A new twist for iconic brands

November 16, 2018 Susan LaFleur

Adapting hotel brand standards to reflect local culture and stand out in the South Florida marketplace 


Hospitality brands have their own personality that make them stand out in a competitive marketplace. They convey the reliability of a recognizable brand that customers have come to trust. A brand’s personality reminds customers of that brand’s service offerings, but today’s traveler is also looking for a unique experience, a sense of place, and exhilarating memories. Now more than ever, we are asked to create designs for the hospitality industry that offer the familiarity and comfort of a brand while delivering a unique experience.

I relish the challenge to design a special project that not only gives our clients the standards they need, but also provides them with a unique twist that can only be found at that location. I’ve recently designed two projects in which traditional hospitality brands allowed us to adapt their brand standards while developing a unique destination that speaks to the location.


Yotelpad, Miami, Florida


Recent projects, such as the 31-story YotelPad and Aloft South Beach, have allowed me and my team at Stantec Miami to go off script and integrate individual finishes and techniques that connect the vibe and authenticity of the city to the project.

Miami has an eclectic and energetic persona unlike any other city in the world—and visitors seek to experience it. For YotelPad, the client let us adapt the brand standards for its Miami hotel and residences project,  telling its story in a unique way. Yotelpad is a newly-defined brand, all about technology and compact luxury. Typically, YotelPad plays with the metaphor of travel—a bit like a futuristic cruise ship—and it features signature experiences such as “Mission Control” (Yotel’s brand interpretation for the reception desk) and “Cabin Crew” (Yotel hotel staff) while its rooms are designed with that playful ship’s cabin-like feel. While we kept to the brand’s room standards and compartments at the YotelPad in downtown Miami, Yotel gave us the flexibility to connect to the culture, energy, and environment of downtown Miami in its common spaces.


Aloft South Beach, Florida


Another project that we had a lot of fun designing was the adaptive re-use of Aloft South Beach. The former Ankara Motel opened on Collins Avenue in 1954 and is a historic property. Undertaking an update of a mid-century building presented a number of complex challenges and opportunities—the foremost being its size. Aloft South Beach was the largest in its portfolio when it opened in 2015. With the South Beach trends and vibe in mind, however, we approached this project as a boutique hotel and designed for that experience while still maintaining Aloft’s distinctive brand characteristics. Our design accentuated the original features in the grand two-story hotel lobby by applying a mid-century modern sensibility that connects it to the luxury motel’s golden era. We customized its vintage pool deck and restaurant space to the South Beach market and juxtaposed those assets with a sleek, modern eight-story tower.


Yotelpad, Miami, Florida


When designing these projects, it’s all a balancing act. By focusing on great design and using our knowledge and understanding of the city, we have been able to create exciting destinations that connect with the identity of our Miami market while maintaining our clients’ attractive and recognizable brands.

Here are four ways we connected these hospitality projects with the environment and culture of Miami without compromising their brand standards.

1. Experiencing Miami is all about being outside. At YotelPad, we incorporated a rooftop pool deck with expansive views overlooking the city and the bay. When you arrive at the pool, you get an amazing breeze coming off of Biscayne Bay that brings you into the tropical experience that is Miami.

2. At both Aloft and YotelPad, we use colors and materials that connect directly to the city and its natural setting. Light and earth tones are inspired by our white, sandy beaches and turquoise waters. YotelPad takes inspiration from the vibrant downtown arts district. Fabrics are suitable (and durable) for warm and humid weather. White linen drapery blowing in the wind captivates the senses, while stone or wood flooring are used to cool our interiors.


Aloft South Beach, Florida


3. Whenever possible, our interior designers and architects work closely together on hospitality projects. The benefit of these integrated services is that I’m involved early in the design process, rather than after the design for the building is largely set. By working closely with building architects during design, we can achieve superior space planning and a more interwoven blend of architecture and interior concepts in terms of function and aesthetics. For example, at Aloft we incorporated subtle references to the exterior façade throughout the interior.

4. South American music and dance is part of the colorful mosaic that forms Miami culture. At YotelPad, our team was encouraged to find a way to bring some of that exciting nightlife into the space to enliven it year-round for guests, residents, and locals alike. As a result, our design allows the entryway to double as a setting for live music and connect residents and visitors back to the Latin culture of the Miami community.


Aloft South Beach, Florida


As an interior designer living in Miami, I’m inspired by the place I love and want to share everything that makes it special to our visitors. No matter where we work, it’s important to connect with the city that we are designing for—we always take the time to immerse ourselves in the local culture and give our designs a flavor that makes for a memorable, unique experience. After all, it’s the uniqueness of places that makes travel so enriching.

About the Author

Susan LaFleur

As an energetic and spirited designer, Susan LaFleur has set herself apart amongst the hospitality and residential design world. Susan draws inspiration from everyday life and feels it is one of the best ways to develop new design elements while bringing her client’s vision to life and telling a unique story with each project’s design.

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