Luxury hotels and resorts have to continually innovate to keep up with the demands of their globe-trotting guests. We’ve been on the road a lot lately, and here are 10 new trends that we totally love. Thoughful, lovely, smart and green – here are some amenities that we wish every luxury property offered.
1. Libraries. We’ve been thrilled to find that most of the new luxury properties in which we’ve stayed this summer feature well-stocked libraries for use by their guests. Some also have books in each guest room. From Bermuda to Manhattan to East Hampton, it’s bibliophile bliss. The NoMad New York may have started this, with its handsome two-story Library (which also doubles as a casual dining and cocktail spot) and we’re thrilled that many others have followed.
2. Casual chic dining options. Luxury hotels and even resorts used to be known for their highly formal dining rooms, which often required getting dressed up just to have a convenient meal. Now, even the most luxurious properties are offering relaxed dining rooms, sometimes instead of and sometimes in addition to their most formal offering. At the new Loren at Pink Beach boutique hotel in Tucker’s Point, Bermuda, the casual restaurant was always full and flip flops and shorts were de riguer, a welcome option for a lazy beach retreat vacation.
3. Intuitive smart technology. We are weary of “smart” hotel rooms that are impossible to understand. We don’t like the feeling of being outsmarted by our room. Switches that you can’t find or understand, automated everything so that it’s impossible to talk to a live human, the feeling that we’re being watched and listened to. Hate that. But we love some recent innovations that actually solve a need and do it elegantly and unobtrusively. Two examples: When you open the guest room door at the Four Seasons New York Downtown in Manhattan and the drapes automatically open to reveal a view of the Oculus and Lower Manhattan. Walk on the floor of the bathroom at the Whitby and the night lights automatically illuminate. Arrive at the hidden entrance to the pool terrace at the Shangri-La at the Shard in London, and a narrow nondescript door slides open to reveal an enormous and sleek pool terrace with stunning views of the city. So. Cool.
4. Standalone “vintage” bathtubs. It’s clear that every new luxury hotel has heard the call for a lovely tub to soak in. From the Beekman Hotel in lower Manhattan to the Loren at Pink Beach in Bermuda, we’ve seen sleek modern ones, and charming vintage ones, and even one with a perfectly-placed screen so you can binge-watch while you take a bubble bath. Now that’s some serious luxury, right there.
5. Live succulents in guest rooms. The lure of the natural world, even in the most chic cosmopolitan luxury property, has driven hoteliers to bring more green into guest rooms. Two of the properties we stayed at recently provided live succulents as part of the room decor. Others provided dramatic green spaces via terraces, even in the midst of a large city.
6. Sleep aids. A good night’s sleep is now a luxury item, and hotels and resorts seem to be responding by providing a vast array of sleep aids for their guests. Proprietary pillow spray at the Whitby; white noise machines at Canyon Ranch; Dream Water stocked in the in-room mini-bar at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay; pillow menus at many locations – it’s not just about the mattress anymore.
7. Noteworthy contemporary art collections. The Fairmont Hamilton Princess in Bermuda was closed for nearly two years for renovation, and when it re-opened it, the property sported an impressive contemporary art collection. It’s so vast that guests can take a one-hour art tour while they’re in residence.
The 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina, like all of its sister properties, has a rotating exhibition of contemporary art that’s engrossing and provocative. It’s present in the hotel’s restaurant as well as in its common areas, and the art changes roughly every 6 months.
8. Cool notepads and writing utensils. At the Four Seasons New York Downtown, the carpet and the notepads are both laid out in matching austere grids, to reflect the city’s streets further uptown. The Whitby in Midtown Manhattan offers cheerful pencils and notepads with its RicRak pattern.
9. Immersive local and on-property activities. Foraging, gardening, cooking classes, animal husbandry – there are more and more luxury boutiques and resorts where you can find immersive experiences in the realm of food gathering and preparation and other daily tasks.
10. Cool pools. Spas are a core part of the luxury hotel experience, and in addition to investing in state-of-the-art workout equipment, we’ve noticed that hotel and resort pools are becoming ever more architectural and statement-making. The pools at the Loren at Pink Beach in Bermuda and at the Shangri-La at the Shard in London are show-stoppers, as is the one at the Four Seasons Hotel Miami, which features a forest of hammocks among the palm trees.
We’re keen to see what the luxury hospitality industry will think of next. In the meantime, we’d be totally OK if every hotel followed these leads – luxury is about marvelous things, and easy assurance, and we love being dazzled when we’re on the road. Well played, all. More, please!