Sleep tourism on the rise: Luxury hotels tap into sleep trends to attract guests

Marwa Grimes

Everyone could benefit from better sleep. But when it comes time to putting good sleep routines into practice, many Americans fall short.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults ages 18 and over should get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night, but more than one in three adults are sleep deprived.

The rest and recovery suite at Hotel Figueroa in Downtown Los Angeles.

Tanveer Badal Photography

“We’ve said before that sleep has a public relations problem in this country,” ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said. “We think of it as a luxury but it’s really a medical necessity.”

The growing wellness-backed trend of sleep tourism, which has been steadily on the rise since the pandemic, is capitalizing on Americans’ lack of sleep and desire to get truly restful night of sleep.

Hotels around the world have added specialty experiences, ranging from $300 to $2,500, designed to provide guests with serene settings, cutting-edge sleep companion technology and send people home with a toolkit to build and maintain better sleep practices at home. From Swedish bed manufacturer Hastens’ first-ever Sleep Spa Hotel in Portugal to the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea — the same tropical oasis that served as the backdrop for “White Lotus” — sleep wellness experiences are established as a leading trend at luxury hotels.

While none of the wellness products offered by these hotels are FDA-approved to improve sleep, the tourism trend is taking off and expected to grow, hospitality experts told “Good Morning America.”

A view overlooking the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.

Four Seasons Resort Maui

For National Sleep Awareness Month, “GMA” spoke to some U.S. properties putting it into practice, as well as medical experts who advised those hotels on the science of sleep and why they are pleasantly surprised to see the hospitality world embrace and amplify the importance of good sleep and its potential health impacts.

Science of sleep and overall health benefits of a better night’s rest

Johns Hopkins and Massachusetts General Hospital-trained internal medicine physician Dr. Fiona Gispen is hopeful that hotels investing in sleep tourism will “make it cool to get good sleep” in the public eye, and help travelers feel firsthand “the importance of the routines [around sleep] and how much easier having a good environment makes it to get good sleep.”

The New York City-based infectious disease fellow focuses on how chronic health behaviors, such as sleep and environment, among other factors, “intersect to create health outcomes.”

“Poor sleep is definitely correlated with metabolic syndrome — that includes obesity, diabetes, overweight, impaired blood sugar,” Gispen said. “Through that, poor sleep can possibly be tied with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, hypertension, coronary disease, and even stroke. And then very correlated with mood disorders, depression, anxiety, and chronic pain in particular. And then also directly correlated with dementia.”

The Loftie lamp and other bedside wellness technology in the Rest and Recovery suite at Hotel Figueroa.

Robbie Ziegler

“The big underlying principle is that you want to align your sleep with your body’s natural circadian rhythm. It’s this internal timekeeping system that we all have and it affects many of our daily processes, including temperature, sleep, stress, hormone production, metabolism,” Gispen said. “We really want our sleep patterns to align with this so that we can optimize the amount of deep sleep we’re getting, the amount of REM sleep we’re getting, and how easy it is to go to bed, and how easy it is to wake up.”

One way to do so, she said, “is to utilize light to kind of help your body align with these natural daylight cycles. It’s really recommended that you go outside and view morning light within the first hour of waking up,” which she added, “helps regulate our circadian rhythm.”

Gispen also serves as a medical advisor for Loftie, a company that makes lamps and alarm clocks that claim to help users create routines that help circadian rhythm. The technology is one of many products used by Hotel Figueroa in the property’s Rest and Recovery suite, outfitted with high-tech wellness items that guests can interact with to see what works best.

Big city sleep: How an iconic Los Angeles hotel has invested in sleep tourism

The historic Spanish Colonial hotel situated in the heart of downtown Los Angeles launched its R&R suite in 2021 as a response to “coronasomnia,” the increase in sleep problems brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, as defined by the National Library of Medicine.

The rest and recovery suite at Hotel Figueroa in Downtown Los Angeles.

Tanveer Badal Photography

Like many hotels during the pandemic considering how to stay afloat, the hotel’s Managing Director Connie Wang recalled “one of the trends we really noticed was that we had guests who were having a hard time separating between work and rest time … that’s when we embraced this idea of sleep tourism.”

The hotel dug into “what impacts bad sleep” to “create an environment to really help people maximize sleep,” Wang told “GMA.” “Since sleep is so individualized,” she said, “the concept behind this rest and recovery suite was a way for people to come and explore on their own what’s working for them” by testing out different products and maximize the experience, rather than doing the research legwork and purchasing own their own.”

Guests who book the suite, which costs $650 per night, receive a pre-visit survey to share sleep preferences so that a customized Pluto Pillow is ready upon arrival and can later be brought home. The suite boasts a bevy of other high-end products including air filters, enhanced lighting and customizable mattresses.

The room is outfitted with Molekule air purifiers, Bollsen Life+ Earplugs to minimize noise pollution, an intelligent Eight Sleep mattress to ensure optimal sleep temperature, a Loftie Lamp to wake up to a personal sunrise with dawn simulation features gradual light disappearance, and wellness morning routine items such as FORME in-room fitness. Hotel Fig is also the first U.S. hotel to carry Swedish-made Happy Ears Eco-friendly Earplugs. Plus, all hotel guests have complimentary access to Headspace to help them relax, whether they’ve booked the rest and recovery suite or not.

“We wanted to make sure that each of the brands that we chose really aligned with the ethos of the hotel. A lot of these brands are founded by women,” Wang said, adding that they sampled every product before adding it to the suite.

“We’re in a stage right now where people are really finally realizing how fundamental and important sleep is. The plethora of different products that are out there for us to explore is amazing — it’s been fun to curate some of the top hits,” she added.

A desert oasis dedicated to restfulness

An hour north of Phoenix, tucked away in the Bradshaw Mountains and the heart of the Sonoran desert, Arizona’s luxury desert oasis Castle is on a mission to revive, reset, and reboot travelers through a series of sleep retreats.

Guests enjoy the geothermal waters at Castle Hot Springs in Arizona.

Castle Hot Springs

“As a boutique property with a lower capacity, guests may receive more direct interactions about sleep,” Castle Hot Springs wellness curator Colleen Inman told “GMA” of the retreats, which give visitors a way to “quietly and intimately” address personal sleep goals.

The three-night sleep retreats, led by sleep researcher and author Dr. Rebecca Robbins, are designed for guests to jumpstart a healthy sleep routine through immersion in the surrounding nature on the 1,100-acre property.

Dr. Robbins guides guests through discussions, strategies, meditations, and centering activities such as circadian-boosting yoga, morning canyon hikes, and soaks in thermal hot springs, all of which encourage guests to disconnect from everyday stresses and nourish the mind and body with a goal to ultimately boost better sleep forming habits.

The geothermal pools at Castle Hot Springs in Arizona.

Castle Hot Springs

“Guests may feel rested after pampering almost anywhere, yet it is the foundational layer of being immersed in a living desert that is our difference,” Inman said.

As for any plans to update the sleep and wellness offerings, Inman said, “We have a few ideas in the works and are keeping a close eye on what works best for our guests.”

“The most overwhelmingly positive feedback has been about more extended stays. Many have reported significant restoration in their sleep cycles throughout their stay and a noticeable improvement in feelings of well-being,” she said of the guest feedback to date.

The property also offers four-night yoga and wellness retreats for guests of all levels with a customizable itinerary that’s timed to elemental themes of awakening in the spring and turning inward in the fall.

A Serenity Suite in Southern California

The ocean-side Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows in Santa Monica came up with the serenity suite for guests “who have a tough time finding quality sleep after time-zone changes and other sensitivities,” Director of Hotel Operations Julien Labays told “GMA.”

With the property’s prime real estate situated across the street from the Pacific Ocean, all guests can enjoy unwinding to sounds of crashing waves and taking in the sea air with a selection of wellness experiences. But chief among the hotel’s highlights is the opportunity to discover one’s best sleep in the spacious 800-square-foot Serenity Suite full of amenities that encourage guests to pause, reset, and unwind.

The Palisades bedroom where guests can enjoy a serenity suite at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows.

Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows

“Sleep is a primary pillar of wellness which aligns well with our core-business of putting heads in beds,” he continued. “A good night’s rest is the basis for more present and productive day to enjoy all the Santa Monica has to offer.”

The $1,500-per-night-sleep suite experience includes: a Bryte Balance Smart Mattress designed for a restorative sleep experience; in-suite fitness and meditation classes on the Lululemon Studio Mirror, medicine balls, yoga mat and weights; a complimentary in-person Exhale Spa fitness or yoga class, Molekule air purification system, hypoallergenic pillows and down duvets; locally sourced Zen Girl aromatherapy bath and body products; special in-room wellness dining menu and mini-bar stocked with plant-based snacks, organic drinks, wellness shots, and teas.

A view of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica from the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows.

Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows

“We have received overwhelming positive reviews, every time a guest is able to experience the serenity suite they will request it each time they return to the Fairmont Miramar. We are expanding the program to 10 more rooms throughout the hotel in an effort to keep up with the demand,” Labayas said.

White glove wellness in a real-life ‘White Lotus’ resort

Maui’s world-renowned five-star luxury resort, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea created a first-of-its-kind white glove wellness offering in collaboration with Next Health.

Patricia Makozak, the resort’s Senior Spa Director, told “GMA” that the prevalence of “sleeplessness” was a catalyst for providing a menu of options to combat the way lack of sleep can “impact quality of life, daily energy function, and one’s overall wellbeing.”

“The best time to rest and restore is on vacation,” she said, which is why they felt it was important to offer services “that assist our guests in reaching a restful night’s sleep.”

A guest receives a Next Health IV treatment at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.

Four Seasons Resort Maui

Dr. Darshan Shah, CEO and Medical Director of Next Health who worked closely with Four Seasons on the services offered, said, “Sleep is really the main way your body restores itself after performing millions of functions throughout the day.”

“When your body systems do not get a chance to recover due to a lack of quality sleep, you can compromise your immunity, energy, mental clarity, and ultimately your longevity if left unaddressed,” he added.

Practical ways to improve your sleep at home

You don’t need an expensive getaway to make gains on your sleep habits, sleep experts say.

You can also improve sleep with practical tips including committing to a pre-bedtime routine to get your body prepared for sleep — such as staying off your phone, taking a bath, reading, drinking tea or meditating.

ABC News medical correspondent Dr. Darien Sutton previously explained that focusing on what you do throughout the day can impact sleep, as backed by recommendations from the CDC.

Dr. Sutton suggests getting your body moving for 30 minutes, ensuring wake times and sleep times are the same from the week and weekend, making your sure your room is calm and quiet, moving your phone as far away from your bed as possible, and avoid eating large meals or consuming caffeine and alcohol before bed.

Next Post

U.S. Hotel Real Estate Sale Trends

The recenty sold Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk Hotel    Only the Midwest, South Atlantic, and West South-Central regions posted moderate single-digit hotel-price gains in the first quarter 2024 (Midwest, 3.2%; South Atlantic, 3.8%; and West South-Central, 1.6%). Hotels in gateway cities experienced […]

You May Like