There are three key reasons to use fragrance design in a hotel. Hotels most commonly use it to provide a pleasant and enhanced environment for guests or to use it as an olfactory signal that you have arrived in a certain space – the lobby, perhaps the spa, or into your guest room.
But there is really one main driver for hotels to use scent – as a branding device or olfactory logo. This is where the fragrance ‘signature’ of the hotel comes in. Along with all the other aspects of hotel and hospitality branding, from the décor to the furniture, the graphic design to staff training, a hotel’s scent is now becoming an intrinsic and significant part of its brand offering.
More hotels are using scent branding
In the last five to ten years, hotels and hospitality brands have started to use fragrances that aim to summarise their brands and create differentiation. There’s a growing list of hotels using scent branding, from international chains such as Marriott, Holiday Inn and Sofitel, to Le Meridién and The Ritz-Carlton and smaller properties like the MontCalm in London.
For example, at AC Hotels, part of the Marriott group, Joya Studio’s Frederick Bouchardy has created a signature scent that is designed to “bring the outdoors in” for travellers who are on the move. “This scent is in the environment, and is distributed invisibly,” said Bouchardy, and guests can buy merchandise with the fir balsam noted scent within.
The ‘homecoming’ scent
In the Shangri-La Hotels, a bergamot and ginger-spiced tea fragrance is designed to remind guests that they have returned to the hotel. As Johnson Wong of the group said, “… our regulars love that they can smell it when they are in our hotels—anywhere in the world. It creates a comforting, familiar feeling.”
Hotels and fragrance makers
These scents are often developed in partnership with a fragrance house. For example, the Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo asked Parisian perfume house Maître Parfumeur et Gantier to create several options then settled on Ambre du Nepal. “It has a rich palette of amber, oak moss, precious woods, and musk that evokes total luxury,” said Serge Ethuin, the hotel’s general manager. Some start with ‘off the shelf’ then move to bespoke. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts chose Le Labo’s fashionable Rose 31 fragrance. It was so successful it then asked Le Labo to develop a signature lobby scent for the group.
Hotels with signature scents
- Marrakech’s La Mamounia has a fragrance created by French perfumer Olivia Giacobetti
- W Signature Scent uses a blend of evergreen, lemon, lime blossoms, and laurel leaves
- Renaissance Hotels has a Shiso Tea Leaf scent custom-made by Joya Studios in NY
- LVMH’s Cheval Blanc resort’s signature scent was created by François Demachy of Parfums Christian Dior
- Ritz-Carlton in New York has a scent called 50 Central Parkcreated by Antica Farmacista
- The Intercontinental New York Barclay asked scent company Nose Knows Designs to create its signature scent of juniper berry and lemon
- At the Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel and Spa in Majorca,
- The Faena House in Miami has a signature scent made by owner Alan Faena himself – a mix of rose and palo santo
Connecting with guests
For such olfactory-minded hotels, having a signature scent becomes another way to define their brand, and also to connect with guests – both during and after their stay. This is really helped by the nature of scent as a sensory input: that it lingers deep in the memory, and can trigger the sense of place even remotely. For this reason – and to offer guests a chance to take home the fragrances that they enjoyed while staying – lots of hotels now offer merchandise that includes their scent from the fragrance itself to candles and even scented stationary. The perfect way to connect with your guests – and assure that they return.