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Crafting a Post COVID-19 Hospitality Space

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Your Guide to Bringing Safety, Comfort, and a Natural Feel to Your Hotel

Back in January this year, Warp & Phil announced that nature would play an integral role in new hospitality design, becoming one of the biggest hotel design trends for 2020. Of course, 2020 hasn’t quite gone as planned, but the overall desires of travellers haven’t changed. Instead, they’ve expanded. 

Guests still crave a natural feel, yet their expectations have shifted dramatically. Today’s hotel guests expect hospitality spaces to effortlessly combine natural design features with improved safety, sanitation, and hygiene protocols, taking into account new regulations sparked by the pandemic. 

Post-COVID Hospitality

Post-COVID, guests are expected to be more aware and more in tune with the potential for risk, especially when travelling. Today’s guests are becoming increasingly interested in what measures hospitality spaces are taking to protect them, and are beginning to look into how hospitality design especially lends itself to a rigid sanitation schedule, along with what the operator is doing to provide a comfortable guest experience during an otherwise uncomfortable and uncertain moment in time. 

Understandably, many are reluctant and unsure about a return to normal, and it’s enclosed, shared spaces such as theatre, restaurants, and hotels that are expected to experience the greatest impact of this natural wariness. Fortunately, there are some innovative ways that those in the hospitality industry can adapt to bring together nature, comfort, and safety, giving guests everything they’re looking for. 

 1.    Window Treatments

Windows are a good starting point here, as they form the gateway to the natural environment. While more traditional, drapery is still very popular as it warms the space and softens the experience. Depending on your overall style you can even invest in custom made curtains.

If you decide to choose simple drapery keep in mind that they can be emphasized through elegant decorative rods and other accessories. Roller shades are another option. These are more contemporary and are excellent at blocking light while still being a cost-effective choice. Coated materials offer natural resistance to dirt, which is beneficial in a post-COVID world. 

2.    Interior Materials

Although soft carpets and luxurious rugs add comfort, luxurious fabrics do not always lend themselves to natural design, or to strict sanitation practices. Instead, it is expected that hospitality spaces will begin to incorporate more natural materials into their interior design over the coming years, replacing bacteria-harbouring fabrics with natural stone and tile.

These materials not only allow hoteliers to create a more natural look and feel through select textiles, but stone and tile also benefit from a wipe-clean nature which makes them very quick and easy to clean, especially compared to long pile luxury carpets. 

3.    Open Plan Communal Spaces

Open plan communal spaces aren’t just a design feature; they’re fast becoming a necessity in order to meet social distancing guidelines. COVID-19 forces the designers and management companies to incorporate open plan design into the interior space, and hoteliers can leverage this trend by removing large items of furniture to open up more space in lounges, bars, and lobbies. This also helps to combine safety with the growing trend for natural design. Nature is ‘open’, and this is something that is typically lacking in enclosed, busy spaces like hotels. Ultimately, this allows guests to comfortably distance themselves, facilitating a natural yet socially safe stay. 

4.    Outdoor Expansion

 Over the past few years, the trend for ‘bringing the outside in’ has dominated. But is this about to shift to ‘bringing the inside out’? Perhaps. The global pandemic has created an opportunity for hoteliers to make better use of their natural outdoor spaces for traditionally indoor activities, especially as research suggests that viral transmission is the lowest outdoors. This is a chance to really utilize a guest’s desire for nature while driving home your commitment to personal safety. Consider hosting events outside, setting up an outdoor bar with alfresco settings, and maybe even introducing outdoor check-in facilities. 

Hoteliers are beginning to combine traditional tea, coffee, and biscuits (comfort items) with a sanitizer, handwash, and masks (safety items). photo Unsplash

5.    Welcome Packs

Welcome packs of essentials and little luxuries have long been a part of the hospitality world. And they are expected to continue to play a significant role in guest comfort. However, hoteliers are beginning to combine traditional tea, coffee, and biscuits (comfort items) with a sanitizer, handwash, and masks (safety items).

This demonstrates consciousness of the current situation without compromising on comfort. Hoteliers can use this as an opportunity to bring nature into the mix, too, by selecting natural, eco-friendly products. What guests see matters, so your efforts should be clear, prominent, and visible. 

Meeting Evolving Guest Expectations

The needs, requirements, preferences, and expectations of today’s hotel guests are much different from what they were only a few years ago. A significant part of this can be attributed to a renewed worldwide focus on the importance of the natural environment and sustainability. However, the unprecedented events of 2020 have expanded the criteria that both leisure and business guests now need their venues to meet. Today’s guests want a natural feel, and they actively seek out sustainable stays, yet they’re also searching for experiences that are safe, secure, sanitary, hygienic, and support their wellbeing. 

Adapting to these evolving needs now is key to driving growth and development in the future. Hoteliers are operating within a highly competitive landscape, with an 18% global increase in the total number of hotel rooms over the last 10 years. While venues may once have strategized to differentiate themselves from the growing competition exclusively through their accommodations and packages, that plan is no longer enough in a post-COVID world; hotels need to differentiate themselves through every aspect of the stay. As business activity increases and hoteliers plan future development or renovations, they need to shift their focus from accommodation only and make changes that work to prioritize the overall guest experience by giving them exactly what they’re looking for.

by Zana Dodig

Zana Dodig loves interiors and everything related, from decorating to organizing and remodelling. Her favourite part of interiors for the last 20 years have been window coverings. She works as a window treatment consultant and writer at DraperyCurtainRods.ca and PrestigeDecor.ca.

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