The global wellness economy currently represents an ever-increasing $3.7-trillion industry. While spas, fitness centers and the occasional yoga studio remain the centerpiece of wellness within most hotels and resorts, there is an ever-increasing trend towards “zenifying” the spaces beyond these dedicated wellness walls.
According to a study from a reputation management company, guests are unimpressed with the lackluster hotel bathrooms of the past and ready for spaces that ignite a certain sense of relaxation, spaciousness and tranquility. While some hotels are opting to remove bathtubs in their entirety in an effort to save space and money, others are responding to these cries for comfort and calm by giving the guest bathroom the royal treatment.
The hotel bathroom was once thought of as nothing more than a basic necessity in the hotel suite, an oversight on the part of both designers and operators. Not anymore. Nowadays, hotels pride themselves on bathrooms that exude luxury—integrating breathtaking vistas, designer fixtures and accessories, on-call therapeutic services and indoor/outdoor hydrothermal experiences. Rather than being designed with a purely functional intent, luxuriously curated bathrooms are inspiring travelers to slow down, soak, cleanse and relax in the hotel room itself. Not only does this bode well for a superior guest experience, it translates into more time spent by guests on-property, which opens the door for additional spend and the cultivation of a greater connection to your team and offerings. It is time to imagine the possibilities of taking the hotel bathroom beyond the expected. Here is how.
Go beyond traditional
Create a sanctuary within the four walls of one’s hotel room. Transform the bathtub itself by choosing from teacup sculptured tubs, steel tubs, oversized Jacuzzi tubs or Japanese soaking tubs. Open up the space with a glass enclosure complete with a five-head rain shower. Offer a selection of aromatherapy shower mists, or go the extra mile and include more sophisticated amenities. Really want to take things up a notch? You might consider including a single-user infrared sauna. Guests could journey through their very own mini hydrothermal experience in the comfort of their own suite.
Also consider taking a simpler route by warming up the room with heated floors and heated towel racks. Give your guests the luxury of self-cleaning toilets, imported floor tiles, plush bath mats or upscale towels. Finally, never forget the power of the little things such as robes and slippers. The bathroom truly does provide limitless potential for offering guests an opportunity to decompress in luxury.
Take in the views
Nothing evokes a sense of relaxation and restoration as much as slipping into a warm bath and gazing out onto breathtaking scenery of oceans, valleys, beaches, mountains, vineyards, panoramic city views, or if you can’t manage a natural view, then awe-inspiring art will do. The feeling within the bathroom often matches the feeling created by the view itself—light, whimsical, quiet, soft and peaceful. Go beyond the view by offering outdoor bathtubs or showers to fully immerse guests in the local scenery as they cleanse. For hotels bound by traditional design elements or climate restrictions and thus unable to design around an exotic view, consider featuring a beautiful piece of art or even incorporating plants into the design of the bathroom. Many plants, such as the spider plant, are known to improve air quality as well as lower blood pressure and elevate moods.
While the bathroom was once an afterthought, in many hotels today it has become the centerpiece of the guestroom itself. Arguably, one of the most critical features in a bathroom should be its lighting. Similar to lighting philosophies applied to other spaces, choose your lighting to support the function of the bathroom itself, and ensure that guests can control lighting levels for an optimal and personalized experience. Offer varied light sources, such as overhead lighting, dim baseboard accent lighting for easy visibility at night, vanity lighting and something decorative to delight your guests with a touch of beauty. Ensure that key light sources are on dimmer switches so that guests can tailor the lighting to their experience—this way your guests are able to dim the lighting when taking a relaxing evening bath or pump it up in the morning when getting ready for the day.
Pamper with purpose
Lavish your guests in organic, locally sourced, skin-safe products. Many hotels offer a signature scent derived from essential oil blends. Replace the tried and true (yet often unused) hotel shower kit with essential oil “pharmacies” that can be used to release stress (ylang ylang), increase relaxation (lavender), improve sleep (vetiver) or energize the body (peppermint).
Bow down to your ‘bath butler’
At The Spectator Hotel in Charleston, guests never need to fret about preparing a bath. Rather, a private “bath butler” is on call to draw guests’ baths upon request. Offering this service is perhaps the ultimate step in transforming the bathroom from a basic necessity to the ultimate in luxury. Prior to your arrival, the space can be set with appropriate lighting (and your loofah), soft jazz music, a drawn essential oil infused bath, and, if you are lucky, chocolate-covered strawberries and Champagne for your pleasure.
Hotel bathroom design is quickly evolving well beyond that of setting a simply functional space. From simple design inclusions, to mindful program and product offerings, to impeccably-trained team members, opportunities for wellness beyond the spa are abound in the hotel marketplace today. Imagine the possibilities when wellness is seamlessly stitched into each guest suite, starting with one of the most highly-trafficked spaces, the hotel bathroom.
Jennifer Findlay is the founder of Core Essence, a Design and Consulting Firm specializing in Spa & Wellness. Core Essence works within and beyond the traditional spa environment with an approach that examines design, development and ongoing operations concurrently. A member of the Global Wellness Institute’s preferred consultants and the International Society of Hospitality Consultants, Jennifer can be contacted at Jennifer@coreessence.ca
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