Many a modern day global traveller has an expectation about the places they stay in, fuelled by browsing through Herbert Ypma’s Hip Hotels books and the Design Hotels chain. Forget cultural diversity, they travel only if the final destination meets their high-standard requirements.
Yet these discerning customers are not just those on the leisure trail, more and more business travellers are today demanding dash for their cash. They might be away from home and office, but they still expect a level of comfort and facilities to make their stay pleasurable. And while many urban hot spots have jumped on the intimate, design-savvy, boutique hotel concept, smaller cities have so far lagged behind. London is, as always, ahead of the game and this spring will see Kit Kemp opening two new hotels in the city centre and the Hilton chain of hotels renovating the Great Western Royal Hotel in Paddington to its original splendour.
Meanwhile, things are slowly changing outside the capital, with more hotels gearing up to cater for the business traveller, who is arguably the one customer whose frequent visits can make or break the fortune of a hotel. Cities such as Manchester and Glasgow are picking up design trends and adding their own twist to them. Bland environments are being substituted for interior solutions that are functional as well as fashionable. Even an emblem of corporate comfort such as the Hilton Hotel chain has improved its offering. Its latest prototype, the Innovation Rooms at the Hilton in Munich, offers a selection of styles that combine wellbeing with remote working.
Indeed, technology and relaxation of the mind and body seem to be the two requisites that appear in most of these new hotels. The business traveller is no longer satisfied by a few power plugs for their laptop. Plasma screens, computers, voice-activated remote controls, DVD and ISDN links are expected as a matter of course. The benefits of spa treatment also have their appeal, and most hotels feature fitness centres or treatment rooms to pamper the stressed out executive.