What's Trending in Travel, Hospitality, Culinary and Wellness in the Year Ahead
2015 was a good one for travel – hotel occupancy rates hit an all-time high, travel companies worldwide went above and beyond to meet travelers' demands for wellness and technological advancements, and hotels' commitment to sustainability continued to pick up steam, but NYC-based Hawkins International PR predicts that 2016 will be an even better year for travel. With airfare prices expected to remain relatively steady, U.S. business travel volume predicted to reach 502.8 million person-trips in 2016 and over one-third of millennials (who account for close to $300 billion annual spending worldwide) planning to take more vacations in 2016, the year ahead is sure to be adventurous. Travel brands will keep things fresh and continue to intrigue and impress with creative programs, amenities and experiences. From multi-sensory dinners to farewell amenities that leave guests with inspiration to return, below Hawkins International PR predicts the top ten trends travelers will experience in 2016.
1. DINING FOR THE SENSES
What's out: Multi-Course Tasting Dinners What's in: Multi-Sensory Dinners & Drinks
Hotel restaurants are turning dinner time into story time with multi-sensory dining experiences that provoke more than the sense of taste. At The Dolder Grand in Zurich, Executive Chef Heiko Nieder works with Swiss concert pianist Gabriel E. Arnold to develop custom five-course menus inspired by Arnold's classical piano compositions, with each course of the meal accompanied by complementary songs. Guests at Solage Calistoga in Napa can try Mindful Awareness Practice (MAP) Wine and Food Tastings which incorporate the senses of taste, smell and sight into a guided meditation that encourages tasters to appreciate wine and food from a new perspective. Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg's Bar du Faubourg invites guests to enjoy a menu of cocktails created by Parisian Chef Yannick Alléno inspired by the visual beauty and luxe textures of couture fashion. Haute libations include the Christian, a champagne cocktail with floral notes, as delicate as an organza corolla skirt designed by Dior; the Yves, where the Moroccan flavor of spicy mandarin evokes Saint Laurent's oriental satin decorated with mauve sequins; and the Gabrielle, reminiscent of Coco Chanel's white tweed decorated with black ribbon.
2. THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
What's out: Ultra Niche Travel Services What's in: Hybrid Travel Services
Hybrid travel companies that combine the best qualities of two "traditional" travel services to offer an innovative, new service will be hot in 2016 as brands strive to make travel easier and more convenient than ever. Madrid-based Room Mate Hotels' BeMate.com offers travelers a roster of stylish apartments with the services of a local hotel – from luggage storage to airport transfers to housekeeping to concierge access – combining the hospitality of a hotel stay with the convenience and flexibility of an apartment stay. Tradewind Aviation's Signature Shuttle Service throughout the Northeast and Caribbean offers the comfort and convenience of a private charter – with no TSA security checkpoints, complimentary snacks and drinks, free checked bags and a flexible booking and cancellation process – for the cost of a single seat on a scheduled flight. All-business class airline La Compagnie recently unveiled their own Chauffeur&Co service which enables travelers to book car transfers through the airline to and from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
3. A PUCKERING PUNCH
What's out: Sugar and Spice What's in: Fermented Food and Drink
Vinegar will be the ingredient of the year in 2016 – from switchels and shrubs on cocktail and drink menus to fermented ingredients like kimchi, pickled vegetables, kraut and miso incorporated into meals. The craze for tang is driven by wellness, too, with fermented foods' probiotic properties proven to benefit gut health. Set inside the Nines hotel in Portland, OR, modern steakhouse Urban Farmer's shelves are stocked with pickled fruits and vegetables prepared by Chef Matt Christianson. The culinary team and bartenders use this public "pantry" to incorporate the vinegars and ingredients into cocktails and recipes. In Burlington, Juniper at Hotel Vermont serves a variety of vinegar-based libations including The Farmer's Tan made with brine from the bar's housemade pickles and Cherry Street Shrub made with Silo Whiskey, a Vermont ice wine vinegar, sour cherry juice and soda water. In 2016 Omni Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage, California will launch a pickle program for guests to enjoy seasonal vegetables, herbs, vinegars and spices – all served straight from the mason jars where they were cured.
4. SWEET FAREWELL
What's out: Welcome Amenities What's in: Farewell Amenities
Inspired by idea that the "after glow" of a vacation is the most powerful stage of travel, hotels are gifting guests farewell amenities that leave a big impression – not to mention inspiration to return again and again. The legendary Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris treats departing VIP guests and those celebrating birthdays with a personalized gold-dusted chocolate tablet carved in the shape of the guest's zodiac sign. In New York City, Dream Downtown and Dream Midtown send loyal guests home with tokens of NYC hospitality ranging from Broadway tickets for their next stay to a favorite bottle of wine.
5. THE "NAP" OF LUXURY
What's out: Amenities for a Full Night's Sleep What's in: Amenities for a Quick Snooze
Sleep-inducing spa treatments and bedtime menus have been a hotel trend for years, but now hotels are introducing nap-focused amenities and programs that encourage guests to snag a rejuvenating snooze in the middle of the day. Spa Solage in Napa has put a unique twist on the region's famous mud baths with their signature mudslide treatment which ends with a 20-minute nap in a state-of-the-art sound chair that blends soothing harmonic music with healing vibrations to lull guests into a quick nap. At the chair's zero-gravity position, a 20-minute nap is equivalent to two hours of REM sleep! At The Spa at Carillon Miami Beach guests can opt for the Deep Sleep Treatment that promotes an instant state of tranquility. Floating on a specialized warm dry flotation spa bed, blood courses through all the tissues, natural endorphins kick in and the brain releases alpha waves that promote calmness and a meditative state of mind. Paris' edgiest hotel Molitor offers a resting room, library, and herbal tea room in the Spa by Clarins where guests are invited to escape for midday relaxation.
6. SURPRISE HOTEL POP-UPS
What's out: Pop-up Shops What's in: Pop-up Hotel Experiences
In 2016 the luxury and service of a hotel stay will no longer be confined to the property's grounds, with hotels and resorts offering guests offsite experiences with all the comforts of a hotel stay. A two and a half hour hike into the Swiss Alps, guests of the Gstaad Palace will find the Walig Hut, a traditional Alpine farmhouse built in 1783 where they can eat a custom dinner and spend the night surrounded by some of the most dramatic mountain views in the country. New England travelers can enjoy ice fishing on frozen Lake Champlain in the comfort of Hotel Vermont's on-ice shanty. The small wooden structure allows guests to escape from the cold while enjoying clear views of the city from the center of the lake, complete with hot beverages and blankets.
7. SPLURGE ON WORDS
What's out: Binge Watching What's in: Binge Reading
Hotel and video streaming partnerships may have been the hot trend last year, but this year hotels are encouraging guests to splurge on words throughout their stays. Hotel Vermont in Burlington worked with the Burlington Writers Workshop to publish a book filled with stories, essays and poems from local writers. The hotel also offers live storytelling by the fireplace in the lobby during the winter months. The Nines in Portland features a hidden library just off the lobby stocked with floor to ceiling books from nearby Powell's Books, the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. Wilderness Collection's Segera Retreat in Kenya's Laikipia region features the "Zeitz Collection" composed of artifacts and manuscripts that have been carefully assembled through specialized dealers, auctions and exhibitions, and are displayed in the property's Explorer Lounge and select villas. The extensive collection includes personal letters, diary entries and unique photographs from Charles Darwin, Theodore Roosevelt, David Livingstone, Ernest Hemingway and Karen Blixen. This year Montage Hotels & Resorts will introduce a literacy ambassador and offer children visiting all five properties books from Brad Meltzer, one of the only authors to ever have books on the bestseller list for fiction, non-fiction, advice, children's and comic books. A selection of Meltzer's children's series, Ordinary People Change the World will be available for young guests to enjoy on-property beginning mid-2016.
8. DIAMONDS AREN'T FOREVER
What's out: Diamond Dust Facials What's in: Spa Treatments Using Precious Gems and Stones
In 2016 spas will utilize precious gems and metals to provide spa-goers with major results and relaxation. In Switzerland, Gstaad Palace's new Gemology Face and Body Care treatments draw cosmetic properties from precious stones including jade, rubies, pearls and sapphires to fade wrinkles and fine lines, while in Los Angeles, The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air have incorporated pure platinum into their anti-aging, head-to-toe Platinum Rare Facial treatment, resulting in hydrated, rejuvenated skin. In Telluride, Colorado, Madeline Hotel & Residences' Gemstone Ritual helps guests purify, soothe and enhance overall balance in the body and mind using organic aromas, crystal energy wands and the soothing effects of four distinctive gemstone-energized oils.
What's out: Crowded Tourist Destinations What's in: Destination-inspired Attractions Inside the Hotel
Why fight the crowds at tourist destinations when many hotels are bringing the attractions inside? Guests at the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa can create and take home an iconic Venetian mask without the stress of souvenir shopping. The resort offers a two-day mask workshop where guests work with a local artisan to create a bespoke mask – they can even use their own faces as a mold before decorating it in true Venetian style. In Spring 2016, Dream Midtown in NYC will unveil The Fish Bowl – a revival of the billiards room. The hotel's iconic two-story fish tank will be the centerpiece of the underground bar and games lounge that will introduce New York's Midtown neighborhood to Mini Bowling and also feature classics like pool and darts.
10. SOCIAL SPA-ING
What's out: Isolated Zen What's in: Group Rejuvenation
Relaxation doesn't need to happen alone! Hotel spas are introducing group-focused programs that invite guests to spa socially. Groups at Solage Calsitoga in Napa can book a Floating Meditation experience and be led through a calming sequence of visualization and breath work while floating atop rafts in the resort's geothermal mineral pool under the stars. Groups at Montage Laguna Beach in California can book a Spa Soiree at Spa Laguna Beach which includes a welcome toast, choice of spa treatment and goodies for each attendee.