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Hotel Design Podcast

An Arts, Design and Society podcast
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The Hotel Design Podcast features some of the world’s biggest names in hospitality architecture, branding & design. Host Glenn Haussman and his guests explore the dynamics of hotel real estate, restaurant & lifestyle design and bring in- depth and incisive view points from travel industry insiders.


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Hotel Design Podcast #15: Kimberly Daoust
In this episode of the Hotel Design Podcast we welcome designer Kimberly Daoust, who is principal at Tandem - a Las Vegas-based interior design firm that she co-founded in 2005. While she lives in Austin, TX, she commutes by plane to Vegas. The conversation starts out with how Las Vegas is a great place for design freedom. Kim loves that by nature, the city is impermanent and so is its design. Glenn and Kim then discuss the first casino resort project that she ever took part in 25 years ago. The project was a riverboat casino, which she did with Paul Steelman - another visionary who was previously featured on The Hotel Design Podcast.   Kim then shares her experiences working on creating The Cromwell, which was the first project that her company Tandem completed on The Strip. The project challenged her to utilize original structural and design elements of the former Bill’s Gambling Saloon, such as the existing chandeliers, as a starting point for a modern boutique hotel design experience. She also shares details about what it was like working with Las Vegas icon and nightclub visionary Victor Drai, and how he inspired her to utilize a more feminine design approach throughout the property. They also discuss the opportunities and limitations designing new guestrooms in older guestrooms ideally built for a previous era, and how the small scale of the entire property has affected its overall evolution.  The conversation shifts to her role in designing the Bret Michaels suite at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya, and then back again to Las Vegas to discuss recreating the historic El Cortez. Kim discussed tying in a graphic street art element into the design, and the notion of designing something seemingly timeless in a city where timeless is anything but that. She also discusses the Black Hawk Casino expansion project in Colorado outside Denver. It has a Wild West feel in an area that goes back to the days of gold rushes back in the 1800s. Kim goes into detail about how she created a sense of authenticity for the 500-room hotel expansion.  The area is also exceptionally small, and the one-lane roads to leading to the hotel are curvy and narrow, so she talks about how that challenge affected the entire project from design to execution. Finally, Glenn and Kim discuss how she found her calling as a designer, how her dad’s role in the fabric business affected that goal, and how she found her way into casino and resort design through residential design. She also shares an emotional story regarding designing and building the Hard Rock Biloxi, MS, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina just before it was set to open. Kim also provides many incredible tips that you have to listen to. Visit us at for more episodes, or feel free to email us at  
Hotel Design Podcast #14: Bunnyfish
In this episode of the Hotel Design Podcast we welcome Tina Wichmann and Craig Palacios of the Las Vegas based design firm, Bunnyfish. They have been involved in some major projects, such as helping entrepreneur and CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh reinvent downtown Las Vegas. The conversation starts with the duo dissecting a project they did in Reno, Nevada to reinvent the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel. That brand was on the cusp of irrelevancy, but Marriott wanted to reinvent it. The folks at Bunnyfish worked closely with the Marriott team to follow overarching brand strategies while accommodating the desire to create something new that hadn’t been done before. We hear the story about the Renaissance Hotel’s reinvention, and how they rethought guestroom components such as the desk (which has come under lots of scrutiny lately in the hotel business), the dresser, and many other components. Then, the conversation shifts to how hotel amenities have changed during the last 20 years as guests are looking to have more experiences.  Now, food and beverages have returned as a critical element of hotel industry’s profitability. Guests are starting to do a lot more outside the guestroom, including connecting over coffee and being social in the hotel’s public spaces. Now, it’s about rethinking everything about the public space experience from the entire lobby, to the F&B experience, to the changing nature of how guests want to interact with staff. They discuss what all of that means in the context of service touchpoints and what designers should think about in the future, such as how to create spaces that morph during different times to equally capture the breakfast rush and the happy hour crowd respectively. Then, Tina and Craig discuss how they met entrepreneur and Zappos founder Tony Hsieh at their favorite coffee shop, who they formed a working relationship with after bonding over architectural books and their love for adaptive reuse projects. At some point, Bunnyfish was tasked with helping reinvigorate what was then a flagging downtown area at the behest of Hsieh. They took on the task of reinventing the Inspire theatre in Las Vegas, added two stories and morphed it into a popular bar, lounge, nightclub and theater. It’s one of the main attractions that have people hanging out in downtown Las Vegas again in record numbers. Finally, they discuss how micro apartments have come into fashion, particularly for millennials, and how that changes the way hotels are being developed for the rising needs of Generation Z. They also chat about creating new active adult communities and how that applies to changing hotel industry trends. Visit us at for more episodes, or feel free to email us at
Hotel Design Podcast #13: Todd-Avery Lenahan
In this episode of the Hotel Design Podcast we welcome the founder of TAL Studio, Todd-Avery Lenahan. Based in Las Vegas, TAL Studio has been an integral part in designing huge projects for many major companies, including Disney and Wynn. In fact, since we recorded this show in late spring, TAL is merging with Wynn entirely. So there’s been a little change in the company’s structure, but not its ethos. Todd has always loved hotels. From his earliest days traveling with family and staying in brands like Holiday Inn and Howard Johnsons, his passion for hotels was always there. Little did he know that he’d be designing them one day. Todd shares how he started working at hotels when he was 15 years old, which provided him with an operational background that most hotel designers do not have. Part of the conversation focuses on discussing how his operational background meshes with his love of design to significantly inform him of creating functional properties that also look great. “It's not just the physical quality of the building being some extraordinary opulent environment. What we do is we create a canvas upon which service delivery can be rolled out in the most anticipatory seamless way,” says Lenahan. This is essential to how he approaches hotel design. Too many resorts, for example, have infrastructural shortcomings even if they look gorgeous. Todd shares his philosophy on creating a structure that first and foremost serves the property’s operation, which helps owners save money in the long run while simultaneously increasing customer service. He also provides some strategies for designers to increase back of house functionality in the design phase. An important aspect of the conversation regards creating memorable guest experiences. For Todd, that means focusing on great storytelling at the property. His approach, which is an important lesson that he learned while working with Disney, is to look at the property’s story like a screenplay. He says he approaches this part of the job in a cinematic way. This helps create what he sees as a consensus around ideas while giving all stakeholders and construction people a framework for all design work to follow. He also shares how storytelling is critical to creating memorable spaces, managing owner and developer expectations, and more. Todd mentions that some Disney projects were used as case studies – including the Boardwalk Hotel, where he served as an Imagineer. Todd also brings up a Four Seasons project in Lanai, which opens the conversation up to the challenges of turning an aging building that is not built to today’s customer expectations into something that resonates with guests today at the luxury level. There is a struggle with making it feel authentic, which is a challenge on an island with less than 100 years of human history associated with it. He shares how they examined the greater Polynesian region for inspiration. They wrap up the conversation by discussing designing for companies like Viceroy and how the property in Chicago is very different than one of their hotels in Mexico, for example. Todd also shares details about creating memorable guest experiences that also drive owner profitability at the same time.   Enjoy the show and be sure to visit us at, or email us at  


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    Podcast Details
    Aug 13th, 2018
    Latest Episode
    Oct 28th, 2019
    Release Period
    No. of Episodes
    Avg. Episode Length
    44 minutes

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