Hoteliers have seen the hotel and tourism industry change dramatically in the 2010s with a number of disruptors taking centre stage: Airbnb entered the mainstream and transformed the way we think about commercial hospitality; Instagram took over as the most important social media channel for hotels, increasing the value of memorable scenes and experiences for guests; Uber transformed the taxi industry and of course OTAs have grown into uncontrollable behemoths.
In the accommodation sector, three-star hotels went luxury, luxury hotels went casual and established chains manufactured soft brands as new chains rose up to challenge the status quo. Independent hotels saw new challenges – and new opportunities – in a fast-changing market. Building a desirable company culture went from ‘good intention’ to ‘dire necessity’.
These changes are part and parcel of the industry’s exciting growth, which includes a plethora of new hotels coming to market. Here’s a look at four highly anticipated openings for 2020 which suggest yet again, that whilst some things change, others remain the same.
1. The Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle
If you’ve ever been fascinated by the historical Palace of Versailles, you’ll be interested to know that a luxury hotel opens within the palace grounds in 2020. The building, Le Grand Contrôle, was built in 1681 by the architect of King Louis XIV. Fourteen luxury suites are furnished with period pieces and restored artwork. Guests enjoy private guided tours of the Domaine de Versailles, with access to the French gardens, the Orangery, and the Lake of the Swiss Guard. If there was ever an Instagrammable hotel opening, it’s this one.
2. Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok
Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the Four Seasons Bangkok feels like a seamless gateway between urban and natural environments. Guestrooms feature panoramic views of the river, and the indoor-outdoor transitions are stunning. There are outdoor infinity and lap pools, and luxury dining options. Guests can also step on the hotel’s private boat and tour the bustling canals that branch away from the river. A strong sense of place, with an equal connection to nature and city, suggests an evolved template for luxury hotels.
3. Porter House Hotel, MGallery by Sofitel
This five-star tower, set to open later in 2020, is part of larger A$380m mixed-use project overlooking Hyde Park in Sydney. The hotel will connect to the freshly renovated Porter House, an historical property built in the 1870s. There is a strong focus on contemporary art in common spaces and guestrooms, with a bar and rotating art gallery on the 4th floor. All of the amenities expected of a luxury property will be present, but the attention to style and design is what makes this opening unique. The developer claims that this hotel will raise the bar for luxury hotels in Australia and with a number of new five stars opening soon, this is a big call.
4. The Londoner
Billing itself as “the world’s first super-boutique,” the 16-story Londoner will stand adjacent to Leicester Square, offering 350 guestrooms and 35 suites. Guests will also enjoy six different dining options, a rooftop bar with fire pit, spa, swimming pool, ballroom, and two full-size cinema rooms. Because of restriction on the height of buildings that overlook the National Gallery, developers for The Londoner literally had to dig deep. The hotel will feature the deepest commercial-grade basement in the city; the spa, swimming pool, ballroom, and cinemas will all be subterranean. The hotel is also pushing to be one of the most environmentally efficient hotels in the city.
Hospitality is as simple as it’s ever been
These hotel openings demonstrate lessons of the past, and hints of the future. In practice, they will all prove that hospitality, although it may seem to be more complex today, is simple and straightforward at heart.
Hotels that open a decade on will also have new bells and whistles. They will reflect the current state of technology, design, and wellness. They might have features and amenities we can’t yet visualise. We might even need a spacecraft to reach the lobby; but I’m pretty sure their success in the marketplace will still depend on strong fundamentals - make guests feel comfortable, connected to the area, and valued. Find ways to surprise and delight. Stay current on promotional techniques. Play to your strengths and address your weaknesses. Never lose sight of the essentials.
Happy New Year and here’s to the next exciting decade!
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