Contributor: Penny Brown, Managing Director at Burgh Island Hotel
The hospitality industry is no stranger to change, and hotel renovation is a savvy strategy for hotels to remain competitive and meet the expectations of modern tourists. Before 2022, the average hotel was renovated every 7-10 years, yet, like many industries, the global pandemic put a stop to ongoing renovation projects. However, with global air travel reaching 95% of pre-pandemic levels this summer, and Visit Britain predicting 37.5 million trips to the UK in 2023, it seems like it might be time for hoteliers to consider reviving their property.
A successful renovation that builds upon a hotel’s unique offering, improves guest experience, and meets holidaymakers’ ever-changing demands can be hard to achieve, both to conceptualise and organise. From my 40 years of experience at the forefront of hotel management and innovation, here are the most important things to consider when embarking on a resort revamp.
Cultivating unique character
Hotel renovation goes beyond mere improvements; it is a chance for hotels to cultivate and showcase their unique character, breathing new life into their spaces while preserving their essence. A well-thought-out renovation can be a canvas for hotels to display their core values, embrace their rich history, and accentuate distinct features that set them apart from the competition.
For instance, Burgh Island Hotel serves as a compelling example of how a series of rolling renovations can breathe new life into a historic property without compromising its charm. From 2018, Burgh Island Hotel embarked on a journey of thoughtful and strategic renovations, carefully preserving its iconic art deco architecture and vintage decor while introducing modern comforts and conveniences. One notable change brought about by the renovation was the careful restoration of the Captain’s Cabin of the HMS Ganges, which was added to the hotel in the 1930s. Today it retains its true authenticity and is now part of the hotel’s Nettlefold Restaurant, serving as a cosy dining hideaway.
To honour Agatha Christie’s famous connection with the island, where she drew inspiration from its captivating surroundings for And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun, one of the earliest renovations at Burgh Island was to the Beach House that she frequently stayed in to write her novels. The renovation weaved the captivating tale of literary history into the guest experience by transforming it into a modern writer’s retreat, firmly consolidating the magic of the past into Burgh’s unique atmosphere today.
Elevating guest experience
Hotel renovation is a transformative process that enables hotels to elevate the guest experience to unparalleled levels. The significance of updating and refreshing guest rooms, public spaces, and amenities cannot be overstated. By doing so, hotels can create an ambience that welcomes guests with warmth and comfort, making them feel right at home from the moment they step through the door.
Introducing new offerings or elevating existing services will benefit the overall guest experience and means hotels can offer a more diverse and enriching stay for their guests. Studies have shown that things like bespoke food services and in-room amenities offered by a hotel that cater to the specific customer base of a hotel will increase guest satisfaction.
As Burgh Island Hotel undertook its rolling renovations, thought was given to those looking to escape to the picturesque peace of the tidal island. The creation of a beautiful spa facility has added a now much-loved luxury experience to the hotel’s offering that exceeds guest expectations. With breathtaking views of the surrounding seascape, the spa provides a tranquil retreat where guests can rejuvenate their mind, body, and soul, and channel the characteristic calm of the island.
Riding the wave of change: embracing evolving demands
Thoughtful renovations go beyond aesthetics; they focus on addressing the evolving needs of today’s tourists. Whilst more than half of vacationers are looking to go ‘off-the-grid’, this does not mean that tourists’ want for peaceful isolation should come at the expense of their modern creature comforts. 89% of hotel guests believe free and seamless internet is important to their overall hotel experience, and thus finding a balance of contemporary tech and peaceful tranquillity is a must for any successful renovation. At Burgh Island, the atmosphere of 1920s luxurious leisure was maintained by the decision to abstain from the instillation of modern televisions in guest rooms, however, to indulge modern necessities, highspeed Wi-Fi is accessible to all throughout the hotel.
Integrating technology isn’t the only trend that visitors expect from hotels. 69% of holidaymakers are now actively seeking sustainable holidays, and renovations provide hotels with the opportunity to improve their sustainability credentials. By upgrading systems to utilise energy-efficient heating and lighting, such as LED bulbs, and integrating renewable energy sources, hotels can become more environmentally friendly.
However, sustainability also extends to a hotel’s relationship with its local community. Renovations provide hotels with the opportunity to engage with the community to minimise disruption and kickstart initiatives. For example, as the restaurants at Burgh Island were renovated, it was decided that 80% of produce used in Burgh Island’s kitchens was to be locally sourced, to help support the local residents.
As the hospitality industry returns to its pre-pandemic success, renovation offers hoteliers a strategic opportunity to stay competitive in the modern tourism landscape. By cultivating their own unique character, hotels can showcase distinct features and preserve their historical charm. By simultaneously introducing modern comforts, they can create an unforgettable guest experience that meets and exceeds the standards of their target customers. Whether it’s a new lick of paint or the introduction of black-out blinds, each adjustment or addition plays a significant role in catering to the evolving demands of guests while leaving a lasting impression.
Hoteliers who embrace thoughtful renovations, prioritise guest satisfaction, and stay adaptable to changing needs will thrive as sought-after destinations for travellers seeking exceptional stays.