Luxury travelers are causing a revolution

Architype presentsHal Thannisch
Hal Thannisch is a strategic thinker having tremendous experience in the conceptualization, creation and realization of destination luxury resort properties, leisure and business hotels, conference facilities, recreational facilities and......
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Luxury hospitality is being transformed by consumers. These travelers have a new agenda that is altering the manner in which luxury hotels and resorts are operated. And, in the case where new development is being contemplated, how they are designed – even where they are located. Developers are listening, trends are now becoming revolutionary!

Design of luxury resorts is more innovative, responding to new leanings and the greater, demanding expectations of the affluent traveler. People wish to venture beyond the beaten tourist paths and take a deeper dive into what is authentic; looking for more meaning in travel with more focus on sustainability.

Affluent travelers are sophisticated, well-read, literary and conscious. They search for products that reflect their own personalities and when looking for hotels, they are often very particular about their destination and the product. Hotel and resort design is being challenged to respond to these factors that have surfaced as a result of demand.

Pioneering hotel and resort developments in new and exciting marketplaces, are offering patrons of luxury hospitality more rewarding and experiential visits that offer learning and reconnection for family members. Not necessarily hard-to-get-to spots but atypical destinations in countries or regions not normally frequented are appearing on the travel agendas of agents and travel providers. Often, these virgin environments have not previously accommodated guests of this caliber previously and certain improvements in style and operations are necessary. A thoughtful and responsive approach to new development is also an option depending on sensitivity of a particular site where preservation of environment and cultural heritage is essential.

Luxury resort hotels are becoming smaller and more “boutique”, partly due to old failing economic models not working any more (or for the foreseeable future anyway) But even more so, the industry is listening and providing greater accessibility to new places with cultural interests and protected environments. Sustainable tourism websites are springing up daily serving as guides to the selection of destinations, or travel providers for market tested programs and properties fitting the profile of the affluent guest.

Hotels in these settings should make available for guest learning everything possible and practical that is available in the region. Guests want to take something of experiential value back with them, something learned from their visit, such as the art of a sommelier from Argentina, photographic excursions in Africa or a visit to the rainforests of Central America. Specialized learning experiences can be offered to the guests as part of a “curriculum” made available by hotels. Hotels are being selected because of what experiences they offer more than what their “box” contains.

Undoubtedly, personal travel behavior is affecting hospitality as an industry. Guest experiences are not contained within the walls of the hotel, its beach and its restaurants anymore. Guest’s visits are being choreographed around permeating local culture and protecting the environment. Hotels are looking to community involvement to augment the guest experience. Guests also feel a sense of stewardship and want to be sure their visit is low impact to the community or environment they are visiting.

The hotel “room” is being re-thought. Shoebox modularity is a thing of the past when designing for appeal to these guests. Residential style and comfort is influencing design and luxury resort hotels appear more like a community of small cottages than a compound of large-boxes with single or double-loaded corridors. Design is representative of local culture. Interior design, architecture and landscape architecture are in harmony with the environment. Design themes, mood and the feel of resort hotels are reflective of local materials and craft in very novel ways.

Luxury hotels that adhere to cliché, scripted operating philosophies will find a struggle when competing with those that truly listen and make responsive adjustments to serve clients better, providing what they seek. Luxury travel is viewed as an investment and the return on investment is now knowledge, a sense of stewardship and memorable experiences.

Creative individuals whose talents are being utilized in the hospitality industry should direct their attention toward those key factors behind these changes. Effectively, they can help to accelerate the “revolution”.

The opportunity is clear— creativity in upscale and luxury hotel / resort hotel design can now react to a new set of “standards” set out by the guest with the freedom of broad interpretation. Creative thinking works best under these conditions…

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