Motels are making a comeback, say AHEAD Americas awards judges
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Motels are making a comeback, say AHEAD Americas awards judges

Nostalgia for the open road has led to a renewed interest in motels in the American hospitality industry, say AHEAD Americas jury members in this movie Dezeen produced for the awards programme.

The AHEAD Americas awards, which took place in Miami on Tuesday, celebrate the best in hotel and resort design across North, Central and South America.

The Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa was awarded in the most categories, including Hotel of the Year, Visual Identity of the Year, Hotel Renovation and Restoration, and Spa and Wellness.

The Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa was awarded Hotel of The Year at the AHEAD Americas awards 2018
The Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa was awarded Hotel of The Year at the AHEAD Americas awards 2018

Markus Schreyer, vice president for the Americas at Design Hotels and one of the AHEAD judges, sees the project as part of a broader trend of motel revivalism.

"We're seeing the restoration of motels across the country, inspired by the freedom of Route 66," he claims in the movie, which Dezeen filmed during judging day at the Ace Hotel in New York,

The project is a renovation of a 1940s roadside motel by US design firm AvroKO, which features a rejuvenated retro colour scheme, swimming pools heated by geothermal springs and a spa that references the aesthetics of Wes Anderson's films.

The Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa was awarded Hotel of The Year at the AHEAD Americas awards 2018
The Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa was seen by AHEAD judges as part of a wider trend of motel revivalism

The judges praised the hotel's designers for their subtle approach to the renovation.

"To show restraint is probably one of the hardest things you can do as a designer and architect," claims Margaret McMahon, jury member and managing director of Wimberly Interiors. "What Calistoga represents is being extremely creative while showing great restraint."

Brad Wilson, president of the Ace Hotel group, also lauded the project for its original take on the hotel spa. "It's young and fresh," he claims. "It's not the 'white curtain spa' that you see over and over. It's really unique."

The Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa was awarded Hotel of The Year at the AHEAD Americas awards 2018
AHEAD judges commended the Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa for its fresh take on the spa concept

Elsewhere, the judges expressed enthusiasm at the number of hotels from Central and South America amongst the shortlist.

Meson Nadi, a resort in Nicaragua, was recognised in both the Resort Hotel and Landscape and Outdoor Spaces categories.

Meson Nadi Boutique Hotel, Design Hotel's first property in Nicaragua, was awarded in the Resort Hotel and Landscaping & Outdoor Spaces categories at the AHEAD Americas awards 2018
Another winner was the Meson Nadi Boutique Hotel in Nicaragua, which topped the Resort of the Year and Landscaping and Outdoor Spaces categories

"Meson Nadi is a totally new experience in Nicaragua, which is an upcoming market for resorts," says Schreyer. The resort places emphasis on intimacy, with only six guestrooms arranged around a central swimming pool.

"There is a movement towards slowness and connection," Schreyer continues. "Hotels have to deliver that in order to stay relevant nowadays."

Ian Schrager's Public Hotel in New York won in the Lobby & Public Spaces category at the AHEAD Americas awards 2018
Ian Schrager's Public Hotel in New York was awarded by AHEAD judges in the Lobby & Public Spaces category

Wilson highlights Ian Schrager's Public hotel in New York for its lobby, which is what won it an AHEAD award. "One thing that you're seeing as a trend is warm modernist and minimalist movement," he claims.

"Ian Schrager has done it pretty successfully with the lobby floor of Public," Wilson continues. "It's modernist perfection. He's used a framed view of trees and plants to give it some humanity. It takes some of that element of the green to give it life."

The winner in the Urban Hotel - Conversion category was NoMad Los Angeles, the second location for Sydell Group's luxury hotel brand. McMahon commended Parisian interiors firm Studio Jacques Garcia, which worked on the first NoMad hotel in New York, for the hotel's colour scheme.

"Jacques has gone in and slightly tweaked his colour palette and has made it a bit more playful, and has been able to take his aesthetic and fold it in beautifully to the Los Angeles landscape," says McMahon.

The NoMad Los Angeles was recognised by AHEAD judges in the Urban Hotel Conversion category
NoMad Los Angeles was the winner in the Urban Hotel Conversion category

Surveying this year's standout entries, Schreyer observes that the most striking hotels cater to travellers who expect a local cultural experience as well as luxury.

"Visionary hoteliers are bringing local materials and the local community into the hotel experience," he claims. "I think that's exactly what future travellers are looking for.

This movie was produced by Dezeen for AHEAD. It was filmed at the Ace Hotel in New York. Images are courtesy of Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa, Marvel Architects, Public Hotel, NoMad Los Angeles and AHEAD.