It’s time for hotels to be a haven from the world
It’s time for hotels to be a haven from the world
03 FEBRUARY 2017 8:25 AM

With chaos seemingly the status quo these days, many people might be looking for ways to remove themselves from the fray more than ever before, and that presents an opportunity for the hotel industry to truly shine.

In mid-January, Hyatt Hotels Corporation made news with its $215-million acquisition of Miraval Group and its resort and spa properties and brands.

This was interesting news in a number of ways, not the least of which was Hyatt’s stated commitment to grow beyond the boundaries of the traditional hotel industry and into what the company called “adjacent spaces.” But I think this has some pretty noteworthy ramifications on the hotel side as well.

In announcing the deal, President and CEO Mark Hoplamazian noted that desires for greater wellness offerings have grown into an almost unavoidable chorus, which in turn makes it an irresistible investment opportunity, especially for what is a relatively modest sum.

“As we engaged more with guests, key areas of want and need kept popping up, and wellness was prominent among them,” Hoplamazian said from the Miraval Arizona. “And (wellness) is more and more on the minds of C-suite executives thinking about productivity and effectiveness in meetings and in life. So what we ID’d with the Miraval opportunity was an opportunity to accelerate how we care for those customers and guests. … And we can do that in a very different way than how hotel companies have approached it in the past.”

Wellness has grown into a bit of a buzzword in the industry, and it’s certainly the focus of companies like Miraval, but it seems to hold particular potential right now given the current cultural climate we’re living in. No matter what part of the political spectrum you personally exist in at the moment, I think we can all agree that living in the Western world is a bit more emotionally and mentally taxing than it has been in recent memory.

Politics have been polarized, so anyone who is even somewhat politically minded right now seems to be significantly more prone to conflict. In 2017, more human contact leads to more conflict, and sustained conflict is particularly draining.

The opportunity inherent in that rather grim picture is for anyone offering to be the oasis in this desert of anger, and that’s exactly what hotels and resorts already are and can grow to be even more.

Beyond promises of smoother skin and physical fitness, now is the time for hotels to plan services and amenities around wellness, mindfulness and opportunities to truly unplug from the world. Obviously higher-end, leisure-focused properties are already keyed in to this in a way, but it’s time for them to expand those efforts to make it not just a niche offering but an expectation for every guest.

And I don’t think it’s outside the realm of reason to say properties priced on the lower side could also differentiate themselves from the competition by offering things that allow guests to shut out the world around them. After all, what is a hotel room if not a temporary sanctuary?

Of course, hoteliers need to be cost-conscious about how they make it happen, but there is the opportunity to be creative. It doesn’t have to be a spa experience or anything as involved as hot yoga classes, although I do find the idea of hot yoga at something like a Motel 6 on the side of the highway a strange and wonderfully unexpected mélange.

That said, I’m not sure off the top of my head what the solution is for helping guests find the off button. But we’ve got enough great minds in this industry that I’m sure someone else can think of something.

What do you think? Got any ideas on how to make mindfulness happen on property? Would you rather see me unplug to avoid these sort of half-baked takes? Let me know via email or on Twitter.

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