Rethinking Resort Renovations: The Power of Landscape Design

In keeping with the evolving tastes and needs of today’s contemporary traveler, resorts must keep up with the desire for unique, fresh and authentic experiences. Over the last few years, the hospitality industry has experienced a resurgence in renovations, especially in the Mediterranean, where hoteliers are battling to refresh, revitalise and stay ahead of the competition.

Commercially, it’s often impossible to close a resort for a refurbishment. Realistically, renovations can be phased to take advantage of low seasons, without causing disruption to guests or the day-to-day operations of the property.

Creatively revitalising a resorts’ landscape design allows the client to do more, for less. It reimagines what a site can offer, injects new life into the space and creates a narrative that no other design element can provide. As John Goldwyn, Vice President of WATG, says “Landscape is the most important sensory element of a resort’s design aesthetic. It’s more than just the way it looks or planting a bush here and a tree there, it’s about curating a holistic outdoor experience. You want the guest to leave the resort feeling as if they are living longer and not shorter as a result of their stay.”

“Landscape is the warmth of the early morning sun that touches your face, the smell of lavender as you brush past the flower and the sound of grass gently swaying in the wind.”

Landscape design provides an immediate connection to nature. John explains: “Landscape is the warmth of the early morning sun that touches your face, the smell of lavender as you brush past the flower and the sound of grass gently swaying in the wind.”

WATG has recently completed two renovations on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast: Akra Barut Hotel, Antalya; and Kaya Palazzo Resort, Belek, both projects completed in the space of a few months, with a sharp focus on value and cost. John Goldwyn observes: “As a firm, we craft bespoke designs that speak to the site, client, and guest. We look to what we can provide in that moment, that will add value and longevity overall. We don’t separate the landscape from the resort experience, we think about the design cohesively, looking at ways to blend the landscape seamlessly into the resort, creating an all-encompassing experiential guest journey.”

WATG transformed the Akra Barut Hotel from a primarily urban business hotel into a Mediterranean resort paradise. Situated on a staggeringly beautiful site, the hotel provides guests a direct view of the breath-taking Taurus Mountain range, lapped by jade waters and backed by forest-blanketed slopes. All of the ingredients to create a truly incredible resort.

Leveraging the stunning site and influenced by South Beach, Miami, the elegant infinity pool takes centre stage. John explains: “The reimagined landscape design persuades business guests to extend their stay and invite their family and friends to join them. Mixing business with pleasure, the pool ultimately changes the nature of the hotel.”

The Kaya Palazzo Resort management team wanted to create an elevated offering for their VIP guests. With a large family pool attracting the majority of visitors, the VIP area needed to be an exclusive space where guests can escape, party, and relax. John says “When you move into this space, despite there being an 800-key hotel and a huge family pool just outside, you feel like the most important person in the resort. The area is acoustically screened from the rest of the hotel, and we used sand collected while constructing the pool to create a chic, secluded atmosphere. We added in a pool deck to curate an energetic, beach club, rather than a more formal pool.”

The long-term benefits of a landscape renovation can be far more compelling than simply curating a space that’s aesthetically pleasing. You can face a wide range of regional challenges and environmental concerns. For example; if you have a mosquito problem due to water stagnation, we can plant citronella to naturally counteract this issue. John believes that “Landscape must always have a purpose. It’s more than just eye candy. It’s important that it looks beautiful but it must also convey a story, an underlining purpose.”

The power of renovation doesn’t just lie in providing a memorable guest experience but creating a landscape with a purpose. A successful renovation combines a deep understanding of what the client wants to achieve, a strong narrative and the capability to see through the visual and emotional clutter of the current site to create an exciting new concept. The ultimate goal is upgrading the guest experience and delivering long-term value for the client.