Despite the ripple effect of challenges caused by the pandemic—including labor shortages, supply chain issues, and construction delays—the hospitality industry has proven resilient.
“2023 is the beginning of the operating and industry real estate recovery. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to be bumpy, but the light is very clear at the end of the tunnel,” says Bruce Ford, senior vice president and director of global business development at Lodging Econometrics (LE). “Everybody’s going to have their approach to the marketplace, but suppliers of products and services should feel confident that 2023 will be better than 2022.”
Take Pyramid Global Hospitality, established last year in a merger of three hotel management companies, which is reporting considerable growth and development, including the addition of 59 properties to its portfolio. And, following a record 2022, hotel and development company Concord Hospitality anticipates significant growth in 2023 for its upper upscale and F+B assets.
Even with the current uncertain economy, forthcoming projects signal our industry is on the mend. Here, we delve into six of 2023’s most notable trends.
The Great Outdoors
Thanks in part to the lingering effects of COVID, guests are still desiring a closer connection to nature. In fact, a report from the Outdoor Industry Association notes that more than 10 million new participants have taken part in outdoor recreation activities since March 2020. From new upscale camping experiences to modular units in remote locations, brands are responding. Case in point: Starwood Capital Group recently announced new brand Field & Stream Lodge Co., a collaboration with AJ Capital Partners, that will launch in the U.S. near popular nature-oriented destinations such as national parks and beaches.
Other outdoor-focused openings include a new property slated for July in Estes Park, Colorado from boutique hotel brand Trailborn, which has additional close-to-nature hotels planned in locations like Mendocino, California, and the Grand Canyon. This summer, Highland Base – Kerlingarfjöll in Iceland’s remote Ásgarður Valley will also focus on adventure, offering hiking, biking, skiing, and accommodations including hotel rooms, huts, and campsites, allowing guests to select their own experience on a spectrum from less to more nature-forward.
According to Larry Traxler, Hilton’s senior vice president and global head of architecture and design, there’s a real “blurring of the lines between indoors and out,” such as the Tempo by Hilton Nashville, a 306-key downtown property with indoor-outdoor meeting spaces, an event lawn, and sky bar. For these urban properties, the use of biophilic design helps incorporate a sense of the natural environment. Consider Not a Hotel’s forthcoming property in Fukuoka City, Japan, which will include greenery on its axonometric- and NKS2 Architects-designed façade. Or the Ritz-Carlton Portland, where live trees will mingle with timber-clad walls inside the lobby bar, capturing the verdant Pacific Northwest forests. There’s also the forthcoming Artyzen New Bund 31 Shanghai, designed by Neri&Hu Design and Research Office, where a light- and greenery-filled fifth floor offers respite from the art district’s bustle. “People want to be connected to the outdoors and connected to adventure. Even when they’re indoors, they want to feel that connection,” says Paul McElroy, executive vice president, construction and design at Highgate Hotels.
As travelers’ habits change, including due to remote and hybrid work schedules, the hospitality industry has taken note. For instance, last year, Marriott launched soft brand Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy in response to evolving needs. “People are spending more time on the road and they are blending their trip purposes,” says Noah Silverman, global development officer, U.S. and Canada at Marriott. The serviced apartments come with weekly housekeeping and a host onsite as well as communal spaces including a lounge and gym to provide “a seamless experience that allows guests to get what they want when they’re away from home.”
Ennismore’s hybrid concept JO&JOE—which caters to a mix of short- and long-term stays with private rooms, dorms, and smaller shared rooms along with programming and F&B concepts—will soon land in Rome and Tulum. “We want to adapt to all of [the guests’] needs,” says Philippe Zrihen, head of Americas for Ennismore. The company will also bring its coworking brand, Mama Shelter, to Medellín’s El Poblado neighborhood and a third Working From_ outpost to Hoxton Brussels. “It’s not only about the design, [but also] the team, the F&B, the connection with the local community, the neighborhood. Every hotel of the future will have these elements, or they will not survive,” predicts Camil Yazbeck, global chief development officer, premium, midscale, and economy, Accor, which completed a joint venture with Ennismore in 2021.
Home Suite Home
The popularity of branded residences has exploded, with Accor seeing a 170 percent increase in global supply since 2010. “There has been a massive shift toward mixed-use hospitality that was accelerated by the pandemic,” says Agnès Roquefort, Accor’s chief development officer, luxury and lifestyle. Luxury brands are clamoring to carve out niches in the sector with Lamborghini-, Armani-, and Bulgari-branded developments set to debut in Dubai.
In the U.S., the Raffles Back Bay Hotel & Residences will be the brand’s first mixed-use property in North America. In Fort Lauderdale, the EDITION Residences recently broke ground, and in Miami, residences attached to the Bentley South Beach will start construction soon. Dolce & Gabbana founders Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana also announced plans to enter the hospitality realm with branded condos in the Magic City and Marbella, Spain. In Costa Rica, Gensler, EDSA, and Garnier+Robles have teamed up to create Waldorf Astoria Residences Guanacaste, expected to open in 2024.
Many companies are launching thoughtful new offerings to remain competitive. Accor’s forthcoming Handwritten Collection, comprising new openings and conversions, will launch this year with 12 properties, including the Oru Hub Hotel in Estonia and Sunrise Premium Resort in Hoi An, Vietnam. “We are focusing and making sure [the hotels] are connected with what the client today wants, and the future clients want, which is the key to keeping a competitive edge,” says Accor’s Yazbeck.
Also getting to the heart of the guest experience is Sonesta with its Sonesta Essential offering. Delivering the basics (strong wifi, hot breakfast, comfortable rooms) with friendly service, it will be part of a larger strategy centered around “targeting exactly what [the guests] need in order to get moving,” says Sonesta’s chief development officer Brian Quinn. The first is slated to debut in Vacaville, California, followed by an outpost in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Hilton will make its first foray into the premium economy sector with Spark by Hilton, on track to open 50 properties in the U.S. by the end of the year through conversions. And abroad, Aman Group will launch its much-anticipated sister brand, Janu, in Tokyo this year.
Out to Sea
While conversions, renovations, and new builds flourish, some hospitality companies are extending their reach with entries into the ultraluxury cruise market. Orient Express (parent company Accor) recently announced the Orient Express Silenseas. When it sets sail in 2026, it will stretch 720 feet long and house two pools, a speakeasy, two F&B concepts, and a 15,000-square-foot presidential suite with private terrace.
Aman Group will also take to the seas with Project Sama, a 600-foot yacht outfitted with 50 suites, a restaurant, and a spa complete with a Japanese garden. Other notable vessels coming soon are Four Seasons Yachts and the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection with three ships. The first in Ritz-Carlton’s collection, Evrima, launched in October 2022.
As both guests and developers keep sustainable practices top of mind, the movement has grown well beyond a trend, transforming into the ethos of many brands. From the use of reclaimed furniture to eliminating single-use plastics and educating customers, 1 Hotels holds sustainability at its core. “We really are a mission-driven company that is trying to do everything that we can to improve our surroundings,” says Raul Leal, CEO of SH Hotels & Resorts, which operates the 1 Hotel brand among others. This year, SH will welcome the 1 Hotel Mayfair in London, which will serve as the brand’s UK flagship; Treehouse Manchester; as well as the newly opened 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay, built into a cliff on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Hyatt’s Alila Kothaifaru Maldives, opened in fall 2022, preserved 70 percent of the existing vegetation in its construction in the Raa Atoll and strengthens a nearby reef by replanting coral fragments in a coral nursery. Host Hotels & Resorts—the operator of 80 properties including the 1 Hotel South Beach in Miami—maintains a 2050 vision with a plan to become a net-positive—going beyond net-zero—in order “to give more than we take,” says Mike Lentz, executive vice president, design and construction at Host.
Another approach, improving existing structures, is “truly the most sustainable thing,” according to Davidson Hospitality Group creative director Staci Patton. Davidson is currently reimagining Atlanta’s 3,000-acre Barnsley Resort. Adds Patton: “When we think about the incredible amount of assets across the globe, so many of them just need some love, [and] obviously some investment.”
A version of this article originally appeared in HD’s February/March 2023 issue.