Lockdowns are over for most of the country, things are slowly going back to normal. Or are they are? The world has changed during the pandemic, and so have hotels and the sort of experience they’ll offer you in 2022. We look at what’s in store…

Leisure travellers – this is your time to shine

Join a loyalty club and watch out for bargains. Leisure travellers will be king and queen in 2022. Australia experienced its largest ever increase in the amount of hotel rooms built between 2017 and 2020 and with few international arrivals till later in the year, there will be rooms all over the country available at discount rates. And with business and conference travel taking longer to recover, hotels will set their sights almost entirely on leisure travellers (expect to see bargains from Monday to Thursday nights, which traditionally were some of the most popular and expensive nights at city hotels). Room rates will be highly competitive away from Friday and Saturday nights, but a lot of these specials will only be available through loyalty programs.

Hotel rooms are going to get a lot smarter

If you’re one of those who struggle working out how to turn on a TV, watch out, because hotel rooms are going to go even higher-tech. In 2022, expect everything from facial recognition, a room key that’s actually on your phone that can be accessed via an App, concierge services and room service and spa menus that can also be seen on your phone; even smart mirrors in the bathroom that allow you to watch the news while you clean your teeth. We’ll be able to bring our own streaming on portable devices like Amazon Fire Stick. “One of the biggest needs coming out of the pandemic is the opportunity for the hotel industry to really embrace technology,” said Graham Perry, MD of BWH Hotel Group, Australia. 

Next-gen hotel brands will aim at a different market

Millennials are likely to spend more on hotels next year than Baby Boomers, and they’re seeking totally different kinds of hotel experiences, with the emphasis on experiential and shareable accommodation. Traditional hotels will be challenged next year, thanks to the hybrid hotel concept; which offer flexible room options (even shared rooms) located in hipster city neighbourhoods with innovative communal areas and unique cultural and dining offerings (think: backpackers with money). Intrepid Travel (the world’s largest adventure company) are getting a slice of the action next year. They booked over a million hotel nights before COVID-19, now they want accommodation that really suits their market. They’re partnering with Drifter Hospitality Group to create eight hotels, with 15 by 2025. Expect to see: climbing walls in reception?!

If it ain’t green, we ain’t keen

Forget the green washing, (you think asking guests if they really need to wash their towel every night is saving the planet?!), travellers are demanding a whole new level of sustainability from the hotels they stay in. And many guests – particularly millennials or luxury travellers – are choosing where they stay based on their eco-credentials. Expect to see less single-use plastic (stock up NOW on miniature shampoo bottles if you’re a collector), fewer options to wash towels and more plant-based menu options. That’s just for starters; guests want hotels to have integrated green practices in all aspects of their operations – from solar panels to water conservation and on-site produce gardens. Consider The Brando in French Polynesia where cold, deep ocean water pumped straight from the sea powers all the resort’s air conditioning while a coconut oil bio-fuel station and solar panels provide all power needs. That’s where we headed, folks. There’s now over 500 accommodation venues in Australia accredited with Eco Tourism Australia. 

Your room comes with that bloke/woman off the tv

Skip the long waiting list to get into our most iconic restaurants, stay in a hotel and you’ll get to eat dishes served up by your favourite celebrity chef there instead. Next year we’re going to see a lot of celebrity chef residencies at new or existing hotels as brands look to drum up business after an era of long Covid-19 shutdowns. They’ll be used to introduce new culinary concepts and to stir up a lot of media interest. Consider Australia’s first Kimpton Hotel, one of the most anticipated hotel openings in Sydney for 2022… a big part of their sell is that Luke Mangan will be taking up residency in hotel restaurant, Luke’s Kitchen, from January 2022 (he’s also in charge of the bars). 

Luke Magnan is ready to serve up delights.

Your dog is welcome, too

With a huge rise in pet ownership during the pandemic (who didn’t want a puppy during those lonely lockdowns?) you’re going to be able to take your pet with you on your next holiday. Nearly 70 percent of Australian households own a pet now, so it makes sense hotels look after your pooch as well. For years, hotels in the US and Europe (even the Ritz in Paris) encouraged pets to sleep over, now Australia’s finally jumping on-board. W Hotels are offering a PAW (Pets Are Welcome) package, The Langham in Sydney and Melbourne offer pet-specific room service menus and dog walking and minding, as does Pier One in Sydney while QT now offer Pup Yeah with rooms for dogs with mini-bars of treats, while Quest are introducing a pet-friendly policy at 30 of their hotels across the country for $15 per pet. 

Your pups are welcome.

There’s going to be a lot more to your stay

Leisure travellers will be seeking much more than somewhere to stay in 2022. Expect all manner of specialty events, from culinary feasts to neighbourhood parties and music festivals. And expect the gap between business travellers and leisure travellers to rise as business travellers demand automated check-in and no physical contact, while leisure travellers seek the connection with others they lost during lockdowns. “Guests are wanting the buffets, room service, gyms, spas and most other people-facing services to return,” said Ross Berdsell, executive VP, JLL Hotels. Hyatt Hotel Canberra is introducing indulgent high teas set in a 1920s heritage room for those seeking retreats into a bygone era, Sth Bnk by Beulah has introduced the first of a series of immersive dining experiences featuring design, food and performance, with the likes of Longrain chef Scott Pickett starring.

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