Skift Take

As our Skift Megatrend 2019 forecasted, wellness is the new hook in travel marketing, and it's been gaining speed. The rise of wellness culture has made caring about sleep cool — and since weariness is a top complaint of travelers, it's good business sense that the hospitality industry is upgrading its sleep offerings.

Ask travelers the No. 1 thing they want out of a hotel stay, and chances are the answer is: a good night’s sleep.

For this reason, the hospitality industry has always cared about rest. But despite the fact that getting enough shut-eye is crucial for travelers who want to feel good on business trips or vacation, innovation in the area for years was decidedly lacking (Westin’s Heavenly Bed, for example, launched in 1999).

That’s all changed, however, with the rise of the wellness movement — which has an obsession with sleep. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness is now a $4.2 trillion industry, and that number is projected to increase in the coming years.

Wellness tourism makes up a $639 billion slice of the pie, and companies are eager to carve out an even bigger piece by partnering with buzzy sleep and meditation apps like Calm and Headspace. They’re also offering unique snooze-inducing packages and amenities to help customers lead a life of wellness even when away.

“As the wellness industry continues to grow, more people are looking for ways to incorporate their wellness practices into their travels rather than abandoning them for total ‘vacation-mode,’ or disregarding their at-home routine while traveling for business,” says Edward Shapard, General Manager of The Dominick, a boutique hotel in New York.

To help keep guests’ sleep practice up, Westin offers Sleep Well menus, which include foods that have been found to help promote sleep and a Sleep Well lavender balm that comes free in every room. The goal? “To help guests adjust to a new time zone or recover from their travels,” says Brian Povinelli, senior vice president and global brand leader for Westin.

The hotel brand is even doing research into lighting and circadian rhythm so it can develop in-room controls that adjust the quality of light throughout the day. “While still in the development phase, these key pads at the entry and in the sleep area will have ‘scenes’ that match morning, noon, and night lighting conditions,” says Povinelli. “The idea being that guests may set their rooms’ lighting scenes to combat jet lag and promote healthy sleep cycles.”

Raffles, meanwhile, recently launched its Sleep Rituals service, piloted now in Raffles Dubai, Raffles Makati, Raffles Seychelles, and Raffles Europejski Warsaw. The brand partnered with DreamSoft linen to offer each guest an eye pillow, “good-night cards” that encourage guests to be mindful, and yes, even a relaxing oil from skincare line Aromatherapy Associates.

The Dominick’s take on sleep hits on the trend of customization — the hotel tries to help guests find the perfect pillow, essential oils, and teas. And guests who really care about sleep and R&R can go as far as to book the hotel’s Spa Suites, which come with hydrotherapy tubs and a private en suite sauna. Lest they forget Fido, “We also offer Casper dog beds that ensure our four-legged friends sleep soundly,” says Shapard.

Cruise ships are also getting in on the sleep trend. Seabourn recently announced it’s partnering with Dr. Andrew Weil, health and mindful living guru, for two new wellness cruises. Along with yoga and meditation classes, the cruises will have seminars on sleep and managing stress.

Even airlines have been partnering with leading meditation and sleep apps. Calm, for example, teamed up with American Airlines back in 2018, offering travelers custom content to help them relax — and doze off — when they fly. “If hospitality brands can offer wellness programs to help you sleep sounder, they’ll drive meaningful business,” says Aleena Abrahamian, head of partnerships at Calm.

Though it may seem like the hospitality industry is willing to try anything these days to help customers have a good night’s sleep, it’s a wise move. Brands that can really deliver a better sleep experience will likely see returns on the investment.

“As we look at future room enhancements, better sleep has surpassed in-room technology as a service that separates good hotels from the average,” says Shapard.

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Tags: hospitality, Skift Wellness, Sleep, wellness, wellness tourism, wellness travel

Photo credit: Pictured is a hotel suite at Raffles Dubai. Raffles Hotels & Resorts launched its Sleep Rituals program in February 2019. The hospitality industry has embraced the growing popularity of wellness with initiatives tied to a good night's rest. Accor Hotels

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