Spa & wellness

Right: Oasia Hotel in downtown Singapore is another model of how to unite natural and design ecosystems.

Opening page: WOHA’s verdant balconies for Parkroyal Collection Pickering in Singapore.

“I think we’ve become much more conscious of

how often we’re indoors because we’ve been in a more limited amount of different spaces over the course of last year. I think people will become more aware of the impact of those spaces,” he says. As the hotel industry comes back to life, there will be lessons to take on board. If an indoor space can somehow evoke the forms of nature, or can bring nature inside its bounds, guests may feel more relaxed and cared for, and may even be inclined to pay more. “When you come into a hotel, you’re coming into

a new environment, which can be exciting but also a little stressful,” says Browning. “So how do we make that experience memorable and pleasurable? How can design measurably lower your stress? Those would be some of the preferred outcomes we’d like to see, and our research validates what we’ve intuitively known for a very long time.”

Unconscious biophilia In 2017, Terrapin conducted a study on hotel room pricing trends, observing the differences between rooms with a view on to nature, and those without. They discovered that, for resort hotels, there was an 18% increase in the average daily rate for rooms that looked out on to water. The difference was less pronounced in urban hotels, but a water view was still associated with an 11% premium. “The fact that we’re willing to charge more for

well-being) has very likely acquired a new urgency during the months we’ve been penned in our homes. “I think the pandemic has shown how valuable a

biophilic environment is,” argues Richard Hassell, the co-founding director of Singapore-based architecture practice WOHA. “Having one in your home when you’re on lockdown, or having access to fresh air and greenery when you’re spending multiple weeks in a quarantine hotel, helps with your general well-being, your psychological and physical health. So, while it’s always been very important in WOHA’s work, biophilic design has probably moved up on people’s priority lists.”

“The fact that we’re willing to charge more for a room just based on its view is indicative of the benefi t of biophilic design.”

Bill Browning Environmental strategist Bill Browning agrees.

As founding partner of the sustainability consulting company Terrapin Bright Green, and co-author of the new book Nature Inside: A Biophilic Design Guide, he is a long-time advocate for the power of green design. He points out that even before the pandemic, we typically spent 90% of our time indoors.


a room just based on its view is indicative of the benefit of biophilic design,” says Browning. Terrapin also wanted to find out how biophilic

design affects people’s use of public spaces. The team selected six hotels in Midtown Manhattan – three conventional hotels and three with strong biophilic elements – and observed the individuals who entered the lobby at various points during the day. In the conventional hotels, the vast majority (75%) of people were just passing through, whereas in the biophilic hotels 36% of occupants were sitting down and using the space. “If I can get you to spend more time in the lobby,

then I might be able to sell you another coffee or some food, making that space livelier and more convivial,” says Browning. “We followed up by looking at these hotels’ reviews on TripAdvisor, and found that in the biophilic hotels, design and decor got a much stronger response. They also got more than twice the response on experience than conventional hotels. So biophilia is designed to change the way you think about the brand.” Demonstrably, then, biophilia is good for

hospitality – the question is how a hotel can go about incorporating it. As Hassell explains, there are many different ways to make a start.

Hotel Management International /

Patrick Bingham-Hall

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