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Crowne Plaza Marlow
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7th December 2001 - Work has already started on the construction of a new deluxe Crowne Plaza hotel, just minutes from Marlow town centre, in April. The hotel is due to open in the summer of 2002. The Crowne Plaza Marlow is the first of a number of exclusive hotel properties to be developed by Mango Hotels Ltd as part of a franchise with one of the world's largest hotel companies, InterContinental™ Hotels Group.

The three-storey Crowne Plaza Marlow is a new generation of Crowne Plaza hotel and represents a total investment of approximately 20 million. The hotel will offer 168 guest rooms including a range of suites and Club rooms, exclusive dining options, extensive conferencing and function facilities and a 9500-square-foot leisure club with external hot tubs overlooking the lake.

The Design Brief of Crowne Plaza Marlow

Question: How to create a contemporary, classic and comfortable space where clients can work and work-out, do business brunch and intimate dinner, let off steam in a board meeting and beauty therapy room? How to create, in short, a space which is simultaneously public, private and professional?

Answer: A two-floor hotel incorporating meeting rooms and conference centre, bar and restaurant, health and beauty facilities, bedrooms and gathering points away from dining and drinking areas, all set within landscaped grounds including a lake, extensive planting, paved terraces for alfresco dining and garden sculpture. With floor-to-ceiling windows which flood the hotel with light, natural materials, fabrics and colours used in the interior and the organic shapes of the dark-wood furniture and dining areas, the emphasis is very much on the hotel and its outside grounds as one rhythmic, coherent space.

To create a strong yet elegant design aesthetic, fitting a four-star, new-concept hotel, with an emphasis on high-quality furnishings and fabrics and a mixture of contemporary, 'theatrical' pieces with timeless classics. There were four key concepts which the design team thought essential to bring together:

1) Comfort and luxury. Deep cushions, dark woods, curvy furniture, chocolates and creams, thick pile carpet islands under small seating areas, soft fabrics such as buttery leathers, frosted glass screens, intimate lighting which can be controlled with mode settings, table and desk lamps. Small, private spaces within public areas in which clients can gather.

2) Private and professional. Five private meeting rooms and a large function room form the 'conference suite' on the 1st floor. The main, ground floor boardroom is positioned next to the formal entrance hall and reception. In contrast, the bedrooms fan out into the hotel garden on the ground floor, with the bar and restaurant also opening out on to the terrace. There is therefore a clear spatial division between work and relaxation spaces, which is echoed in the choice of fabrics, furnishings and materials. Black leather, chrome light fittings, sleek chairs, imposing 'set-piece' tables and dark carpet characterise the meeting rooms. Soft hues interspersed with highlights of strong colour, easy armchairs, abstract prints, American walnut veneers and small, modern lamps characterise the sleeping areas.

3) Dramatic use of space and contrast. Areas of the hotel have been conceived as set pieces, with theatrical elements. The central limestone funnel of the entrance hall leading into the dining area. The bow-curve of the walnut and black granite bar. The strong accents of burnt orange amongst soft white painted walls. The spherical and cylindrical contemporary furniture, lamps and light fittings. The contrast of natural materials, such as drill cotton, timber, limestone and granite with contemporary, harder finishes such as chrome, glass, steel, simple patterned monochrome carpet rugs and dark leathers. Surprising elements such as modernist furniture with unusual lines, pieces of contemporary sculpture, surrealist lamps and dividing screens cut into organic shapes will be included so that the client's eye is always led to something new and distinctive.

4) High-tech facilities. The ground floor boardroom will have state-of-the-art facilities: projectors, back projection screen, ISDN facilities, video conferencing, fax machines etc. The 1st floor 'conference suite' will be similarly equipped, with the additional benefit of having a breakout area for in-between-meetings coffee and a large, subdividing function room which can be used for both dining and public speaking purposes. The emphasis is on the latest IT facilities within a professional, polished environment characterised by sleek furniture, ample seating, good light sources and a versatile use of space.

The Foyer/ Reception Area

This is a dramatic showpiece, with its shimmering pale limestone floor, American walnut, black granite and stainless steel curved reception desk, low seating areas covered in contrasting black and cream leathers, outrageous pieces of contemporary furniture and theatrical torch wall lights. The emphasis is on an uncluttered sweep of space, with the limestone flooring and funnel leading the eye into the bar and restaurant area, and the principal staircase leading to 1st floor conference suites.

The Bar/ Restaurant

This is a large area incorporating a bar, lounge and bistro seating, restaurant seating including private booths screened off from larger, open-plan areas. Floor-to-ceiling windows give an uninterrupted view across the terrace and gardens. Dark wood, chrome and stainless steel, wood and frosted glass panels and sliding doors, leather and suede upholstery, pillars separating eating and drinking areas and modernist furniture all combine to create a coherent space. There is an emphasis on repetition, such as lamps, sofa and table arrangements, colour harmonies and patinated aluminium panels to pull the large and multifunctional space together and to keep the overall design simple, classic and contemporary.

The Boardroom/ Conference Centre

The ground floor boardroom colour scheme is predominately cream, coffee and black, with a leaf motif carpet, black leather swivel chairs and cream leather tub chairs. The modern carpet creates a dynamic floor space left uncluttered except for a large table area and seating. Heavy beige curtains and cutting-edge IT facilities create a comfortable, but crucially professional, working environment.

The 1st floor conference suites continue the soft blue colour harmonies of the bistro and restaurant area, and comprise five individual meeting rooms around a function suite seating 240 persons and a breakout area with a bar, comfortable seating and low coffee tables. The breakout area overlooks the terrace, with floor-to-ceiling windows draped in sandy linen curtains to allow natural light to flood in. The emphasis is on the versatility of the space. The function room can be divided into two sections, and the breakout area can be used for both drinks and informal meetings.

The Bedroom Wings

There are a variety of bedroom types: Standard Double, Standard King, Double Double, Executive and Executive Suite. There are also excellent disabled facilities: eight bedrooms and bathrooms with full disabled fittings and requirements. The emphasis in the bedrooms is on a calming colour scheme of soft blues, greys and lavenders, walnut furniture with dramatic headboards and a variety of different fabrics and textures. Woollen throws and cushions, navy leather upholstery over easy chairs and foot-recliners and contrasting paint colours on walls create a comfortable, modern space. An extra bedroom facility is the comfortable and informal workstation with full IT facilities.

The bathrooms are designed around a highly contemporary monochromatic scheme. Black granite and white limestone tiles, ebonised timber, large mirror and ultra-modern bathroom fittings, such as the white bowl / basins and single chrome tap, create a slick, polished and luxurious environment.

The Health and Beauty Centre

The need for a space in which to unwind and forget the day's meetings is behind the extensive and fully equipped leisure zone, comprising a deep-blue mosaic-tiled swimming pool, hot tub, sauna and steam room, drench showers, aerobics studio, gymnasium and three beauty rooms. Fittings and materials, as with the bathrooms above, will be sleek and minimal. Maple wood, natural stone tiling and flooring and soft beiges, creams and blacks will dominate.


As a hotel with a variety of facilities, from conferences to facials, this project has been a challenging one for our design team. We have treated the project throughout as a showcase opportunity to combine cutting-edge contemporary design, furniture and fittings with high-quality fabrics and materials in a modern space. The demands of the project have been stimulating and have highlighted to us the importance of designing an entire space, from foyer to bedroom, as a coherent, logical and luxurious one. We hope you are pleased with the results.

For images of the above, please contact Liz Wood:

Liz Wood
Crowne Plaza Marlow
Fieldhouse Lane
Tel: +44 8704448940
E-mail: [email protected]

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