The transformation of luxury hotels
According to the Oxford-English dictionary, a hotel is “an establishment providing accommodations, meals, and other services for travelers and tourists.” And that, in a nutshell, is what they’ve been since the early days of the hospitality industry. Even back in Roman times, inns were used to shelter, feed, and allow for a brief respite during the long travels across the empire.
The first luxury hotel, Tremont House, opened in Boston in the year 1829. This modern hotel was the first to implement “luxury amenities” as most people would recognize them today. These perks included indoor plumbing with indoor toilets and baths, a reception desk with room service, and free soap in all the rooms.
Hotels have changed a lot since then, and what was once considered a “luxury” has become what we’d consider an expected amenity. So as our standard of living has evolved, so has our definition of a “luxury stay”, which means that luxury hotels are constantly trying to raise the bar for their guests. And as more and more 5-Star Hotels are being built around the world, these transformations are improving everyday guest experiences for a variety of reasons and the future is bright on this industry’s horizons.
One of the things the modern world is becoming acutely self-aware of is the impact it has on the environment. With this newfound awareness, many businesses, luxury hotels included, are making a concerted effort to develop sustainable practices that put less of a burden on our earth without sacrificing comfort.
One of the biggest things hotels, in general, have started focusing on is energy consumption, specifically by encouraging guests to reuse their towels. This is because, according to the EPA, hotels consume up to 17% of the metropolitan area’s total water consumption, most of it due to laundry services. When they decided to focus on conserving water, Caesars in Las Vegas saved around 30 million gallons of water in a year by reconfiguring their laundry services, according to research done by National Geographic.
Other steps towards sustainability in luxury hotels today include the use of biodegradable consumables such as straws and paper cups rather than plastics. Modern thermostats allow guests to not only adjust their room to fit their comfort but to schedule their energy use to help lower usage when they are not in their room for extended periods of time. When every bit counts, anything the industry does to make the business more environmentally sustainable is a boon to them, their guests, and the planet.
Technology has come a long way in making our lives easier, which at its core is what separates “luxury” from the “status quo”. Where once guests had a physical key to unlock their room, now even the typical key card systems are being replaced by smartphone apps. Check-Ins can all be managed online now as well, which helps keep people’s stay as hassle-free as possible, all thanks to the technology available in their pocket every day.
The future of tech in this industry is only growing. As hoteliers adapt to the ever-changing expectations of their guests, state of the art amenities will constantly be added to enhance their guest’s experience. For instance, some have speculated one enhancement will be to offer small Wifi hotspots that guests can take out during the day to stay connected wherever they go. This would be especially useful to those luxury hotels located in still-developing countries where Wifi at every business or restaurant in town is not a guarantee.
Gourmet food and beverage services
Michelin-star Danish Chef René Redzepi once said: “People will travel anywhere for good food – it’s crazy.”
This is becoming especially true in the luxury hotel industry. There are, to date, over one-hundred hotels across twenty-five countries that can boast having at least one Michelin star, and all the top hoteliers are constantly looking to procure the top-rated chefs from around the globe to work in their restaurants. From the finest French cuisine to seafood, vegetarian, and national dishes, some hotels are becoming known not only for luxury accommodations but also for luxury dining experiences that delight guests and restaurant patrons alike.
In addition to seeking out the best chefs, luxury hoteliers are also recruiting the world’s best bartenders to provide leisure and business guests an unparalleled leisure experience after a long day. Many hotel bars stock nothing but top-shelf liquors and have some bottles that an average traveler might never get the chance to taste. But in this environment, these trained professionals can offer not only leisure but an experience their patrons will not soon forget.
It’s almost a given that any luxury hotel worth its salt will have some form of clinically trained massage therapist on staff, but many of these five-star resorts are now raising the bar with state of the art spa treatments. New treatment options such as aerial yoga, meditation pods, starlight massages, and Himalayan salt therapy are changing how leisure and business guests think about their own health and wellbeing. Just as their chefs and bartenders are being handpicked, these spas are run by specialists that are highly skilled in their field, offering treatments that clients oftentimes cannot find under one roof at a typical massage parlor.
The luxury hotel industry has always had one goal, to provide its guests with services that surpass that of their everyday lives. Whether that means the efforts to sustain a greener earth, the convenience of modern technology, relishing in a three Michelin-star meal, or being pampered with spa techniques from across the world, leisure and business travelers alike are enjoying the ever-evolving world of luxury travel. In a fast-paced, modern society, hoteliers and luxury resort chains are forging their way ahead and carving out space in the limelight, competing in an ever-transforming field to make sure you are treated like royalty no matter where you book your next stay.
But don’t worry. Instead of lugging around heavy keys to your kingdom, you can just use your phone. We hope you enjoy your stay.
So what about you? What technological perks, services, or novelties do you want to see in our luxury hotels in the next ten years?
Guido Graf is Founder of Privateupgrades. Privateupgrades is a global luxury travel club with over 20 years of experience in luxury hotels, ensuring exclusive VIP privileges like upgrades, free breakfast, free nights, rate discounts, free airport transfers, free massages and much more.