Student involvement in real-life challenges: Designing the future hotel

Students from different study programs across UiS were invited to engage in a challenge-based learning activity, aiming at generating new ideas for developing the future hotel.

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It was a good day both for us as the hotel, for the students and for the facilitators

Studenter på workshop arrangert på Ydalir hotell
Students worked in teams at the workshop!

Students from NHS - Norsk hotellhøgskole at the Faculty of Social Sciences and students from the Faculty of Science and Technology were invited to a full day workshop at Ydalir hotel. The workshop was planned and facilitated by the Department of Innovation and External Collaboration at University of Stavanger, with facilitators from InGenious and Lyspæren.

Students from Hotel management and City planning & societal safety

The aim of the full-day workshop was to involve students with diverse backgrounds in an idea creation process, focusing on innovative ideas for the multifunctional use of common areas and embracing digitalization in the hotel.

Teams of students with diverse backgrounds were purposively selected to include a broad specter of perspectives, experiences and skills into the workshop, including bachelor students from Hotel management, and City planning & societal safety, along with master students from Service leadership in international business, and City & regional planning.

By applying Design Thinking Method and the Double Diamond framework, the student teams dedicated themselves to pushing the boundaries of creativity and functionality, beyond traditional hotel common rooms, after the challenge was presented by the Hotel Director, Martin Sagen.

Martin Sagen mentoring students
General manager of Ydalir Hotel Martin Sagen is an UiS Alumn. He was very pleased with the workshop.

Sagen is an UiS Alumn, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management, and with diverse tourism, hospitality and facility management experience before he got hired as Hotel Director when Ydalir Hotel was opened in 2018.

Ydalir Hotel is located in an area of growing importance, surrounded by the University, an Innovation Park, several research environments, and the new University Hospital of Stavanger. With a growth in the potential market, it was a great opportunity for the Director to in involve students in designing the future hotel.

Management (NHS) at UiS. NHS has educated hospitality leaders since 1912 and has a specter of study programs within the areas of leadership and service. Learning Hotels AS, the operating company of Ydalir, intends to engaging students in unique learning experiences working with real-life cases. Thus, the Ydalir workshop is at the core of the vision of Learning Hotels.

Group photo of work shop participants and facilitators
All of the participating students received a certificate proving their contributions

- Could possibly change our old minds a little

Sagen, is happy with the workshop outcomes. Involving students in the process is a good way to see things in a different perspective.

- The ideas that came across today are innovative and it was really an inspiring day. We have done similar activities involving the board members – but I have to say - this was more creative, more new ideas and innovative solutions, also using new technology. Involving young minds in the process could possibly change our old minds a little. I am positive that we will be able to renew our concept through the ways of designing the hotel’s common areas as multi-purpose rooms, he says.

Rewarded for their exceptional achievements

Throughout the day, students received mentorship and finally pitched their projects to the jury team. The evaluation criteria included:

  • Innovation and Creativity
  • Sustainability
  • User Experience
  • Functionality, Practicality, and Aesthetics
  • Technological Integration
The winning team from the Ydalir worksop.
The winning team was rewarded. From left: Mariya Thomas (MA City & Regional planning), Ammal Keyse Mohammed (BA Hotel Management), Benedicte Keltie Sætersdal (BA Hotel Management) and Kalpani Nimali Rathnayake (MA Service Leadership).

The best team was selected and rewarded for their exceptional achievements, and all participating students received a certificate proving their contributions, which were really valuable for the further process.

Kalpani Nimali Rathnayake from the winning team found the workshop rewarding.

- We were given the opportunity to tackle a real time situation through innovative thinking. Being a member of the winning team was an incredibly rewarding experience…exemplifying the essence of collective knowledge and remarkable outcomes of teamwork, she says.

Sagen was impressed with both the winning team and the students in general. He thought their achievements with the limited time was notable.

- I really liked the facilitated set-up and the mentors did a good job helping the teams along the way. Also impressed by the presentations at the end, and what the students could achieve in the limited time they were given. All in all, satisfied with the results and I believe it was a good day both for us as the hotel, for the students and for the facilitators, Sagen says.

Ydalir Hotel

Ydalir Hotel was a gift from Smedvig AS. Peder Smedvig established his first shipping company in 1915, and the family business has been growing, now run by the 4th generation. When celebrating the company’s 100th Anniversary, the Smedvig family wanted to give back to the Stavanger region. In line with the family’s mission statement, the gift should directly or indirectly stimulate increased levels of education and knowledge to the benefit of the region, in a long-term perspective. Thus, profit from the hotel operation is to be donated to the University of Stavanger, enhancing learning possibilities across faculty borders.

Ydalir sets the bar for Campus Hotels in Scandinavia.


The InGenious programme serves as a platform to engage the industry in our study programmes.

InGenious, one of the organizers of the workshop, is an exclusive program operated by the Department of Innovation and External Collaboration. It has been in operation since Spring 2020 and has expanded across faculties to prepare students for working life by connecting them with industries and public and private sectors.

Students will gain real-world experience from industry representatives through special activities tailored to their study programs. Through the collaboration, they will also be given the opportunity to have an impact on their future by closely collaborating with the industry and designing it in a more sustainable way.


Lyspæren Innovasjonshus is a place for students, employees at UiS and external parties where facilities are provided to stimulate creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability.

At Lyspæren you will also find the start-up incubator Levelup UiS. Levelup is a separate guidance service for students who are curious about innovation and entrepreneurship.