Hotel Design Trends – The Authentic Experience

Swim with dolphins! Ride ATVs through the countryside! Whale watch! Zipline over the jungle canopy! These excursions have been staples of the all-inclusive resort experience, especially when resorts realized they could be used to shake more money out of guests by consuming as much food, drink, and sunshine as they can.

We’re now seeing higher-end and luxury hotels introducing packages for guests seeking out more authentic experiences. Consumer studies repeatedly show that modern consumers are increasingly more likely to spend money on experiences rather than products, and hoteliers are offering up more and more opportunities for them.

El Capitan Canyon near Santa Barbara is one of the fore-bearers of glamping, an odd-sounding portmanteau of “glamorous camping”. The rustic exterior of wooden cabins and canvas tents belies the comforts inside, which include features such as full kitchens, gas fireplaces, high-end mattresses and skylights. Each lodging has their own firepit outside. Want to sort-of cook? The staff will bring you meal kits with everything you need for the perfect dinner, including tri-tip steaks, burgers, fresh salmon, organic vegetables, and even smores for dessert.
With the proven success of a show like Downton Abbey, it’s only appropriate that English hotels tailored their guest experiences to take advantage of this Anglophelia. The Corinthia Hotel London, itself housed in a building that dates back to 1885, offers guests the Town and Country Experiences, day trips out to a 17th century country mansion where a lively day of fishing, deer hunting, or shooting game birds is supplemented with picnic lunches and afternoon tea served out on the estate, and tours of the house’s art collection.
For those travelers who really want to get away from it all, the Fogo Island Inn is the perfect choice. Designed by architect Todd Saunders, this 29-room hotel sits on the tip of Fogo Island off the rugged coast of Newfoundland and is devoted to giving guests the true island experience. Rooms are decorated with quilts and furniture made by residents of the island, cod fishing tours take place on active fishing trawlers, and visitors can build punts, the traditional wooden boats of the island.

These immersive experiences a geared more towards a luxury travel audience, but all hotels are getting on board with this trend. Many hotels will partner with local tour operators to offer food and beverage tours (especially in cities like Portland and Seattle), offer up free bicycles for guests to take out for rides, or employ hotel pets for guests to take out for walks. Even these smaller experiences can make a difference to the new type of traveler, and we can expect more and more hotels to get on board.