[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he world’s biggest luxury hotel brand, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), has teamed up with renowned futurist Faith Popcorn to predict the luxury travel trends of the future.
Focusing on the guest experience, service, destinations and hotel design, Popcorn highlights virtual reality, escapism and immersive brand experiences as being key drivers in shaping the way we will experience travel in coming years.
Described as “the Trend Oracle”, Popcorn has worked with leading Fortune 500 companies to help them predict consumer trends – with a documented 95 per cent accuracy rate. Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts teamed up with Faith as part of the brand’s “on-going commitment to remain at the forefront of luxury travel”.
Popcorn says: “Consumers will be craving immersive experiences which will allow them to indulge in luxury in both a physical and a virtual sense. By harnessing virtual reality and the constant flow of personal likes, dislikes and bio-data, hotels will be able to provide guests with once-in-a-lifetime experiences seamlessly and spontaneously – or so it will seem.”
Luxury hotel interior designer Tara Bernerd, who is developing IHG’s new design philosophy, says: ”Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts is constantly looking to evolve their interiors and aesthetic to make their properties more unique and luxurious for guests. Interior architecture and design play a very powerful part of a guest’s experience – I hope to see [IHG] continue to push the boundaries of luxury travel into the future.”
Simon Scoot, vice-president of global brand strategy at Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts, says: “Innovation and pioneering spirit is in the Intercontinental brand’s DNA. Since the launch of the brand in 1946, followed by the opening of the first hotel in Belem, Brazil, Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts opened the gateway to a whole new world of glamour and discovery for a jet-set generation. Seventy years on, as global travel has transformed, the Intercontinental brand has evolved and adapted with it.”
Here are five luxury travel trends that will change the experience of staying in a top-end hotel…
1. Clanning experiences/Fantasy escapes
Virtual reality will enable real-time sharing of real-time holiday experiences among friends and family in other parts of the planet – so when you go on safari, they can come with you. At the same time, people could use VR to “live out danger in a safe environment”.
VR headsets from the likes of Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard are already providing a taste of what’s to come, and in the future we can expect this kind of technology to be provided to guests when they book a stay.
In 2014, Marriott demonstrated taking a simulated 4D journey from London to Maui using an early version of Oculus Rift. “The Teleporter” toured eight Marriott hotels in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego, California, Washington DC, San Jose and San Francisco.
2. Immersive spaces
Guests will be able to tailor their hotel room according to their personal taste with the help of customisable holographic art, projections and moveable furniture and walls. The new Zoku hotel in Amsterdam, for example, already allows people to modify their room for work or play.
3. World experience
Hotel rooms and wings will be themed to give a feel of different locations around the world – from Caribbean beaches to Swiss mountains. Luxury boutique hotel Zanzibar in Hastings tapped into this trend a few years ago, with guests able to book a stay in rooms inspired by Antarctica, Africa, Manhattan, India, Japan, Bali, Morocco and South America.
4. Customised wardrobes
Hotels will partner with fashion brands to sponsor guests’ in-room wardrobes, complete with 3D printed designer clothing. Wardrobes will be customised to suit personal taste based on online shopping habits, size and local weather conditions.
Starwood’s W Leicester Square already offers women suitcase-free stays with Walk Out Wardrobe thanks to its partnership with digital dress rental platform Girl Meets Dress. Guests staying in a suite can have one of 4,000 outfits delivered free.
5. Building down
Although 70 per cent of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities by 2050, not everyone will want to stay in a high-rise tower. The design and structure of luxury hotels will see new architectural approaches such as “building down”, to fit to the landscape or go subterranean.
The Songjiang Intercontinental Quarry Hotel in China, which is opening in the near future, is built into a 90-metre deep quarry outside of Shanghai. Jutting right out of the cliff itself, it features waterfalls, a lake, bungee jumping, rock climbing and underwater bedrooms. It also hopes to be the greenest hotel ever built, with plans for power to come from geothermal and solar energy.