A few things got my attention at yesterday’s 2008 Leadership in Hospitality & Leisure Executive Forum (an Argyle Executive Forum) which was held here in New York. Some of us “spa-types” were in attendance – Judy Singer, Patti Monteson, and Jeff Kohl – but most were either hotel executives from companies such as Ritz-Carlton, Starwood, Marriott, Loews, Jumeirah, Wyndham, and Disney or financial/investor folks. From my notes, here are a few spa and hotel related highlights. I will elaborate as I have time in future blogs.
• Theatrical hospitality is a new buzzword (I like that)
• Walt Disney is expanding their brand and getting more into hotels and spas (for families, no doubt)
• Hotels need to keep up with consumer expectations – this can often be costly. Currently the big “must have” is the flat screen TV. Next will be the curved shower curtain. (Yep, love those curved shower curtain rods where I don’t have to have my body come in contact with the curtain!)
• Highest growth potential for hotels/resorts/spas currently is in Russia, Turkey, China, Thailand, and Malaysia. (Turkey was the surprise for me on this list)
• A new growth area for hotels and spas which is not yet on people’s radar, is the northern part of Africa (Interesting)
• Blue Harmony “Renew you inner Rhythm” is the spa and fitness program that Wyndham is going to be rolling out. The blue is for water and the name kind of fits with their Gen X positioning. (Wonder if they can execute…)
• Aber and Kent is getting into the Exclusive Resorts arena…interesting idea to have this new product category with a recognized brand name. (Clever)
• Jumeirah wants to help people not feel guilty while enjoying their luxury. (at least they admit it…am sure they aren’t the only ones)
• High touch and good architecture is not so easy for Asia to duplicate quickly. (It’s the high touch part that’s tough with a language barrier)
• Residences are becoming more and more a part of the hotel/resort formula. In fact, I am now seeing brands say they are in the hotel/resort/residence business. (Pardon me while I revert to third grade antics: “I told you so” – hmmm that felt good)
• People are really starting to talk about Gen X. (Makes me think we are right on trend with our switch to the new SpaFinder Interactive Magazine in 6 different languages.)
• Even the people in emerging markets know “what is in.” (The Internet and TV make what’s “in” instantly known)
• The other shoe has dropped in Las Vegas. There were ten projects under construction and now it appears as if the Fountainbleu will be the only one to make it to the finish line at the end of this year. It will cost more than $4 billion, be the tallest hotel on the strip (63 stories), will not have a “theme,” and their 50,000-square-foot spa will be in the sky. (With all that investment, I hope they get the spa right…but time and time again, I see people miss the opportunity to do something extraordinary. Fingers crossed.)
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