Almost three years in and we’re still talking about it: the pandemic brought about a huge change in the hospitality industry, but nothing was more evident than its capacity to accelerate trends that had been gathering momentum for many years prior.
As we look to a new year and a fresh start, WATG’s Guy Cooke, Director of Strategy shares his predictions for the trends that will top the list in hospitality for the year ahead.
Will the ‘work from anywhere’ revolution lead to a rethink of resort design?
‘Digital nomad’ is no longer a title reserved for tech entrepreneurs passing through Bali and Medellin. The pandemic has given us all the opportunity to take on this role. For those opting to travel to an amazing resort and work while they are there, what functionality will they require to stay longer and optimize their ability to work effectively while in resort?
How can spaces function as a place to work and take video calls as well as somewhere to relax? Strategic design interventions can have a huge impact on ROI for developers and operators – encouraging guests to stay longer and spend more. In 2023 and beyond, we expect to see this manifesting in simple but effective upgrades such as more wardrobe space, desks placed out of view of the bed, green screen-appropriate wall coverings, and an increase in suites and adjoining rooms that can be adapted to suit the specific needs of the traveler: gym, second bedroom/child’s room, private office, lounge, and so forth. Of course, the business center will continue its evolution to respond to modern workplace demands and the creation of more aspirational and inspiring work settings in line with urban co-working trends.
Surprise, surprise: wellness is still on the list
From check-in to check-out, enhancing guest wellness begins with strategic thinking and considered master planning, trickling right down into the finishes selected, and sustainable practices too.
Wellness is nothing new, and yet it seems to top the trends lists every year. Pre-pandemic, certain brands were synonymous with wellness but we’re now seeing this open up into a growing portion of hospitality offerings. 3-, 4-, 5-star; it doesn’t matter – wellness is becoming agnostic and expected. We’re also seeing a move away from the traditional spa offering into a much more holistic approach to resort wellness. Wellness amenities, once hidden away in the basement or on lower level, are now being given prime locations with the best views. The offering has also evolved and expanded from spa treatments to more sport and medical-based offerings, as well as turning inward, with greater emphasis on spiritual and mental wellbeing. The evolved offer typically will have a greater relationship to the natural elements of the site or cultural context of the host location – for example, outdoor gyms, hiking trails, dramatic yoga platforms, Onsen hot springs or ayurvedic medicine.
What’s happening beneath the surface? All things organic farming
Allotments and rooftop gardens have always been favorable in the primary home community, but this is spreading to the holiday home and resort segments too. People’s desire to reconnect with nature and make more sustainable choices is still strong, while post-Covid attitude shifts and broader awareness of ESG issues are shining a further light on organic farming practices, healthier options, as well as the provenance of food and food miles. Indeed, in both developed and emerging markets alike, we are seeing urban residents craving engagement and immersion within agricultural-based environments. In resort settings, we’re seeing a shift beyond farm to table and into farm to spa, immersive agri-tourism experiences, food concepts driven by centuries-old practices, and beyond. Organic farming is taking center stage as a leading landscape strategy, seeing the manicured lawns of yesteryear replaced with edible landscapes of rice paddy fields, vineyards, aromatherapy gardens, and so forth.