Cosmetic Facelift or Building Overhaul?

The hospitality industry is constantly evolving and the appearance and ambiance of a tourism property are paramount in attracting and retaining guests. Owners and operators often face the decision between a cosmetic facelift and a complete property overhaul when it comes to updating their premises. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice largely depends on the business’ current condition, market position, and long-term strategic goals.

Cosmetic Facelift: A Quick Refresh

A cosmetic facelift typically involves less invasive updates that can significantly impact the look and feel without the extensive costs and time associated with a full-scale renovation. This might include updating soft furnishings, repainting, and adding modern decorative elements. The pros of this approach are clear: it’s generally more cost-effective, can be completed quickly, and causes minimal disruption to guests and operations. However, the cons are equally important to consider. Cosmetic changes may not address deeper structural or design issues and may need to be redone more frequently to maintain a fresh appearance.

Property Overhaul: A Complete Transformation

On the other hand, a property overhaul is a comprehensive renovation that can include structural changes, reconfiguration of spaces, and significant updates to the building’s interior and exterior. The pros here are that it allows for a complete reimagining of the place, potentially repositioning it in the market and addressing any functional issues that a cosmetic update cannot. The cons include a higher cost, longer project timeline, and potential closure of the hotel during renovations, which can lead to lost revenue.

Rebranding: A Strategic Move

Rebranding a property goes beyond physical updates and involves a strategic shift in the market positioning. Simple ways to rebrand could involve a new visual identity, including logos and marketing materials, a revamped online presence, and updated messaging that reflects the new direction. Rebranding can help attract new customer segments and differentiate from competitors. However, it requires careful planning and execution to ensure consistency across all touchpoints and to avoid confusing loyal customers.

Pros of a Cosmetic Facelift:
1. Cost-Effectiveness: Cosmetic updates are generally less expensive than a complete overhaul. This can be an attractive option for properties looking to refresh without a significant financial investment.
2. Quicker Turnaround: A cosmetic facelift can often be completed in a shorter timeframe, minimising disruption to guests and operations.
3. Trend Adaptation: It allows for more frequent updates to keep up with the latest design trends and guest preferences.

Cons of a Cosmetic Facelift:
1. Surface-Level Changes: Cosmetic updates may not address deeper structural or design flaws that could affect the guest experience.
2. Short-Term Solution: While less costly upfront, cosmetic changes may need to be redone more frequently, potentially leading to higher long-term costs.
3. Back of House Efficiencies: Minimal impact can be made on staff areas and optimisation of services.

Pros of a Property Overhaul:
1. Long-Term Investment: A complete redesign can address both aesthetic and functional issues, potentially leading to a better return on investment over time.
2. Customisation: Allows for a tailored guest experience, aligning the property with the brand and vision.
3. Energy Efficiency: Offers the opportunity to incorporate sustainable and energy-efficient practices.
4. Back of House Efficiencies: Significant improvement can be made to optimise staff operations, back of house efficiencies and operational task management.

Cons of a Property Overhaul:
1. Higher Costs: A full redesign requires a larger budget and may involve extensive construction, which can be a significant financial burden.
2. Operational Disruption: The process can be time-consuming and may require temporary closure or reduced operations, affecting revenue and guest loyalty.

Whether to opt for a cosmetic facelift or a full property overhaul depends on the brand and property’s specific needs and goals. A combination of both, along with a thoughtful rebranding strategy, can rejuvenate a property, making it more appealing to guests and more competitive in the market. Owners and operators must weigh the pros and cons carefully to make the best decision for their property’s future. For more detailed insights and guidance on hotel rebranding strategies, exploring expert resources can provide valuable direction.

Check out Revelation’s checklist for Rebranding Your Hotel here for advice about the digital aspects of re-branding. This is great advice for any tourism operator.

Our fact sheets and e-books offer helpful insight into considerations for your building design, whether you have a facelift or overhaul project in mind. Find the fact sheets here, and the e-books here.


For most tourism businesses, working on your buildings and grounds is a big deal. There is a lot of money and time at stake and can be difficult to know where to start. So let’s just start with a coffee.