The hospitality industry is constantly changing and evolving. Resorts are very different today than they were fifty years ago, or even ten years ago. In the past, a resort could succeed with a decent amenity (beach, golf course, etc.) and a big tower with a well-known brand. As the world becomes smaller and today’s travelers become more experienced and sophisticated, resorts must keep up with trends or risk becoming stale and losing market share to newer, more updated products. Some of my favorite of the latest hotel and resort trends include:
- Local Focus – Consumers are looking for unique experiences that are authentic and true to the place, they are more worldly and can appreciate cultures, foods, and design different than their own. Even hotel giant Hyatt recognizes this and has recently launched a new brand, Andaz, which pushes focuses on “recognition of neighborhood and local culture.”
- Adventure and Activities – Leisure travel is no longer just about leisure. In today’s fast-paced world, time is incredibly valuable, and people want to get more from their vacations. They want to experience something new and do something exciting. Places like Central America have become popular destinations as consumers look for places to hike, rappel, cave, dive, kayak, zipline, etc.
- Health and Wellness – Organic, yoga, Pilates, all-natural… it’s everywhere. Health and wellness has become a permanent fixture in our culture and it is only natural that this extends to our vacations as well. It goes beyond spa to include organic food, dietitians, personal training, yoga and more. The entire concept of Canyon Ranch is “healthy living” and is one of the most successful and well-known brands in the industry with great growth prospects.
- Bathrooms – What used to be overlooked has recently become the most important part of the hotel room. In some hotels, they are even bigger than the room. Stand-alone showers are becoming standard in even mid-range hotel chains. Soaking tubs that open to the room and outdoor showers are two items to look for in higher-end properties such as Six Senses in Phuket.
- Luxury Camping – Many people like the concept of camping, but aren’t willing to give up the comforts they have become accustomed to. Pioneered in Africa, many resorts are making the outdoors luxurious, creating rooms with beautiful wooden antique furniture and impeccable service all under a canvas tent. Banyan Tree Madivaru and Clayoquot in Canada are two of the best.
- Vehicles – Whether or not to rent a car is a frequent concern for many travelers when booking a trip. Many resorts are convincing consumers that they don’t need their own transportation but that the hotel will provide them with a car of their own to use. Solage Calistoga offers two cruisers at the door of every room and sister-hotel Auberge du Soleil offers use of Mercedes for their guests.
- Beyond Green – Being eco-friendly has been an obvious trend for several years, but the real innovators, like Cayuga Hospitality, are taking it beyond fluorescent light bulbs and low-flow fixtures. Solar power, water catchment/reuse, nature preserves, and locally-sourced materials are just some things that truly sustainable resorts are doing.
- Private Pools – No longer is the big hotel pool sufficient. Many high-end resorts, such as The Tides at Riviera Maya, have suites with their own plunge pools right outside the door.
- Small Is the New Big – Travelers are staying away from the mega-resorts where you get lost on the grounds and might run into an acquaintance from back home. People want to feel special and unique, which is why Rosewood, with hotels less than 100 rooms, is growing faster than the big guys.
You will see a lot, if not all, of these forward-thinking ideas utilized at Isla Palenque, as we strive to give our consumers the best of what’s out there. And I’m sure that in several years as the resort grows, so too will our list of features and amenities.