In recent years the hotel industry has soldiered through some of its most challenging days. Occupancy rates have teetered on the brink of disaster, room rates have remained sluggish and the travel industry has been pummeled by a host of changes, which impact the vibrancy of hotels.
Ironically, even during these economically challenging times — or perhaps because of them — hotels have become increasingly stylish, including the bottom-tier segment, which is now discerningly more interesting and lively.
Once a place to leave the rigors of travel behind, today’s hotels are more than rest spots. As one designer said in this month’s style cover story hotels have become personable spaces that are less generic than days past. Today’s hotels are about style. Walk into almost any lobby and there’s a discernible buzz that is palpable. The communal area is fast becoming a space where guests and urbanites can congregate to share cocktails, nosh or lose themselves in their mobile devices. Whether we’re talking about Toronto and Vancouver’s newest luxury properties that are punctuated by timeless and refined elegance, relaxing resort properties or even budget hotels in small towns and cities, style knows no boundaries.
Whether the trend to bold and beautiful spaces is driven by a renewed interest in elegance or simply a form of escapism stemming from the persistent economic anxiety, today’s consumers want to surround themselves with style and flair. Paint colours have taken on a new importance; fabrics are more textured and unique, and furniture is eclectic yet elegant. Increasingly, hotels are becoming extensions of our homes, marked by flat-screen televisions, iPad docking stations and even herb gardens. They evoke a restful and soothing residential feel with wonderful scents permeating.
Hotels have always been a focal point of the community they serve, but today they’re also becoming social hubs, hot destinations for out-of-town guests and city dwellers alike. While hotel dining had recently fallen out of favour, due to its stodgy and often formal atmosphere, hotel restos are now relaxed, über cool and presided over by culinary masters. Hotels are now more than just a collection of rooms; they house bars that rock, offering handcrafted cocktails, dining rooms that dazzle with culinary delights and world-class spas that soothe and rejuvenate — and they do it with style, providing hotel goers with a host of reasons to leave home.