Williamsburg for that price,” you say to yourself and after a few clicks and a phone call, you’re the proud owner of a tropical haven 12 miles from the resort town of San Pedro (immortalized by Madonna's La Isla Bonita).

So… what next?

There’s probably no plumbing on your new island. There may not even be a house. Or structures at all. You need help.

This is when you call someone like Doug Kulig, the chief executive officer of Miami-based architecture firm and developer OBMI. He has designed and built a 23,500-square-foot estate on a secluded tip of the British Virgin Islands, a hillside area on the southwest coast of Antigua and other houses and resorts throughout the Caribbean. Kulig has years of experience building on remote islands and he helpfully laid out your next moves (in chronological order, no less) for Bloomberg.

1. Figure out the regulations

So glamorous already: “The island can have environmental concerns, usage concerns, you have to understand if you’re getting a clear title to the land,” says Kulig. “Only then do you figure out what the development rights are.” Hopefully you will have done this before purchase, but even so, the myriad approvals for regulations, restrictions, and processes, Kulig says, can easily take three to six months.

2. Figure out what you want to do with the island

This part is more fun, because it involves the least tough choices of all time: Will you want a main house and a few guest houses? Staff quarters? Do you want the house designed as an informal bungalow, with indoor/outdoor spaces, or do you want something more formal? “We talk about lifestyle,” Kulig says. “When are people going to use the island and how are they going to use it? It’s more than just whimsy. If you’re considering a wooden, beach-house type of structure, you want to consider storm impacts in the area,” says Kulig. “Do you want to design for a 25-year storm, or a 50-year storm, or even a 100-year storm?” The latter would involve a house made from concrete, which presents its own set of logistical hurdles.

You'll also need to figure out how you want to get to the island. If you're planning to fly into a nearby airport and take a shallow boat to the island, great. If you're planning to glide in on your 200-foot mega-yacht, you're going to have to build a different kind of infrastructure entirely. Same goes for laying down an airstrip. Kulig recommends proceeding with caution: "Come in with the notion that you're going to respect the land as much as possible," he says. "Of course, you can't expect not to touch anything. Development by its very nature has an impact."

3. Figure out how you’re going to stay alive on the island

Once you have a rough idea of how often you’ll be using the island and how many people will be with you, you'll have to determine how you’re going to get water and electricity. Most of the time, Kulig says, maintaining a water supply entails a combination of water collection and reverse-osmosis facilities. “Water collection’s not a big deal,” he says. “You’re going to collect whatever’s available, and then let’s say you’ve got a small osmosis plant that’s slowly producing water all the time. Let’s say it makes 5,000 gallons a month and you visit only three times a year; you’ll have all the water you’d ever need.”

To power that energy-intensive reverse-osmosis facility, you’ll need solar panels and equipment to store that power (or run an underwater cable from the nearest power source) and to deal with water once you’ve used it, you’ll need some sort of waste water treatment/recycling facility (you presumably want your crystal-clear ocean to stay that way), which in turn requires even more energy.

Unsurprisingly, these facilities represent a significant upfront cost, although Kulig is hesitant to say how much (he estimates “low hundreds of thousands of dollars” for the water treatment and collection and because solar panels are getting so cheap, so fast, he doesn’t want to guess what it would cost a year down the line).

4. Figure out how you’re going to get everything out there

Luckily, this isn’t really up to you. It’s up to whichever local contractor you’ve hired to help organize construction. "We can't just parachute in and know all the answers," Kulig says. "We pair with local groups." But if you’re trying to budget it out (see #5), you should try to get a general sense whether or not materials will be getting to the island via barge and if there’s isn’t an existent dock, a channel needs to be dredged before boats can reach the island. Another alternative is by plane. “We did huge projects in Haiti where there were no docks,” says Kulig. “We just landed planes on the beach and dragged the supplies off with a tractor.”

5. Make a budget

Kulig can’t give an estimate for how much it would cost to get an island up and running, he says. “It could be around $250 to $350 per square foot for a house in Belize,” he says. “But that’s just raw construction. It doesn’t include solar, or water, or docks, or landscape, or whether or not you’d want to pay for a five-ton air conditioning unit.” Could you build a reasonably comfortable, self-sustainable house for less than $1 million? “Absolutely not,” Kulig says.

6. Figure out how to make it pleasant

Back to the fun stuff: You've already got a rough sense of what your aesthetic is going to be (see #2), but you actually have to furnish it. In the city, a decorator is a luxury, but for a remote island, where you'll have to determine which furniture weathers best, which fabrics are more prone to rot, and which finishes deal better with humidity, an interior architect or decorator is closer to a necessity. "People might bring in their design architect from New York to do the house and she might then call a local architect for help," Kulig says.

6. Wait (and wait)

Because this is, after all, a remote island, everything takes longer. “Figure two to three years,” Kulig says. “People might promise you a shorter period, but that’s not taking into account that after you hire a contractor, they have to mobilize people and get their materials in order.”

7. Move in

It’s that simple. (After the years of logistics and millions of dollars, that’s is.)


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