Hotel Resorts urged to declutter, redefine and downsize luxury

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The inaugural conference attracted around 100 senior hotel owners, managers, investors, developers, operators and advisors from the Mediterranean region and greater Europe. More than 20 speakers participated, presenting on a variety of important leisure hotel resort subjects including hotel performance and the economy, scenario thinking, boutique hotels, consumer trends, the importance of food and beverage, working with tour operators, hotel hot spots for 2014, attracting investment and managing distressed assets. Muriel Muirden, vice president strategy, WATG, UK, inspired the audience with a presentation focusing on the hotel resort and guest of the future.

She started by explaining the importance of designing and operating leisure hotels and resorts based on the growing Generation Y consumer demographic.

"The Generation Y guest influences design and have no sense of brand fidelity - they go where they will get the best experience" said Muirden, implying that guest loyalty will decline in importance as time goes by. She highlighted the growing trend of multigenerational travel, with a focus on family values and quality time on a resort that will appeal to children, parents and grandparents on a "resort that appeals to all of them."

The holidaying Generation X parents being motivated by a sense of togetherness, encouraging their children to participate in 'learning activities' on the resort joined by their 'boomer' Grandparents sharing the family experience. 

"We'll see golf-lite solution,s" predicted Muirden, quickly asking the audience for forgiveness, as she acknowledged the Aphrodite Hills resort developer was present, together with other developers who rely on the popularity of golf course(s) to drive occupancy on their resorts - brave lady! "Cycling is the new golf - consider your resort sports strategy, it's time to think on-site resort amenity away from golf."

Muirden then switched the focus onto examples of resort expansion strategies based on glamping concepts like eco pods, and the tented temporary accommodation suites that Four Seasons, Mexico are experimenting with generating premium rates for back to nature experiences on resort.

"We need a radical rethink in terms of luxury" she continued, "let's declutter, downsize and redefine luxury". She then focused on how hotel resort developers need to approach space with 'chameleon-like' facilities. Leisure resort space that can be revitalised to create interest, with an appropriate change of use by day or night to maximise utility, REVPAR and profitability. "Technology can be used to change the ambience" said Muirden.

"There's a whole pop-up resort in Arizona," and a trend towards connecting with the outdoors, reaching out over and above the 'bricks and mortar' with resorts replacing the old indoor bar with reclusive, animated airy spaces outside for instance. Muirden moved onto the growing trend for health, wellness and fitness, highlighting the recent premium vitamin C showersinstalled at MGM Hotel Las Vegas,and how the Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions (MICE) market is adopting a more healthy approach to drive sales with juice bars and healthy food available for business visitors. "Green is the new black," she said, referring to the hotel restaurant trend of growing one's own food, with healthier, more sustainable menu options. Providing vertical gardens and roof gardens help demonstrate the hotel resort's contribution to eco-integrity. "No idea is bad, if it's fun, eclectic and has a wow factor" said Muirden in closing.

Today's hotel resort guest certainly requires unique, new experiences that embrace core lifestyle trends, creating 'healthier' indoor and outdoor environments.    

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