The state of the hospitality industry—and the trends to watch—are discussed with IMEG Director of Hospitality Bob Winter in the first in a series of episodes featuring the firm’s market leaders.
“Last year, 2022, was a tremendous year in the market for design and construction,” Bob says, citing the recovery of occupancy rates as the industry emerged from the pandemic. “I have seen a little bit of a headwind this year with some of our projects due to the cost of construction and the cost of money.” However, he adds, there are still a lot of “pent-up opportunities that are coming online,” along with growing demand for more hotels in urban and resort environments.
Bob also sees a growing focus on sustainability and energy efficiency, as well as continued growth in properties with a focus on wellness. “Many of the major brands have wellness hotels that are really retreats and are located in places like Sedona or Palm Springs or in wilderness settings, but they’re also in top urban markets, too. These are places where people can go to experience various mind and body rejuvenation or even a much more focused healing and recovery experience, with medical staff and licensed therapists.”
Bob is no stranger to the concept of wellness retreats. In 1912 his great grandfather opened the Hotel Thermia Palace in Czechoslovakia, one of the world’s first wellness resorts.
“It was built on natural hot springs and there were mud baths; people from throughout central Europe would go there for treatment, primarily for rheumatism,” he says. Though no longer owned by the Winter family, the Thermia Palace exists to this day as a luxury spa and wellness hotel catering to clients worldwide. Those who cross the bridge onto the property pass a statue of a man breaking his crutch—a likeness of Bob’s great grandfather and a symbol of the retreat’s long-standing healing properties.
“It’s still a very popular place,” says Bob, who has visited the site.
The Winter family’s hospitality legacy transferred to the U.S. at the outbreak of World War 2, when Bob’s grandmother emigrated with her sons to the U.S. She soon became the country’s first female general manager of a major urban hotel, the Hotel Pearson in Chicago. Bob continues the family legacy today as IMEG’s director of hospitality.
“It’s the ‘giant circle’,” he says. “It’s been an interesting journey.”
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