Hotels Resorts have evolved to more than just a luxurious get-away and are now providing a complete package of offerings that cover the range of what even the most discerning traveler may expect. As visitors are increasingly savvier and therefore demand more from their vacations than ever before, hotels and resorts are responding on mass with customizable experiences that not only present a local experience but also attempt to satisfy every whim the guest may have. The trend we are seeing standing out above all else in resort design is embracing and fostering wellness and healthy living.

According to Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, health focused travelers now represent 40% of the travel segment. This is manifesting itself into tourism and the hotel stay in many ways. A discerning and travelled clientele now seeks a holistic experience where they can be transported to another world and achieve both a physical and spiritual retreat. ‘Spas’ are going well beyond the standard facial and massage, and now providing complete and separate environments offering total wellness designed to promote health, well-being and transformation – during your stay and beyond.

Resorts understand that they need to deliver an elevated wellness experience. A traditional spa package is no longer enough, people are seeking a more authentic and unique experience. Hotels are listening too and we are seeing branded properties that cater to more specific needs. The popular Las Vegas hotel MGM GRAND is now offering guests “Stay Well” rooms that includes 17 health amenities including: revolutionary light therapy to help increase energy and reverse jet lag, Vitamin C infused showers, wellness videos from Deepak Chopra and The Cleveland Clinic. The operators attribute their success to “… the large consumer demand and appetite for a healthier, wellness-oriented travel experience.”

Resorts are able to achieve so much more than traditional hotels in this new market segment. Popular resorts such as Sparkling Hill Resort in the Okanagan and the unique Hawaiian Island Retreat at Ahu Phaku Ho’omaluhia go above and beyond with signature stays focused on nutritional counseling, acupuncture, anti-aging therapy, hypnotherapy, couples counseling and more. These resorts are catering to a holistic experience that the guests are engaging in more and more and providing a complete wellness destination.

The packages now offered at Resorts are not just tied to the physical well-being of the guest as they are increasingly booking mindful vacations that offer mental restoration practices such as meditation, yoga, quigong, and journaling that can be incorporated at home and help to manage stress, improve cognitive capacity and maintain emotional equilibrium. About 1 in 5 spas now offer meditation or mindfulness training.

Traveler motivations may very well become increasingly fragmented, diverse and harder to segment into clearly definable customer groupings. On the one hand the challenge is for hotels and resorts to understand and act upon the preferences, demands and characteristics of the individual guest and meet their needs in the future, all while creating memorable experiences.

The other route is to imbue complete and well-conceived hotel resort design and service offerings with an overlay of healthful living. This goes well beyond a spa within a hotel and now impacts the choice of products and materials, health based food and beverage offerings, and physical and visual connections to the outside and natural world. The desire for holistic healthful hospitality has also spawned a growing emergence of clear preferences for a visibly healthy environment incorporating genuine materials and a strong connection to the natural world.

As Interior Designers we are always striving to create an environment that supports the operators brand and the guest’s expectations. With the emergence of wellness destinations our challenge is to create an interior that responds to the many requirements which may fluctuate from a Hammam Spa as in the Shangri-La Toronto to an indoor/outdoor main floor in Maui’s Honua Kai Resort. Once planning of the hotel is fine-tuned to accommodate the correct layout, the material selection and millwork design begins. We are mindful to design to reflect the authentic experience of the region as well as selections that complement the concept of the hotel.

Intercontinental Hotels Group has launched its brand ‘EVEN’ in 2014 – the first of a projected 100 in the next 5 years. It is not a spa however – it is an “all-wellness” property designed around the 4 pillars of healthy living – eating well, exercising, rest and productivity. This hotel concept offers more options to stay healthier and happier away from home. They offer a wellness-savvy staff, a best-in-class fitness experience, healthier food choices and natural, relaxing spaces. The fitness centre is “not an afterthought, but the hallmark of the brand.”

The One Hotel in South Beach Florida, developed by Barry Sternlicht, seeks to take these trends and address the desire for a healthful and natural hospitality experience in a clear synergistic way. The hotel boasts organic linens, hemp mattresses, in-room filtered water, yoga mats, in-room tablets and opening windows. The in-room tablets’ apps give guests the ability to adjust room temperature, order in-room dining and research local sites. There is also a fleet of Tesla electric cars available for the guests’ use. Sternlicht formerly of the Starwood Capital Group and creator of W Hotels refers to this as the “luxury of enough”, and what others have coined as “eco-friendly cool”. The hotel currently has 4 outdoor swimming pools and will be combined with an 18,000 square foot Spa and fitness area.

Hotel Resort design is developing and responding to the needs of an increasingly well-traveled and sophisticated clientele. This guest is looking for a full immersion in a healthful hospitality experience that may either be a unique and separate spa experience or an entire resort designed and operated to address these aspirations. Either approach drives the importance of health and wellness offerings, and impacts everything in the design from materials, products, building systems and offerings to food and beverage and spa services. It is an exciting time for travelers and a challenge that designers and operators/owners need to keep up with and ensure they are on the forefront of in order to stay competitive and in-demand.

About the Author
CHIL Interior Design is the hospitality studio of B+H, a global leader in interior design, architecture and planning & landscape. What began as a boutique studio in Vancouver more than 40 years ago has grown into a global hospitality design group. Although our firm has changed over the years, our approach has not: our designs are guided by the client’s vision and goals.

Our portfolio is made up of luxury hospitality spaces—from hotels and restaurants to conference facilities and spas—as well as residential, retail and commercial spaces. We work with leading owners and developers along with the world’s great hospitality brands such as Fairmont, Shangri-La, Starwood, Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Delta and Radisson Carlson.

We work to translate each brand’s story into a physical space, from the big picture down to the finest detail. The result is an unforgettable experience that guests will associate with your brand.

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