Covid Consequences and a Newly Expanded Website
Updated: Jun 4, 2020
As discussed in our last blog (Santiago's Rebirth, Coronavirus, and Connection), COVID-19 has delayed our funding and thus pushed our planned opening date to late 2022. In a situation that Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson has described as worse for the hospitality industry than the 9/11 and 2008 crisis combined, we have considered how the project fits within a future “new normal” for travelers.
The key question is how hospitality demand will shift as we (slowly) emerge from this crisis. In our view, traveler interests will permanently change because of COVID-19, just as airport and building security is still impacted by 9/11. We believe travelers will search out environments where they can be “separate but together” (e.g., not packed into hallways and elevators), and increasingly desire natural environments that avoid “germ-ports” and are driveable.
Interests related to COVID-related challenges, like immunity wellness, quarantine therapy, purpose building, hygiene best practices, and respiratory wellness, will become more important. We also see work paradigms changing as people travel less for business (welcome to a Zoom world), resulting in demand for solo sabbaticals (from knowledge workers that just need to get out of their house) and innovation retreats (for businesses that meet less often, but still need periodic group interaction).
Wellness resorts are uniquely qualified to provide leadership in these emerging areas. Experiences related to forest bathing, breathwork, somatic healing, and work-mind/body coaching are directly beneficial to the needs expressed above. Beyond those, helping guests understand the role and integration of super foods, antiviral supplements, essential oils, and aromatherapy into our lifestyle is critical.
Our resort concept specifically is well positioned to address post-COVID traveler needs. The rural setting is not only accessible to the greater DC market, but also fully committed to providing a deep experience with nature. A BBC Article (Coronavirus Lockdown: Can Nature Improve our Mood? – 5/3/20) provides evidence from a July 2019 ScienceAdvances Journal article that “connecting with nature can help us feel happier and more energized, with an increased sense of meaning and purpose, as well as making tasks seem more manageable.”
Since we know that investment always follows demand, we have also examined what the banks and consultancies are saying about “winners and losers” in this new normal. Deutsche Bank recently published that of all the hotel segments “…select service hotels and certain resort markets (including more under the radar ones) will likely see a stronger and more even recovery beginning in 2021.”
Hospitality offerings that rely on long air travel, dense urban locations, or group business will take a lot longer to recover. A respected hospitality consultancy, HVS, published a report (The Impact of COVID-19 on Hotel Values - 5/10/20) suggesting properties within drive-to markets that are rural and resort-based are part of the “Least Vulnerable” as we endure this crisis.
So, after considering our personal situations and financial risk, as well as all the previous assumptions made about this project, we come back to what I wrote in the aforementioned blog:
“While it might take longer or end up being a little different than our initial plans, we choose to consider this a rebirthing of our potential and are more aligned with this project than ever before. We will not quit until we have created a beautiful, nature-based sanctuary for guests to heal, recharge and self-actualize progressively throughout their life, such that they ultimately connect to their noble purpose and better serve the world.”
To illustrate our efforts moving the project forward, we wanted to share additional detail through a newly expanded website that introduces our team and shares updates on our architecture, design, and community initiatives.
To a healthier and safe future, Best wishes, Mike