Why is this interesting? - The Hotel Recovery Edition

On hospitality, sleep, and the market opportunity to make stays a restorative experience

Colin here.If you think about it, what makes a hotel a hotel hasn’t really changed much over the years. It’s a bed, a (hopefully) hot shower with good water pressure, and a place to feel safe on the road. This core functionality has existed from the early days of the humble inn to the most beautiful palace on the Conde Nast Hot List. Sure, there’s been boutiques and aesthetic innovations, but the question is how will a hotel meaningfully evolve in the future? One intriguing possibility is that they’ll double down on sleep, health, and recovery, aiming to make us better than the day we checked in. 

To date, the has been almost entirely the opposite. Monetization in hotels has been around vice: Minibars to tempt you, decadent food and beverage to splurge on, and salty snacks in the room for late-night consumption. As wellness consultant Harry Jameson told me, “Hotel rooms are designed to make you spend. They aren’t necessarily always a space for recovery. Rooms that are scientifically calibrated to offer the best night’s sleep, with the purest air, in the most calming and soundproofed environment can still be made better. Most of the current offerings seem to just scratch the surface and are more clever marketing than tangible application.” In the future, in other words, the most interesting revenue opportunities for hotels will step wellness beyond the spa or gym to make stays into truly restorative experiences.

Why is this interesting? 

We are just at the beginning of the relationship health and hotels. People like Westin pioneered the Heavenly Bed, which was a strategic bet on the core reason you bought a room in the first place: To rest. There’s also been a movement towards rudimentary wellness in terms of better fitness programs and yoga, healthier menus, and even work-and relaxation-friendlier lighting. The next inning will take all of these further. Equinox Hotels is positioning itself as one of the most progressive in the hospitality space. A recent bit of PR outlined their strategy:

Equinox New York City has redefined the hotel bedroom, transforming every room into an oasis: dark, quiet, and cool. Guests can enjoy total soundproofing, next-generation blackout blinds, and integrated technology for effortless personalization. The king-sized beds are layered with temperature-regulating natural fibres, and an Equinox Sleep Coach is on-hand to ensure guests make the most of every resting moment. Carefully formulated rituals allow for an unprecedented control over one’s mornings and evenings, accompanied by in-room guides and yoga and massage essentials, which are included in every room’s EQX Regenerative Toolkit.

Sure, there’s a lot of marketing hyperbole squashed in there, but the underlying ideas are interesting. What are the ways that hotels can level up in areas they haven’t yet, while still making money? After all, Jameson quips, “a cold press green juice costs £9 at Soho House London, the same cost as a gin and tonic.”

Ellerman House in Cape Town, one of my favorite hotels in the world, recently launched a program (with Mr. Jameson’s advice) that seeks to take things a step further:

Ellerman House has optimised the experience in its Sleep Rooms, removing all electronics from the room while creating a space to restore, recover and regenerate. Guests will be welcomed with a unique Sleep Pack, including everything from Lemon Verbena & Argan Oil Bath Salts and sleep-enhancing Stillness Body Butter, to Lavender & Neroli Pillow and Linen Mist, comforting eye masks and CBD Chamomile tea. The Wellness Team will guide guests through Ellerman House’s signature Sleep Ritual, scientifically designed to help the body naturally increase melatonin and evoke deep sleep.

Notable here is the removal of electronics. How many times have you been with glowing consoles and controls that unnecessarily complicate things (and are hard to turn off)? As we learn more about the role of sleep in recovery and regeneration and how important it is for us to excel at anything, watch this space. We are still in the first inning of a meaningful and interesting shift in hospitality: Away from the superficial elements of wellness with fancy, expensive creams and spa treatments, into one that might improve us and our deeper wellbeing night by night. (CJN)

Chart of the day: 

With that F1 season behind us (discussed in WITI 8/27 and 8/28), it will be interesting to see how the sport fares next year with the release of season two of Netflix’s Drive to Survive (WITI 5/14). According to the Quartz chart below, the show seemed to have a pretty big impact on American interest in the sport. (NRB)

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Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)

PS - Noah here. I’ve started a new company and we are looking for a sr. backend engineer to join the team. If you are one of those or know anyone who is great, please share. Dinner’s on me at a restaurant of your choice if you help us find someone.

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