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Luxury Hospitality Design and Other Insights from ILHA 2018

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Luxury hoteliers gathered in Miami for the International Luxury Hotelier Association (ILHA) Annual Summit and discuss all things relating to luxury hospitality. Topics and panel discussions ranged from investment, design, and operations and attracted nearly 500 executives, managers, and vendors. OBMI global, architects, master planners, and designers of luxury hospitality destinations were amongst the attendees for the 2-day event.

Panels surrounding investment in the luxury hospitality sector and design for the luxury traveler experts agreed that opportunities exist throughout the Caribbean and around the world. The rate of travel-related spends is outpacing GDP, and the luxury sector is seeing increases as well as gains due to stock market investments. OBMI designers offer that resort design for the luxury traveler is also changing with more emphasis being on creating transformation and flexible spaces that can accommodate a property’s rich programming offerings. Other trends in hotel design include the blurring of indoor and outdoor spaces, communal areas for work and play, and perhaps most importantly to the investor; brands are becoming more flexible in order to create authentic local experiences.

“A resort’s design needs to incorporate that which makes the location unique. Brands are recognizing this and beginning to flex their standards to create authentic properties.” Doug Kulig, OBM International (OBMI)

Amongst the hot topics discussed was the concept of the hotel room of the future. Oracle presented research on Hotel 2025. The findings are destined to become integrated into hotels in the near-future as they were guests' most sought-after technological innovations. These technologies include voice activation devices, facial recognition and biometric security features, continued use of robotics for hotel operations, integration of virtual reality for the guest experience and the prevalence of artificial intelligence – smart programs that offer customization for guests.

“Used correctly technology can create experiences.” David Goldstone, Digivalet

When discussing the psychology of luxury travel the consensus agreed that today luxury travel is more about experiences and moments rather than amenities and finishes, although luxury travelers expect a certain level of both. Earned experiences is the latest industry buzz word referring to how travelers are looking to realize a sense of satisfaction that they’ve earned a great experience and that it was truly engaging.

“Earned experiences are not easily obtained which make them truly unique.” Tom Merchant, Black Tomato Group

The Summit’s tone was optimistic about the future of the industry and offered thoughtful insights covering various topics surrounding luxury hospitality and was attended by leading hospitality executives, leading architects, and lifestyle product vendors.