How Innovation In Scent Is Supplementing Luxury Travel Experiences
Many elements tie into travel but perhaps none as dominant as that of scent. Currently there is a growing trend around that of luxury hotels and various exclusive travel points along one’s destination with that of scent to create an enchanting, opulent experience.
“Our sense of smell is our most powerful sense that we possess,” explains Sue Phillips, scent expert and head of Scenterprises, a company that not only advises the hospitality industry on the fine art of fragrance but also develops bespoke perfumes for discerning clientele. “Scent triggers memories and recall more than any of our other senses, which is why many five-star hotels are expanding fragrance initiatives as a way to ‘scent-brand’ their properties.”
Indeed, the task is not an easy one. The intent is to offer fragrances that are neither too feminine nor too masculine, and certainly not too strong. Phillips says that woodsy fragrances appeal to both men and women and that they are solid choices because the creamy, warm sandalwood notes remind visitors of the comfort of home.
But certainly, the trend is to custom-tailor the scent to match the hotel's demographic. Phillips adds, “Strawberries are trending right now, for example, but smart luxury hotels will consult with a professional who will customize it and create a strawberry-based fragrance specifically for their property”.
Indeed, ScentAir is one of the top consulting companies in the field and has worked with such companies as Mandalay Bay for a number of years to provide such fragrance products.
“ScentAir worked closely with the Mandalay Bay team to create their signature Coconut Spice a scent that fits the highly thematic brand experience,” explains Edward Burke, VP Customer Strategy & Communications. Burke says that a number of different directions were presented before settling on the current one that wafts through the resort.
“Let’s face it, our mood when we arrive to hotels is often shaped by the hours or days of travel that led up to that moment,” Burke explains. “So it is critical for a hotel operator to deliver a great first impression. Since our sense of smell is our most powerful sense in terms of emotion and memory, you are more likely to have a more pleasant experience and to remember it longer and more vividly with the right scent attached.”
However, some guests fall in love with scents while traveling so much that they want to bring the experience back home with them. Surprisingly, a lot of resorts do not have their fragrance readily available to their guests in take-home scented products. That’s where AromaRetail.com comes in. The company started out providing retail products to resorts either directly or through the service providers of the resorts’ environmental scenting. Now the fragrances that are used at resorts around the world are available to everyone at AromaRetail.com. And the response has been overwhelming. Most of these inquiries come from guests who have visited resorts in Las Vegas. This is not surprising since the resorts in Las Vegas are some of the largest and most luxurious in the world and cover much larger areas with a lot of fragrance, primarily to keep those casinos fresh in spite of all the high traffic.
AromaRetail.com sells candles, room sprays and reed diffusers using fragrances that are used at close to 100 resorts. Just in case you are wondering, the following the top ten most requested fragrances:
1. Bright Sunshine, used at all the Loews Hotels.
2. Blue Ice, used at MGM’s Bellagio.
3. Asian Lilly, used at Wynn Resorts.
4. Allure Noir, used at The Cromwell.
5. Desert Breeze used at The Cosmopolitan Resort.
6. Pink Grapefruit, used at Aria at City Center.
7. Arancia, used at The Venetian and Palazzo.
8. Volupta, used at The Signature at MGM Grand.
9. Kai Jasmine, used at Park Hyatt Aviara.
10. The Leaf Spring, used at London Marriott Grosvenor Square.
But the trend is not limited to hotels. Burke divulges that airlines are now incorporating fragrance into member-only lounge areas to create a more relaxing, luxurious environment. Many of the designer stores and shops that a traveler visits within the airport may also begin to welcome visitors with a new, signature scent.
A unique approach to scent is taken by the new luxury property in Philadelphia called AKA University City. This multi-faceted luxury property in Philadelphia which includes both a luxury hotel section as well as a luxury extended stay section is the latest location in the brand’s special accommodation offering. The brand is known for providing luxurious, temporary stay for celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Hart while shooting on location, to those experiencing extended care needs for healthcare, to those simply seeking a luxury experience for a few nights in an environment that is more discreet than that of standard high-end hotels in such cities as Philadelphia; Los Angeles; Washington, DC; and London, England.
“We feel that scent is key to the experience that we provide at AKA,” explains president and CEO, Larry Korman. My wife was one of the first aromatherapists in Philadelphia, and our company has been integrating scent into our properties for 25 years. We use only pure essential oils, and we change them periodically. Currently, we are using a cinnamon, orange, and tea tree blend.” AKA actually uses authentic diffusers rather than infusing the scent via the building’s ventilation system. “We’re about providing calm via a multi-tiered experience. And scent is absolutely key to achieving that goal.”
In addition, the fragrance trend is not limited to U.S. domestic venues. For example, Hidden House on Croatia’s ultra-exclusive island of Hvar is now incorporating scent into each of its luxury guest houses using island’s famed lavender to scent every room. In addition, in Bulgaria nearly every hotel uses rose petals and rose water for scenting now.
But the king of hotel fragrance is The Ritz Paris. With its hypnotic, amber-based, proprietary scent that greets each guest the nano-second one enters the building, the brand and fragrance are massively intertwined. Years ago, the president and the General Manager at The Ritz Paris at that time conducted exhaustive research and testing to develop what would become the brand’s signature luxury scent.
For over 20 years, the fragrance has been present though not many working at The Ritz seem to know much about how and why the composition of the scent arose. However, what is widely acknowledged is that customers connect deeply with the fragrance. A spokesperson for the Ritz said that when the hotel re-opened after its lengthy, recent renovations, people commented en masse that they were extremely happy to smell the fragrance again as the scent is synonymous with The Ritz.
For the first time this year, fans are now able to purchase the home fragrance via the hotel’s website. Prior to that time, it was only available at the hotel’s concept store. It can be found nowhere else in the world.
Given the evocative nature of scent, the growing trend of bespoke fragrances specifically intended to deepen a luxury travel experience is going to become an enticing component of journeys that will be hard to forget.
Images: The Ritz, Vincent Leroux
Images: AKA, Jeffrey Totaro