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Hotels are turning rooftops into guest experiences

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Guest experience is at the heart of the hospitality industry, and there’s no better place to deliver an experience than on the rooftop.

As part of a series, Hotel News Now asked hoteliers how they’ve invested in rooftop spaces – including pools, gardens and bars – to generate revenue and wow guests.

Alaia Belize’s rooftop suspended pool, Autograph Collection, impresses guests upon entering the breezeway, as it is visible from below through its partially glass bottom.

“The developer was smart in that they didn’t just make it a pool, but they made it a destination,” said Sandra Grisham, general manager of Alaia Belize Autograph Collection. “When you’re on our roof, you see things you wouldn’t normally see unless you’re on an airplane.”

Peter Banks, general manager of the independent luxury hotel Rudding Park in Harrogate, Yorkshire, England, said his rooftop spa garden was designed as a series of “outdoor rooms”, with a view to customer relaxation. He added that the garden is built to last and intended to help the property’s revenue streams.

“We have 50% of the roof surface covered with beds, with earth up to 800 [millimeters] deeply about them. This allowed us to plant beech hedges all the way around the roof as a privacy screen and windbreak, and allowed us to plant trees like silver birch, as well as many tall grasses and other plants attractive,” he said.

Andrew Jay, general manager of Mama Shelter Los Angeles, said demand in the first months of 2022 was at or above 2019 levels, and he expects the rest of the year to follow. While this popularity is great for revenue, it also creates an obligation for the rooftop bar staff.

“I think part of the challenge you have when you’re on a rooftop is how do you give people an experience that’s really worth seeing,” he said. “A lot of homeowners think the view alone is enough, and I never thought it was enough. You actually had to have well-prepared drinks.

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