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Consultants & Other Industry Resources
Elements of Resort Design
Designing resort and recreation facilities is much like problem-solving - you must understand the issues, define the goals, plan the steps, and generate solutions. Clearly defining the goal is intricately tied to understanding the issues. Planning resort and recreation facilities involves developing a clear approach and process that can lead to effective execution of solutions. A designer's challenge is to assemble the necessary tools, information, and approach.
Resort design should take into consideration four basic principles: Problem Definition, Target Audience Identification, Organization of Ideas and Resources, and Execution. The Execution phase is only one of the four that involves creating something tangible, a concept that is often difficult for designers and clients to grasp. It is common to want to jump in and immediately start creating something. However, following each step in the problem-solving process is essential, resulting in a much sturdier foundation upon which to build. Building ideas upon decisions leads to a more successful design solution.
Defining the Problem
The most difficult stage of any design project is usually grasping an accurate understanding of the problem. The designer and client must communicate clearly to define the goals of the project. Many projects begin without a mutual understanding, so it is up to the designer to interpret the client’s requests and challenge them, because there is always a problem to solve, even when it is not formally stated.
The designer and client should agree to a formal written outline stating the nature and scope of the project. Having this approved project statement greatly increases a designer’s ability to complete it successfully. In some cases, the very act of drafting this document causes the client and designer to realize that additional, or more careful, planning is required. Often this can mean completing a feasibility study once the target audience has been identified.
Identifying Your Audience
Obviously, it is essential to understand exactly whom your end product will serve. Families (by definition, this involves children) are a significant market for most resorts and recreation destinations. Designing a quality environment for families is a specialized and unique skill. The physical environment - its atmospherics, layout, equipment and furnishings, and the management of the facility - has a profound impact on fun, learning and behavior, since children of different ages have unique needs and interests. This highlights the importance of designing the environment to take into account children’s needs (fun and safety), parents’ needs (rest and relaxation), and the needs of the staff to be able to accomplish their jobs.
The Feasibility Study
A high-quality feasibility study is crucial to the long-term success of a resort or recreational facility. A good feasibility study will clarify ideas and identify resources that will go into the marketing plan - a market-driven strategy and concept design that is the road map for development and operations.
While feasibility studies usually include a demographic analysis of the market area and socio-economic lifestyle characteristics of residents and visitors, a good feasibility study also analyzes the competition, the local culture, site constraints and opportunities. From this analysis, a detailed development program is crafted, including product specifications, in addition to a concept plan and an economic plan projecting the project’s potential for success.
When conducting a proper feasibility study, any attempt to employ a stock formula will doom the project from the very beginning. Formulaic approaches do not take into consideration the dynamics of your particular market, nor could a formula possibly assess accurately the return-on-investment potential of your unique project. A proper feasibility study will be specific to your project alone, and will enable you to study all of its various options.
Establishing a unifying theme
When executing your plan, experts agree that your chances of success improve dramatically if you establish a unifying theme. An excellent place to begin establishing your unifying theme is with the outdoor facilities and landscaping. Consider adapting one of these seven classical landscaping themes that have established themselves over the centuries.
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