With outdoor areas a key revenue generator for a hotel, it’s imperative that establishments get their furniture right. This month, Hotel News ME hears from the suppliers at the forefront of the great outdoors to find out how hoteliers can preserve their furniture from the extreme heat, the latest fabrics on the market and why eco-friendly furniture is favourable.
Meet the suppliers:
Antony Guss, VP international, Casualife Furniture International
Cathy Di Savino, marketing manager, Intermetal
Deepak Ramdas, director of sales, Parasol
Andreas M. Rausch, business manager, Rausch Classics
Roland Corko, sales director, Sun and Shades Premium Outdoor Furniture
Outdoor spaces in hotels are an important source of revenue for an establishment, from poolside daybed rentals, staying guests, outdoor dining and lounging shisha areas. All of which need to be designed in an enticing fashion to lure guests outside, which is why it is so important hoteliers and purchasing managers alike choose the right kind of furniture to represent their outdoor space effectively, considering that outdoor spaces by the pool are often synonymous with holidays.
Aside from eclectic outdoor spaces and superbly looking pieces, hoteliers need to consider a variety of factors before purchasing furniture for the great outdoors, namely the extreme heat in summer that the Middle East is frequented with. Furniture needs to be durable, cost effective and weatherproof, with that in mind outdoor areas deserve special attention.
What are some of the latest trends in the market for outdoor furniture?
Di Savino: Clean and simple pieces of furniture that can be mixed and matched to create dynamic outdoor spaces remain popular. Combining furniture made of different materials, textures and textiles allows for the creation of unique outdoor areas.
Ramdas: One of the significant changes has been the move towards lounging furniture, such as sofas, armchairs and coffee tables. While the contemporary shapes and traditional lines are still pretty much present, the influence of industrial design and recycled timber is providing a new take on the typical outdoor furniture collection in the market.
Corko: Outdoor designs have dramatically changed as they become more like indoor pieces including the types of materials used, this trend has progressed so significantly that the majority of outdoor designs are now suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
Guss: We have recently supplied rope styled furniture to several leading hotels, which is a unique combination of powder-coated exposed frames together with special exterior rope, rather like seatbelt material, which is used for the seat, back of chairs and sun-loungers.
Rausch: A recent trend is the desire for an outdoor lounge space with great emphasis on modular systems and flexible furniture ideas.
What fabrics and materials are currently in fashion?
Di Savino: So far this year blue has been a popular colour choice, however, neutral tones are still being sought after. With the extreme weather conditions in this region, fabrics that are durable, water resistant and that provide exceptional UV performance to maintain their colour remain a must.
Corko: Stamskin materials such as artificial leather is currently in fashion. This material is durable and suitable for all weather conditions, even Dubai’s harsh heat.
Ramdas: Outdoor leather is coming in, for example Serge Ferrari, Stamskin and Skai fabrics, such as Batyline, and Phifer textiles are gaining popularity. HPL tops and slatted aluminium tops are also in fashion.
Guss: There is a lack of comprehension in the marketplace about which fabrics are best suited to the Gulf region. In particular, many fabrics used for domestic use in other countries simply do not stand up to the heat and UV light radiation here. Fabric such as Sunbrella or Sunproof give vastly different results. Some are suitable for say five years and carry a warranty, others may last just 12 months outside.
Rausch: There is a larger variety of material now available on the market, but there isn’t really one dominant material. On a separate note, the sales of table tops made from ceramic and water-tight fabrics used with textile articles have flourished.
How has technology changed the ways outdoor furniture is designed and manufactured?
Guss: The best way to produce synthetic woven furniture is still by hand weaving. Training of weavers is more important that technology in this case.
Di Savino: Technology has enhanced the design of furniture through innovative materials and processes that were not previously available. With the vast capabilities of design programs on the market, the speed at which ideas can be conceptualised and presented is resulting in exciting times for the furniture industry.
Corko: We are always trying to keep on top of new design trends, and technology has made this an easier process. We are continuously making new designs with new materials from new technology.
Ramdas: The two primary technological fields that are the most relevant to the furniture industry are materials and processing techniques, which have become equally important with the rise in improved computer design packages, as well as the rapid dissemination of ideas through the internet.
What qualities are hotels looking for in the furniture that they buy?
Di Savino: With more money being invested in outdoor spaces, quality and sustainable products are paramount. Furniture that is high on performance, low on cost and that will lower our overall carbon footprint has become part of the decision making process.
Rausch: Hoteliers are looking for low maintenance and easy-to-clean pieces that will last as long as possible.
Guss: Some Hotels want the lowest price; other hotels want the best value for money; these are not the same thing.
Ramdas: Most hotels look for practical, durable and easy-to-maintain products.
Is there more demand for recycled, sustainable materials, if so why do you think this is?
Di Savino: There is definitely more interest from owners and operators towards responsible procurement and we are seeing more properties adapting green practices. In the past, items that fit the purpose were chosen, however, today buyers consider environmental and socio-economic issues before buying.
Ramdas: At the moment we do not see very much demand for such materials in the UAE. However, this is a direction in which we need to move forward.
Guss: Casualife is fully green compliant in both raw materials (we hold a legal wood certificate) and other designs are fully recyclable. But generally unfortunately this is not a KPI seen within the industry.
What measures do hotels have to take in order to preserve their furniture from the extreme heat, sunshine and often dust storms across the region?
Guss: This all depends on the material the outdoor furniture is manufactured from. Teak wood furniture requires more maintenance than say resin plastic or aluminium frames. For wooden items, a suitable anti oxidising penetrating oil with UV additives for this climate need to be applied regularly to preserve the colour of the wood.
Rausch: It is important that prior to any order placement hoteliers and manufacturers communicate with each other about site-specific problems and select the right product for the application in question.
Ramdas: Hotels should clean the furniture before protecting it; protect the frames of the furniture; protect the upholstery of the furniture and take measures to protect the furniture against stains and water.
Di Savino: Depending on the type of furniture that has been purchased, each has its own way to be preserved. Teakwood requires oiling to protect the items against water, wind, heat and cold temperatures. Synthetic rattan is a bit more sensitive to the elements and may require furniture covers when not in use. Furniture manufactured in aluminum is one of the easiest to preserve as it requires minimal maintenance and is strong enough to withstand heat, sun, and sandstorms. Cushion covers should be upholstered in weather resistant materials and are best removed when not in use.