Platform bed, courtesy H M K Wholesale Mattress Co.

In September, the world watches as fashion designers debut their latest looks on the runways. This year, apparently, pencil skirts and high leather boots are on trend. But well-dressed women know that it’s best not to chase the trends; instead invest in classics and then sprinkle in a few items that show you’re still “with it.”

Dawn Sena
Dawn Sena

When it comes to resort unit design, a similar philosophy may be wise. “You have to be careful not to be too trendy,” says Dawn Sena, president of Sena Hospitality Design Inc. “If you go with a strong trend it will probably look dated before you’re ready to renovate again.”

There are, however, real advances in materials and design that merit a place in any upcoming renovation project. These new materials and styles have real advantages over previous versions from cost savings to convenience. Here, design insiders share their ideas for developing your resort’s personal style.

Bedrooms: Ditch the Box Spring
Leslie Pia, commercial sales manager for H M K Wholesale Mattress Co., has some surprising advice: don’t buy box springs. “We’re suggesting solid wood platform beds,” she says. “The biggest compliant we would get was from breakage of box springs. A platform bed does away with the added expense of buying a box spring and reduces issues such as bed bugs. It’s just better all the way around.”

Sena agrees, saying the platform bed has a cleaner line. “You can even use a continuous head board with floating nightstands that are attached.” The type of mattress on that platform is changing also. “Mattresses are thicker than they ever have been,” Pia says. “They have really evolved. They have better coils and pillow tops with foam gel that is breathable and super comfortable. There’s no need to buy double-sided mattresses. With single-sided mattresses, you don’t have to flip them, which helps prevent injuries to housekeepers.”

Although consumers are increasingly choosing foam mattresses, Pia doesn’t recommend them for resort use. “It doesn’t speak to the masses; some people don’t like them at all.”

Samantha Smith
Samantha Smith

When dressing the bed, consider eco-friendly linens, suggests Samantha Smith, marketing manager, Star Linen and Supply. “Resorts should definitely consider incorporating an eco-friendly element to their properties, whether it be eco-friendly textiles, low-flow toilets, LED lighting or biodegradable amenities,” she says. “If you aren’t doing it, your competitors are, and a lot of businesses and individuals look for that eco-friendly element when choosing where to stay.”

Those linens should have a light and airy feel. “We’re going to a cleaner look in bedding packages, with white sheets and linens,” Sena says. “Recently we have started to use a printed top sheet, and then we add a pop of color with pillow or bolsters.”

Kitchens and Family Rooms
What makes timeshare resorts special is that they have kitchens and family rooms, giving them that homey feel. Although a residential look is preferred, commercial suppliers are needed so that units will stand up to wear and tear from guests and meet safety standards. “You can’t just go to your local furniture store and pick something out,” Sena explains. “For commercial applications you need double-rub fabrics, slip-resistant tiles, and there’s even liability for things like drapes which have to meet standards for fire resistance.”

“The quality of fabrics that we work with serving five-star resorts continues to improve,” says Dale Greene, Coast to Coast Design’s director of operations. “The yarn quality continues to increase, and the stain resistance has also improved.”

Dale Green
Dale Green

Coast to Coast custom creates custom pieces for designers, adding features to make the end result more durable. “We work closely with designers to create unique pieces with unique materials and finishes, and take pride in creating our own custom finishes for our clients,” he says. “We use a large selection of woods and veneers to CNC (Computer Numerical Control) wood carvings, CNC metal work, gold and silver leaf, exotic marbles, handmade hardware and much, much more. We thoroughly inspect the drawing to make sure it will be structurally strong and durable. Often, we take the veneers and finishes that a designer may pick out and then enhance the veneers and finishes with higher quality techniques and materials. I love talking to a designer on the phone or in person. This helps them in making design decisions, which in turn helps move the project along much faster.”

According to Greene, many recent high-end projects have featured a more industrial look, with custom metal work. “Industrial design today is also about textures, colors and cultural experiences,” he says. “Marble has become a great partner for metal work as well, as it is a great strong looking combination.”

Sena has also featured natural wood in recent projects, including the use of a live edge sofa table. She advises that coffee tables, lighting and art are good places to experiment with more trendy pieces.

When it comes to furniture, there’s one trend that must be acknowledged: the need for plugs, USB ports and other ways to accommodate today’s gadgets. A recent Global Business Travel Association survey found that they rated power and USB ports as the No. 1 tech item they’d like to see, ahead of keyless entry or personalizing their stay by remembering preferences.

“People want to charge more devices, so we’re incorporating USB ports and charging stations into headboard sconces and other pieces,” Sena says.

Greene agrees, saying, “We’re also installing tons of sophisticated data ports, LED technology and electronics with motion and remote capabilities into our pieces.”

The unlucky folks who are stuck sleeping in the family room now have less to complain about. “We’ve gotten away from those thin sofa bed mattresses,” Sena says. “There are new models, like the Zen Sleeper or Cozy Mattress Sleeper System, where you don’t feel the bars at all. It’s a completely different type of mechanism.”

One area that does take after trends in residential design is flooring, as carpet is giving way to wood, or is as often the case, wood-like tile or high-end vinyl planks. “It’s becoming more affordable, and you don’t have to replace it as often,” Sena says. “If you do need to replace the vinyl planks, it’s much easier to take up than porcelain tile, and it costs less to install.

Go Local
One way resorts can show flair without being trendy is by adding design elements inspired by where they are. “Consider adding décor pieces by local artisans,” Sena advise. “You can also use photography from your area.”

In one recent project at a beachfront property, Sena used photos of the local pier in the units. For another project in Nashville, she had photos taken of a flower cart and printed them in sepia but left several of the flowers with their natural color. “It was unique-looking, and had just pops of color. Including something local just adds to the experience of travel.”