What was the inspiration behind the design of the Mullion Cove Hotel Spa
From the outset, early discussions on the brief referenced Japanese bathing rituals which continued to be an inspiration throughout the project. There are many synergies between Japan and Cornwall which we learnt through our research including ceramics and use of materials.
Tradition and ceremony were key themes that resonated with us. This is reflected in a transitional moment from the lounge in to the spa suite which we refer to as the Sando – you pass through a gateway on to experience the next stage of the spa. In Japanese culture ‘Sando’ are gates leading to a shrine or temple. The overall experience of the spa is a journey of relaxation and as such we felt it is befitting of a feeling of ceremony from the outset.
Do you work closely with the client to establish the overall design vision?
Absolutely – this is where we shape the brief with the client. The client needs to share their vision for the hospitality experience they want to provide for their guest. We often feed in to this process to bring our thinking to the table – this process defines the overall vision which relates to design but also to the way staff will welcome and interact with guests.
Talk us through the main design features
One main feature of the spa is undoubtedly the landscape – it is a breath-taking view. Internally we have ensured this remains a key feature and as such the spaces are created to bring this view in to the play.
The spa is shaped around a central lounge which features a textured timber clad wall where guests decompress on arrival and return to as part of their spa experience. The lounge features heavily in the guest experience, it’s a place to unwind with a feature double-sided fire adjoining a secluded rejuvenation lounge for post treatment relaxation. There is a transitional moment from the lounge in to the main body of the building passing through the Sando as mentioned earlier.
Cocoon like treatment rooms are set further back in to the building and lighting has been used strategically within these to enhance the experience, lighting and darkening through different stages of a treatment.
Were there any challenges faced for this project?
This is an intimate and special spa experience – one challenge was to balance the grandeur of the exterior landscape with the interior spaces. Retain connectivity whilst ensuring guests felt cocooned. Another is to ensure that the space feels special and luxurious; our design scheme needs to transport guests to a world away from their everyday
How important is it to fully understand the type of guest experience the client wants to create?
Understanding the guest experience and journey through each individual space is absolutely key to shaping any of our design schemes. Our approach is to use our skills to shape spaces that will enhance the human experience, to create spaces that will enhance how you feel.
How does this help with the design process?
With this understanding we are able to plan how the building, the furniture, the finishes and each room can influence an experience. It’s a multi-layered process, starting with establishing how the customer will flow through the space but then layering this with touch points, highlights and practical thinking. This thinking has to be applied to all experiences within the spa which build the whole. How will guests know where to go intuitively? How will guests feel in the changing rooms? How can we integrate the retail of products without it feeling like a shop? What do we prioritise as touch points? How and where will lighting enhance the mood?
What is your favourite part of the design?
My favourite part of the scheme is the feeling that rises in the transition of stepping over the threshold. This is the moment for me when that interior design scheme sets the tone for the journey ahead and the staff welcome you to tranquillity.
How important is it to ensure the design elements all come together to bring the final idea to life?
Taking a project from concept to completion requires all parties to be on board with the design vision. It’s vital that the client, the staff and the contractor can see how the design elements will influence the final guests experience. With all parties striving for one vision this can shape design details such as how staff meet and greet customers, how can our design help ensure this is welcoming, friendly and sets the best first impression. Or where a contractor might want to make an amend on site – if they have a full understanding of what we’re looking to achieve that informs their decision making also, ensuring they understand why we want elements constructed or set out in a certain way.
What three words would you use to describe the newly designed Spa?
Rich, Textured, Intimate.
Director of Hart Miller Design, Anna Hart