Are we designing well?

Here at between our sheet we take a deep dive into one of our many topical conference programmes; wellness.                                                                                                    

Living in an age where health and wellness are at the forefront of most people’s conscience, hotel design is challenged more than ever before to address this emerging trend.

Although hotels have started to make a conscious effort to implement a range of offerings to appeal to their audience, addressing wellness in the hospitality sector is not as simple as we think.

Nicola Law, Associate Senior Interior Designer at Gensler highlights that “the unorthodox working pattern that are an innate part of travel, make it impossible to maintain consistent healthy routines”, whilst Sinus Milieus’ Science of Tribes methodology exemplifies the different behavioural traits between individuals, and further demonstrates a complexity for hotel’s to address wellness for the mass audience.


ESPA Spa du Castellet, France

So where did the concept of ‘wellness’ derive?

Whilst the dictionary definition of wellness is to achieve the 'quality or state of being healthy in the body and mind', this year’s wellness panel at the Sleep conference will share their views on whether hotels are successfully meeting the new consumer aspirations

Aidan Walker, author of “The Ecology of the Soul” and speaker at the Sleep wellness conference believes that “wellness is a part of the new armoury of  ‘soft’ psychological and behavioural weapons being brought to bear on corporate and business life, based on the predicate that someone who is fitter, more relaxed, calm and clear-eyed is likely to be more productive and have a longer shelf life. Whether you’re passing through on a business trip or staying as a holiday guest, a hotel is identified as somewhere you will benefit from rest, relaxation, refreshment, revitalisation and achieve an overall sense of renewal.”

So let’s take a closer look into how hotels are addressing wellness…

The evolution of Spa’s


ESPA at Yas Viceroy, Abu Dhabi

Whilst spas have long been a traditional means of offering a holistic experience and better wellness for guests, Aidan Walker argues that “addressing wellness shouldn’t stop at bodily treatments; true rest, relaxation, refreshment and revitalisation originate in the mind and spirit, which is an entirely different proposition from a bath in Dead Sea Salts or a Thai massage.”

Hotels across the world have begun to address this matter by evolving the traditional spa offerings to more serious spa experiences focusing on the mind rather than the body…

Mandarin Oriental have launched a yearly ‘Silent Night’ whereby all of their spas worldwide transform into peaceful retreats, having banned all talking and music after 5pm. The purpose of this is to instill a sense of peace and allow individuals to experience contemplation and mindfulness. Whilst in London, Akasha spa at Café Royal has added to its comprehensive treatment list by employing an intuitive counsellor, reiki master and a cognitive and emotional coach.

Sue Harmsworth, Founder of ESPA and speaker at the Sleep wellness conference predicts that “delivering wellness over the next 5-10 years will be much harder than I believe people currently think. It necessitates a very honest and results-driven treatment offering, to ensure clients will not leave disappointed.”

The importance of biophilia



Nature in design and the biophilia effect are becoming common topics in the design narrative to help achieve wellness. Whilst Oliver Heath epitomises biophilic design throughout his work, this year’s official Sleep Set sponsors and Sleep exhibitors Dornbracht have similarly exemplified their interpretation of wellness, which is portrayed through an immersive installation at this week’s London Design Festival…

The Dornbracht Water Experience presented a dramatic representation of the impact that water has on our health and wellbeing. Transporting the feeling of being in front of the sea to central London, the bathroom specialists explore how energy from the water is transmitted back to the human body, offering a physical, spiritual and social wellbeing experience for visitors.

Going back to basics...


Hypnos Limited

Whilst the design and marketing of hotels once focused primarily on a basic good night’s sleep, in recent years, hotels have strived to respond to a market of mobile workers, millennials and ‘bleisure’ (business / leisure) travellers, having sought to distinguish their brands by providing a variety of in-room perks and enhanced technologies.  

As today’s society focusses on wellness, Tom Hupe, Architect and Director of Hospitality at Perkins+Will, and speaker at the ‘back to sleep’ roundtable at Sleep, believes that this trend has led to an increased awareness of the importance of sleep and its physical and psychological benefits. As a result, operators, developers and designers alike are beginning to go ‘back to sleep’ in the evolution of hotel design.  

Visit the Sleep conference to hear our full panel discussion on wellness, who will explore the direction of travel for architects and designers in seeking world-class wellness.