In Travel

The Hotel Trends Changing The Way We Travel

The hotel industry is experiencing its biggest shakeup in years – with four specific trends leading the way. More than just a place to stay, a hotel is now expected to be at the cutting-edge of technology, design and, perhaps most importantly, social and environmental practice.

From customised room settings via smartphones to local initiatives encouraging guests to get out and explore, these are the top hotel trends changing travel as we know it.

So long, cookie-cutter hotels

TRYP Fortitude Valley Hotel has incorporated graffiti into its entire ethos. Credit: TRYP Fortitude Valley Hotel

One of the biggest trends we’re seeing at the moment is in hotels abandoning cookie-cutter design, says Grant Colquhoun, Senior Director, Key Accounts for TripAdvisor Asia Pacific.

“The cookie-cutter approach is being replaced with a look and feel that is more in line with the property’s brand identity,” he says. “For example, hotel chains are starting new brands that appeal to different demographics as a point of differentiation and diversification.”

Hotel Indigo, the fastest growing brand for IHG Hotels & Resorts, is excelling in this arena. Each hotel is a reflection of its specific location, taking design queues from local architecture and stories, as well as incorporating local flavours into its food and beverage offerings.

TRYP by Wyndham is another brand focusing on location and personality. Its TRYP Fortitude Valley Hotel, once an abandoned site tagged in graffiti, has incorporated that very graffiti into its entire ethos. Developers consulted with local artists to preserve and celebrate the works, with the hotel now also hosting regular events such as Brisbane Street Art Festival.

Under-the-radar technology

In-room iPads feature at The Riley. Image: Crystalbrook Collection

In-room tech is another one of this year’s notable hotel trends. However, instead of introducing gimmicks such as robot butlers, there’s a rising trend for investment in seamless technology, which enhances the guest experience but does it in an unobtrusive way.

One of the groups doing this exceptionally well is InterContinental Hotels & Resorts.

The July relaunch of InterContinental Hayman Island, an icon of the Whitsunday Islands, will feature several innovative additions including a state-of-the-art in-room thermal technology system. When guests are out of their rooms, the lights, air conditioning, curtains, blinds and appliances will be adjusted to optimise thermal efficiency and reduce wasted energy.

Hilton Hotels are also embracing digital revolution with their Connected Room technology, which is intended to close the gap between energy efficiency and comfort. Already being rolled out across the United States, the tech allows guests to customise lighting, heating and other room features from an app installed on their phone.

Putting the environment first

Pullman Reef Hotel Casino has turned its rooftop into a hydroponic garden with 40,000 bees. Image: Pullman Reef Hotel Casino

Whether it’s straws in bars, outdated compendiums or air-conditioning that cools the room to sub-arctic temperatures, staggering amounts of paper, plastic and electricity are wasted in hotels every day. That mindset seems to be changing, however.

Many properties are finally caving in to public pressure and adopting the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ approach to life through new environmental and waste minimisation initiatives.

Paperless check-in/out systems like those used at The Ruby Collection on the Gold Coast; recycled timber key cards, larger pump-style toiletry bottles, and in-room iPads at The Riley in Cairns; and even locally sourced restaurant produce are a few of the trends proving sustainability is not just the new black, it’s here to stay.

Also in Cairns, Pullman Reef Hotel Casino has taken the locally sourced approach to heart, turning its rooftop into a hydroponic garden and apiary with some 40,000 bees. This once-unused space now produces fresh herbs and honey for use in its bars and restaurants.

InterContinental Hayman Island is also getting in on the eco-action, swapping single-use bottles for refillable PVC bottles and filtered water stations, and implementing a glass-to-sand crusher which turns glass bottles used into silicone ‘sand’ for use in the resort.

Experiences, not just a place to stay

six senses bhutan

Six Senses Bhutan offers a multi-site experience of five lodges spread throughout the country. Image: Six Senses Bhutan

Travel is often about experiences, from trying new foods to seeking out new attractions and discovering the extraordinary in the everyday. Though hotels have historically been left out of that fun, we’re seeing a rise in hotels taking an active role in local exploration.

More than just a base, many hotels are now introducing local experiences which take guests out of the hotel and into the wider community. Think free guided tours, opportunities to meet local communities, and staff being empowered to give genuine local area advice.

Finessing the local exploration concept even further, Six Senses Bhutan offers a unique multi-site experience of five lodges spread throughout the country. Each of its luxury lodges are individually styled yet collectively known as one property, with the intention being for guests to travel from lodge to lodge to fully experience the best that Bhutan has to offer.

Though trends often come and go like the changing of the seasons, early signs suggest these four trends could be here to stay. As they say, good hospitality never goes out of style.

(Lead image: Beach villa with pool at Hayman Island by InterContinental, image: Hayman Island by InterContinental)

Published 22 March, 2019