President Of The Gettys Group Delves Into The Evolution Of Design in the Hospitality Industry

Andrew Fay met with us to explore how the boutique trend has shaped the world of hotel development in StayBoutique’s edition of Matter.

Andrew has been operating in the design world for over 30 years and is an integral figure in the hospitality industry. As president of the Gettys Group, he is the head of a business that has been on the market since 1988. The aim of the company is to deliver a world-class level design to numerous different clients. 

The Gettys Group favours a collaborative approach which is built around the concepts of both pragmatism and creativity. Their aim is to bring stories to life and help people see creativity in design from a whole new perspective. 

In our interview, the president discusses the importance of boutique hotels today and when this trend began to emerge in the hotel industry. He has clear ideas on why this change has occurred and the role that boutique hotels will play in the future of the industry. Indeed, he refers to a shift in the audience who are seeking out new experiences as well as exploring different perspectives on the market. 

The president  also offers his opinions on the different types of design trends that are apparent in new Boutique-hotels. This includes the new room sizes, technology as well as a variety of other fresh and growing trends. With his years of experience in the industry and a clear focus on design, Andrew is a key voice on the constantly evolving world of hotel development.

SB: How long have you been involved in the design world? 

AF: Over 30 years

SB: How has the Hospitality Industry always excited you?

AF: The Hospitality Industry is exciting because it is constantly evolving to meet the ever-changing demands of our clients and their customers. The industry has completely shifted from a prototype driven model, where all properties looked the same, to a highly individualized model where every property is unique. Being responsible for creating connections between people and places, stories and spaces…I can’t imagine a more exciting career! We are storytellers, memory makers, and architects of individual moments.

SB: When did you begin seeing the shift of developers and hoteliers wanting to go down the “Boutique” route? 

AF: Over the last several years, changing guest preferences with a strong focus on experiences; disruptive technologies and an ever-growing desire for environmental and social responsibility have all fueled the burgeoning demand for Boutique Hotels.  And the good news for firms like The Gettys Group is that today’s increasingly sophisticated consumers expect and demand great design. In fact, design has become a strategic tool to set hotels apart and set them up for success. Why is that?….we believe it’s because design has the power to transform experiences, improve utility and perhaps most importantly forge strong emotional connections with the guests.

The Edwin

SB: What kind of Boutique Hotel projects have you worked on? 

AF: The Gettys Group specializes in boutique projects that create a holistic experience with strong emotional connections forged over a number of detailed touchpoints, service rituals, and signature moments. To create end-to-end experiences, our designers operate at the intersection of design, branding, strategy and business.

The Edwin Hotel – Chattanooga, TN
Just named to Travel + Leisure’s “Best Hotels in the United States” list.

Reikart House – Amherst, NY
It just won Marriott’s Hotel of the Year for 2018 (in the Distinctive/Premium sector) and is among the highest-rated Marriott Hotels in the world in Guest Satisfaction and Likelihood to Recommend

Hotel LeVeque – Columbus, OH
Featured in Architectural Digest’s 2017 list of “Most Beautiful Hotels”

Claridge House – Chicago, IL
A truly “unique boutique” property that inspired by the Gold Coast neighborhood it resides in.

SB: What are some key design trends you see in Boutique Hotels? 

AF: As cities are rapidly growing, residential real-estate prices are increasing and apartment sizes are decreasing. Hotels are becoming the living rooms of our cities; the place to gather, meet, eat, entertain and collaborate. They are also becoming the workplace for today’s untethered mobile professionals.

Room Sizes
Micro-rooms will continue to proliferate. A small guestroom does not mean sacrificing style, comfort or functionality; it demands that the designer do more with less. Our teams provide authentic solutions with cultural context that allows guests to emotionally connect with the space.

There is always much discussion about technology. To us, technology should ultimately be about practicality: an intuitive interface, simple operation and elegant presentation. The Gettys Group currently utilizes virtual reality to allow clients to walk through their space with our design before it is built. We are dedicated to investing in the tools and talent that drive personalization of the individual guest experience. 

But let’s not forget……Community and Human Connection….cannot be replaced by technology. You cannot get rid of the “Hello” and “Goodbye” experience. Travelers are looking for a sense of belonging. At it’s core….hospitality requires a human touch.

Part of the evolving “Boutique” experience is creating engaging touchpoint that connect to the guest on an emotional level. As technology becomes more ubiquitous and sophisticated…it is also driving a craving for empathy and belonging, driven by true human connections…..the digital tools help to create a more fun, collaborative experience.

Food and Beverage

In the 80s, hotel restaurants and food and beverage concepts were to be avoided at all costs. Boutique hotels are now widely regarded to be on the cutting edge of food and beverage concepts….their restaurants are showcasing local product and cuisines and are popular with visitors as well as locals.  The more local people a hotel can attract…..the more popular the hotel will be with travelers looking to experience a destination from an Insider’s perspective. Food has an unmatched capacity to communicate a sense of place and provide a connection to the history of a region. 

Hotel Le Veque

SB: What does the word “Boutique” mean to you? 

AF: The “Boutique” experience makes me think of this beautiful quote from the American poet…. Maya Angelou……. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It seems to me that the primary job of today’s hospitality designer and hotel operator is to make the guests feel great. How can you infuse elements of joy into the guest experience? This is the crux of what a “boutique experience” is all about..….and in-so doing, create significant value for all of the key stakeholders, both our clients and their guests.

We have become cultural anthropologists and social scientists. Research drives the creation of engaging brand stories and design inspiration. Creating truly “Boutique” experiences means understanding that true value is created through guest satisfaction. If we get it right for the guest, then everything else works!

Claridge House Hotel