Feature, Hospitality/Leisure

How our hotel lights will adapt to the weather

The Rosewood London is a luxury hotel with 262 guest rooms and 44 suites – one of which has its own postcode. Lux met the engineering director Ian Odendaal to discover how the hotel is cutting energy and maintenance costs without compromising on ambience.

My job is to maintain and enhance the hotel’s lighting
That includes bedrooms, public areas, restaurants and outlets, and also back of house. The hotel launched in October 2013 as the new Rosewood London property. We’ve involved a lighting designer from Germany, Joern Siebke from Studio Lux Berlin. We’ve also used Lutron controls extensively throughout the property for our lighting scene settings. 

We want lights that respond to changing daylight
Right now we’re looking to adjust some of the scene settings and fading times. We’ve taken on board a lot of comments from guests and we’re tweaking the lighting at the moment to enhance the guest experience.

“We are very focused on the whole guest experience, and we don’t want to compromise the design”

The light will go through various scenes throughout the day – morning, afternoon, early evening and late night. We’d like to enhance all the design features but also equally give the guests an inviting environment where they can lounge and relax. But equally, we want to be able to provide suitable settings for our various functions and events. 

We have an astronomical clock installed that follows daylight hours in the UK throughout the seasons. It’s very difficult in the UK to have the correct scene setting for the time of the day – most days you’ll have a bright, clear day but you can also have dark, overcast days. So we’re playing around with the intensity of the light and the scene settings of the lamps to find a happy medium between those two extremes. 

Sensors will enhance the sense of place
We don’t want to lose focus of the design elements of the hotel, so it will be subtle changes that we will implement. We’d like the light level to inform the dimming system, so if we have a bright day, the light level will move down a little bit and the opposite for a dark day. It’s all to complement the look and feel of the hotel when guests arrive. 

With our constantly changing weather it’s a challenge to automatically control the light and get it right using light sensors interfaced with a panel. 

The enhanced light settings will predominantly be in the public areas. We’ve got large windows in the restaurant letting in a lot of natural light, so it gives you almost too much light on a bright day. We want to find a balance while still maintaining a very consistent look and feel throughout the year. It’s all about the sense of place.

LEDs are starting to meet our needs
We’ve got a combination of halogens, incandescent and LEDS. LEDs have progressed tremendously since the design of Rosewood London was done back in 2010-11, so I’m working with the lighting designer again to retrofit LEDs. We’re keen to enhance efficiency and lamp hours as new technology arrives on the market, not least because we want to handle the disruption from lamp failures without too many ugly stepladders in the lobby. 

Our energy efficiency will improve as lighting technology develops. We all know in the lighting industry that technology is developing every year, sometimes even month by month, so will review all of our lighting on an annual basis.

Lighting suppliers need to understand our needs
The majority of lighting was not off-the-shelf. We’ve used Chelsom and other well-known suppliers, but a lot of the lamps were bespoke, manufactured for the hotel, which makes it really interesting.

We are very focused on the whole guest experience and we don’t want to compromise the design element of the hotel. Lighting plays an important part in showcasing the design that was done, which we do not want to lose focus on.

I do attend lighting seminars and exhibitions, and for the latter I would really value suppliers and manufacturers to understand what we’re trying to achieve in the hospitality industry. It’s about everything the guests see and feel when they’re with us. We need to meet their expectations and needs and give them a certain experience when they arrive at the hotel.