Kate and I had the delightful pleasure of attending an inspirational talk at Kezu Australia on Connecting the dots Vol 1 – The Possibilities and Potential of Hotel Design – Discussion review. 

I was inspired to search online for the ultimate “experience” for our late teenage family to embark on in San Francisco. Traveling with 15 and 16 year old sons can be challenging. We don’t fit into the ” family category” as we are WELL OVER 12 years of age and beyond any form of “kids club” experience. I needed a Gen Y experience that blurred the boundaries between teenage and adult life.

“Gone are the days hotels are merely a place to stay, removed from the culture and  energy of the community outside. Today they are designed as vibrant and connected destinations in themselves; places to experience for their own well-deserved merits.” Nicky Lobo, Editor of Habitus

On July 14 KE-ZU hosted “Connecting the Dots Vol. 1” presented by Nicky Lobo, Editor of Habitus, and with Matthew Sheargold, Senior Associate at HASSELL, discussing current and future trends in hospitality design. Matthew explored how hoteliers, architects and designers, faced with competition by Airbnb and challenged to millennial demands for memorable, local and efficient experiences, are breaking the conventions of traditional hospitality design and thinking outside the hotel-room box.”

After hours of online research I found a design firm Dawson Design Associates that created Hotel Zephyr in Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco.

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Having recently undergone a $32 million renovation and re-branding, the hotel debuted in June 2015 with a modern and playful maritime take on the energetic and upscale vibe that defines San Francisco. Hotel Zephyr has successfully renovated an old hotel site into an ocean view hub of entertainment and relaxation.
Upon checking into the reality of the hotel far exceeded the online marketing photos on booking.com .
“St James Whitting’s New Years Resolution is to design an Australian Eco Hotel/Community Space that provides a sustainably healthy and well designed experience that both educates and entertains guests in a totally sustainable environment.” Kate St James & Catherine Whitting
Hotel Zephyr in San Francisco provided the playground to let our imagination run wild on hotel design and branding!
The Lobby is a myriad of porthole seating that acts as room dividers and creates break out zones where individuals or groups travelers can feel at home and included.
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Hotel Zephyr linked Gen Y tech based experiences with good design. The staff are dressed casually and check in is easy and fast. In celebration of Hotel Zephyr’s debut, the property partnered with California-based fashion designer Melissa Fleis, a former Project Runway contestant, to break the mold of the traditional hotel uniform. Drawing inspiration from the hotel’s approachable, unique and playful maritime design, Fleis created an employee uniform collection reflective of the cool nature that is San Francisco. Elements from the designs include the front desk uniform of chic gray blazers with removable hoodies paired with jeans and relaxed t-shirts and bellmen outfitted with hand-sewn slate-colored hoodies, while housekeeping wears customized denim dresses and jackets. Materials used include cotton blends, French terry, fleece yoga fabrics and denim, creating a style that is comfortable and professional.
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It is the zoning within the spaces that make the hotel truly unique. Heroic scaled murals of “Popeye the Sailor Man” lead you into the outdoor courtyard that is intricately divided into a fire pit area, sculpture garden, giant oversized outdoor board game play area and industrial water pipe water feature.
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The styling of the hotel visually creates the brand. The walls are cleverly lined with metal facades of shipping containers. Situated on the San Francisco Port right near Pier 29 this industrial shipping aesthetic echoes through the interiors. Hotel Zephyr’s hip design aesthetic and art collection are worthy players in San Francisco’s diverse canvas of art and exhibits.
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From The Yard’s use of recycled shipping crates that serve as oversized, inventive planters and three-dimensional walls to “living wall-art” utilizing buoys and guests’ own bicycles.
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From industrial works of art sprinkled throughout the property to guest-curated art in the lobby and Game Room by the touch of their Smart Phone; and from well-designed open spaces that encourage conversation and communing to intimate worktable areas for business travelers and those seeking a bit more privacy, Hotel Zephyr offers guests a diverse and one-of-a-kind hotel experience in the heart of the city’s iconic tourist attraction.
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 The Games room meets the needs of 9 – 99 years olds with comfortable sink in linen seating, back gammon, table tennis, shuffle board and snooker. Guests are inspired to interact with their surroundings in this 1,610-square-foot Game Room that features an interactive art exhibit through Smart TVs, or outside in The Yard, an 8,000-square-foot outdoor lounge and event space located in the heart of the property.
Spirited travelers are also encouraged to enjoy the imaginative take on nostalgic past times such as life-size Connect Four and Jenga games, as well as one-of-a-kind fire pits made using recycled soda cans and San Francisco’s largest periscope.
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A graphic sensibility links all public spaces with large scale comics and animation in the bold Roy Liechtenstein inspired wall mural and retro chalkboard graphics hand painted in black and white.
The single traveler, couple and family can all find a cosy nook and nestle into the public spaces, feeling instantly part of the Zephyr San Francisco community.
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The rooms are ADA accessible designed to accommodate guests with disabilities and are spacious and contemporary. Each of the 353 guest rooms and 8 suites are designed to give travelers the experience of staying in the captain’s quarters – the best accommodation on the ship. Bed heads are frames with wide profile metal sheeting. Windows are shaped like ocean liner portholes and even the bathroom sink is made of midnight blue glass and industrial stainless steel tubing. The rooms all have the commodities of good design and are tech savvy with bar-style work station, mini-refrigerators, magnetic dartboards and backgammon in select rooms, and multi-device docking station with Smart TV streaming. All quarters include interactive media streaming via G-Link to stream video games, Netflix, movies and other media from laptops or handheld mobile devices and tablets directly to the smart TVs.
Tech-savvy spirited travelers, start-up seekers and work hard, play harder road warriors will enjoy the hotel’s ode to technology through its “Zephyr Lab” concept.  Guest rooms are equipped with Bluetooth-enabled desk clocks which allow you to stream audio wirelessly from your own personal device, as well as USB charging ports.
The hotel has an open-door policy for interested start-ups to test their new relevant technology and start-up companies at the hotel. This “usability testing made easy” effort is in service of working to identify new means that will make Hotel Zephyr guests’ experience run seamlessly when on-property and in the city.
The hotel’s first testing showcase begins with goConnekt, a mobile travel aid app based in San Francisco. Interested parties who would like to inquire about the possibility of testing their new apps may email zteam@hotelzephyrsf.com.
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It is a prime example of how design establishes a brand that is reiterated and repeated through every aspect of the business.
The hotel also has a fitness center that is equipped with premium LifeFitness® machines and an assortment of free weights for cardio and strength training. I have yet to tell the boys about this as they are visiting the San Francisco Dungeon just around the corner  as I write our blog!  The interactive yard provides ample space which allows the boys to take their wellness routine outside – Matthew can also do his yoga and meditation and core training !
Can you believe that the hotel is also Pet Friendly! Sssshhh Don’t tell Chloe!! Pets are welcome up to 80 lbs. There is a one-time cleaning fee of $75.00 assessed per stay.  There is a maximum of 1 pet per room.
We are loving every minute of our stay at Hotel Zephyr San Francisco, the staff and facilities are wonderful and it is in the center of EVERYTHING! This has surely sparked the St James Whitting Imagination for future commercial interior design projects and provides a wonderful lecture to students on commercial hotel design !

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