Getting paid to lie in bed might sound too good to be true, but putting mattresses to the test is all in a day’s work when you’re in the business of designing holidays.
“One of the first things I do when we build a new bedroom is test out the bed”, explains Helen Morgan, who’s part of the Product Development team at Thomson. “Getting a good night’s sleep is so important when you’re on holiday, so it’s vital to check it’s up to the job!”
Helen’s tick list includes everything from the feel of the mattress (firm with a cushioned topper is best) to the state of the pillows (two plump pillows per person, if you’re wondering). But beds are just one piece of the puzzle for her team, who take new hotels from drawing board to reality.
A Bright Idea
“Everything we do starts with a concept, which comes straight from customer research. We know holidays aren’t a case of one size fits all, so we’ve tailored each of our collections to specific groups of people. Take Thomson Couples – customers told us they wanted quality time away with their other half, so we designed these contemporary adults-only hotels.”
Thomson Sensatori is another example. These 5-star hotels are built around the idea of invigorating the senses, and come with things like gourmet restaurants and deluxe spas. Helen and the team have just designed the latest addition to the collection, Sensatori Resort Turkey, which opens this May.
“We found the perfect plot for Sensatori Resort Turkey in a place called Side. The location matched all the requirements on the specification – which is basically a wish-list of what customers want – but the existing hotel didn’t quite cut it, so we cleared the plot and started from scratch.”
With a hotel’s location sorted, the site fills with everyone from health and safety experts to architects and interior designers armed with paper plans and CGI images. “There’s so much to think about at this stage – from how many swimming pools there’ll be to how we’re going to make the hotel as environmentally-friendly as possible.”
The Finer Details
Bedrooms are one of the first things to come under the microscope. A pilot room is built, decorated and kitted out with furniture, while the rest of the building is still a concrete shell. “That way we can check we’re totally happy with everything, from the quality of the grouting to the colour of the walls.”
And Helen’s team won’t stop until they’re 100 per cent satisfied. She explains, “At this stage we ended up changing the interior design for Sensatori Resort Turkey, to give it a more contemporary look.”
From then on, it’s all about the finer details. “For our Sensatori hotels, we pick the music that’ll be played in each restaurant according to the atmosphere it’ll create. And rather than just selecting cocktails for the bar menus, we drill right down to the colour of the straws. We’ve even created a signature Sensatori scent using calendula and chamomile, which is used in oil burners.”
The Final Stretch
While the hotel build is progressing, everything that’ll go on inside it – like children’s clubs and entertainment – comes under just as much scrutiny. And even once the doors finally open, there’s work to be done. “Our behind-the-scenes team monitors everything at the hotel, while people back in the office keep an eye on things like TripAdvisor reviews.”
Totted up, a project like this takes something in the region of two years to complete. Which means your 2015 break is already taking shape…
Check out Helen’s essential checklist for any new hotel bedroom:
• Bed – is it comfy?
• Plug sockets – can I charge my phone and my camera at the same time?
• Hairdryer – does the cord stretch far enough or am I going to have to crane my neck?
• Shower head – can I angle it so I don’t have to get my hair wet?
• Coat hangers and drawers – can I realistically get two weeks’ worth of stuff in without looking like a crumpled mess?
Does this sound like your idea of a dream job?