It’s no surprise that hotel guests are drawn to outdoor spaces that invite them to escape and breathe in the fresh air. Whether guests are looking for a quiet nook to read a book, a chic environment to have cocktails with friends, or a pool deck for the entire family to play, a hotel’s outdoor areas matter as much as the interior spaces.

Designing For the Great Outdoors

While there may not be more freedom when designing outdoor spaces, I have found that overcoming challenges like functional space, weather, and material limitations, often produces the most creative results – results that connect the indoor/outdoor design narrative while providing guests with the natural elements they crave.

Cambria hotel, Madeira Beach, FL

 Madeira Beach uses the slogan “Ready. Set. Relax.” We embraced that theme in our indoor and outdoor design selections, greeting lobby guests with a soothing beach vibe complete with tropical palms, florals, and greenery. The legend of pirate John LeVeque unfolds by incorporating gold coins, jewels, compasses, and maps throughout the hotel, taking Cambria guests on a treasure hunt. We applied these details to multiple outdoor areas for guests to enjoy. 

 Hidden gem: The treasure hunt continued into the pool where gold chips reside in the tiles! 

The rooftop pool is the cherry on top of this perfect beach retreat. With ample space to cozy up on a poolside chaise lounger, sip cocktails at the pool bar, gaze at the Gulf of Mexico from the comfort of a locally made rocking chair, or unwind next to a crackling fire in the courtyard, we thoughtfully designed spaces for everyone.

Our greatest challenge in designing the Cambria’s rooftop bar was finding the perfect tile for the bar front. Our search took six months, and we lucked out to find this stunning selection that was a new release out for immediate delivery to Miami!  

Marriott Dual-Brand Courtyard/Springhill suites, amelia island, fl

Designing an outdoor area for a dual-brand hotel meant creating a space shared by two distinct properties. Each hotel has its own unique personality, but the shared pool was a space that needed to provide a core connection. 

Upon arrival, a central porte-cochere drop-off area immediately embraces guests under a covered walkway. The only decision is which hotel to visit. Both directions “wow” guests with stunning pool views, making a memorable first impression.

This shared pool area is a guest’s oasis. Soothing water feature sounds, custom whisky barrel side tables, inviting furniture, an outdoor bar, and a spacious patio with firepits will have guests gravitating to this relaxing retreat. 

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac) Marriott, Seattle, WA

Taking a little bit of a twist on the outdoor space, our SeaTac Marriott design brought the outdoors inside. As we designed the atrium, we focused on modernizing the existing rusticity of the space while interpreting the natural diversity that defines Seattle. 

The lobby bar patio extension (dining deck) was added during this renovation to accommodate more seating for the bar. Since the patio overlooks the event space, the fitness center, and the pre-function lounge with a two-story media screen, it is the perfect place to sit and soak up the natural light peaking through the glass atrium enclosure. 

The final atrium design blurs the boundaries between indoor and outdoor. Natural light, greenery, and other forms of nature reduce the stressors that come with travel while promoting wellness and relaxation.

A Peak Outside

The JAI team is hard at work creating more vibrant outdoor spaces for guests to enjoy. Take a look at a few hotels currently under development. We can’t wait to share these projects with you in the coming months!

SpringHill Suites, Asheville, NC


Gateway Dunedin Development- The Edin Hotel, Dunedin, FL

 The Renaissance Hotel by Marriott, Austin, TX


Your Bottom Line

A thoughtfully-designed outdoor area can increase sales, provide guests with a broader array of amenities, and even elevate a brand. And let’s not forget that having the perfect outdoor “selfie spot” can expand a hotel’s brand on social media. The benefits are overwhelming for any hotel looking to offer guests a special outdoor retreat. 

As hospitality designers, the JAI team understands the importance of creating memorable spaces, both inside and out, that will keep guests returning year after year. This is just another way JAI is committed to Design That Makes a Difference.