TODAY'S HOSPITALITY DESIGN TRENDS: WELLNESS & COMMUNAL SPACES FOR INTERCONNECTEDNESS





We have been working with a nationwide co-working space on their upcoming roll-out and have seen a distinct shift in what attracts new customers not only in the co-working space, but in hospitality spaces in general. Beyond traditional amenities, customers want distinctive touches such as a connection to the local culture, wellness features, a place to connect with others, as well as a place to have some alone time. Integrating wellness design principles and programming into spaces sets properties apart from their competition. Some of the design features we’re including in our co-working projects are specialized lighting that support the body’s circadian rhythms, high-quality air filtration systems, living walls that clean the air, a yoga room with showers, music, and plenty of soft materials such as area rugs, window treatments, and wall coverings to absorb unwanted sounds. In hotels, fitness centers are now a front-and-center amenity and should be on the ground floor, connecting guests immediately to a culture of wellness. Hospitality companies are integrating localized programming, sustainable design elements, and partnerships with leaders in health and well-being to ensure the fitness center has a branded appeal in and of itself. The hotel gym of the future is designed to integrate wellness into every detail—peaceful paint colors, natural lighting, calming acoustics, sophisticated air purification systems, relaxation nooks, and more. Inspired by the current movement in wellness architecture, hotels are building and designing in a way that is “healthy for humans” and meeting an entirely new set of standards Travelers are thirsty for wellness, and these guests are no longer satisfied with the standard issue hotel gym and generic spa services. Integrating wellness design and programming considerations outside of a property’s spa facilities and into individual and communal spaces is a powerful way to communicate to guests that their health and wellbeing is of the highest priority. Blurring the lines between the inside and the outside has become a more sought-after design feature. Some ways of achieving this are the use of bifold doors, vertical gardens or living walls, outdoor bathrooms, and keeping the same floor level between indoor and outdoor spaces. The urge to reconnect with nature in today’s society is also affecting color selection. Nature-themed colors are in. The shift away from the hotel bar as the primary hub or meeting place to the inclusion of meaningful spaces that are designed to feel warm and inviting for collective gatherings is essential in this new wellness economy. One of the most popular forms of this movement is the inclusion of in-house yoga studios, and juice-bars, outdoor fire pits with integrated programming such as lectures or guided meditations, communal harvest tables for shared meals, and spacious spa amenities such as steam rooms, and relaxation lounges are also trends. All of these areas invite guests to come together and connect with one another. Today’s customer also wants to connect with what is special about the locale and prefers a distinct vibe in lieu of a prototypical design. Guests crave hyper-locality, and hospitality companies now partner with local businesses to create distinct toiletries, scents, and tastes, and creating opportunities for local talent to shine. Today’s lobby should be more intimate with a more local flavor to draw guests in. The front desk should be off to the side, and not the main focal point of a lobby as it once was. Lobbies, now a communal space, are designed to keep guests lingering; they’re spaces where interconnectedness can be realized. The idea of mixing work, socializing, and entertainment all in one space is becoming the norm. Not only are hotels trying to create their own unique vibe, but they want to tie it into the local cultural vibe. There’s often a storytelling component that extends from the lobby into the smaller spaces in regard to the artwork and other décor choices. Artwork is more important than most people realize. It’s one of the least expensive ways to make a space feel good. Artwork that is carefully curated and placed will help bring a design full circle, leaving customers with a cohesive, refined place to stay and enjoy. Artwork should compliment the overall “story” of the property. Incorporating the culture of the property’s location is a nice touch. Hiring local artisans for some high-profile pieces can make a statement. There are times when artwork is the main dramatic focal point in the room and other times when it blends more into the backdrop and creates a serene moment to rest one’s eye and take in the beauty of the space. Regardless of which version you choose, keep in mind who your audience may be and the restrictions that audience type may impose on the design selections. A hospitality space can and should use music to communicate the feeling it seeks to evoke whether it’s a soothing retreat from busy daily life or a hip and happening urban venue. Music can evoke any complex blend of emotions, and trigger strong memories. And it is not just music—the sound of a lawnmower can similarly bring back memories from long ago. But the psychological effects of sound go beyond that. Sound strongly influences cognition. Some sounds in an office can reduce productivity by as much as 66 percent and certain sounds have a negative impact on health. More soothing sounds can be used to mask noisy and aggravating background noises. Designing a hospitality space is like designing a play. It’s layered with a story, characters, and music that sets the tone. Design needs a narrative to be truly meaningful. Today’s customers demand an experience, and ideally, a transformative one. Each project starts with being well-versed about the competition and clear about the target guests. The first step is research and strategy. The second step is brand story creation based on the established brand parameters. And the third step is to craft brand personality, identity, and voice, also known as character development. The brand story is shaped and stretched into a multi-sensory, multi-dimensional hospitality experience before it can be handed over to the design firm, like a storyboard ready to be turned into a production.