Written by Will Shorrocks, Creative Director at Delight on 16th Nov 2017
Beyond the usual material trappings and objects of desire, is there anything quite as seductive as the thought of your next holiday destination? Travel, adventure, escape, romance, relaxation… time for yourself and your loved ones. It really is the stuff that dreams are made of.
Now that ‘Luxury’, ‘Boutique’ and ‘Lifestyle’ have become the bywords for a richer, more fulfilling holiday experience, it’s all too easy for them to get over-used and lose their original meaning. The words themselves are not enough to carry weight, and many boutique and luxury hotel websites fall short of communicating their experience on offer with any real emotion, value or substance.
Browsing through glossy Sunday supplements and travel sites in an endless carousel of enticing images, when finally clicking through to the hotel website we often feel disappointed in what we find:
Your hotel may well offer unparalleled hospitality, unique style, all in a stunning location and exceptional customer ratings, but with your website as your shop window to the world, none of that’s going to matter if people don’t like what they see from the high street!
To provide some inspiration, I’ve pulled together five examples of hotels that do a fantastic job of channeling the heart of their brand into their website.
Providing a great source of inspiration White Line Hotels describe themselves as:
‘A tightly edited collection of style hotels, boutique retreats & design hubs that creatively flirt with crafted luxury & chilled lifestyle’.
The collection is aimed at world-weary, well-heeled nomads drawn to an eclectic mix of nature, design, food, cultural and off the beaten track luxury travel experiences.
Exploring the site we are taken on a journey through our senses, describing the individual character of each hotel in rich detail to mirror the sensory experience we’d hope to find by actually being there.
It’s the quality of photography, richness of language and unique design details that bring this to life, in stark contrast to many other hotel collection sites.
If you are looking for an example of absolute luxury, the One & Only describe themselves as:
‘The world’s most spectacular resorts in the world’s most exotic destinations’.
Quite a statement to make, but they certainly deliver it through the design of their website.
When you arrive at a homepage, you are met with stylish black and white photography featuring the supermodel Christy Turlington.
It gives more of the feeling of a high fashion editorial piece than the usual neatly folded beds, swimming pool and booking engine.
As the name would imply, One & Only hotels’ aim is to be the very best, in the most prestigious locations. Clearly targeting a high net worth customer looking for an easy balance of luxury, style, and exclusivity.
That said, you don’t always need to be a global five-star hotel brand to exude elegance and charm.
5 bedroom bed and breakfast Saint Sauveur in Saint-Thibéry describe themselves as:
‘A family home, reflecting both the joy of life and peaceful calm’.
The website’s photography really brings to life the tastefully rustic interior design and details of the 17th-century house, showing authentic warmth and local character, while the design and layout provide the website’s sophisticated elegance.
Offering a welcome cosy bolthole to couples and families alike, looking for a relaxing break in their tour of the many hidden treasures of the region.
If splashing out on a glamorous NYC city break is more your style, look no further than The Mark who describe themselves as:
‘New York’s most boldly lavish hotel’.
It’s all about big, brash and bold, pure indulgence. A place to act out all your Sex and The City fantasies, max out your credit card and behave disgracefully. The website rocks Madison Avenue swagger with Manhattan style in every detail.
Casually drawn illustrations and sumptuous photography describe the hotel’s story while boasting their Big Apple credentials: Jacques Grange interior design, food by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Frédéric Fekkai’s hair salon and even a John Lobb shoeshine.
In popular destinations, not every hotel can boast the perfect location. The JW Marriott Venice is located on an island, Isola delle Rose in the Venetian lagoon, well away from the main thoroughfare. While Venice is a dream destination for many, some people are put off by the city’s reputation for being hot and overcrowded.
The JW Marriott Venice make the most of this by highlighting the positives of their location. When your mode of transport for dipping in and out of the tourist hotspots only takes minutes in glamorous Riva boat and you can be back in time for sundowners by the pool, what’s not to like?
By communicating its wealth of luxury restaurants, bars, facilities and activities, the JW Marriott Venice’s website does a fantastic job of describing a holiday within a Venice holiday. Making it the perfect experience for anyone looking for relaxation as well as cultural stimulus. Why would you choose to stay anywhere else in Venice?
Looking at any of these five examples, what shines through is that at the heart of every luxury brand is a story. The key to developing a strong brand is by establishing what makes your hotel unique and special, then threading that into every aspect of the experience – seamlessly communicate your personality, style and values in everything you do; from the bed linen to the service at the front desk, the interior design to food in the restaurant, your brand identity to your website, social media and PR strategy. All singing from the same song sheet.
This is not just about making your business look good, it’s about making your business and website perform well. It’s often said design should follow function, and making sure that your customers are able to effectively navigate and understand your website is of utmost importance.
Working with a branding agency may seem like a considerable investment, but it’s this kind of joined-up thinking that will provide you not only a vision for your business but more bookings and customers.
PS: If it’s just a nice looking booking engine you’re looking for, take a look at Castel Fragsburg which is beautifully integrated into the overall aesthetic of website. Wonder how that happened? 😉
Delight are a London-based branding agency working exclusively with lifestyle brands to produce highly crafted work informed by a strong strategic process and rich emotional narratives. Founded in 2014 by Daniel Shaw and Will Shorrocks while holidaying in the Cote d’Azure, Delight has since developed a reputation for beautifully crafted, brand lead work across a variety of lifestyle sectors, with a strong international client base.