Contemporary travelers expect a luxury hotel destination to provide an experience they cannot find anywhere else. In the past, luxury hotels more easily provided accommodations superior to those a guest would experience in their homes. With today’s modern technological advancements, the average household has—in many senses—caught up to the hospitality industry. We struggle to keep up with the constantly fluctuating tastes and desires of the 2017 millennial consumer.

I have noticed lately that guests are in the habit of enjoying their favorite variety of coffee each morning, micro-managing events and tasks via smartphones, and having access to the different media hubs they prefer. And I have begun to question this: why would the consumer choose to spend their vacation or business trip settling for substandard coffee brews, old-fashioned analog phone calls to the front desk, and a meager cable TV package—commercials included?

As the hospitality industry adapts to this fluid lifestyle of the modern traveler, the definition of “luxury” itself is also in flux. Are designers, we are not passive witnesses to this change; we are the change-makers. Rejection of relentlessly extravagant consumption, and acceptance of a more practical, functional hotel room design have ushered in this modern era of contemporary luxury. Travel luxury is now fully embodied by the experience of the destination and specific memories which will later stem from it.

When style and comfort meet practicality and tech-enabled functionality, guests experience a relaxing hiatus from the mundanity of everyday life.

In-room luxury accommodations now often include the simplest of conveniences:

●      Single serve, individualized coffee machine to match personal preference

●      Streaming devices to allow guests to log-in to a personal account (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.)

●      USB style charging outlets

●      In-room, high-speed Wi-fi, free of charge

●      In-Mirror Television (bathroom)

●      Custom lighting and heating from their phone

Some destinations are now opting to create personalized guest profiles to keep track of: 

●      Contact Information

●      Dining/snack and beverage preferences

●      Birthdays and other special occasions

●      Hobbies and favored activities

When guests arrive at their destination after hours of cumbersome travel, they are impressed with a hotel’s ability to provide special treatment. The idea is to utilize existing technology to get to know the consumer and leave memorable impressions. Imagine arriving at your room to find the mini fridge stocked with your favorite beverages and snacks and the entertainment system loaded with movies, television shows, and music matched to your preference. The little things can often make a big difference in hospitality, and guests appreciate exceptional and individualized accommodations. Many hotels have also opted to provide check-in and check-out services, room service, and other common services via smartphone.

Beyond the luxury guest room itself, travelers today also expect the hotel lobby to resemble a casual lounge or common living space more closely. An ideal modern lobby should have USB charging ports or even wireless charging stations and electrical outlets at every turn, comfortable but attractive furniture and décor, and most importantly—other guests. These common spaces allow for co-working and group collaboration and provide an opportunity for guests to get out of their own rooms and socialize with others.

With the amount of time I have spent in the hospitality industry, I have seen a complete transformation in the definition of luxury. As I think about the traditional definition and the style that made me fall in love with hospitality, I often question how to blend the two--rich materials and fabrics, detailed fixtures, and personalized functionality. Want to see these ideas realized in our designs? Check out our Pinterest boards or latest Instagram posts.