How collaborative VR streamlined the design process at The Gettys Group


The Gettys Group Companies have delivered world-class hotel design and development services for more than 30 years, guiding developers, operators and brands in the creation of meaningful and rewarding hospitality experiences around the world.

The Challenge

Creating the look and atmosphere of a new hotel is a complex undertaking, with every design decision needing to be weighed and approved.

Meeting the needs of a wide range of stakeholders is a time-consuming challenge.

Nearly five years ago, The Gettys Group and Deep Cove Partners secured the acquisition of land in Nashville, TN. with the goal of creating a “premiumized” TownePlace Suites hotel.

“The hotel is designed to be a natural oasis that celebrates the fauna and history of central Tennessee, providing guests with an elevated hospitality experience in a calming, contemporary setting.”

– Ron Swidler, Chief Innovation Officer, The Gettys Group

In order to realize their vision, The Gettys Group needed a robust iterative design process where decisions could be made quickly and efficiently by multiple stakeholders across a broad range of interests.

The company recognized how advantageous visualization would be to creating a shared design vision, streamlining the process for designers, as well as stakeholders. Seeking a trusted visualization partner to make this possible, the company was introduced to Theia Interactive by NVIDIA.

Collaborative and Accessible

Working in close partnership with The Gettys Group, Theia Interactive created a fully rendered, high-quality, 3D build of the hotel in a virtual reality (VR) environment.

Using Unreal Engine and its Optim collaborative template, Theia’s virtual model of the hotel focuses on the guest rooms, lobby and other common areas, including the rooftop bar and restaurant.

By utilizing CloudXR and AWS the design review process was democratized for all stakeholders, providing unfettered access to design visualizations, decision-making was faster and more efficient.

Faster approvals
Fewer Redesigns

The virtual model allowed designers to change every aspect of the design, including the furniture, the floor, paint schemes, and more.

The model’s dynamic lighting gave designers an understanding of how details appear in daylight, as well as at night.

A fully-equipped virtual planning space allowed designers to collaborate remotely, as needed, both within and outside of VR.

As the design came together, stakeholders were invited to tour the 3D model remotely, either via desktop or by putting on a headset and wandering around the model in VR.

While using the tool, stakeholders could leave notes for designers or even have full voice conversations with them in real time – without ever having to leave their own home or office.

With so many decisions to make, the ability for all stakeholders to access photorealistic design options meant far less time spent on the iterative design process and more dependable outcomes.

The Solution

Once the TownePlace Suites visualization model was complete, The Gettys Group reached out to hospitality management firm Big Little Fish and offered a virtual tour of the 4,500-square-foot rooftop bar and restaurant.

The area required a lot of design programming and flexibility within a tight space, issues which were mitigated with the use of the virtual model.

Swidler explains: “Using VR allowed the entire design and development team to move things around, explore the resulting configurations and make revisions on the fly.”

Through this work, the hospitality management company immediately saw the potential, leasing a coffee shop in the lobby, in addition to the rooftop bar/restaurant.

Images Courtesy of Zeppelin Nashville

The completed hotel, including 204 suites and studios, a 50-person meeting space, outdoor courtyard, and Zeppelin, the rooftop bar and restaurant, opened in Nashville’s Capitol District in October 2020.

Reflecting on the success of the project, Swidler comments: “We were hoping to use VR as a design tool for our interiors team, architects, project management and operators to achieve a shared vision, design budget and schedule, and it worked brilliantly.

“The combination of Theia, Cloud XR and AWS helped make it all a reality. It also helped others, including our stakeholders and tenants like Zeppelin and Moonshot Coffee Bar, to buy into our vision as well.”

“Theia was a great partner in helping us realize our vision via real-time rendering.”

Bill Fishkin
CEO / Founder
Theia Interactive

Our Take

“Helping businesses overcome design challenges is Theia’s mission, according to CEO and Co-Founder Bill Fishkin.

“Projects like this can add so much value to designers. Building a high-quality 3D model in VR, The Gettys Group was able to save a huge amount of time and costs without sacrificing anything.”

He adds: “Actually, we gave them more options than they’ve ever had before. We can provide greater flexibility at a fraction of the cost, while speeding up their approvals process entirely.

“It’s changed the way hospitality design is being done. The Gettys Group Team was very pleased with the results, and we are too.”

Future planning

Based on the success of the TownePlace Suites project, The Gettys Group plan to continue working closely with Theia to achieve their design goals.

According to Ron Swidler, “We have a highly effective and collaborative relationship with the Theia VR team. They’re technically proficient, highly responsive and act as a partner, not a vendor.”

Swidler continues: “We’re actually exploring a much larger initiative with Theia which will serve as a streamlined design methodology for how we design and document.

“Theia Interactive has a complete mastery of the tools that we will all be using in the future.”

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