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The Importance of Site Planning and Design in Outdoor Hospitality

As architects and designers our work is typically thought to be confined to the interior and immediate exterior of our projects. But as many of our clients can attest, our value extends well beyond the typical “four walls” of a standard building. One of the key aspects to any well-designed project is a firm connection to site, context, and community. That’s why many of our outdoor hospitality projects start with a high-level site and master plan.

Two Clockwork team members on a recent site visit to a project in the Bahamas.

One of the first conversations we have with clients planning a new outdoor resort or glamping project occurs on site. Nothing can impart an understanding of site conditions as easily as walking the land itself. Planning for building placement, views, weather, utility access, site paths, and much more, all begins with these initial walk throughs. Not only can design decisions be made, but a clear sense of the client’s vision for their site can be gained and expanded during this crucial early step.

Utilizing aerial photography and digital notetaking tools, sketches showing concepts and layouts can quickly be brought to life.

After these first explorations and fact-finding meetings, our team generates a series of ideas and sketches, laying out various buildings and site features. While the building types differ per project, we typically have a main check-in building, set in a prominent location and positioned to take in views, individual units, strategically placed to provide privacy for guests, event spaces, located centrally for easy access, and maintenance and housekeeping, discreetly integrated into the site for smooth operations. From our sketched ideas we go on to create a full color rendering of the site plan to serve as an easy to understand visual, communicating the full scale of each project.

Once fully developed our comprehensive site plans provide a high-level view of all aspects of a site.

These rendered site plans go on to serve our clients in a wide variety of ways. One area is in the permitting and zoning process. Many sites naturally suited for outdoor hospitality are not as suitable when it comes to planning and zoning. Cities and counties, especially in rural areas, have typically not encountered these types of projects, and most won’t have any codified rules around their development. Having a well thought out and easily understandable site plan tells the story of what, how, and why the site will be developed and can smooth the path toward getting local authorities to approve a project. Another scenario where pre-planning is key is funding. All good projects start with an idea, but many of them don’t start with money! Potential investors will want to know all the things the local authorities will and more.

A thorough master plan helps assure investors that a project is viable and importantly profitable. While even the best made plans can be subject to unforeseen circumstances and changes, we know through experience how a well-developed master plan can set every project on the road to success.


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