Stay and play: The top 5 hospitality design trends for 2018

February 27, 2018 Alana Lopez

From a boutique vibe to hard-to-find speakeasies, designers can help hotels up their game to attract travelers


Whether it’s increased competition (from Airbnb and the like) or the all-consuming impact of social media, changes are coming to the hospitality market. Today’s travelers are savvy. With the wealth of information at their fingertips, they know how to get exactly what they want from their vacation. And what they want are beautiful destinations, rich experiences, Instagrammable moments, and unique amenities.

And each traveler is different, so it’s important for the hospitality industry to pair their hotel offerings for their guests. It can be quite a challenge.

Here are five trends that will impact the hospitality industry this year. You’re likely to see some of them on your next hotel stay.


1. The “boutique hotel” phenomenon

The Aloft South Beach offers a “boutique hotel” feel that gives visitors a true Miami Beach experience.


In an era where travelers have a multitude of options for where they stay (and play), the uniqueness and differentiation of a property is increasingly important to create a more personalized experience for the traveler. Hotels are paying a lot more attention to the demographic they’d like to attract and the tools to get them there. Even long-standing hotel chains with highly prototyped models are looking to inject more of a “boutique” feel into their programs.

Take, for instance, the Aloft South Beach in Florida. Situated on Pancoast Lake in Miami Beach and inside the former historic Ankara Motel, the hotel’s design, finishes, and program represent a departure from the brand’s standard to offer visitors a true Miami Beach experience complete with vibrant colors, “hot spot” lounge spaces, a rooftop splash deck, and an indoor/outdoor bar.


2. Get the max from your space

The Gale Hotel in Miami Beach.


Square footage is expensive. So, it’s important for hotels to use it well. And thoughtfully. These days, dedicated, single-use space is a luxury and designers are looking to multi-use amenities to maximize square footage and increase overall revenue per available room (RevPAR). Who says the conference space for corporate meetings during the day can’t become the community yoga studio on nights and weekends? Or that a rooftop pool and deck area can’t become a nightclub after dark?

Case in point: The Gale Hotel in Miami Beach. During the day, the hotel’s fifth floor (jokingly referred to by staff as the “lido deck”), is a spillover from the upper pool deck—allowing guests to sunbathe, grab a drink, or a quick bite to eat. At dusk, the space transforms into a rooftop lounge and nightclub and is often rented out for private events. Ultimately, it’s space that is in use virtually 24/7. That’s a win for the hotel!


3. Be social (media)-minded!

The Tides Hotel in Miami Beach, with its see and be seen lobby.


Social media is at the center of all we do. People want to see and “be seen”—especially while on vacation. As designers, we can help our clients get free publicity by creating opportunities for photo ops—whether it’s a signature wall, a provocative piece of artwork, a roof-top patio, or a beautifully furnished lobby space.

After its refresh in 2008, The Tides Hotel quickly became one of the most photographed and well documented spaces in Miami Beach. The lobby space—with its contemporary chic vibe, muted sandy tones, and eclectic furnishings—heralded the arrival of a new modern art deco style that won the hotel numerous awards and plenty of social media coverage. In 2018, that social media push is even more important.


4. Push toward wellness

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, California, features a full-service spa, pool, and cabana complex.


Overindulgence on vacation used to be the norm. But today’s more health-conscious traveler is seeking time off work to recharge body, mind, and spirit, to get in better shape, and to learn how to eat better.

Hotels are recognizing the importance of wellness and, in response, creating programs and amenities centered around it. Some brands have created luxury wellness retreats like the Ranch Malibu, where guests are immersed in a four- or seven-day health, weight loss, and fitness program based on the principles of endurance, nutrition, and wellness.

As designers, we’re seeking opportunities to infuse more naturalistic respite areas, larger dining and exhibition-style cooking spaces, and bigger footprints for the fitness program components.


5. Rooftop amenities and speakeasies

Rooftop bar in Miami, Florida


Every building has a roof—so why not use it (for something other than mechanical equipment)? Create a location that is somewhat secretive, hard to find, not easily advertised—and it will be highly sought-after. Infuse it with beautiful design and a robust food and beverage component, and it will be a go-to destination for many years to come.


About the Author

Alana Lopez

Alana Lopez is an award-winning designer with a comprehensive background in architecture, interior design, and branding. With a focus on workplace, hospitality, and mixed-use projects, Alana’s responsible for helping build our commercial market in San Francisco, California.

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