We live in an age when “wellness tourism” brings in upward of $563 billion yearly and travelers want to enjoy their beachside martinis and hit the gym in the morning.
Hotels are responding with offerings that appeal to the health-conscious crowd. As health news reported in this year’s travel trends forecast, in-suite guided meditations have gone mainstream, the wellness guru is the new concierge, and you can now dial spiritual healers on room service.
Now, as more research continues to emerge on the healing power of sleep (just this year, science has found that a good night’s rest can regulate metabolism, help us process pain, and even keep our sex lives healthy), hotels are offering more than just a comfy bed. They’re coming up with innovative sleep experiences that are designed to help travelers snooze like never before.
The rise of the super sleep-friendly hotel room.
The most obvious example of the sleep optimization trend comes from the Equinox’s first hotel—a behemoth in New York City’s Hudson Yards where each room is designed to be “a temple to total regeneration,” according to the new property’s website.
The doors to the hotel (and its infrared saunas, and cryotherapy chambers, and post-workout recovery pods) open July 15. The luxe property is meant to be a natural extension of the fitness brand’s philosophy. Not only will it house a large Equinox gym, but it’ll also have plenty of offerings to help guests relax after breaking a sweat. An entire section of the restaurant menu will reportedly be devoted to sleep and recovery, complete with bedtime golden milks and melatonin smoothies. “Sleep trainers” will roam the property advising guests on the best ways to get over their jet lag. Guest rooms will be quiet tombs complete with blackout shades, beds with customizable comfort settings, and a nighttime thermostat eternally set to 66 degrees, the temperature that’s optimal for deep sleep. When journalist Howie Kahn visited a room for the Wall Street Journal, he likened it to “nestling into noise-canceling headphones.”
Equinox and its Health Advisory Board will be rolling out five more wellness-flooded hotel properties (in Seattle, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara) in the next three years. But if you can’t quite afford a night in the ultimate sleep sanctuary (the cheapest rooms I could find at Equinox were $635/night, and they went up to $7,815 for a suite), there are plenty of other brands touting restful perks of their own.
The primary thing travelers want to get out of a hotel is a great night’s sleep.
Down on the Lower East side of Manhattan, Sister City, a new concept by the hospitality company Ace Hotel, is all about paring down distractions to help people live their most mindful (and most well-rested) lives on the road. Inspired by minimalist Finnish saunas, the rooms are simple, streamlined, and instantly soothing. “We wanted to distill the rooms down to their most beautiful working parts, championing efficiency and beauty through the lens of attention to detail, craft, form, and materiality,” Kelly Sawdon, chief brand officer and partner at Ace Hotel Group, tells health news. “The focus is truly on the person inhabiting the room rather than any kind of distraction or noise.”
Beyond designing a calming sleep environment, the hotel also teamed up with Headspace to offer guests free access to sleep meditations during their stay and started selling white noise machines in the lobby. It’s all meant to promote the “peaceful transition from the city’s bountiful energy into a re-centering and aesthetically nourishing space,” Sawdon says.
Another boutique hospitality company, Standard Hotels, is playing around with its own sleep offerings tailored to different locations. In California, The Standard collaborated with Lord Jones on a limited-edition CBD gummy to live on guests’ minibars. Over in NYC, the brand embarked on an all-out “day of sleep fitness” earlier this year. “The day was filled with healthy meals, complimentary fitness activities, in-room massages, and ended with a night on the Eight Sleep Pod,” explains Alexandra Zatarain, co-founder of Eight Sleep, a brand-new high-tech bed that changes temperature based on who’s sleeping in it and is designed to boost performance.
“Hotels exist to be a home away from home. The primary thing travelers want to get out of a hotel is a great night’s sleep,” Zatarain says of why she chose to reveal her product in a hotel setting before it officially hit the market. “It’s important for hotels to prioritize sleep not only from the comfort perspective—a comfortable bed, pillows, bedding—but also from the entire environment that is created around the time of sleep. This includes factors such as temperature in the room, noise, light, and even bed temperature and the wake-up experience.”
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How mainstream brands are taking sleep environments seriously.
Other companies working on optimizing the sleep environment include Pure Room—a consultancy that outfits select rooms in properties like Hilton and Hyatt to be hypoallergenic with features like allergy-friendly bedding and advanced air purification systems—and big names like Westin Hotels & Resorts, with “Sleep Well” being one of its six main pillars. Westin properties offer complimentary lavender balms bedside and rooms that have a relaxing, nature-inspired design known as biophilia. “We believe that nature-based design helps promote better sleep,” Brian Povinelli, Westin’s global brand leader, told health news when we talked to him about the brand’s biophilic touches such as special lighting and plenty of natural materials.
“The new guest-room design will integrate advanced lighting technologies including sensory devices, cast shadow lighting, intuitive lighting controls that will have ‘scenes’ that match morning, noon, and night lighting conditions, and more to help with jet lag, promote restful sleep, and encourage mindfulness,” he added.
Hotels continue to test new sleep accessories with temporary pop-ups, like the Moxy’s monthlong ASMR Bedtime Stories and The Gregory’s Ultimate Sleep Room, where guests could book suites with smart pillows to reduce snoring, ice cream that promotes sleep (yes, it’s a thing!), and LED bulbs that work with your circadian rhythm, through the month of April.
Research shows that just one night of funky sleep can derail health goals, so we’re all about properties making it easier for weary travelers to get their eight hours in. Now, if only red-eye flights hopped on the same bandwagon…
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