Wellness tourism is growing fast. Jayanti Jayanti at the University of West London, reviews some of the design considerations major international hotel brands have adopted to provide wellness experience to their customers.
The definition of wellness as derived from the Global Wellness Institute is ‘the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health’. In simple words wellness is proactive maintenance and improvement of health and overall wellbeing.
Wellness tourism is divided into two types:
Primary Wellness travellers: Types of traveller who travel to the chosen wellness destinations offering SPA’s, wellness like a yoga or meditation retreat or one of the wellness resorts.
Secondary Wellness travellers: Travellers who engage themselves in the wellness activities while they are travelling either for business or leisure by maintaining their fitness regime, indulging in healthy snacks, meditation and sound sleep.
Increasing demand from secondary wellness travellers /customers to satisfy their healthy habits while on the go makes hotel brands constantly review their products, amenities, in-room facilities and design to cater for the overall wellness experience. The hotel industry has undergone a massive transformation in terms of providing luxury to its guests. In today’s competitive world it is not only important to anticipate customers’ needs but also to keep on exceeding them today and in the near future. With the advent of ecommerce and digitalisation, guests have an abundant choice of hotel brands within a click. Customers are looking for an unforgettable experience. As experience is the new luxury today’s customers are looking forward to, hospitality brands are trying to constantly evolve and develop themselves.
The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) has estimated an average annual growth of wellness tourism as 7.5% through 2022, which is higher and faster than the 6.4% forecasted annual growth of overall global tourism growth.
Today’s guests would like to travel and stay in a place to gain complete mental physical and spiritual revival. The meaning of wellness experience is not just restricted to well-equipped fitness centres, pool, SPA or healthy food options instead our customers are looking for innovative wellness options and are willing to pay for it. Some of the trends in the context of healthy room design include biophilic design (design concept that incorporates nature and natural elements like natural lighting, room with a view) lighting that energizes, air purification, yoga spaces, in-room exercise equipment, health videos and apps, vitamin-infused shower water, wellness amenities, window shades that block out light and sound, sustainability elements into the entire design concepts.
Here Jayanti Jayanti of the University of West London, reviews some of the design considerations major international hotel brands have adopted to provide wellness experience to their customers.
1. EVEN Hotel Brand: Intercontinental Hotel group was the first hotel brand to launch a brand in collaboration with Jonathan Nehmer + Associates and HVS Design focussing on guest’s wellness in 2012 after carrying out a strong research with its 4000 customers. The brand focussed primarily on the following areas of wellbeing in order to give a holistic fitness experience to its guests.
- Exercise: In room work out facilities
- Eat: Natural fresh and energising menu design
- Work: Sufficient work station in room and social spaces to unwind
- Rest: Rooms offering ultimate relaxation with a choice of hypoallergenic linen, powerful shower heads, natural lighting, and antibacterial wipes etc.
2. Five Feet to Fitness: A special room category launched by Hilton in 2017 for its full-service brands. This special room category includes 11 pieces of fitness equipment in the room and is a perfect choice for the customers who wish to work out privately.
3. Miraval and Exhale: Hyatt’s acquired brands (Miraval & Exhale) in 2017 focusses on offering wellness activities to the stay of its customers including meditation, fitness and nature walk.
Wellbeing Ideation Labs: Launched in 2019 by Hyatt to explore the most innovative ways to include wellness in its portfolio of brands and meet the needs of the customer. Hyatt has named it as ‘Landmarks of Wellbeing’ – Feel, Fuel and Function.
4. Vitality Rooms: Launched by Swissotel Hotels & Resorts brands in 2016 focussing on the guests need to “live it well”. The special room design offers an excellent opportunity for the guests to rejuvenate their body, mind and soul. The room design and features add to ultimate relaxing and peaceful stay. The guests can work out within their rooms privately, vitality refreshments option for rehydration, bath experience includes gentle lighting, scent and various water pressure options.
For customers to overcome jet lag, circadian light features allow the light to change and enhance the secretion of melatonin (sleep -wake cycle) in the brain.
5. Stay Well Rooms: MGM Grand Las Vegas launched stay well rooms in 2014 by Delos design incorporating medical science and technology. Primarily focussing on the six core concepts that impact the psychological wellbeing of a customers which are: refresh, adjust, nourish, activate, rest and sustain.
Marriott added wellness rooms in six of its hotels in 2016. The wellness rooms were priced at $30 higher than other comparable rooms.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts after witnessing its great success and demand at MGM Grand is going to launch wellness rooms by 2019.
The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C launched 13 wellness rooms in 2018 focussing on three main components: comfort, relaxation and fitness.
The in-room Stay Well experience features following evidence-based health and wellness elements:
- Shower water infused with Vitamin C which neutralizes chlorine to promote healthy hair and skin.
- HEPA-standard air purification system that reduces allergens, toxins and pathogens, creating better air quality and breathing.
- Water Filtration System for cleanest most purified in room water.
- Circadian Lighting: natural, warm glow LED lighting that can be customized to enhance sleep and regulate melatonin production and sleep/wake cycles.
- Optimized Black-Out Shades: Support the jet lag recovery features in the room by fully eliminating outdoor lighting sources to improve sleep quality and duration.
- Cedar Closets: Natural properties keep enclosed spaces fresh and dry.
- Aromatherapy: optional aroma infusion for STAY WELL guests emanates sleep-disruptive Electromagnetic Fields (EMF).
- Healthy choices of organic in room menu and minibar amenities
- Stay Well channel and apps with access to stress management, sleep and nutrition programmes.
- Stay well foam mattresses & bedding derived from organic cotton.
6. Well + Away Enlightened Rooms: Hotel Zetta, (part of the Viceroy Hotel Group) San Francisco, California a luxury boutique hotel in partnership with Well + Away (wellness producers guides) launched their five enlightened rooms in 2017. The room offers complementary in-room nutritious snack bar, environmentally friendly mattress, pillows and linen, 24hrs access to cycling studios, fitness centers, and yoga and mindfulness classes.
7. Six pillars Of Wellbeing – Marriott’s Westin hotel & resorts brand is trying to excel as the top brand addressing six pillars of wellness which is sleep well, eat well, move well, feel well, work well and play well. As the brand believes firmly that guests are looking for active experience. Their ‘Let’s rise’ campaign encourages guests to get up early morning and provides “run concierges” to guide joggers and provides accompany runners to its guests. In addition an updated range of room amenities and products like bedside sleep well lavender essential oil and chamomile balm to induce good quality sleep.
Research has proven that wellness travellers or customers are “high yield” travellers and spend 130% more than the average customers. Identifying this changing trend amongst the travellers, the hotels brands are capitalising on this to ensure enhanced customer satisfaction and more profitability and revenue maximisation. As wellness becomes an increasingly important part of the overall guest experience, the return on investment on a wellness hotel is definitely going to be rewarding and hoteliers are finding big and small ways to help their guests feel better.
Jayanti is Hospitality Management Lecturer in London Geller College of Hospitality and Tourism, University of West London. She has been teaching Front Office and Housekeeping Management in UK and India for more than 8 years. She has also worked in leading 5-star luxury brand in Rooms Division department. She is passionate about exploring emerging trends in hospitality.