Rethinking the hotel experience for luxury-seeking travelers

By AnaTracey Hawkins

The travel industry has undeniably entered a new era, hallmarked by an uncommon willingness to experiment, adapt and evolve in the face of competing external pressures.

Despite its reputation as being a more creative and exciting segment of commercial real estate, the hospitality sector sits at the confluence of numerous challenges—balancing the long-lead timelines of development and construction, significant staffing shortages and seemingly constant changes in consumer demands, economic conditions and government regulations. Rather than scaling back, however, hotel developers are leveling up across their portfolios, the implications of which will inevitably inform the types of properties and experiences we can expect in the years to come.

The last two years have transformed the way we define “quality of life,” driving greater attention to well-being and flexibility. As more businesses adopt hybrid or remote work policies, the future of travel is now influenced heavily by the future of work. Motivated largely by the record number of workers reassessing their work/life balance, coupled with a reduction in short-stay business trips, 70% of travelers are reportedly digging deeper into their pockets for vacation now, with plans to spend more on travel in 2022 than they have in the last five years, including 2019 (one of the best years on record for travel and tourism), according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. As a result, many developers are rethinking their approach to the hotel experience, doubling down on luxury concepts that appeal to the modern guest in a heightened way.

On the development side of the business, we are seeing a complete reimagination of hospitality from a health and wellness perspective—from redesigned lobbies and relocated gyms to guestrooms optimized around the science of circadian rhythms. Owners and operators are investing heavily in distinctive amenities, as well, such as curated wine cellars, flexible remote workspaces, rooftop lounges and terrace bars, one-of-a-kind entertainment venues and world-class dining options. Consumers can expect these highly personalized, heavily researched retreats coming online in the next few years. On the construction side of our business, however, we’re facing a surge in demand for value-engineered building strategies that balance these upgrades and amenities of the future with the current bottom-line.

Combating supply-chain bottlenecks and tariffs with global sourcing in an open-shop contracting method, our team is engaged on a number of conversion projects where diversification is increasingly the best option. This strategy transforms the existing property into a true mixed-use destination, elevating the current offering’s service level while introducing a multimodal revenue stream that is market-relevant, agile and adaptable. For our most recent projects, this has included a mix of hospitality, residential and commercial such as retail.

As hotel brands venture into new territories and lean further into the luxury market, it is essential to take the planning, development and construction process seriously and engage with teams that acutely understand the landscape to ensure success.

AnaTracey Hawkins is SVP of strategic growth at CNY Group.

This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.