Boundaries have been blurring between indoor and outdoor spaces for some time. The introduction of Biophilic design elements within interiors, such as greenery walls, natural lighting and nature-scapes, has been integrated purposefully and successfully. While the effectiveness is evident, this trend does not negate the effects of experiencing the outdoors first-hand.
In recent years, numerous experimental psychology studies have confirmed that direct contact with nature has therapeutic qualities that increase mental health and psychological and spiritual development. The effects of spending time in nature show reduction in stress, a sense of coherence and belonging, improved self-confidence and self-discipline, and a broader sense of community. Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature, explains it like this, “Nature is fuel for the soul… Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.”
Forward-thinking hoteliers have come to the realization that in order to fully immerse guests with a sense of experience, where they can disconnect, un-stress and realign, there needs to be a component of the outdoors. More and more hotels are adding shared outdoor living spaces, including outdoor lounges, rooftop retreats and courtyards, which assimilate the restorative properties of nature.
Beyond the properties of nature, is the dressing of the environment itself. As the “jewelry” of the space, furniture acts as the physical connection point for guests within a space that is highly sensory. Offering unique, yet practical, seating options engages curiosity while encouraging relaxation. When effective, this strengthens the bond from guest to hotel brand.
Outdoor spaces are an extension of a hotel’s interior. By offering a well-designed outdoor experience with opportunities for relaxation, a destination is created that affords guests what they need most- to disconnect and renew. Taking advantage of the natural qualities offered by the outdoors goes a long way in enhancing the over-all experience.