The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly caused havoc on the hospitality industry. With 10 years of job growth wiped out, the situation has resulted in nearly 4 million job losses in the US leisure-and-hospitality sector, according to the State of the Hotel Industry 2021 report and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nevertheless, as many as 56% of surveyed consumers expressed desire for leisure and domestic travel this year. Meanwhile, the Chinese Tourism Academy also forecasted 4.1 billion domestic tourist trips in 2021—a 42 percent increase from 2020—as the country nears its one-year anniversary of easing nationwide lockdown measures.
For the Americans, this signals an uptick in hotel reservations as their Chinese counterparts play host to getaway customers, including those looking to celebrate special occasions.
Now, hotels are finding themselves at the crossroad of innovation and traditional luxury tourism.
Speaking to Paradigm Haus, Six Senses Spas and Wellness Pioneer Anna Bjustam emphasised the West Chelsea-based property’s (also known as The XI, New York) goal of providing its customers with a “holistic wellness life.”
Calling itself a “mixed-use development” on its website, The XI, New York leads the way with 236 condominium residences as Six Senses transitions from its traditionally countryside-based locations to its first NYC property.
Situated in the Big Apple, Six Senses opens the door to customers who are keen for longer stays whilst keeping trips out of town at bay—an advantage that directly benefits busy but wellness-minded New Yorkers, as well as those affected by Covid travel restrictions.
“We could only do so much when [our customers] visited us for a week,” Bjustam said. Through on-going treatments and services targeting those with long regenerative travel schedules, however, her team is able to perform more intensive wellness activities with customers.
“True wellness does not come from doing a full boot camp for one week,” she cited the importance of “incremental steps” that is the amalgamation of a social environment and one’s physical health.
With 60,000 square foot of space, The XI, New York also provides a social environment for like-minded individuals to connect, and establish a community where customers “[celebrates] life enjoyments [by] meeting peers and having a really good time together.”
But today’s hospitality strategies in the Covid-driven world demand more than just scouring for a felicitous property location; technology-based features and supports are also playing an increasingly vital role in delivering top-notch services on both sides of the Pacific.
In a recent interview with Paradigm Haus, Mandarin Oriental Beijing’s General Manager Mark S. Bradford cited the role digital experience plays in delivering more “personalised feedback” to its guests, through using tools such as Hello M.O.(offers travellers in China direct connectivity to every Mandarin Oriental destination in the world), iRiS on in-room tablets, and WeChat, where it has included an all-inclusive booking and payment feature.
“The digitalised platforms build up a better and more practical cycle,” he said, pointing to the customer experience that will be driven primarily by efficiency and convenience across different stages.
Back at the Big Apple, Six Senses’ technology-centric experience also offers customers a diversified and health-driven platform.
Whether it is hanging upside down for five minutes, balancing the body’s microcurrents, or receiving a healthy dose of vitamin D, Six Senses Place—the hotel’s new social club—features everything from a three-minute cryotherapy and coffee sessions with blue lights in the background to inverted chairs and vibrational plates.
Calling it a “biohack,” Bjustam said her company leverages science and technology through its use of “frequency medicine (a therapy with a drug-free, pain-free, and surgery-free nature) and cell medicine”—both of them are aimed at understanding its members’ health and wellness states, hence delivering personalised well-being improvements.
As more industries pivot towards the “new normal,” many report seeing greater customer interests in balancing and boosting immune systems as well.
“There has been an increase of interest in understanding consciousness belonging and finding joy,” said Bjustam. “connection with the heart is also important.”
With its recent launch of Reconnection with Six Senses, the Group’s latest venture that focuses on helping its customers develop a better understanding of oneself, others, and nature through managing mental well-being, Bjustam’s team is bearing first-hand witness to the self-care trend that many say will be driving the business-to-customer sector in the post-pandemic world.
Questions such as “what is important to me, how important is nature, what I want more or less of in life” will continue to flourish even as the Covid-19 curve continues to flatten.
With easing social distancing policies and lockdown measures, the hotel industry has reported skyrocketed demand with staycation packages taking the lead as domestic travel rebounds.
And the uptick does not end there—the surge in “workcation”, or the idea that hotel customers combine work with leisure after spending an extended period of time at home, has also been gaining popularity.
Still, while demand may have fluctuated since the pandemic began, consumers’ attention to sustainability and environmental costs has been constant.
In fact, Six Senses has been focusing on being plastic-free for nearly a decade. With other hotels jumping on the bandwagon recently, Bjustam’s team recognised that they needed to do more.
Now pivoting towards renewable energy, the group has vowed to minimise the use of flame retardant in its biophilic urban hotel designs.
“We want to connect with the local community,” Bjustam said in regards to increasing hotel occupants’ connections to the natural environment, thereby minimising the use of any toxic materials that could result in potential health and wellness consequences.
Similarly, sustainability remains a hot topic in China, as Mandarin Oriental Beijing named one of its top priorities in “eliminating all single-use plastics, using recycled paper, sourcing more reliable suppliers,” said Bradford of the urban luxury and lifestyle resort.
Some quotes in this article were lightly edited for clarity