For the last fifteen years HotelDesigns has travelled the world looking at hotels – over 300 having been visited and critiqued through these pages. Almost all have been personally visited by yours truly, and for years I have criticised hotels for their lack of understanding of luxury and for their, in my view foolish, focus on the 34 – 44 age group.
In part this was sparked by reaction to one of the first hotels visited, the Meridien Vienna, with its luxury bathroom with walk-in shower with a stool inside, and the freestanding bathtub with its pole dancers’ pole. This seemed to me to have the design that catered both for the young and the older guest alike. Interestingly too, the design came from a theatre designer rather than an interior designer – a little like the beginnings of Richmond International, now known as a respected interiors house but in its heyday founded and driven to the top of the league by Bob Lush, its inspired theatre designer founder.I have spoken at conferences and had arguments with board members of Hilton and Starwood amongst others who seemed to me to fail to appreciate the true meaning of luxury. A few, like consultancy TRi, have supported my views but in general the bean counters have driven hotels largely down the Millennial worship trail ignoring that these are the people who are struggling to buy houses, pay for their kids etc., and that the real economic power has lain with their parents.
Now Barclays Bank has quantified the amount that hotels are missing out on through this myopia. Oh yes – for some it has been a strength, such as Citizen M who have focussed on the younger guest, or others such as Premier Inn who have tried very successfully to deliver luxury at a budget price (their hotels would have been considered four star not so long ago).
Barclay’s figures now show how the over 65’s added £37 billion spending in the Hospitality and Leisure sector in the last year, over a third more than the average consumer and 27% higher than the 35 – 54 years olds. My own observations through my travel experience is that these numbers are higher still in other markets such as those in mature European destinations or in the more esoteric such as the games parks of Africa.
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