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Published on : Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Inc.today announced the launch of new family programs by Le Méridien and Westin Hotels & Resorts, in response to the growing global demand of family travel and evolving needs of family travellers today. Both programs reinvent the kids club concept, reimagine family experiences and introduce more meaningful amenities through a brand lens. With multigenerational family travel on the rise, the programs specifically cater to the way modern families travel: with any combination of parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents travelling with children of all ages.
“Today’s family travellers are more active, more global and more socially-connected than ever before; and therefore, the way they travel together has changed dramatically,” said Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader, Le Méridien and Westin Hotels & Resorts. “In speaking with our most loyal guests, we know that the new dream vacation – for many – looks like an active adventure, exploring new destinations and experiencing a new culture. We also focused on insights from our single digit travellers, who will define the expectations and inspire what the future of family travel will be, to develop programs for Le Méridien and Westin brands.”
The overarching theme of both brand programs celebrates “the Universal Language of Play:” a concept that connotes that playing knows no borders or language barriers but is a vehicle to explore, learn, develop new skills, express ideas and build relationships with others. Le Méridien channels the inherent creativity and curiosity of children and aims to unlock the destination through the brand’s Filters of Discovery—Coordinates, Culture and Cuisine; while The Westin Family program draws inspiration from nature to promote a sense of well-being: from the physical spaces and interactive programming to signature amenities, including a travel journal and local activity guide, that are offered to children at all of the brand’s hotels and resorts.
Design-Savvy, Eco-Conscious & Culturally-Connected:
Today’s Small Travelers Set a High Bar for Next Gen Kids Clubs
The Westin Family Kids Club is informed by the brand’s Six Pillars of Well-being, featuring dedicated space for children to eat well, play well, feel well, work well, move well and sleep (or nap) well. The thoughtful design of the kids clubs was led by the brand’s biophilic focus, which suggests that a connection to nature enhances well-being. The colours found in nature inspired the playful but sophisticated palette, creating a space that feels youthful and energetic. Meandering pathways guide kids to explore and learn, building on the idea that there are no straight lines in nature; there is also an extension of the brand’s Vertical Garden, which allows kids to experience nature and gardening hands-on. Like Haven, the approach to The Westin Family Kids Club includes thoughtful zoning and elements designed to promote well-being as well as playing, relaxing and achieving.
“Gone are the days that children want to spend time in a space with over-stuffed book shelves, plastic chairs and cartoon character posters plastered on the wall,” said Erin Hoover, Vice President, Global Brand Design, Westin Hotels & Resorts. “Westin has taken special care to create spaces that are both good for the environment and healthy for younger guests. We consciously used responsibly sourced, recycled and low-impact materials with the goal to improve indoor air quality, encourage exposure to natural light and promote outdoor activity.”
Similarly, the design narrative of Le Méridien Family Kids Club stays true to the design principles of the brand; and as such, is the first hotel brand to create its kids clubs with a design inspired by mid-century modernism. The dedicated children’s spaces feature impactful arrival art work, flexible seating and styling elements that playfully mirror the Le Méridien Hub – the brand’s innovative lobby concept that reflects the brand’s creative spirit, inspired by coffeehouses, travel and culture.
“Our guests are creative and curious-minded travellers, and the design and programming at Le Méridien Family Kids Clubs reflects that – creating a framework for our little guests to express their creativity in unexpected ways while also learning about the destination they are visiting,” said Julie Frank, Global Director, Global Brand Design, Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts.
Le Méridien Family Kids Clubs draws inspiration from each hotel’s destination: bringing in a layer of local culture and allusions to iconic locations into the design elements. Complementing the design, family programming continues to deliver on the brand promise to “unlock the destination” with local musical instruments, artful yet playful games and toys. For instance, stylised life-size maps harken to coordinates and travel and encourage kids to note where they are from in the world creating icebreakers and conversation starters. Even the snacks served at the kids club have a level of interaction and embrace exposure to local cuisines and ingredients as an enriching experience.
Families Disconnect to Reconnect:
More Mobile with Less Free Time, Families Value Shared Experiences
Designed through the lens of accomplishment and wonder, The Westin Family program offers a variety of interactive activities that help children of all age groups connect with their environment. Both urban and resort hotels encourage exploration, from crab-hunting at The Westin Blue Bay Resort & Spa in Hainan, China to cooking activities fostered by the brand’s partnership with SuperChefs at The Westin Hilton Head Resort & Spa in South Carolina, U.S.
The family program echoes the Westin mantra that all guests should leave feeling better than when they arrived, not only the adults; though the wellness experiences have proven popular with parents and grandparents as well. “Generation X now loves health and wellness travel too—especially coming out of the 2008 recession and as they age,” Julia Cosgrove, VP and Editor in Chief, AFAR Media. “As one travel advisor put it, it’s all about ‘kale, quinoa, and cardio.’ These travellers want to get away, quickly disconnect, get in shape and bond with family.”
Le Méridien Family aims to ignite the imagination, so that young and old travellers can discover together. For instance, Le Méridien Ra Beach Hotel & Resort in Barcelona offers families of all ages the opportunity to unlock the destination with bicycle tours and photography lessons and access to the brand’s exclusive UNLOCKArt art partners in the area. Many hotels, like Le Méridien Phuket and Le Méridien Monte Carlo, offer experiences like Pétanque and a coffee & cocoa workshop that playfully harken back to the roots of the Parisian-born brand.
Part Playful, Part Educational:
Partners like the LEGO® Group and Imagination Playground Drive Booking Decisions
Earlier in the year, Le Méridien announced a global partnership with the LEGO® Group to offer a welcome amenity to children checking-in to any of its more than 100 hotels and resorts worldwide. Children up to age 12 will be greeted with a LEGO® toy to enjoy during their stay and take home as a keepsake from their travels.
Le Méridien has also engaged Imagination Playground, created by David Rockwell in cooperation with KaBOOM!, whose goal is to create playgrounds that allow children to create, inspire, and imagine. A perfect fit for family-focused hotels like Le Méridien Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Golf Resort & Spa, Imagination Playground encourages kids to be designers, incorporating loose parts play and letting them create their own place space while developing their own narrative.
“More than two-thirds of our guests look at family programming when making hotel booking decisions; and increasingly, they value educational and cultural activities that promote outdoor play,” continued Povinelli. “The goal of our partnerships is to foster togetherness and broaden a child’s perspective of the world. Whether unlocking a destination with Le Méridien or connecting with nature at Westin, we hope to strengthen bonds and create memories among families and our youngest guests that are sure to last.”
Family Focus Groups & SPG Members Survey Inform New Global Family Offer
In partnership with C Space, a customer collaboration agency, Starwood surveyed SPG Members around the world as Westin and Le Méridien brands were developing new family programs. Roughly half of guests surveyed with children are travelling differently now than they were five years ago. They tend to travel further and stay longer. Increasingly cost and space become a factor when making hotel booking decisions.
Anticipating the needs of today’s family travellers, Westin and Le Méridien brands have introduced a global family package, with which all children eat free and have complimentary access to kids clubs; there is a discount offered when booking a second room; and guests have the option to book connecting rooms, based on availability. Westin also offers children a custom Eat Well Menu for Kids, with nutritious and delicious kid-friendly options.
The Future of Family Travel for Westin & Le Méridien
In conjunction with a global rollout to 300 hotels and resorts, the launch of Westin and Le Méridien family programs will include celebrations around the world with family activities, including language lessons, shell-painting, star-gazing and local exploration tours in some of the world’s most exciting destinations from New York to Dubai, and from Panama to Phuket.
Additionally, both brands plan to introduce new kids clubs in markets globally, including in the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Mauritius, and Thailand with more in the pipeline for 2016. Early next year, The Westin Tashee Resort in Taiwan will fete families with the grand opening of the hotel, which will feature the largest Westin Family Kids Club globally.
Source:- Starwood Hotels & Resorts