Boutique Hotel Design goes Egalitarian

I almost fell off my bed yesterday, when last night, I was flipping through March's issue of Travel and Leisure magazine and came upon their winners for the 2010 Design Awards. The article itself is not what surprised me. Many of their winners like the Santiago Calatrava's train station in Liege, the renovation and restoration of La Mamounia in Marrakesh, the Mondrian's Spa Miami's South Beach or the design of the Nomiya Restaurant in Paris (see left) seemed like obvious choices. What threw me was the winner of design for the best large hotel...are you ready?...extended drum roll...


I know! I was floored too! So I had to do some digging this morning.

Motel 6, the 1960's American icon under the direction of European hotel company Accor is getting a major makeover known as the "Phoenix" prototype (as in the bird that symbolizes rebirth and renewal). The London design firm Priestmangoode is responsible for the hip, bright, utility driven new look. Instead of dated carpeting and furniture and old dizzying bedspreads there is now faux-wood floors (made from un-used industry scraps - very environmentally friendly), sleek furniture, 32 inch flat screen televisions and multi-media panels for ipods and laptops. The bathrooms have granite counters and round bowl-like sinks. While I have stayed in other boutique-like budget priced hotels in Europe - I haven't come across such a thing in the U.S.
After remodel

While the price today isn't quite the $6 it was when it first opened in Santa Barbara, it is by comparison still very reasonable. Just goes to show that good design doesn't have to be expansive or exclusive to the wealthy. It used to be when I went on road trips - I would drive right by a Motel 6 when looking for a place to stay. But now while they are slowly roll out this make-over, my curiosity is going to purposefully bring me to a city that has a newly redone Motel 6. As an architect and a travel junkie, this I have to check out. Road trip anyone?

For those who never stayed in a Model 6 before the remodel
- this is what it looked like.
Say Bye-Bye to depressing.


Reminder to Self: It's the Journey NOT the Outcome

I woke up this morning to a call from my doctor's office. Before I even had a chance to wipe the sleep from my eyes, I realized that the next thing I would have to do this morning was call my medical insurance company. For everyone living in the United States, you know trying to get information from your medical insurance company about whether they cover a treatment or medicine you need is pure, unadulterated torture. Especially since every year you pay more and more and they cover less and less. After hanging up the phone with the doctor's office, I collapsed back onto my pillow - wondering if and how I could wake up to an alternate universe.

What I missed and completely did not appreciate of course since I was too busy sinking myself into a deep dark abyss, was that the sun was shining brilliantly; the birds were practicing their morning song with extra relish and joy; and my smooth velvety piping hot cafe latte made by my husband was waiting for me in the kitchen.

After breakfast, I trudged back up stairs and sat in front of my computer to check emails, updates, the news..... And since I was already in a lousy mood, I decided to pay some bills. However, the one smart thing I decided to do while trying to pay my bills was watch business school professor and life coach Srikumar Rao give his talk on how we actually teach ourselves to be unhappy but are actually hard-wired to be happy. In our results oriented society - we often forget that the quality of our lives is really based on our journey and not the various outcomes. By the end of his talk, I was still paying my bills, but this time, all I heard were the birds harmonizing their concerto and all I was thinking about was how good the rays of the sun felt as they warmed my study after the early morning chill.

So I am attaching this video clip below. Hopefully, if your day isn't going quite right, it will do the same for you.


Star Gazing at El Matador Beach

It's my favorite beach in Malibu. The sand is smooth...the rocks are worn and arranged like a sculpture museum...it's beautiful...keeps a low profile and nourishes your soul. I've gone there a handful of times. Once for a birthday picnic. We lay there on our picnic blanket, listened to the waves and watched the sunset with no one around us. I went again most recently with my sister who was visiting and we saw for the first time, this beach blanketed with some rather debaucherous starfish enjoying the rays of the sun.

It was a good day.
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