Historic hotels are the perfect getaway for modern travelers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Offering a different take on luxury than other premium hotels, these lodgings have unique appeal for both tourists and locals alike. However, the age and traditional design that so many find attractive can also present significant drawbacks to travelers that are used to modern luxury and convenience. This presents the hotels with a unique challenge: How can the hotel be brought up to date while still staying true to its historical roots?
Historic hotels aim to provide the highest level of hospitality possible but face unique difficulties as they seek to modernize without losing any of their distinct character. After all, the hotel’s traditional design is often what attracts guests in the first place, so compromising historical authenticity in order to achieve modern luxury would actually leave the hotel worse off.
Certain modern amenities are easier to incorporate than others. No matter the hotel’s theme, appliances such as televisions, telephones and refrigerators can all be added without detracting from the traditional décor. Similarly, even the most modern conveniences such as high speed Wi-Fi networks are incredibly common at most historic hotels. The prevalence of these modern amenities can be attributed to their low impact installation. But easy-to-install products like these only tell us half the story. Many modern technologies that we consider essential to daily life require a fair amount of creative thinking to be seamlessly integrated into historic hotels without disrupting their historic atmosphere.
One of the most difficult modern comforts to include is an up-to-date climate control solution. Unfortunately, these are absolutely essential for any hotel aiming to provide guests with a comfortable environment. Despite their necessity, the chief drawback of modern climate control solutions remains their daunting installation requirements for historic hotels. Many of these buildings were designed before the advent of climate control, and even those that feature older systems often lack the space required for modern solutions.
The installation of modern climate control solutions poses problems for old hotels in several distinct areas. First, careful planning is necessary to ensure that the HVAC solution is
both highly efficient and creates as little impact as possible on the building’s historic design. The next major concern is the placement of the condensing units. Older structures may not be able to support heavy units on their rooftops, so installation flexibility is incredibly important. Finally, the new solution must be as quiet as possible so as not to disrupt the hotel guests. Energy efficiency and other factors also play a role in selecting the right climate control solution, but a primary concern of any hotel owner is preserving a property’s elegant ambiance that harkens back to a bygone era
Originally opened in 1928, the Chicago Motor Club was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The building fell into disrepair and sat vacant for several years before it underwent massive renovations in 2015 to become a Hilton Hampton Inn hotel. Ownership stressed the importance of preserving the building’s Art Deco design while modernizing the interior and amenities. In order to bring in the advanced technology to match the luxury and convenience of this historic building, the Hampton Inn Chicago Downtown owner and their mechanical contractor partnered with LG Air Conditioning Systems and the local rep. Midwest Applied to find the ideal HVAC solution. After surveying the building, the design team selected the powerful Multi V IV VRF as the ideal climate control solution for the hotel. Balancing power and flexibility, the LG solutions provided the hotel first rate performance while preserving the building’s historic design.
The successful installation of a modern climate control solution at the Chicago Motor Club demonstrates that historic hotels can overcome what was once one of their most considerable challenges. The lessons learned from the installation can be applied to other historic hotels in the future, bringing them up to the standards of modern five star hotels. By successfully combining modern comfort and convenience with rich cultural tradition, other historic hotels can place themselves in better position to appeal to luxury consumers. The increasing viability of historic hotels has the potential to take tourism into exciting new frontiers, opening up opportunities for immersive cultural travel experiences around the globe.