‘Carlton de Brug’, a grand hotel in the small Mierlo with one big USP: sports. We were asked whether we felt like drawing up a new design for the hotel rooms. ‘Something sports-themed.’ Red folders with moods of soccer rooms and basketball rooms were presented to us. Did we feel like designing new rooms? Sure we did! But did they really need to be soccer-themed… not so sure. Read all about the metamorphosis of ‘Carlton de Brug’ into HUP, the most athletic hotel of the Netherlands.
What is Carlton de Brug/HUP in Mierlo? It’s a hotel, a sports complex, a restaurant and a place to discuss business. Carlton de Brug/HUP is a lot of things, therefore it attracts a broad audience. Families come to let off steam or relax. Neighboring companies gather for a breakout session. Sports teams from all around the world visit the hotel in Mierlo because of its immense sports facilities. Yes, even Maradona was here!
Right, now that you have some context, let’s get back to our story. As mentioned, Carlton de Brug knocked on our door for a new hotel room design. Still, we do consider it our task to question a brief. We came to the conclusion that a simple redesign of the hotel rooms did not fix the problem. That’s why, together with Carlton de Brug, we took a step back. We went on a quest to find the essence of the hotel, the purpose, the big ‘why’.
First things first. To have a good understanding of the hotel, of course we needed to visit the location as if we were guests ourselves. Our mystery visit looked like this.
To put it in words: no experience – outdated – underused USP – low-cost option in a competitive environment – big – unclear signalization – weak identity – no substantial or visual link between the sports facilities and the hotel.
Working together with the people of Carlton de Brug, we conducted a thorough analysis of the why/how/what of the hotel. The outcome? The complex needs to become a coach that helps its guests to pursue a social and fit way of life.
Imagine wanting to live a more active, more sporty way of life. You hire a personal trainer, exercise with him every week, he’s pushing you, supporting you, cheering you on. And when you’re done, he hands you a water bottle and a towel to wipe your sweat. Phew, great! What’s your trainer’s name? Is it Carlton de Brug?
The name Carlton de Brug, does not have an active ring to it to say the least. The new identity had to go by a new name. It ended up being the shortest, most active, most sporty, most encouraging Dutch phrase in existence:
So how sporty should a hotel with a gigantic amount of sports facilities be? And how big of a role should that have? Because, well, what about the soccer room and the basketball room? At HUP, the notion of ‘sports’ is interpreted in a very broad sense. Soccer is a sport indeed, but so is walking, enjoying, basketball, foosball, meeting or... the 100 meter lying flat in bed.
This is what we wanted to incorporate in the interior: it had to be fun, playful, not too serious with a very sporty twist. So no, the soccer room did not make it into the design.
HUP became a coach. A fresh, playful coach with an eye for detail. The entire interior includes elements that put you to action.
- Strategically-placed sporty quotes advocate taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Basketball-hoop waste bins make you want to score
- Walking lines in the corridors guide your way
- A secret door to adjacent rooms can be transformed into a table tennis table
The rooms were completely transformed. Coach HUP lets you sleep in sporty rooms where tables have sports socks and the carpet reminds you of a gym floor. The bunk beds for kids were finished with goal nets and the sliding door that separates the bunk beds from the room is actually a shuffleboard table.
We first remodeled three hotel rooms according to the new concept we had developed. We listened to what guests had to say about them and made adjustments. Tested, approved! That’s when we started the renovation of all the rooms in the hotel. The corridors received a makeover. Next… the lobby.
In Carlton de Brug, on the one hand, there was the hotel with sports facilities, on the other, the gym were the neighbors got fit. To us, HUP is one entity so we proposed to connect the gym and the hotel. The fitting piece would be the lobby. When going to the gym, local sports enthusiasts have to pass by the hotel lobby now. What’s the point in that? It results in much more circulation in the hotel lobby and, on top of that, the extra people are all wearing sports gear, turning them into walking decoration pieces. A win-win situation.
The lobby’s interior must have been the real deal back in the day. It would have made The Love Boat’s decor jealous. Fitted carpet, a grand piano, a life-sized chess game; a typical hotel lobby from the eighties. Clearly though, it does not suit HUP’s new identity.
HUP is a coach. And the lobby is the first impression our coach makes. To make that impression fit and friendly, lots of demolition and destruction work was needed. A part of the ceiling was removed to create more space. It resulted in much more daylight and a slide! We proposed incorporating a sports bar in the lobby. This way, the lobby also attracts people returning from the gym, who feel like having a drink or a bite to eat. The lobby becomes a place for everyone: both hotel guests and sporty neighbors, which generates an inviting buzz. Still, there was room left for an extremely large foosball table, a cinema room and a heavenly sofa to plunge into, putting your feet up by the fireplace.
A small, yet very important adjustment in the lobby is the check-in counter. We moved it a few dozen meters, precisely in front of the entrance. Walking through HUP’s doors, you end up right by the counter. A strategic location that makes it possible to offer all those who enter a personal welcome. Nice detail: steps were added to the counter, allowing children to climb up and check in with their parents.
The coach concept is not meant to be used in the interior alone, it applies to HUP’s employees as well. Everyone who works at HUP is a coach. That’s why we swapped the slick suits that the Carlton de Brug team was wearing for sporty outfits. All HUP coaches receive training to really stand up to their new titles.
You can look as sporty as you want. You may approach your guests like a coach. But how should all of this be communicated to the outside world? Together with the HUP team, we researched relevant communication tools and how to make best use of them. A complete brand bible was drawn up, setting out the entire corporate identity of HUP.
The brand bible has it all. The HUP DNA, the personas, the use of the logo, the brand new tone of voice and how to use it, color palette, typography, iconography, visualizations, … you name it. A holy bible for the new brand. After creating the brand bible, we also organized a photo-shoot with HUP.
HUP tells it like it is. That’s why we chose a bold powerful font for the logo. Adding a small serif at the top left side of the letters gives the logo a certain speed and adds an active feel to the font. Just like in the world of sports, colors play an important role in the HUP identity.
HUP’s communication is unique and distinctive. This goes for both the graphic design and the the tone of voice. Humor and a personal approach are key elements in the way HUP speaks. HUP’s playful accent resonates throughout the entire complex. Signage, goodies, the menu, … the HUP branding aims high.
Coach HUP motivates you to stay fit during your visit. HUP encourages you to take the stairs instead of the elevator, to let off steam on a punch bag in the meeting room and to rent out a bike to discover the surroundings.
Yup, HUP is the most sporty hotel of the Netherlands. Feel like seeing it for yourself? Book a room on their website hup.eu