Architect Jean-Michel Gathy names five key luxury hotel trends

Jean-Michel GathyPrincipal Designer at Denniston Architects – Jean-Michel Gathy has specialised in luxury hospitality design for over 30 years. He is the creative driver behind some renowned hotels including Cheval Blanc Randheli in Maldives, Park Hyatt Sanya Sunny Bay Resort in China, The Setai in Miami, Amanyara in Turks-and-Caïcos, Aman Canal Grande Venice in Italy, Chedi Andermatt in Switzerland and the Chedi Muscat in Oman.

Speaking from his experience and expertise, Jean-Michel shares his latest views on tourism and travel trends. Over the past few years he has witnessed major changes in this sector: the internet is revolutionising habits, and the demographics of tourism are ever evolving with an increasing number of travellers from China, India and Russia.

Cheval Blanc Randheli in Maldives
Cheval Blanc Randheli in Maldives

Jean-Michel Gathy reveals his five key predictions for the hotels of tomorrow.

Technology is everywhere

“Hotels are becoming ultra-connected. Customers never travel without their smartphone or tablet. This is having a big impact on their choice of hotel, sales network and design. For example, we no longer design desks for guest rooms. People work from their bed or at the beach.”

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Specialist hotels

“Luxury hotels will become increasingly targeted. Previously, hotels wanted to offer all sorts of activities as they needed to attract as many guests as possible. Today, that no longer applies. There are many new travellers from emerging markets, meaning there are enough guests for hotels to target specifically. So we’ll see establishments that specialise in diving, with all the latest equipment and the best instructors, or yoga, cooking classes, wine and so on. This also means that luxury hotels will be more expensive with a wider selection of offers.”

Environmentally conscious hotels 

“In luxury hotels, respect for the environment has become standard. The development of new technologies has brought new solutions for hotels, such as the processing of waste materials and water, more effective insulation, the use of local materials, geothermal energy, solar, wind power, etc. Clean and renewable energies are the future of hotels.”

Restaurant sociability and diversity

“Today, travellers want to meet people, talk with locals and interact with other guests. This has led us to review restaurant architecture, with furniture in different sizes and bigger tables where people can gather. The food offering is becoming increasingly diverse. Customers want to take their taste buds on a journey too, so we are building hotels with several restaurants offering different specialities: Italian, French and Asian cuisines.”

Management for above and beyond service

“Traveller reviews on websites have considerably changed customer service. Before choosing a hotel, people check the reviews. Managers need to be extremely vigilant and attend to all guest requests. To do this, you need to introduce systems in order to automate little details. In fact, staff cannot make an exception for every customer, even if that’s the impression they give. The perception of the hotel is very important too. They need to be careful that it doesn’t appear better than reality, to avoid disappointing people.”

A seasoned veteran of hotel architecture, Jean-Michel Gathy has established some cutting-edge hospitality concepts. In 2006, Jean-Michel was announced as a Platinum Circle Hospitality Design honouree, which recognised his significant career achievements and skill in the world of hospitality design.


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