COVID has completely changed the hotel experience with new security and sanitation protocols, but it has also changed the way guests access amenities and even dictated what amenities are available during a hotel stay.
Social distancing, capacity restrictions and vaccination requirements all come into play, noted Shay Lam, managing director, studio creative director, TPG Architecture, adding that health concerns are a priority and any gear focused. on health is paramount.
“We are seeing the concierge service getting higher, especially in the medical area of concierge, for example, we are noticing on-demand services such as in-room COVID testing,” Lam said. “Additionally, due to concerns about equipment sharing, some amenities are delivered directly to the room, such as gym packages for in-room setups. “
While a lot has changed, it also presents an opportunity for hoteliers to refocus their brand, Lam said. “They need to focus on what really matters to their brand, their customers and their overall experience while removing any excess that doesn’t support that direction. “
According to Rachael Lewis, regional design leader, NELSON Worldwide, small amenity spaces in large spaces are on the rise compared to traditional living rooms (for example, small conversation nooks and library spaces for small meetings and workspaces).
“We have seen a shift from large empty halls to busy, active common spaces where people can work, meet and socialize,” Lewis said. “But today we are now faced with a new challenge which is to keep flexible spaces that work for guests while maintaining social distancing at the same time.”
Additionally, Lewis advises hoteliers to invest in landscaping to create comfortable outdoor spaces that are extensions of the rest of the hotel.
“Customers don’t want to sacrifice the experience even if operational trends need to change,” Lewis said. “Hotels need to be aware that whatever they do will have a positive or negative impact on a guest’s overall experience. “
COVID has also affected F&B amenities, especially from an operations perspective, as interactions are now limited.
“The hotel buffet has surely been hit by the pandemic, as have the self-service drink counters and salad bars,” said Prasoon Shrivastava, Founder / CEO of Prasoon Design Studio. “Crowded food queues and social distancing don’t necessarily go hand in hand, and even when things improve a bit, some of these changes could be here to stay. We are already seeing hotel workers serving buffets rather than self-serving guests while others have moved to single servings. The buffet system is also replaced by sufficiently spaced restaurant tables, take-out food stations, menus based on QR codes, outdoor and semi-outdoor seating.
Take-out options have certainly seen an increase, as guests can bring fresh food and drink back to their rooms or enjoy them outside, noted Carla Niemann, SVP, design, Premier.
“When these outlets are located close to the reception, they can be left unmanned, which helps keep costs down,” Niemann said. “Those who have adopted this model and provided a variety of beautifully presented products have prospered. “
While hotel amenities have changed and will continue to evolve in the future, how guests experience these amenities will forever remain at the forefront. These design leaders surely find ways to make the most of restrictions and protocols and pivot when necessary.
“While there have been a lot of exciting new developments around the world, it will take some time for these changes to be reflected in most properties,” said Shrivastava. “As long as appropriate, even temporary, measures are taken according to the guidelines, it should have a positive impact on the hospitality industry. Slowly everyone will have to adapt and embrace the new normal.”