A hotel’s rooftop used to be just that – a rooftop, and in terms of revenue, wasted space. Not any longer. Hotels are getting more creative and transforming outdoor areas into immersive experiences that not only offer additional amenities for guests, but also generate serious income. What’s more, outside spaces are becoming just as important to attracting guests as their interior counterparts.
There are lots of ways to create an effective outdoor space that will be both popular and profitable. Here are some of our favorite options that guests love.
Maximize Your View
Getting fresh air at city hotels used to be challenging but not anymore. Many hotels are adding rooftop lounges that provide a high-altitude, high-end experience with top views of the surrounding areas.
In San Francisco, the 12-story Hotel VIA has an expansive rooftop lounge with vistas of the city’s skyline, and is directly across the street from AT&T Park, home to the Giants and top-tier concerts in the off-season. Guests at the lounge can cozy up around fire pits with a drink from the bar or reserve their own private cabana. Another top San Francisco rooftop spot is Charmaine’s at the newly opened Proper Hotel, a bar and lounge soaring 120 feet above bustling Market Street.
Beyond lounges and bars, rooftops continue to evolve in intriguing new directions adding pools, herb gardens, and even movie theaters. (Imagine watching Star Wars under actual stars!) Every inch is precious in an urban hotel, so hoteliers should carefully consider the best use of any available rooftop space.
Add Some Fire
Several extended-stay hotels such as The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas in Maui supply outdoor grills for guests to cook their own al fresco dinner and socialize. The grills are a good investment for long-term guests, especially if the hotel also makes available a grocery delivery program for guests to order ingredients before arrival (for a fee, of course). If guests know they can grill a steak to their liking without having to head into town and pay restaurant prices, they may be more likely to order one from the hotel itself. And if a family can linger outside around the grill like they do at home, even better.
Beyond grills, fire pits have long been popular social hubs at hotels, extending the lobby outdoors and encouraging guests to stay outside longer year-round, and order more from the bar while they relax.
For hotels with a larger footprint – generally those away from urban hubs – a garden can be more than just a pretty collection of flowers. Hoteliers can get creative by utilizing the space for dining, meetings, and weddings, generating extra revenue for the hotel, and providing a unique space where guests can enjoy the surrounding outdoors.
The Ojai Valley Inn’s Hacienda Courtyard and Artist Cottage Lawn has some top views of the Topatopa Mountains and Ojai Valley. The property also grows lavender and 65 herbs, and has 20 types of fruit trees on its hillside orchard. As a bonus, for al fresco events, the space can hold up to 60 guests, while the adjacent lawn and vine-covered pergola can accommodate up to 200 guests.
Even small boutique hotels can offer outdoor space for guests. When it opens next fall, the 39-room The SLO-Hotel San Luis Obispo will have a huge pool terrace and an adjacent garden courtyard. The property will also have an exclusive rooftop event space and an adjoining terrace with fire pits.
Create a Quiet Enclave
Some hotels keep their outdoor space semi-enclosed, which can be a good option in areas with lots of ambient noise, like close to a highway or an airport. The design-forward AC Hotel San Francisco Airport/Oyster Point Waterfront is built around a central courtyard, for example, where guests can sit outside with their drinks or rent the space to host events.
Ultimately, every hotelier can find unique ways to make the most of a hotel’s outdoor spaces. Whether it’s putting a lounge on a rooftop or creating a garden for escaping the rest of the world, guests will appreciate an opportunity to be outside and to get some fresh air.