From communal tables in dining areas to thermal baths to juice bars and more, the opportunities for wellness-inspired spaces in today’s hotels and resorts are endless.
Traditionally, the hotel bar was the go-to meeting place for travelers.
Alas, in this era of wellness- inspired travel, where wellness tourism is a $563-billion industry, nightly visits to the lobby bar are rapidly being replaced with daily visits to the juice bar. Now, more than ever, people are interested in enhancing their well-being while traveling rather than falling off the health wagon. Hoteliers are responding to this growing demand, recognizing that there is a real opportunity to infuse wellness throughout a guest’s journey on property.
Here’s a quick glance at a few simple yet meaningful ways to promote connection amongst your guests while doing good for both their bodies and minds.
The communal table
Once restricted to beer halls and cafeterias, hotel restaurants can save space and money while turning strangers into friends by reimagining the private dining experience with communal design. Replace those tables set for two or four with long farm-style tables and the restaurant is immediately transformed into a dinner party with friends. Perhaps the menu is inspired along the same notes—one that is designed around sharing plates and small bites instead of large three- to four-course (and often calorie-bomb!) meals. Dining becomes a celebration once again, where the social interaction is equally as important as the food that is served. By intentionally designing a space that puts people in closer proximity to one another, design in and of itself can stimulate conversation, friendship and connection. In bringing people together, emotional well-being is enhanced by simply feeling a part of a greater community.
The fire ceremony
Picture this: a collective of your hotel guests nestled around a crackling fire sharing stories, laughter and libations. How therapeutic it is to relax in nature around the warmth of a fire. This simple addition to your property provides an unexpected opportunity for natural gathering but can also serve as a host space for workshops and events such as cooking classes, drum circles, storytelling, yoga/meditation sessions, and in some cases, shamanic healing ceremonies.
From booze bars to juice bars
Rather than week-long booze binges, many people now view their vacation as an opportunity to detoxify, cleanse and rejuvenate themselves. In a world that often leaves us too busy to take care of ourselves, wellness on vacation has quickly become a trend. It is not surprising then that shots of tequila at the hotel bar are being pushed aside for shots of cold-pressed juice at the juice bar. Travelers are eager to integrate tidbits of wellness throughout their stay, and healthy beverages are an easy and accessible way to do so. Offer cold-pressed juice, coconut water, smoothies and herbal blends designed to tackle specific health issues, such as themed juices like vitamin C boost, jetlag cure, immunity builder or hangover helper. Draw upon seasonal local ingredients and perhaps even add a programming component so your guests’ health kick can also be an immersive experience. Located near a cacao, mango, or orange farm? Perhaps visit the farm and then enjoy that juice or smoothie at your juice bar afterwards. Some hotels have gone so far as to offer lessons in making cold-pressed juice and adding a juice pairing to all spa treatments. Whatever beverage you decide to serve, know that your wellness travelers will thank you (and you won’t have to clean up the mess they make if they have one too many!).
Not only is there a rapidly growing demand for the healing and relaxing effects of thermal and mineral waters by travelers, but the projected market value by 2020 is $64.6 billion, increasing at a growth rate of 4.8% annually. Thermal springs provide an authentic opportunity for guests of all ages to truly reconnect with nature, culture, tradition and natural healing tools. Hotels can provide basic ‘access to baths’ fees or develop creative and inspirational programming around the waters themselves. Some examples include guided floating meditations and cultural cleansing ceremonies in the healing waters.
Design for the people
Finally, in order to ensure that these communal spaces are not only utilized but maximized, it is ideal in early design and planning phases to closely examine the guests’ (and operators’) journey between these spaces. How are these spaces connected? How will guests travel to and from with ease? How will the operators equip, supply and service these spaces efficiently and effectively? An anticipatory approach to planning and design, looking at both the operators’ and guests’ experience, will ensure both function and end use are optimized, setting the stage for powerful wellness experiences to emerge.
Jennifer Findlay is the founder of Core Essence, a Design and Consulting Firm specializing in Spa & Wellness. Core Essence works within and beyond the traditional spa environment with an approach that examines design, development and ongoing operations concurrently. A member of the Global Wellness Institute’s preferred consultants and the International Society of Hospitality Consultants, Jennifer can be contacted at Jennifer@coreessence.ca
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