More sustainable, technological and experiential swimming pools in hotels, campsites and resorts
Swimming pools and water leisure facilities have been traditionally associated In Spain with sun and beach tourism, but in recent years aquatic leisure is no longer an area that belongs solely to tourist accommodation on the coast, but rather it has become increasingly present in hotels, campsites and holiday resorts across the whole country. With the growing of aquatic leisure offered in Spanish tourist accommodation, the adoption of sustainable practices, the incorporation of unique recreational elements and the use of new technologies in the equipment and management of their water facilities will be key elements in achieving greater resource efficiency and to having competitive and profitable facilities available. Attending Piscina & Wellness Barcelona (November 29-December, 2) can help tourism industry to decide how to do it.
In Spain there are about 23,400 swimming pools installed in hotels, campsites and rural tourism accommodation, according to the Study Market of Pools for public use prepared by ASOFAP in collaboration with Piscina & Wellness Barcelona. Currently everything indicates that this figure is in clear increase.
Aquatic facilities are no longer being seen as a complementary service and an avoidable expense for business owners in the sector, but rather they are becoming a source of income in the medium- and long-term future. The main reason is that pools and aquatic leisure facilities on offer are becoming a feature sought by tourists and offer a differential value when it comes to attracting them; a factor which results in profitability to tourist accommodation with facilities of this kind.
The president of the International Circle of Hospitality Directors (CIDH in its Spanish initials), Vicente Romero, states “a hotel which aims to satisfy its guests must have aquatic areas, and if we were to analyse the current hotel facilities we would see that even city hotels are constructing swimming pools on their terraces.” The spokesman for the CIDH, an association of more than 21,000 hospitality and tourism directors, considers that having a swimming pool at a hotel does not necessarily have anything to do with its category. “Swimming pools are quality components and an indisputable differential factor, we have hotels in different categories with fantastic pools”, concludes Romero, who believes that the main problem is often the lack of space available to build them in the city hotels.
Hotels are not the only type of tourist accommodation which are interested in offering a range of aquatic leisure activities to their guests. In this regard, campsites are also becoming increasingly interested in having aquatic facilities as a strategic element in attracting a greater number of clients. The manager of the Spanish Federation of Campsite Owners (FEEC in its Spanish initials), Sergio Chocarro, highlights the professionalisation which the Spanish campsites have been undergoing in recent years and the good figures being produced in the sector.
In this context and with the promising future prospects, the FEEC spokesman states that ” a large part of the appeal of a stay at a tourist site lies in the ability of the accommodation to provide a differential experience for the guest, and aquatic facilities are becoming an increasingly more essential element to making the experience be one that’s unique.” Like Romero, Chocarro also believes that the campsites located in coastal areas generally have more aquatic facilities due to the traditional connection of tourism with the sun and the beach; however, he thinks that it is a trend that is expanding to campsites located inland which until a few years ago hadn’t considered having their own aquatic leisure facilities.
Hence, many campsites are converting sports facilities with little use (for instance, tennis and basketball courts) in water leisure spaces for all the family. There is also an increase in the demand to rehabilitate and thematize existing swimming pools which recreational elements such as slides, water games, hydrotubes and water attractions of different dimensions are incorporated.
The sustainability of aquatic facilities, an unavoidable challenge
Álvaro Carrillo is the Managing Director of the Technological Hotelier Institute (ITH in its Spanish initials), an innovation centre whose main objective is to promote the use of new technologies and management systems that contribute to improving the competitiveness, profitability, quality, efficiency and sustainability of companies linked to the hotel and tourism industry. Carrillo argues that as a whole the sector is increasingly more committed to sustainable tourism, including both the suppliers, who aim to make their processes sustainable in order to attain more efficiency in recurring expenses, as well as the business owners, in whom a growing interest to apply sustainable practices is perceived, whether this be due to their own decision or because the tourists themselves are increasingly more aware of sustainable materials, particularly German and Nordic tourists.
The Managing Director of the ITH highlights solutions for energy efficiency offered by some of the aquatic facility suppliers. These solutions enable the businesses to be more flexible as the supplier is the one who takes on part of the investment risk. In this regard, he cites the example of the Energy Service Companies which provide energy services or improvements in the energy efficiency of facilities of a business premises or user and face certain economic risks in doing so. This business model is of particular interest to facilities that consume a lot of energy, such as in the case of spas. “The message with regards to sustainability is slowly making an impact so tourism will be sustainable or it won’t exist”, Carrillo concludes.
Sergio Chocarro agrees about the importance of sustainability, in his case in the Spanish campsites. “We are pioneers in sustainable tourism, promoting respect for the environment and we are committed to integrating our facilities into the natural environment where they are located, and at the same time we offer services and facilities of the same quality as other types of tourist accommodation”, assures the FEEC spokesman.
Architects of aquatic leisure facilities are also committed to making them sustainable and which respect the environment. According to Carlota Bozalongo, who forms part of the AIA team, Activitats Instal·lacions Arquitectòniques, “it is very important to plan with the environment in mind as well as the repercussions that a new construction or the renovation an existing one has in the field of sustainability.” The AIA architect gives us some keys to build sustainable aquatic facilities: “we have to have a good idea of what the client wants, as it will be the client and not the business owner who uses the installation; we also have to take into account certain technical and design factors such as the ideal location for the pool and the study on the pre-existing factors to ensure there are no setbacks when it comes to building it. When it is a renovation of an existing pool, in addition to the aforementioned factors, we have to carefully study what elements can be reused and how a change of image can be offered, respecting the pre-existing elements to a maximum.”
Bozalongo also sees a growing interest form the tourism sector in general in the demand for pools and other aquatic facilities. AIA is currently working on four hotel complexes and one of the most important parts involves the design of the private and public aquatic spaces in en-suite rooms and zones requiring a special pass to enter. In short, these facilities are becoming increasingly more important when it comes to offering a differential experience to the client.
Swimming pools are no longer a rectangular space with standard dimensions; now there are differentiating and personalised elements which can be adapted depending on the clients’ needs. There are a variety of materials, surface coverings and equipment in the field of heated pools and safety. And when it comes to making savings and sustainability, the architect explains that they are currently working on sustainable and ecological systems, taking users closer to nature with a product that generates a saving in energy and which has low maintenance costs.
Technology and innovation in aquatic leisure
When it comes to sustainability, technological innovation is fundamental when offering new solutions that enable greater resource efficiency and making savings in costs. In this regard, Vicente Romero highlights technologies which control consumption and energy and the development of some of the processes in which the same goal is achieved in a more efficient way, such as in water recirculation pumps, which have reduced the consumption to move the same amount of water compared with some years ago. The CIDH spokesman also makes reference to the depth of the pools, as some of those that were constructed years ago could have depths of more than 3 metres; now, the new installations have a lower depth, thereby saving a large amount of water having to be used.
The ITH is also firmly committed to using technology to deliver more efficient and personalised solutions for aquatic facilities. Álvaro Carrillo advocates the use of big data and the cloud as a tool to identify the clients’ individual needs. “When we talk about technology we mean the technology that will enable us to give a more approachable and personalised treatment to our clients, because we are going to have a better knowledge of their needs at all times”, confirms the ITH spokesman. He continued pointing out that, “nowadays we assume that the majority of tourist accommodation has aquatic facilities, what we are going to be able to find out is if the clients who come to our hotel want an adult-only pool, if they prefer to have a children’s area or if they are in favour of having a jacuzzi available with water circuits and varying temperatures.”
The opportunities being generated by new technologies and the need for the tourist sector to focus on differentiating themselves and offer personalised solutions leads us to the conclusion that the current, generalised offer is no longer good enough. Innovation is going to be key to differentiating themselves from the competition and aiming to get ever closer to what the client is seeking, with the intention of exceeding their expectations and even anticipating their needs in advance. In this regard, the investment decisions are important and their amortisation must be planned for the medium and long term. The tourism sector has a challenge to overcome in providing aquatic leisure facilities, to know how to take advantage and optimise the accommodation. All of this without compromising on sustainable, efficient, modern facilities and at the service of increasingly more demanding clients.
To help managers of tourist establishments in this decision-making process, Piscina & Wellness Barcelona lwill gather the main international suppliers of equipment and products for swimming pools and aquatic facilities as well as spas and wellnesss from November, 29 to December, 2 at Fira Barcelona’s Gran Via venue. In addition, they will be able to know how to update, design and implement swimming pools and recreational water areas, learn about successful experiences, and discuss issues related to the safety and management of these spaces in the V Aquatic Leisure Symposium.
5 Spanish pools to enjoy like fish in water
The pools that appear below are among some of the most spectacular pools that can be found at some of the hotels across Spain. It’s difficult to choose just one… so you’ll have to take a plunge… we’ll help you with some suggestions:
La Hacienda Na Xamena Ibiza
This is one of the pools that is seldom missing from the rankings of pools to visit at least once in a lifetime. In fact, it is made up of eight cascading seawater pools integrated perfectly into the environment. In their construction, these pools, known as infinity pools, are an example of how to perfectly blend the landscape of Ibiza with a pool that seems to form part of the Mediterranean Sea.
Nagari Hotel, Vigo
In a historic building in the centre of Vigo stands the Skyline Spa Circuit, an infinity pool from which the breath-taking views of the Ría Gallega can be enjoyed. With naturalised water jets, maximum relaxation is guaranteed if after a dip in the pool we make our way to the spa which is located very close to the pool.
Lopesan Baobab Resort, Gran Canaria
The African-inspired aquatic leisure facilities offered at the Lopesan Baobab Resort Hotel are multiple and varied. Nine heated pools, at distinct temperatures, a slow flowing river pool, caves and waterfalls, two artificial beaches, spaces with water games designed for children and babies… It won’t be easy to decide where to start enjoying yourself.
Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, Alicante
If what you fancy is immersing yourself in Balinese culture and landscapes without even leaving Spain, you will find am Asian-inspired environment in this hotel. Six pools with unique and elegant designs in which you can escape and enjoy a moment of relaxation and pleasure for all five senses.
Hotel W Barcelona
The hotel, located on the seafront and popularly known for its sail-shaped form, has an infinity pool that seems to merge with the beach of Barceloneta. The view from the pool make this enclave a perfect balcony looking out on the Mediterranean.
Bylined: Cristina Benavides, contributor of Piscina & Wellness Barcelona
Press Office – Fira de Barcelona
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