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With the hospitality industry ever changing to meet customers’ needs, we’ve noticed a few prevailing trends in recent years. I’ve tapped TPG Contributor Shayne Benowitz (a Miami-based hotel expert) to outline the hottest trends in hotels today. A top priority in hospitality has always been meeting and exceeding guests’ expectations, and today hotels are doing this through technology, complimentary amenities, attention to detail and delight in surprise.
1. Health & Wellness
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a top priority for today’s travelers, and hotels are meeting these needs with offerings addressing diet, fitness, anti-aging and stress relief. “We wanted to take the benefits of a wellness retreat and provide those services to people in their everyday life,” said Fred DeVito, co-founder of Exhale Spa, which offers Core Fusion, yoga and results-oriented spa treatments at locations in 10 cities nationwide. Many Exhales are found inside hotels, like LA’s Fairmont Miramar, Miami’s Epic Hotel (part of Kimpton Karma Rewards), Atlanta’s Loews Hotel and New York City’s The Gansevoort, offering special perks, convenience and elevated fitness programming for their guests.
Kimpton was one of the first hotel groups to stock every room with a yoga mat and on-demand fitness programming for a seamless transition into daily workout routines. They also offer complimentary PUBLIC bike rentals, pairing light cardio with local sightseeing. Many Four Seasons and Westin Hotels lend guests running shoes, workout clothes and a local jogging map to prevent them from wasting valuable carry-on space on bulky running shoes. Fitness has moved beyond the gym with beach bootcamp and yoga sessions popular at coastal hotels, from Miami’s St. Regis Bal Harbour to Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Watersports options from standup paddleboard to surfing to kayaking packages are also increasingly offered.
Mindful eating is just as important as keeping the body moving. The Biltmore in Coral Gables, Miami, introduced healthy menus at all of its dining destinations as part of the Benessere Wellness program, which includes spa and fitness offerings. The Topaz, a Kimpton Hotel in Washington, D.C., in partnership with Puree Artisan Juice Bar provides its guests with one- to three-day juice cleanses delivered to their room daily.
2. Eco Chic & Sustainability
The recent opening of the landmark 1 Hotel South Beach ushered in a new era in eco-chic resorts. Owned by Starwood Capital’s Barry Sternlicht, the LEED-certified project was built and decorated largely with reclaimed wood and sustainable products. The hotel reduced paper and plastic waste by eliminating water bottles from the property and utilizing technology in place of brochures. Two more locations are set to open in New York by the end of the year, and the South Beach property provides a fleet of Teslas, the uber-luxury electric car, to its guests along with electric car docking stations. LEED certification is the gold standard for new hotel developments and renovations. Many global brands have jumped on board in making this a priority, including Marriott, SPG, Kimpton and IHG. The Green Key Eco-Rating Program, as well as TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders program, are other good indicators when selecting a hotel based on its sustainability practices.
From partnerships with local art galleries to bona-fide blue chip collections, hotels are priding themselves in their curatorial skills. The Hilton Anatole in Dallas has one of the largest hotel collections of art and antiques with such impressive items as 12-foot segments of the Berlin Wall painted by Jurgen Grosse to an 18th–century Thai reclining Buddha in gilt bronze. Considered the first luxury art hotel, Le Meridien Chambers Minneapolis has a 200-piece holding from the owner’s personal collection rotating throughout the hotel and its gallery, including works by Damien Hirst. In Las Vegas, the Bellagio has placed a high priority on bringing fine art to its guests with exhibitions in its gallery ranging from Fabergé to Picasso, as well as an 18-foot-high lobby ceiling covered in a colorful Chihuly glass chandelier sculpture.
4. Going Local
While points-savvy travelers enjoy the familiarity, brand standards and, of course, perks of loyalty, it doesn’t mean they want the same predictable hotel restaurant from city to city. Brands have caught onto this desire by partnering with local restaurant groups to infuse a piece of the destination into their hotels. Take the Hilton Cabana Miami Beach and its L’Echon Brasserie by white-hot local restaurateurs Pubbelly Group. The group manages the entire property’s food and beverage program and, in keeping with Hilton standards, offers a complimentary breakfast buffet as a perk to its loyal guests.
IHG’s Hotel Indigo brand, where each mid-range property is designed to reflect its surrounding neighborhood, focuses strongly on local food and beverages; for example, you’ll find Cajun and Creole menu items in New Orleans and locally caught seafood in oceanside Santa Barbara, California. Similarly, the independent Hotel Vermont has partnered with local artisans Vermont Teddy Bear and Vermont Flannel to provide a special “bedtime menu” to guests, as well as locally made Lunaroma specialty in-room bath products.
Once a term relegated only to small, independent hotels with less than 100 rooms, the boutique craze has swept the industry, with large resorts from Mandarin Oriental to W Hotels claiming to fall into this category. The concept is all about bringing customized services to large-scale hospitality brands, just as famed hotelier Ian Schrager and Marriott International are doing with their new EDITION hotels. The luxury lifestyle brand is creating unique, one-off hotels drawing inspiration from each location, so far in London, Istanbul, Miami Beach and New York. “Increasingly, folks want to be delighted by the physical space, as well as the service,” said Marriott CEO Arne Sorensen at a recent press conference. “We’re going to see more variability from market to market in the big brands going forward.”
6. Personalization & Technology
Along with a desire for customized, boutique experiences, guests have higher expectations when it comes to the ease of technology. The Alice app, which works as a virtual concierge, is used widely throughout Leading Hotels of the World, Hilton Worldwide, and specifically at The Carlyle and The Gansevoort in New York and The Setai in Miami Beach. Guests can use Alice to request everything from drinks by the pool to dinner reservations to extra towels or toothpaste at any hour of the day.
Virgin Hotels has created its own proprietary version with Lucy, which also works to stream digital content and adjust the room’s thermostat. Similarly, 1 Hotels’ Field Guide app works to customize guest experiences, provide on-demand services and save information to incorporate into future stays.
7. Surprise & Delight Amenities
With WiFi now as necessary as the air we breathe, large hotel brands have finally caught on, and free in-room connectivity (in some form) is now the industry standard. The dreaded $8 minibar Fiji water may also become a thing of the past, with some brands offering their guests complimentary bottled water daily, including the Radisson Martinique in New York City and many Hiltons. Other amenities aim to surprise and delight, like cupcakes featuring Twitter, Facebook or Instagram logos waiting in rooms at Mandarin Oriental, D.C. for guests who interact with the brand socially. Others greet guests with welcome amenities, like a bottle of wine, fresh fruit or cocktails. The Peninsula Beverly Hills has even been known to monogram their guest’s initials onto pillowcases.
Hoping for something surprising in your room — or to surprise someone you’re traveling with? Tip off the concierge ahead of time or look for special room packages with delightful extras.
What new trends have you noticed during your travels, and what’s impressed you?
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