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How the Pan Pacific Hotels Group is championing sustainability: Q & A with Donovan Soon, FDAT Director and designer of PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay

PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay clinches the 5-Star Hotel Interior Award by International Property Award, UK for its Sustainable Design

Pan Pacific Hotels Group is pushing the sustainability agenda with its PARKROYAL COLLECTION hotels. The newly renovated PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay has earned the highest accolade, “5-star Best Hotel Interior”, at the International Property Awards 2021, with its transformational design strongly anchored in sustainability.

Opened on 1 December 2020 after a nine-month transformation, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay joins the ranks of its sister hotel, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, which has been consistently awarded for its green design. It has been named “World’s Leading Green City Hotel” and “Asia’s Leading Green City Hotel” at the World Travel Awards and “HICAP Sustainable Hotel” in 2020.

Both PARKROYAL COLLECTION hotels breathe biophilic design. PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay—Singapore’s first “garden-in-a-hotel”—has 2,400 plants indoors, and PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering features 15,000 square metres of vertical gardens, which is equal to 200% of its gross floor area, earning its title as a “hotel-in-a-garden” since it opened almost a decade ago.

The PARKROYAL COLLECTION hotels incorporate energy-saving and energy-generating features, including solar panels, double-glazed glass, motion sensors and food digestors to help reduce waste. PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay also has water-filtered taps in guestrooms, which is estimated to save 360,000 plastic bottles a year, while PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering has a rain-water harvesting system that collects 6,000 cubic metres of water a year to irrigate the gardens.

We recently corresponded with Donovan Soon, Director of FDAT and designer of PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay to find out more on this.

Donovan Soon is a founding partner at FDAT, an award-winning architecture and interior design studio. He believes that good design can improve lives and shape our increasingly intertwined economic, social and cultural landscape. Donovan strives to humanise our built environment and improve our relationship with nature.

In an email interview, he shared more on the urgency of sustainability in the hospitality industry, the impact of COVID-19 and more.

TVM: How can hotels be more sensitive to the environment and why is it important?

Donovan Soon: Hotels contribute substantially to the economy and local employment, however in doing so they also consume considerable amounts of energy and water. It is important that hotels are designed to be more environmentally responsible, for example using good passive design for better access to daylight and ventilation, shading from the hot sun and minimizing cooling load and dependency on non-renewable resources. Hotel buildings are also part of our built environment and can contribute to heat build-up in our cities. That is why many if not all of our designs feature extensive gardens. We find that nature and greenery work in so many ways – it creates delight and helps us psychologically – providing relief in dense city centres. Foliage help to layer and shade hard concrete surfaces that reflect and bounce heat around, reducing the urban heat island effect. Greenery absorbs carbon dioxide and produces oxygen helping to keep the air fresh in the city.

TVM: How do specific designs contribute to the guest experience while also helping with the cause of sustainability?

Donovan Soon: In PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, greenery features prominently from the moment one enters the hotel, from the 3-storey tall green wall at the drop-off to the 180- degree ascending planters that bring greenery into the 21-storey tall atrium – creating a unique Hotel-in-a-Garden! Guests enter the atrium lobby via a tree-top bridge, flanked by 6m trees below.

The 20-storey atrium is one of the largest – creating its own internal urbanism against which our extensive gardens sit.

These gardens and natural concepts permeate the hotel spaces – from the organic ‘bird’s nest’ pavilions nestled amongst the lush greenery to the climax at the ballroom which fully opens up to the atrium garden (as opposed to traditional ballrooms which are often enclosed boxes). The foliage is attractive, giving relief and connecting guests to nature. In addition, the greenery also helps to clean the air in the large-scale indoor space, producing oxygen and locking up carbon dioxide.

TVM: What are some of the key luxury hotel design trends expected to emerge over the next five years?

Donovan Soon: The pandemic has hastened a push back to nature; we believe that more sustainable, biophilic designs that are able to create a strong connection with nature will be very much in demand as more and more people realize that the health and climate crisis are inextricably related.

TVM: In the post-pandemic recovery, what will be some of the key trends that hoteliers must embrace for a resilient future?

Donovan Soon: We believe the hospitality industry will need to address both ends of the spectrum; on one end back to basics: nature, fresh air, greenery; and on the other embracing high-tech: using technology to communicate with guests, disseminate important information quickly, aid personalized customer experience and create a safe and clean setting.

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