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The Wellness Movement: What It Means For Hospitality


As the trajectory of hospitality focus changes, we hear talk of wellness being placed as a core foundation in new hospitality projects and renovations. 

And for good reason. 

Hotels aren't a place to come and go in as they were traditionally understood. They have evolved from box spaces with essential amenities- to a more sophisticated environment built to truly take care of their occupants.

In this article, we’ll discuss the meaning of wellness for hospitality, how it came to be, and how to incorporate it into our future designs.


What does wellness mean for hospitality?

According to Katie Kervin, Senior Managing Editor of Hospitality Design Magazine, wellness is all about the holistic experience.

“Okay. I want to just level set on one thing real quick too. Wellness is often associated with the hospitality industry and talked about in the contract as such as a fitness center or um, really centered around again, this idea of wellness being centered around physical health. But when we talk about supporting our guests, we consider it more from a holistic standpoint going beyond simply wellness and said we consider one well-being considering the entire person. And that means body mind and spirit a big shift and change and how we approach our guests. It's really shifting from simply wellness to thinking about well-being and that's how I actually I that's what how we talk about it. We no longer use the term wellness. We talk about well-being supporting our guests, supporting our colleagues, supporting our owners all of our stakeholders and their well-being”


How did “wellness” come to be? 

“So where we are in the world. Well, being has become an essential element of everyday life. And I think what covid has really done is bring the future forward where consumers have connected to well-being as a priority. And this period of self-reflection that we've all gone through for the last several years has really allowed us an opportunity to consider what's the most critical, right? What's the most critical in our lives? How can we support our own world being? It's become a priority shift and what customers consumer they're looking for when they travel.

So the future of well-being and hospitality is not only to support our guests and customers' well-being intentions but also to inspire them by offering opportunities to learn and experience a sense of well-being or fulfillment through the physical base that we define. That responsibility is to really create spaces that support their well-being. We'll talk about a few different ways at the sort of end of the presentation and how to consider the design. Okay.”


Wellness is not a one size fits all. 

For many companies, wellness has sort of become an additive to their space. Sprinkling their interpretation of “wellness” elements like treadmills into their room matrix to check off the wellness box. But for Katie, she uses another approach:

“So our approach is really to go beyond an additive approach. We're not gonna be the brand that offers a treadmill in your room just focusing on just the additive component or the matrix. We're our approach is much more on using both design and experience that we create to shift mindset and really shift perspective and get people to tune into the awareness of what they're experiencing or may stay with us. So supporting our guests and colleagues to be just thinking about, again, the or the fitness center. But instead of focusing on opportunities for self-discovery, creating a place for people to learn and experience will be first.”


Here are 3 considerations to make when designing for wellness:

  • Intention:

What is the intention of that space? What are we looking for the guest to experience? what happens in the space and as designers? What do we want those people in the space to feel or how do we want them to be impacted and when they leave what do we want them to take away with them? 

We want them to shift their awareness, bring their attention to maybe the sensation in the space that they're feeling that actually a property in which we want them to feel free. We want them to feel the field on the feed. 

We want them to engage in that present moment and again, bringing their attention and focus to even what their body is experiencing. And I know that sounds super lofty, but it's really being intentional about what those experiences we want to get to feel, and then how do you articulate it to design? How do you create that? Sort of experience in design? And really, again, it's all about getting guests into their experience and becoming aware of the things that are happening, not just around them. But within them.”

  • Reflection

We don't learn from experiences. We actually learn from reflecting on experiences. So focusing on the opportunities for reflection allows people the opportunity to consider their own attitudes, they're approaches and beliefs. This sets the tune and contextualizes the experiences that they're about to have, which allows them to go beyond simply passively participating in a face to being actively engaged in the space.

This represents the shortest distance to move people from simply what's happening around them to what's happening again. Design can be used as a tool to create these moments of pause that allow for this reflection to take place. And this doesn't mean that in every project you guys need to design this zen garden or have a space that's only for meditation. But instead, this can be accomplished by using design cues that signify a shift in perspective or represents contracts that help to facilitate that moment that really jarrs a person, it gets them to focus on something different. "

  • Inspiration

“What inspiration does is offer the potential opportunity to transcend a previous understanding or expectation to a new perspective. 

And I have to be honest, an example for me for inspiration, probably the easiest way to think about inspiration is the easiest way to inspire one is through beauty”.

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Published May 26, 2023