By Meghan Hall
The coronavirus pandemic has put a huge strain on the hospitality industry, prompting hoteliers and property owners to strongly rethink their business strategies. Across the Puget Sound, hotels relying on corporate travel and conventions have typically been hit the hardest, but that has not stopped one project team from moving forward. This fall, Bellevue-based Kauri Investments and Seattle-based Washington Holdings opened the Anderson Park Hotel in downtown Redmond. The hotel embraces a Pacific Northwest design and indoor-outdoor connections that have— rather fortunately—allowed to hotel to navigate challenges posed by COVID-19.
“We ended up with this L-shaped building that has some pretty interesting spaces and at the time, this was pre-COVID,” explained B+H Managing Principal Doug Demers. “We were focused on planning to take advantage of the Pacific Northwest, the temperate weather and just people’s desire to be indoors and outdoors easily.”
The 177-key development features 9,000 square feet of flexible meeting and events space, as well as a 1,740 square foot fitness center and a mix of outdoor patios and decks. The hotel is located in the Redmond Town Center and boosted the submarket’s hospitality inventory by nearly a quarter upon its opening. Managed by Hilton, the hotel originally hoped to cater to business and tech-related travelers, due to Microsoft and Facebook’s proximity to the project, as well as local community events and activities.
The spring of 2020 was one of the worst on record for lodging markets in the Puget Sound according to data released by Kidder Mathews at the end of the third quarter. In 2020, hotels have seen an average reduction of 42 percent in demand. Room prices declined by 18 percent, while room revenue declined 52 percent when compared with the same period in 2019.
Despite the headwinds, the Anderson Park Hotel opened its doors in September of 2020 after two previous decisions to postpone opening. The design of the hotel, which initially catered to easy flow and access to the outdoors, proved to be a boon in a pandemic where crowd control and social distancing have become key components of operations.
The restaurant on the project’s main floor opens easily out onto the street and allows for plenty of patio seating. A large deck acts as outdoor space for the adjacent meeting rooms, business center and ballroom, and a roof deck with fire pits are also available. Additionally, noted Demers, the building’s overall shape and layout make it easier for staff to successfully control the flow of guests, and operable windows and doors are also part of the building’s overall design.
“Those things turned out, in the pandemic, to be assets,” said Demers. “Some of the impacts of the program…turned out to be resilient assets that are serving the hotel now.”
Outdoor spaces are lit with an LED system to highlight the space, connecting both the ground plane and upper level decks. The ultimate effect is that the project creates a strong level of activation outside and on the street.
“It has got kind of that lifestyle energy and clean, contemporary, warm Pacific Northwest feel,” said Demers.”
A materials palette of cool grays and blue accents can be found throughout the hotel. Wood features and materials help to warm up the spaces and act as an ode to the region.
The project team is hopeful that the industry will recover post-COVID-19, and predicts spaces that cater to health and wellness will become particularly popular. More attention to clean lines, durable services, well-planned spaces and access to the outdoors will see increasing importance. Sustainability and materials that are not just aesthetic, but promote biophilic wellness are also expected to see a rise in popularity. As the industry plans their next steps, there is hope among project teams that fundamentals will improve.
“I would say that we’re pretty, we’re pretty bullish that post-COVID-19. The hospitality industry has a pretty clear path and [will see] a pretty big bounce because you have pent-up demand,” said Demers. “There is a lesson learned that there is a really high value to social spaces; if they’re planned appropriately, they are going to be very high in demand.”