The warm weather of summer brought a much-needed shot in the arm for hospitality during this ongoing pandemic, offering the ability to offer outside dining and other activities.
But as temperatures continue to drop in the West, Midwest and Northeast, hotels and restaurants need to get creative and embrace the cold to continue drumming up business.
InspireDesign asked Mary Alice Palmer, principal/director of hospitality interiors at global design and architecture firm HKS, to offer some advice on how to continue using the outdoors despite the cold.
She has sketched a hypothetical example that focuses on how the hospitality industry can build robust programming that keeps foot traffic alive during cold months and identified six ways hotels and restaurants can keep their doors open this winter:
- Spoiler alert: Winter isn’t going anywhere. It’s our job to help get people energized about strapping on their winter coats and leaving the house in the first place. How do you do that? You need a draw: geodesic ice domes, igloos, caves, ice palaces, ice sculptures or ice-skating rinks. For winter to be successful, you have to make art of winter. Hotels should consider and weigh out the cost of commissioning a digital designer who can help them create an activation similar to LUNA Fête in New Orleans, which uses contemporary light and video mapping technology, sound installation and motion graphics to create a winter wonderland experience. It’s something that is sure to draw a crowd.
- Add sparkle. The ambiance that lanterns, great outdoor heaters, string lights and campfires provide when dealing with cold weather is unparalleled. The right lighting almost instantly changes the mood and helps guests embrace the outdoors. This is a critical investment that the hotel and restaurant industry must embrace immediately to keep business churning through the end of 2020 and into 2021.
- Embrace hygge. For those not up on their Scandinavian lingo, hygge (pronounced hue-ga) is a word used to describe a blissful state of coziness. In Denmark, it is a way of life and translates well when it comes to styling the perfect cold-weather ensemble for hospitality destinations as we head into the cold months. And while hygge is not a particularly new trend, we can learn from how Scandinavian communities embrace the inevitable cold months during their winter season. As an American visiting Denmark during a brutally cold winter in 2019, I was a bit discouraged. But I threw on my Canada Goose jacket and headed out, determined to dine and explore the city, and I came to the realization that, despite the drizzle and dismal weather, it is possible for an experience to be cozy, warm and fabulous. This may be the first year ever in American history where there is a mentality shift, and I hope that American consumers will finally embrace the cold. But it is up to the hospitality industry to make the right moves to make this possible.
- Make sure your menu invites those winter-cravings. If you’re hosting folks outdoors for some hygge-inspired lounging, you have to make sure the food matches the vibe. Introduce a spin that includes something like a fondue tasting, hot cocoa, smores, mulled wine and hot apple cider.
- There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. I firmly believe that it is completely possible to embrace the winter months with a mindset around dressing appropriately for it. Americans should invest in their winter garb like they never have before.
- Know that it’s not going to be successful without great design. To successfully embrace cold weather, you have to think about design. A great design firm can help you source the right materials and furniture that is going to keep your customers comfortable and coming back for more. A designer can point you to the right furniture, like heated tables and chairs that are going to match your hotel and restaurant aesthetic and create an experience that stands out from the many choices consumers have today.