Contributors: Diane Thorsen, Hospitality Design Director Angela Spathonis, Managing Director Julijana Mitic, Project Director
The words ‘health and wellness’ have assumed a new meaning given the lessons learned during the 2020 global pandemic. While the word ‘health’ is always embraced, the word ‘wellness’ is often associated simply with a healthy lifestyle and positive outlook connected with mind, body, and soul. The scope of wellness related to hotels – how design can positively reshape hotels, is of particular interest to Gensler, not only to promote the health and wellbeing of guests, but also to focus on new innovations related to wellness and sustainability of place and of the hotel as a business model.
Wellness hotels’ and the shift in focus on our health and wellbeing is not a new concept…
The Wellness industry is expected to rebound and thrive post Covid-19 as guests search for ways to improve and boost their immune systems. We understand now more than ever before, the link between our immune health and mental health which hotels worldwide have been exploring new ways to meet this demand by incorporating wellness-focused changes at both the macro and micro levels.
“Eighty percent of your immune system is in the gut, so when it’s healthy, we tend to be able to fight off infections faster and better,” says Yufang Lin, M.D., of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. “When it’s not, our immune system is weaker and more susceptible to fighting off infection.”
Food and Beverage will focus on farm to table
Experiencing a place through our sense of taste adds another dimension to the guest experience. Farm to-table hotels, where the food is grown sustainably and harvested on-site offers a deeper connection to the hotel and its surroundings. If space is not available on site, hotels are looking for opportunities to connect and support local farmers. Besides providing the freshest ingredients possible, the farm to-table hotels highlight their reliance on hyperlocal ingredients by offering culinary classes or gardening workshops, which often begin by picking what is fresh in the field for that day. Additionally, hotels are adding superfoods, plant-based alternatives, gluten free options as standard to their menus. Chefs realizing that guests miss the culinary experience, moved to virtual masterclasses providing home recipes and delivery friendly menus. Innovative approaches and new ideas to solve food wastage and improve hygiene will mark the “death of the buffet”. Hoteliers are actively focusing on the quality of the food presented, and any associated waste, and as is highlighted now more than ever — those possible germs on every serving spoon.
“The industry has gone mad for sleep” Beth McGroarty, VP of research and forecasting at the Global Wellness Institute.
Focus Shifts from Sleep to True Circadian Health
Wellness experts recognize the importance of sleep. Our internal, light-timed circadian rhythms control almost every system in our bodies: from our sleep/wake cycles to our immune and metabolic systems. At Gensler, we are tailoring guestroom lighting to prevent insomnia and to simulate circadian rhythms.
Soft, warm lighting minimizes disruption to circadian rhythms so guests can get a consistent night’s sleep. The colour temperature changes from subtle red lighting at night, so as not to suppress melatonin levels, and lighter, brighter dawn simulators wake guests naturally in the morning. Jet lag for hotel guests is being addressed by apps such as the Timeshifter app which then guides your personal schedule of when to avoid bright light, sleep and not sleep. Natural cottons for bedding providing a crisp white look and feel complete the healthy sleep sensory experience, which in turn supports the perception of pristine hygiene.
The fitness focused guestroom
Smart In-Room fitness
To avoid the typical gym and personal contact with equipment used by many guests, many hotels are providing a smart gym and personal training device, in guestrooms. Some hotel brands offer a stationary bike, a treadmill, a stretch ball or a yoga mat in their rooms upon request. In room technology also allows guests to personalize a meditation or workout classes.
New initiatives for education
Some hotels are attracting wellness-savvy guests with dedicated events. As we reconnect and socialize within smaller groups, hotels will provide health initiatives linked with educating their guests, providing experts to impart fresh knowledge and lessons so guests can incorporate these into their daily lives after they return home.
Medical and Wellness
The future for hotels is providing an offering that combines expert knowledge from the medical and wellness worlds applying technology to optimize human energy fields to boost health. Frequency therapies such as electromagnetic, light and sound interventions as well as designing spaces that support a healthy human energy field by preventing exposure to electromagnetic fields.
At Gensler, we design for the senses and are excited to see travel destinations offering sound experiences. Wellness resorts include sound baths and sound healing, whether ayurvedic sound therapy massage or CBD sound journeys. Some innovative experiences such as “deep listening” in noise-protected nature looks.
*“In Amazon Awakenings’ “Let it Happen” trip, acoustical ecologist Gordon Hempton leads travelers on an “interactive sound journey” in the sonically stupendous Ecuadorean rain forest, at the first noise-pollution free “Wilderness Quiet Park.” You learn to recover your lost animal-alert, 360-degree hearing, and practice “deep listening exercises” to identify the natural “drumbeats, violins, raindrops and choruses” around you.” Global Wellness Summit, “The Future of Wellness 2020”
Vulnerability of the Planet
Our role in sustainability
Environmental wellness is an expression of how we respect and protect our planet. In a world where there is an increased focus on the impact we have on our planet, the travel industry is consciously working towards green initiatives. The pandemic is first and foremost an issue of human health and brings a more mobile approach and work can increasingly be done from anywhere. As a result, where we work and location are being decoupled.
‘Bleisure’- the business trip extends to include leisure time
Our blurred lifestyles developed during the pandemic will extend as we resume traveling. Millennials accustomed to a blurred, digital lifestyle, are more apt to deploy a business-mixed-with-pleasure mindset.
A relatively significant number of travel managers in the survey for The State of Business Travel 2020 report said they had noticed the bleisure trend among employees, with 44 percent noting they strongly agreed or agreed that more employees were participating in bleisure activities.
Work from Anywhere
Hotels will become an extension of our work from home experience as travel resumes. During this pandemic, our work and life boundaries have blurred and people are not taking vacations. We have also seen an increase in independent workers with no formal vacation time. The reality is that people desperately need a vacation post pandemic, but they need to keep working. This gives rise to a new travel concept ‘the wellness sabbatical, where days of work and wellness are intentionally blended, at destinations that actively, creatively make this possible. Resorts that offer immersion in nature with low sprawling spaces connected to the outdoors will become an obvious choice.
The sustainable hotels of the future will focus on their staff, involve their guests and learn about their behavior, personalize the guest experience with a focus on wellness, implement innovative solutions to ensure guest confidence and engage with local communities.