20 ways hotels are using outdoor space

Even before COVID drove people out into the fresh air, hotels were finding innovative ways to get guests outside, making outdoor spaces into valuable revenue generators. Here are some examples of how hotels are leveraging outdoor venues to drive income and maximize value.  

  1. The Hilton Aruba has turned its traditional palapas—shelters roofed with palm leaves or branches—into Power Palapas with power stations and USB ports and laptop cooling pads.
  2. Brian Ball, GM at The Wildset Hotel in St. Michaels, Md., said outdoor spaces are the new lobby. The hotel installed a boulder-surrounded fire pit in the backyard with a 40,000 BTU burner to light up the space and make it accessible year-round. Fire pits vary in price, Ball said, but can boost both average daily rate and incremental revenue.
  3. The Kimpton Angler’s Hotel in Miami’s South Beach launched outdoor activities with local partners. “[We] are working with a number of artists to add to our series of outdoor murals to make art appreciation an everyday experience,” GM Sinem Kaya said. 
  4. The Kimpton in South Beach added an organic garden to its breezeway, growing herbs and microgreens for its restaurant and bar menus. The breezeway will also host a series of chef dinners. 
  5. The Hyatt Regency Maui (Hawaii) Resort and Spa hosts the pop-up Halona Kai Beer Garden throughout the year during holidays and select dates. 
  6. Japengo Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Maui now functions as an open-air conference room with socially distanced seating. “This area is adjacent to an outdoor patio overlooking the ocean,” GM Fred Findlen said. 
  7. Secret Bay in Dominica opened an exclusive garden at each of its villas. Guests can forage for items like assorted herbs, leafy greens, chives, lettuce and tomatoes. 
  8. At the new Tetra, an Autograph Collection property in Sunnyvale, Calif., the outdoor Nexus has sculptures created by artist David Franklin. Three seating areas will have rotating pop-up activations, including wine tastings, a lending library, artist talks and podcast recordings.
  9. The Hotel Zags in Portland, Ore., has an outdoor patio with live plants lining the walls and stone-covered walkways guiding the path. It mirrors the Columbia River Gorge and includes a fire pit.
  10. Adrift Hospitality, which has several properties along a 28-mile stretch of land in Long Beach, Wash., lets guests at several of its hotels share communal outdoor amenities—including a saltwater soaking pool—to cut down on costs. 
  11. The Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya in Mexico recently turned one of its outdoor terraces into a dedicated vegan restaurant. The resort, which covers 590 acres, has also set up dedicated walking and biking trails for guests. 
  12. The Hotel Citrine opened in June 2021 in Palo Alto, Calif., so outdoor spaces were integral to the design, GM Alex Lane said. “[The] higher category rooms [have] larger balconies that can be utilized for smaller gatherings or outdoor exercise.”
  13. The Fenway Hotel in Dunedin, Fla., recently purchased an Arteframe Grill and an outdoor pizza oven and has been hosting al fresco culinary events on the property’s veranda to drive additional revenue.
  14. The seaside Gurney’s Newport Resort in Rhode Island opened an ice rink and installed “igloos” to let guests socialize outdoors this winter.
  15. The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon, Colo., recently expanded its outdoor gym options with a Technogym tower for strength training exercises along with weights, mats and cardio equipment. The hotel also renovated its patio to accommodate more outdoor seating and fire pits.
  16. At the TWA Hotel at JFK International Airport in New York City, the rooftop pool is heated in winter so guests can swim year-round. The property also opened an alpine-themed Runway Chalet pop-up tented restaurant and bar. 
  17. In late 2019, the TWA Hotel opened the Runway Rink for ice skating on the former airport tarmac over the winter. Last year, the property opened a roller-skating rink for the summer. 
  18. Konrad Wagner, managing director of the Calabash Cove Resort and Spa in Saint Lucia, said the property eschewed new outdoor development in favor of expanding outdoor activities like private dinners on the beach, on the resort’s boardwalk or in the gazebo. 
  19. The Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, which opened in March 2021, has a dedicated 13,000-square-foot event lawn for concerts and events. The lawn entrance connects to the Promenade, which guides guests to the resort pool as well as the F&B venues.
  20. Shannon Suess, principal of architecture and design firm MG2, said a hotel's porte cochere should be a relaxing place for guests to wait for their Ubers. “We are looking at comfortable chairs, side tables, planters, even private seating nooks for groups. We’re re-examining overhangs and canopies, making them longer or wider to provide a better all-weather experience.”