The hospitality sector has faced some especially difficult challenges in dealing with the pandemic. With travel curtailed, hotel occupancy has been significantly diminished, spurring lodging owners and operators to seek new hotel amenities that will entice people back to hotels and resorts while helping to keep them healthy and safe after the pandemic subsides. InspireDesign caught up with Chris Roy, director of creative design for OTL, a design-build construction company that specializes in creating one-of-a-kind water features, fountains, rockwork and themed environments, about hotel amenity design trends in the post-COVID environment.
With shared amenities being regulated in hotel properties throughout the U.S., what other innovative amenities can property owners and stakeholders incorporate into their hotels?
There are many different types of amenities that work well to enrich the beauty and value of hotels while keeping people who visit and work at these properties safe and healthy. These amenities include water features, artificial rockwork and enhanced exterior communal spaces that create an inviting and relaxing environment for hotel guests while reducing the risk of viral transmission.
Amenities like these work well in hospitality settings because people naturally want to be around water, and water features create a special ambiance for hotel properties that draws people in. Fountains are inherent communal gathering spaces and have traditionally been found in town squares throughout history; therefore, hotel courtyards make fitting locations for these amenities. Also, water features’ trickling, babbling or rushing water sounds help block out traffic noise so that hotels remain relaxing oases for escaping from everyday life.
With the safety of large communal amenities—like swimming pools, which are typically found at hotels—being called into question in the COVID-19 era, water fountains and other enhanced exterior environments are ideal alternatives that can easily be kept clean and safe for everyone. As the pandemic abates and people return to traveling and staying in hotels once again, they will be seeking out experiences like these that they can enjoy safely.
How can property owners and stakeholders keep these amenities safe and healthy for all guests to enjoy? Maintaining hotel fountains so they are safe and healthy requires top-notch filtration and sanitation systems that keep the water crystal clear and clean without pathogens.
The modern filtration systems we use are designed to eliminate extremely small particles from the water—some as small as five microns. These filtration systems are also environmentally and user-friendly as they only require a minimal amount of water, space and energy to function.
Treating the water with disinfectants also helps ensure water features are sanitized and safe. Many of the processes and equipment we employ to disinfect these amenities use chlorine, ozone and UV radiation to eliminate bacteria and viruses while keeping the water fresh and clear. Combining chlorination with UV radiation or ozone ensures that pathogens are killed and the water is kept safe.
In addition to keeping hotel fountains clean and pathogen-free, removing leaves and litter from these amenities is essential for reflecting the overall health and brand of the property. Maintenance programs that keep water features clean help hotel stakeholders polish their brand’s image in the minds of guests and team members.
How do you feel hotel amenities will continue to change moving forward in the “new normal?”
Several trends that had begun before the pandemic have been accelerated by COVID-19 and will continue after the pandemic subsides.
Hotels will rely more on heavy theming and immersive experiences to engage guests and make their properties must-see destinations going forward. This is a trend that will continue to grow as hotels reinvent themselves in the post-COVID era.
For example, a series of video game-themed Atari hotels is in the development stages, and Hasbro is planning to build several board game-themed hotels as well. These types of active environments will become more popular as hotel brands increasingly seek to attract guests to their properties.
Also, hotel owners will continue to enhance and utilize their exterior spaces as a means of being prepared for any future pandemics or emergency situations that might arise. Bringing activities outdoors allows hotels to operate amongst a wider variety of health and safety regulations that could be enacted in the “new normal.”
Has your company already received requests for these types of amenities?
Hotel stakeholders are always looking to create fresh experiences for their guests and OTL has continued to field interest from this sector during the course of the pandemic.
We have been sought after in particular because our firm has worked on several resort projects while they were open and operational, such as the water chandelier water feature we built in the lobby at Pechanga Resort Casino (above) in Temecula, CA. This required us to adjust our schedule while adhering to noise restrictions and minimizing the impact on guests as these amenities were built and installed.
Looking ahead, hotel owners will continue to demand providers who can deliver amenities that are innovative and spectacular while protecting the health and safety of everyone around them.