The best thing in a crisis such as the one we are experiencing right now, is to imagine an amazing future and have faith that it will come true.
I like to quote a famous saying from Buddha: "If you can solve the problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?"
While the hospitality industry is going through a huge reinvention, my interest is to bring innovation and progress.
Sustainability in design
The word ‘sustainability’ has become a buzzword, as everyone seems to use it as a source of credibility.
However, it is much more than just that. It is something that should have been taken seriously even before, but only got a PR push once the pandemic began.
As architects and designers, we are all responsible for the extensive amount of CO2 emissions. We need to find alternative ways of construction and manufacture to preserve our beautiful planet. There are so many amazing alternative materials and resources which have just not been explored and implemented. Throughout the decades, my team and I have done extensive research looking for organic, recyclable and repurposed materials that are not harming the environment. We have come across anti-bacterial and anti-odor floor tiles that clean the air, leather substitutes produced from apples’ skin, fabrics, and paints that also purify the air, and even yarns that block electrosmog.
Then there is 3D printing and the use of exclusively waste materials, such as recycled plastic bottles. This can be applied in architecture by integrating the material into the façade or in many other ways. The 3Dprinting pieces can be used for reception desks or even lounge seating. The beauty is that, if after some years one wants to change the lounge seating, this one can, for example, be returned into waste material and reprinted with a new design.
Then there is the wellness and spa sector that is being revolutionized by merging ancient wisdom with hi-tech.
I believe that challenging times boost creativity and innovation.
We are looking at new ways to build hotels from the manufacturing and production processes to the planning of new guest experiences and transformations.
Reviving environmental connections
Outdoor spaces and nature are being revived. The desire to have fresh air and beautiful natural surroundings have probably never been greater than during the lockdown period. Simple walking routines have been a dream for many of us for almost a year. We are rediscovering nature and the singing of birds and the smell of flowers as there is little distraction. The desire to go on retreats and recharge one’s energy have never been in more demand. In a way, we are back to basics, but only by force.
We do not have the same deadlines and the crazy flying schedule we used to have. We are learning to find answers within us rather than always looking for outside stimulation to get us into a nirvana state! The lack of the movement has had its positive effect on reflection and reevaluating of our entire life.
Ultimately, this will have a positive impact on our environment. For example, we have learnt to buy local food and get deliveries directly from farmers. We became more aware of our nutrition, and healthy foods have never been more appreciated.
All of this is an enormous opportunity for hotels, which need to be examples of authentic and accountable sustainability. Guests should be pampered but also educated about lifestyles that will help them live a healthy and long life. They can educate guests on how to boost our immune system and how movement and exercise and fresh air is important. Nutrition is important and convenience food shall be replaced by fresh food. The F&B outlets have to address the desire for more nutritious food. Cooks can start now delivering healthy cooking classes online to then create the desire to get to the destinations.
Meditation and mindfulness have already been on the rise but the pandemic has created more interest in them.
We are also reevaluating our educational system as we saw the disruption of schools. Hotels have the opportunity to fill in the gap in education. We are devoted to the creation of the mykidsy playground concept for hotels because we believe that the time spent in hotels should be used efficiently for children to learn life skills such as financial literacy and coding, but also sustainability and mindfulness. Let’s use the time and fill it with purpose mixed with fun at the same time.
The local culture and the local community need to be integrated as this is also part of being truly sustainable. Hotels can become the most sought-after communities as they allow privacy and togetherness.
There is no lack of ideas, there is only a lack of action.
I appeal to all hotel investors, operators, owners to avoid just waiting and, instead, being proactive, bold, and taking risks to not only survive but to also strive during this pandemic. If hotels seize the opportunity to absolutely rethink their product, services, and mission, the future is bright