Trending: Evolving Lobbies

INDUSTRY NEWS

Trending: Evolving Lobbies

Last Updated
27 December 2019
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The idea of an underutilised lobby, populated by guests solely at check-in and check-out, is a thing of the past.

Lobbies that were stale and uninspired—large, lonely rooms with one unloved sofa in the corner—are becoming extended living rooms.

Picture public spaces with cosy nooks and lightning fast Wi-Fi, places where guests can find a private corner to work or join the crowd.

The modern lobby melds co-working with coffee and cocktails in spaces that look like the coolest members’ club, with corners that feel like the family den. For 2020, a boring lobby is likely equated—in the minds of guests—to a boring hotel.

A group of younger guests enjoy playing games like table football in modern hotel lobbies.

Here are four hotels that are leading the charge in evolving their lobbies: 

These spaces work to elevate the guest experience and further convey the hotel’s brand story—which is excellent considering that hotel rooms are getting smaller, further encouraging keyholders to occupy thoughtfully designed communal spaces. Moxy Hotels offers guests group games, teasing Jenga, karaoke or even spin the bottle in their lobby.

Peep into the lobby of The Hoxton, Shoreditch and you’ll find it buzzing with people. Many are glued to their screens, clicking away at their keyboards. Entrepreneurs discuss business over coffee. Others prefer Champagne—the bar is unsurprisingly popular. The Hoxton has turned its lobby into an all-day destination; cushy sofas, 2am last call and a never-ending string of cultural events invite you to become a part of the community. The vibe is homey, the décor industrial-cool and the chatter lively. The Hoxton brands itself as a place where guests can kick back among locals—its lobby conveys that message loud and clear.

The concept has taken off. Like The Hoxton, several hotels now boast a co-working-friendly, communal lobby. Other hotels use the lobby to highlight their eco-conscious touches. At 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge Park, large potted plants, hanging gardens, recycled wooden elements and loads of natural light create a sustainable oasis in the middle of the city. 

Boutique hotels aren’t the only ones jumping onboard the lobby revival bandwagon. Big chains are elevating their lobbies with personal touches too. The Westin, for example, began introducing vertical gardens into more of its lobbies over the last few years.

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Wellness, Democratised

INDUSTRY NEWS

Wellness, Democratised

Last Updated
27 December 2019
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In conversation with Ingo Schweder, founder of GOCO Hospitality and passionate advocate of wellness for all

From time to cost, wellness is becoming easier to digest. Spa pods, wellness amenities in mid-range hotel rooms, and airport treatments that take only 20 minutes instead of an hour—or only USD 20 instead of USD 100—are on the rise.

The dawning of the democratisation of wellness relies heavily on the concept that treatments for body and soul don’t start and end in a spa and shouldn’t be the exclusive domain of the affluent.

Wellness is needed by those on a budget: fatigued workers and harried business people who have little time and money but lots of stress. It’s also for the budget traveller who is beginning to believe that self-care trumps a pricy tourist trap meal or guided tour on their annual vacation.

Earlier this year, Skift reported that wellness tourism is growing twice as fast as global tourism. And wellness tourists are significantly higher spenders, dropping 50 to 180% more than their non-wellness counterparts, which makes wellness an attractive market segment to everyone in the hospitality industry.

Photo of Ingo Schweder, CEO and Founder of GOCO Hospitality We sat down with Ingo Schweder, CEO and Founder of GOCO Hospitality, a pioneering consultancy, development and management company creating, designing and operating tomorrow’s spa and wellness hospitality concepts. He shared his thoughts on wellness for all and how brands can incorporate this ethos into their mission—even if they can’t drop USD 10 million on a spa facility.

He noted that most of what’s being marketed to spa clients today as ‘new’ has roots in much older traditions such as Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Homeopathy— systems that, historically, were never the exclusive domain of the affluent.

“Yoga and breathing? That’s repackaged Ayurveda. Cryotherapy and thermal treatments? They work on the same principles as the ancient Roman frigidarium and laconicum from 2,000 years ago,” he said.

“These therapies are just re-emerging in a modern context. In this wave, however, the luxury, high-end consumer is the one who jumped on it and the middle classes were squeezed out.”

When asked if he sees the pendulum swinging back, he quickly corrected, “It’s moving to the right spot. To where it should be, to where the majority of the world has the right to be well, eat healthy, exercise and know about nutrition.”

His Glen Ivy Hot Springs, in California, exemplifies that, offering wellness for the masses, with an average spend of just USD 150 for a whole day—including food and massage. They call themselves ‘everyone’s resort’.

GOCO has also developed limited but  targeted platforms for hotel groups like Emaar Hospitality, creating services for seven of their Address Hotel properties in Dubai. “I believe many other hotel groups will enter that ‘limited- service space’ and that their guests will have a ‘right’ to spa services too,” Ingo said.

However, he does see some pitfalls when every hotel on the block attempts to offer what they believe is wellness. “I like democratisation and don’t like elitist behaviour, in principle. The problem with democratisation is that a mid-range hotel may hire a second-class yoga teacher or therapist that has no experience, and that’s very dangerous—it runs counter to wellness and could leave clients in a worsened state.”

So how can a budget hotel incorporate wellness without destroying their budget or risking their guests’ health?

“It doesn’t have to be treatment. It can be clean food options on the menu, natural light in the rooms,” he said.

He invited brands to look at amenities that don’t cost much. “Create an atmosphere of wellbeing, the right music, a wellness feature programmed into a smart TV, training staff to speak nicely on the phone and use guests’ names.”

“Wellness is not only the spa. It’s the air you breathe, the water you drink, the light in your room. You don’t always need to build a wellness centre. It can be sensitivity in architecture and fabric, softer things that create a feeling of wellness is a great place to start.”

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