Rising power of sleep tourism emphasizes rest, wellness

By Mike Heuer
Former Missouri Governor Bob Holden cuts a red ribbon on a Heavenly Bed during a hotel grand opening in St. Louis. The Heavenly Bed was used exclusively in Westin Hotels and consists of a mattress with more than 900 individual coils to promote better sleep. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Former Missouri Governor Bob Holden cuts a red ribbon on a Heavenly Bed during a hotel grand opening in St. Louis. The Heavenly Bed was used exclusively in Westin Hotels and consists of a mattress with more than 900 individual coils to promote better sleep. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

April 4 (UPI) -- Hotel quality no longer means having the best restaurants, views and destinations, although they certainly do help.

A rising trend in the travel industry involves one of the most basic but essential things do every day -- sleep. The greater the ability to sleep, the more people enjoy their stay, which is giving rise to sleep tourism.


Many people find it exhausting to travel, especially when flying across several time zones to arrive at a travel destination. A combination of travel exhaustion and jet lag greatly interferes with the ability to get a good night's sleep.

Hotels commonly offer amenities aimed at helping guests sleep better, including blackout shades, sleep masks and comfortable pillows. Many hotels even provide a pillow menu from which guests can choose their ideal pillow.

Sleep tourism doesn't mean travelers go to a particular location just to sleep throughout the majority of their stay. It means travelers are paying more attention to sleep quality and choosing the hotels and other lodgings that enable them to sleep well.


They also might choose hotels that offer special sleep accommodations dedicated to enhancing guests' ability to sleep well.

Examples cited by CNN Travel include:

  • Park Hyatt New York's 900-square-foot Bryte Restorative Sleep Suite
  • Rosewood Hotels & Resorts' Alchemy of Sleep retreats
  • Zedwell Hotel in London with specially soundproofed rooms
  • Hastens Sleep Spa Hotel in Coimbra, Portugal
  • Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea (Hawaii)

"Guests are increasingly valuing sleeping when they're traveling and getting a good night's rest on the road," Harvard university sleep scientist Rebecca Robbins told Fortune. "Gone are the days of traveling and coming home exhausted."

Robbins said more travelers are embracing the notion of resting while traveling, so they can be more mentally alert and aware while experiencing new things. Instead of being exhausted from their travels, they return home feeling rested and excited about their recent travels.

Slow travel growing in popularity

An $814 billion global wellness tourism industry enables travelers to enjoy "slow travel," which in turn enables them to relax and focus on wellness instead of spending every waking moment on the go.

A recent survey commissioned by premium travel goods maker Carl Friedrik shows 94% of the 1,095 Americans surveyed said they want to experience slow travel and identified Italy, Spain and Germany as the locales that most support slow travel.


More than half of those surveyed by Friedrik said vacations are stressful, and 90% of survey respondents said they prefer traveling to relatively quiet destinations where they can enjoy nature instead of spending time shopping or lounging poolside.

Unlike a stay on the Las Vegas Strip, slow travel enables people to take their time, enjoy their stay and rest between sightseeing and taking part in different types of recreation. Enjoying local food and drinks that help travelers to experience local culture followed by a good night's sleep is a big part of slow travel.

The desire for slow travel and sleep tourism is strong across all age groups, including Gen Z travelers.

About 95% of those surveyed among Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X age groups said they found slow travel and sleep tourism appealing. So did 85% of Baby Boomers.

Another recent survey of 600 travelers showed only a third said they were satisfied with their ability to sleep while traveling, Robbins said. Those who slept well were more likely to return to the same hotel in the future.

Instead of focusing on restaurants and nightlife, Robbins said hotels would do well to pay more attention to how well guests can sleep and enable them to rest while on the road.


Good night's sleep is good for business

As more hotels and hotel chains embrace sleep tourism, they are finding guests are willing to pay extra when they know they can sleep well and relax during their stay.

Luxury hotels supporting sleep tourism often charge between $300 and $2,500 per night to stay in rooms and suites with special amenities aimed at enabling greater relaxation while making it easier for guests to sleep, ABC News reported.

Satisfying guests' desire to sleep, rest and relax while at the hotel is making sleep tourism a leading trend among luxury hotels.

The Belmond Hotel in London created a sleep concierge position that helps cater to guests' sleep needs.

CNN says the service includes meditation recordings designed to induce sleep, a pillow menu that supports back sleepers and side sleepers and options for weighted blankets. Guests also could choose a special tea for bedtime and a scented mist on their pillows.

Whatever helps people sleep better, the Belmond Hotel's sleep concierge tries to provide. So do the Rocco Forte Hotels, which recently had its Mayfair, London, location begin offering a two-night "Forte winks" travel packed aimed at helping guests sleep serenely.

"Sleep is so important and we noticed there was a trend in sleep tourism happening, and wellness in general after lockdowns and COVID," Daniela Moore, senior group PR manager for Rocco Forte Hotels, told CNN Travel.


Technology increasingly is becoming a big part of the sleep tourism boom that is projected to grow by more than $126 billion from 2022 to 2027, according to Friedrik.

Artificial intelligence and smart beds make it possible for technology to make subtle adjustments to support more restful sleep among guests.

Such a smart bed can automatically adjust to ease pressure points and provide soothing motions, Essence reported. The bed also adjusts its firmness to adapt to and support different stages of sleep that people commonly experience.

Automatic light dimming, smart thermostats that automatically adjust room temperature and essential oils that induce sleep are a few of the many technologies used to help people rest more thoroughly and satisfyingly while engaged in sleep tourism.

Satin sleep masks, blackout curtains and book collections instead of televisions also help encourage a good night's slumber while traveling.

They also help create repeat customers for hotels and other lodgings that support the growing sleep tourism industry.

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