The hospitality event that was: Sleep & Eat 2019 review
How the best of hospitality design and innovation shone through at London Olympia during Sleep & Eat 2019.
Sleep & Eat has confirmed its position as Europe’s leading hospitality design and innovation event. Across two days last week, it offered designers, architects, operators and owners a unique chance to hear from the game-changers, to discover new products and expand their thinking, bringing the community together to celebrate the role of great design within the most successful hospitality enterprises around the globe.
Standing Room only at the Sleep & Eat Conference
In a conference that was generally acknowledged as the best yet, it was standing room only for many delegates. Amar Lalvani, CEO of Standard International, opened day one by sharing his experience of transforming an ‘ugly’ and unloved building in London into a hotel that is now headline news around the world. Christoph Hoffman, CEO of 25Hours Hotels and winner of this year’s AHEAD Outstanding Contribution Award, opened day two and, in conversation with Conference Moderator, Heleri Rande, talked about the importance of “soul”. While his group has so notably charted its own course, he declared himself inspired by the great luxury hotels of the world. “It’s about keeping the stories alive,” he said. Josh Wyatt, CEO of NeueHouse, also delivered a captivating keynote. “More than ever before, design is essential to survive as the world becomes more crowded. Design is a defensive necessity,” he told the audience. “In NeueHouse, we are forging places where commerce and creativity collide, where new enterprises that will shape our futures will be conceived by our users.”
Panel topics were diverse and layered, from hotel F&B trends to managing and designing flexible public spaces and the meaning of eco in the luxury hotel experience, but all with an eye not just to the hospitality scene today but in the future. Architect, Richard Coutts, and engineer, Ben Fitzgerald, took the audience to the under- and above-water frontiers of their work, presenting a project destined for Hobart Harbour – an underwater hotel with public park on top – and the Under restaurant off the Norwegian coast. The knowledge, skills, vision and technology exist to harness our lakes, rivers and oceans for greater hospitality experiences, claimed the duo Design maverick and disrupter, Johannes Torpe, considered the future of hospitality in space but, despite his collaborations with NASA and his passion for space movies, he argued that there was still much work to do before space could be accessible for most of us. Instead, he called on the audience to create unearthly places on Earth, citing his Red Mountain resort project in Iceland, a spa and wellness retreat that will offer complete escape into Icelandic nature.
Sleep, Eat and Party in this year’s Room Sets
This year’s event theme of “Social FlexAbility” explored the power of hospitality to stimulate human interaction in our age of digital isolation. It proved to be just the challenge that six international architectural and design firms needed to create concept guestrooms, a bar and a restaurant which were inspiring in vision, intriguing in detail and astonishing in execution.
Network and Do Business
This year, the popular socialising spot, the Sleeper Bar, was joined by a co-working space, The Hub – a response to the theme of “Social FlexAbility”. Designed by the London arm of Wilson Associates, The Hub thrummed with the sounds of people connecting, turned up a notch when TopHotelProjects hosted their afternoon networking receptions there. In addition, the VIP Lounge was for the first time designed to be an immersive experience in its own right. MEGRE Interiors were the creators of “Gather”, an astonishing flora-inspired space centrally illuminated to suggest a fire around which visitors congregated in their droves throughout the event.