COVID has completely changed the hotel experience with new safety and sanitation protocols, but it has also changed how 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 equipment focused on health is paramount.
“We’re seeing concierge service getting higher, especially in the medical area of concierge, for example, we’re noticing on-demand services like in-room COVID testing,” Lam said. “Also, with concerns about equipment sharing, some equipment is delivered directly to the room, such as gym passes for in-room setups.”
While a lot has changed, it also represents an opportunity for hoteliers to refocus their brand, Lam said. “They need to focus on what really matters to their brand, customer and overall experience while removing any excess that doesn’t support that direction.”
According to Rachael Lewis, Regional Design Manager at NELSON Worldwide, small comfort spaces within large spaces are on the rise as opposed to traditional living rooms (e.g. small conversation nooks and library spaces for small meetings and open spaces). of work).
“We’ve seen a shift from large, empty lobbies to bustling, active common spaces where people can work, meet and socialize,” Lewis said. “But today we now face a new challenge of keeping 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 experience even though operational trends may need to change,” Lewis said. “Hotels need to be aware that everything 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 affected 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 the situation improves a bit, some of those changes might be here to stay. We are already seeing hotel employees serve buffets rather than guests serving themselves while others have moved to single servings. The buffet system is also being replaced with appropriately spaced restaurant tables, take-out food stations, QR code-based menus, outdoor and semi-outdoor seating.
Take-out options have certainly seen an increase, as guests can bring fresh food and beverages back to their room or enjoy outdoors, noted Carla Niemann, SVP, design, Premier.
“When these outlets are located close to reception, they can remain unstaffed, which saves costs,” Niemann said. “Those who have adopted this model and provided a variety of beautifully presented products have thrived.”
While hotel amenities have changed and will continue to evolve in the future, how guests experience those amenities will forever be at the forefront. These design leaders are surely finding ways to make the most of restrictions and protocols and pivot when necessary.
“While there have been many exciting new developments around the world, it will take some time for these changes to be reflected in most properties,” Shrivastava said. “As long as appropriate, even temporary, measures are taken in accordance with the guidelines, this should have a positive impact on the hospitality industry. Slowly, everyone will have to adapt and embrace the new normal.