How the Hotel Industry Is Rethinking Design


As the hotel industry picks up and people begin to travel again, the way hotels are designed may change. Building operations need to work within any lingering COVID-19 safety guidelines, not to mention project a welcoming and safe atmosphere for guests. Here are some of the trends that will impact the hospitality industry moving forward.

1. Focusing on Wellness Tourism

How the Hotel Industry Is Rethinking Design

Viceroy Kopaonik Serbia Spa by Wimberly Interiors

Most people have learned to make their well-being a top priority during the pandemic. Building designers and architects are also reckoning with the need and desire for physical spaces that help residents and visitors embrace sunlight, clean air and healthy living.

In 2022, it's no surprise that new and redesigned hotel spaces are starting to reflect this notion. The pandemic isn't the only driver of this trend — travelers have been interested in wellness design for years now. In fact, the phenomenon known as "wellness tourism," where travelers seek fitness, mental health and well-being as a core part of their experience, grew by 7.5% between 2017 and 2022.

Hotels need to embrace this trend to meet changing expectations about travel experiences. In the building design itself, an effort to work in more natural light, plant life and greenery will help build the basis for a wellness-focused hotel. Additionally, updated fitness and spa centers can be designed with more airflow and space to reflect their growing importance to hotel guests.

2. Connecting to a Community Theme

How the Hotel Industry Is Rethinking Design

Joe Lalli Resort Hotel by JADE QA and Stylus Studio

The hospitality industry has had more than its fair share of struggles in the past couple of years. One shakeup to the industry has been the growth of short-term rentals, which allow travelers to seek out local homes, apartments or condos instead of staying in a traditional hotel.

Of course, this obstacle is an opportunity for hotels to get more creative with their design. It's important to meet some of the needs travelers are expressing —particularly a desire for more unique, personalized hospitality experiences rather than staying in a hotel that might look the same in any other part of the world.

Hotel designers can level up by designing a unified vision around a common theme. Embracing the community around the hotel is key to helping travelers feel connected to their destination while enjoying all the conveniences of an established hotel. Achieve this by incorporating community-oriented touches, such as local artwork and food, to make the space more engaging. Sourcing local building materials that reflect the style of other nearby buildings is also a great way to show dedication to the area.

3. Designing Open Floor Plans and Outdoor Spaces

How the Hotel Industry Is Rethinking Design

The Goodtime Hotel by Ken Fulk - Photographer Alice Gao

This is no less true for the hospitality industry than it is for other commercial sectors — flexible floor plans are king. Open floor plans make the space feel more inviting and spacious. It also makes it easier to follow social distancing guidelines whenever health regulations shift. It's a win-win for hotel professionals and guests alike.

To create an open floor plan, designers may need to knock down walls to create a flow from one room to the next. Paying extra attention to opening up the lobby and other community spaces is key, as feeling closed off and disconnected can hurt guest experiences here.

Also, with people spending more time indoors, creating comfortable outdoor spaces is critical. Rethink what comfortable seating and lighting can enhance the area. Include options for outdoor heating, like fire pits and fireplaces, to allow the space to be used throughout most seasons. Outdoor living is here to stay, and letting guests congregate in cozy, open-air settings can do wonders for engagement.

4. Adapting For the Future of Work

How the Hotel Industry Is Rethinking Design

Co-working Space at Buckle Street Studios by Grzywinski+Pons - Photographer Nicholas Worley

Office spaces are already shifting rapidly to accommodate the growth of remote work. However, the hospitality industry can also make design moves to make travel more comfortable for telecommuters who suddenly find that their work is no longer tied to one location.

One survey of remote workers found that 66% of respondents feel encouraged to use the flexibility to explore new destinations. These vacationers will have different needs than other guests, including workspaces, stronger Internet connections and on-site or nearby amenities for lunch and breaks. 

Hotels looking to capitalize on working guests' needs will need to rethink design for these offerings. Some might transform existing community space into open work areas, thinking through adding more desks, situating work stations near outlets, and creating small conference spaces that can easily be booked and occupied for virtual meetups. 

Other design touches can include soundproof quiet work zones and community-anchoring tables where workers can take breaks and connect with each other.

5. Increasing Accessibility and Inclusion

How the Hotel Industry Is Rethinking Design

Providing a comfortable experience for guests involves accessibility and inclusion. Designers with a vision for inclusivity can go above and beyond industry regulations with careful planning. This starts with integrating these strategies into the design plans. It includes elements such as furniture layout, placement of room controls, and signage.

Guest rooms can be made more accessible with a few simple touches. For example, designing bathrooms for greater safety can allow more guests to book rooms that aren't specifically designated for accessibility. Choosing slip-resistant flooring and showers with seats make a world of difference for older or disabled guests without sacrificing much in terms of design cost. 

Another important element of this conversation is inclusion. Common area bathrooms can include single-occupant options for gender-neutral designation and have more changing stations available for any parent.

Ultimately, hotels that make efforts to accommodate all possible guests get a business boost — and wow their guests along the way.

Hotel Design Trends for the Future

The pandemic changed the priorities of many businesses, but it also just brought to light many of the trends that were already emerging in preceding years. Hotel designers can take advantage of these shifting priorities to create hospitality spaces that embrace wellness, community and flexibility.

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