The best hotels aren’t just hotels: they’re incubators for the next great trends in food, interior design, architecture, and wellness. We asked five of our favorite tastemakers—each of whom is affiliated with a hotel or spa on this year’s lists—to predict the trends we’ll be seeing in the Hot List Class of 2014 (Hey, it’s never too early to start looking ahead, right?
THE EXPERT Francis Ford Coppola, hotelier and owner of the Palazzo Margherita in Bernalda, Basilicata, Italy.
SIGNATURE STYLE Authentic splendor. From the thatched-roof Turtle Inn and Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize (opened in 1981 after Coppola fell in love with jungle life while filming Apocalypse Now) to the Guatemalan artwork at La Lancha in Peten, his five hotels have come to embody a distinct sense of place—in his new nine-room hotel in Italy, that meant restoring the entire original floor of Palazzo Margherita by removing and cleaning every tile and replacing it in the exact same spot.
WHAT’S NEXT IN HOTELS
• In with intimacy. “Super-high-end travelers (especially those with families) are looking for luxury on a smaller scale now, almost akin to a yacht. When I was in South America, I noticed how some of the guests regarded with disdain all the suitcases and crowds of people who were checking in and out, and I realized how many travelers want more privacy and intimacy. It’s not good for a hotel to be too big. The highest level of the luxury market will even prefer a hotel small enough to be taken over by one or two families.”
• Big-league bathrooms. “One rule I have for my hotels is the bathrooms have to be better than what you have at home. There needs to be some practicality in design (like having enough space to keep products in the shower, for example, and not tripping over them on the floor). The next wave of bathrooms will be larger. In fact, many guests now want their own private bathrooms when traveling as a couple, so the next trend will be room configurations with two bathrooms for every room.”
SIGNATURE STYLE Uniquely holistic. Harmsworth was among the first to champion the whole body-mind connection in the wellness world of the early 1980s (she was offering Pilates classes about two decades before it became a trend), and her spas today combine modern practices with classic methods like aromatherapy.
WHAT’S NEXT IN HOTEL SPAS
• Back to basics. “We’ll get away from long, complicated spa menus. There’s also been a backlash against quick-fix, machine-driven procedures. The value of touch is back, which means we’ll see more manual treatments that take into consideration the entire person—from skin to circulation—and seek to provide a long-term benefit.”
• More men. “Spas will have a larger male clientele. The number of men at our hotel spas keeps rising, and today men make up between 30 percent and 50 percent of our total customer base. Look for heightened interest in grooming: facials, wet shaves, manicures, and pedicures.”
• Hammams will be hot (in more ways than one). “Traditional hammams will become more popular, but with a modern twist—think new technology that allows for highly calibrated heat and humidity levels. More and more, people also want to socialize in spas, and a hammam is perfect for groups or couples.”
THE EXPERT Deborah Berke, whose eponymous architecture firm includes clients like 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati.
SIGNATURE STYLE Minimalist cool. Berke forgoes extraneous details to dramatic effect, and her meticulously restrained work graces everything from art galleries to New York City lofts.
WHAT’S NEXT IN HOTEL ARCHITECTURE
• Let the light in. “As baby boomers get older, there’s going to be a need for better-quality lighting—look for an increase of LEDs in both guest rooms and public spaces. Overall, there needs to be more variability in how light is adjusted and controlled.”
• Higher tech. “The thing that makes a hotel feel dated the fastest is the technology interaction. If it’s out of date, with outlets located in ridiculous places—making it hard to charge your phone, for example—the room will feel antiquated no matter how chic the decor. Everyone has every kind of electronic device now, so you have to be able to access and use your technology.”
• More fluidity. “There will be less rigidity among different parts of a hotel. The definitions of rooms, lobbies, bars, restaurants, and other public spaces are blurring. You don’t need a traditional check-in or concierge desk any longer. Everything can be handled more loosely and fluidly.”
SIGNATURE STYLE Tropical baroque. Bensley’s portfolio of more than 150 hotels throughout the world has a maximalist, eclectic mix of design elements—like the art-heavy Siam, whose lobby sports a terra-cotta horse from the Tang dynasty and Art Deco–era Burmese sculptures.
WHAT’S NEXT IN HOTEL DESIGN
• A return to good taste. “I hate hotels that try too hard to be young and trendy. The bling, the ever-changing lighting in different colors, the uncomfortable furniture—those are a real turn-off. We’ll see fewer hotels going down this road as guests look for fewer gimmicks and more value for their money.”
• Sustainability. “Sustainability is the future. In places like the Caribbean, the majority of the produce is imported, which isn’t sustainable. Look for more self-sufficient resorts, with edible landscapes and more diversified crops for guests’ consumption. More hotels will become completely self-sufficient by supplying their own energy, too—especially those in rural areas.”
THE EXPERT Andrew Tarlow, restaurateur and owner of Wythe Hotel’s Reynard in Brooklyn.
SIGNATURE STYLE Haute artisanal. A pioneer of the new Brooklyn cuisine, Tarlow opened his trailblazing Diner restaurant on a once-desolate stretch of industrial Williamsburg back in 1998.
WHAT’S NEXT IN HOTEL FOOD
• Community building. “Hotels and their restaurants will become more seamless with the surrounding area. We’ll see less of a distinction between a hotel restaurant and a neighborhood hangout, with locals—not just hotel guests—spending time there. The hotel itself will become a community.”
• Away with formality. “We’ll continue to see hotel restaurants that are basically fine dining in terms of the quality of food and service but without the attributes we traditionally consider staples of ‘fine dining,’ like a sommelier, white tablecloths, multiple captains in the dining room, etc. All of this is becoming much less relevant, which is redefining what good service means. Our increasing desire to know where our food and wine come from is putting the focus on the quality and origin of the ingredients rather than on the formality of the room and service.”
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