In an increasingly interconnected world, the concept of travel has evolved beyond individual trips or a shared experience for immediate family members. The rise of multigenerational travel, where multiple generations of a family embark on journeys together, has become a growing trend in the hospitality industry. This paradigm shift presents architects and designers with a unique challenge: to create spaces that cater to the diverse needs and preferences of travellers spanning various age groups. Designing for multigenerational travel requires a thoughtful, inclusive approach that harmoniously integrates comfort, functionality, and aesthetics to ensure a memorable experience for every member of the group.
Multigenerational travel, characterised by the participation of grandparents, parents, and children in a single journey, has grown in popularity for several reasons. Changing demographics, longer life expectancies, and an emphasis on shared experiences have all contributed to the appeal of travelling as an extended family. This shift demands a shift from conventional design principles that may not adequately accommodate the differing requirements of this diverse group of travellers. Moreover, when creating inclusive spaces for multigenerational groups, it is crucial to smoothly weave together all the practical needs of different age groups without compromising on design aesthetics. Desert Resort, Empty quarter, Saudi Arabia
First and foremost, designing with accessibility in mind is paramount. This is crucial for all age groups, especially for older generations, when considering mobility restrictions and then also accessibility for parents travelling with infants and their large equipment such as strollers and bassinets. As such, architects can consider integrating ramps, elevators, and wide corridors throughout their hospitality designs to ensure easy mobility and widespread accessibility for any and all individuals with mobility challenges while on holiday. Similarly, spacious and thoughtfully-designed rooms such as bathrooms- with grab bars and slip-resistant flooring- enhance safety and overall comfort. By also prioritising safety features alongside accessibility solutions like this, and also features such as well-lit areas, and clear signage, design can go a long way in promoting a sense of security among all family members.
Another essential aspect of multigenerational design is also providing flexible spaces that can be adapted to different functions. Access to multi-purpose areas allows families to engage in a variety of activities, such as group meals, games, or relaxation, fostering interaction among generations. By incorporating open-plan designs, architects and designs are encouraging fluid movement and visual connectivity, enabling family members to interact seamlessly even while engaging in different activities. Moreover, while communal spaces are crucial for interaction, private retreats offer respite and privacy. Designing rooms or areas that can be partitioned off allows family members to have personal space when needed, maintaining harmony during the trip.
All of the above factors contribute to the creation of a hospitality project that is universally designed. Employing universal design principles involves creating spaces that are user-friendly for all ages, eliminating barriers that hinder the elderly or children. Leveraging this approach ensures that the environment is intuitive and accommodating for everyone. To learn more about the hot topic and how RMJM is working to incorporate universal inclusivity into our projects, you can read our recent article on it: Universal Design in Contemporary Architecture.Cape Yamu Luxury Residential Villas & Boutique Hotel, Phuket, Thailand
Intergenerational Engagement through Design:
However, a successful multigenerational hospitality design goes beyond practical considerations. It seeks to foster intergenerational engagement, allowing family members to connect, communicate, share experiences and mutual enrichment. Historically, traditional family structures often led to more frequent interactions between generations. However, modern lifestyles, urbanisation, and shifts in family dynamics have altered these patterns. It is within this context that architectural design has the power to reintroduce and reinforce intergenerational bonds.:
Interactive installations, such as art installations, touchscreen displays, or augmented reality experiences, provide opportunities for family members to engage and learn together. Further, collaborating with community organisations to host events, workshops, or classes can facilitate deeper connections amongst multigenerational tourist groups as they learn about local culture, cuisine and history together. Architectural spaces can be designed to accommodate these activities seamlessly, encouraging participation from individuals of all ages. Well-designed lounges, communal kitchens, gardens, or rooftop terraces can serve as natural meeting points where individuals of all ages converge and engage in casual conversations.
The integration of nature is another design element that has been proven to facilitate such interactions. By incorporating natural elements, such as indoor plants, green walls, or outdoor gardens, it provides a serene backdrop for intergenerational gatherings in familiar yet foreign environments. Nature has a universal appeal that can foster a sense of calm and unity among different age groups. Alongside this, design continuity throughout the space helps create a sense of unity among generations. Using colour palettes, materials, and design motifs that resonate with multiple age groups establishes a harmonious ambience.
Designing for multigenerational travel requires a delicate balance between aesthetics, functionality, and inclusivity. By embracing the principles of accessibility, spatial flexibility, universal design, safety, and intergenerational engagement, architects and designers can craft spaces that transcend generational boundaries. Creating such inclusive environments not only enhances the travel experience for families but also contributes to the evolution of hospitality design toward a more compassionate and responsive future. In a world where connections matter more than ever, the role of architectural design in facilitating multigenerational bonding through travel is undeniably significant.