The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the world and how people go about their daily lives. For starters, the act of washing one’s hands has become more important than ever as good personal hygiene is often touted as the best deterrent against the virus. Besides helping boost the sales of disinfectant products, growing awareness about the importance of hygiene has also accelerated the shift in the definition of wellness in the hospitality industry. Besides the usual spa sessions, healthy meals and fitness activities, hygiene is now also firmly considered part of the wellness agenda. One person who can attest to this shift is Ivy Almario, President and Co-founder of Atelier Almario, a renowned interior design studio in the Philippines that caters to high-end hospitality clients. Almario, who was among the speakers at the American Standard Design Catalyst L!VE webinar on March 23, noted that the pandemic has stimulated greater demand, especially in the hospitality sector, for touchless technology, rimless technology, and antibacterial technology as they are perceived to be more hygienic than conventional options.
Her claim is backed by research and observations by industry players. “Antimicrobial materials are essential for any wellness space. We are now seeing an emphasis on cork, copper, brass and bronze, all of which are materials that contain antimicrobial properties, in hotels,” said Hayley Mitchell, the Director of interior architecture and design studio Mitchell and Eades, who also attended the webinar. In a customer survey by European sanitary company Hansa, the majority of respondents said they expected public premises they visit to have touchless faucets. Half of those surveyed expressed an interest in having a touchless faucet at home. The Home Trend report by US home remodeling platform Fixr showed similar findings – 50 percent of design experts polled said they expected to see touchless bathroom fixtures become more popular. James Walsh, Vice President of Product Marketing at American Standard, was also quoted that the company had seen a whopping 128 percent increase in searches for hands-free products on the company’s website. But having such capabilities alone will not be enough for hotels to win guests over.
Almario pointed out that hygiene products must also be “beautifully designed and calibrated to universal ergonomics”. The true measure of a hotel bathroom’s wellness level, she suggested, is whether guests love these hygiene products so much that they develop a desire to own them. In this vein, Almario expects to see hotel bathrooms become “experience centers” for the latest sanitary innovations as hoteliers strive to incorporate hygiene into their wellness offerings and impress their guests. Major sanitary companies like LIXIL are already well-positioned to capitalize on this. Besides its award-winning touchless faucet Navish, LIXIL also offers other types of innovative bathroom products through its portfolio of brands that include American Standard and GROHE. Take for example the American Standard HygieneClean System, which offers multi-dimensional protection against germs and bacteria through the combination of its cutting-edge Double Vortex flushing system as well as Aqua Ceramic and ComfortClean solutions. Unlike regular toilets, HygieneClean’s flushing system generates not one but two powerful whirlpools that thoroughly cleanse the surface of the bowl. This cleansing action is also aided by Aqua Ceramic, a smooth, stain repellent surface that allows waste to be easily removed by water. The use of ComfortClean, a ceramic glaze coated with zinc oxide, in the HygieneClean system eliminates E. coli and prevents bacteria, mold and mildew build-up. Satoshi Konagai, Leader of LIXIL Water Technology, Asia Pacific, pointed out during the American Standard Design Catalyst L!VE webinar that innovative hygiene solutions could benefit more than just hotels and their guests – developers also stand to gain as properties equipped with such products would be more valuable.
He noted that the growing demand for sophisticated hygiene products should spur players in the sanitary industry to up their game and focus more on innovation. Indeed, one of the key goals of the company now, he revealed, is to offer solutions that turn the bathroom into an inviting, intimate space where people can relax and recharge. The prospect of seeing even greater innovation within the sanitary industry is certainly something to be excited about as this suggests that the bathroom, which many people still view as nothing more than a place to relieve themselves and bathe, could very well be headed for a stunning transformation in the years to come. Home spa, anyone?