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Will visitors dole out $1,780 to spend the night in a ‘cocoon’?

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  • GRAMROAD / NEW YORK TIMES
                                The Room is a suite inside a stainless steel sculpture by the British sculptor Antony Gormley at the Beaumont in London.

    GRAMROAD / NEW YORK TIMES

    The Room is a suite inside a stainless steel sculpture by the British sculptor Antony Gormley at the Beaumont in London.

  • CARILLON MIAMI WELLNESS RESORT / NEW YORK TIMES
                                AI-assisted beds, on-call hypnotherapists and sequestered guest rooms, including one inside a stainless steel sculpture, are taking sleep tourism to the next level. The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort offers spa treatments that include Vibroacoustic Electro Magnetic and Infrared therapy, or VEMI.

    CARILLON MIAMI WELLNESS RESORT / NEW YORK TIMES

    AI-assisted beds, on-call hypnotherapists and sequestered guest rooms, including one inside a stainless steel sculpture, are taking sleep tourism to the next level. The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort offers spa treatments that include Vibroacoustic Electro Magnetic and Infrared therapy, or VEMI.

To sleep, perchance to dream. Or if not dream, at least to feel vaguely rested the next day, especially on vacation. Is that too much to ask?

For many people, yes. The United States is tired, according to the National Sleep Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, and there is a link between poor sleep and depression, the NSF’s 2023 Sleep in America poll found.

In the hospitality world, that’s a business opportunity. Hilton’s 2024 trends report revealed that the main reason people travel is to rest and recharge.

“Hotels locked in a death match with Airbnb have begun to explore ways in which to compete by offering services and amenities around the primary purpose of a hotel stay: a restful night’s sleep,” said Chekitan Dev, a distinguished professor at the Cornell University Nolan School of Hotel Administration.

“The earlier paradigm of a vacation was that sleeping was the most boring thing you could do while on holiday,” said Kaushik Vardharajan, an associate professor at the Boston University School of Hospitality Administration. “It is only during the last 10 years or so that we have as a society started talking about the importance of sleep from a health and wellness perspective.” Now, he said, a good night’s rest isn’t just a selling point for hotels; it’s a “whole fast-growing industry.”

From AI-assisted beds to on-call hypnotherapists, today’s sleep tourism is, essentially, an old dog with new tricks. “This is around the seventh or eighth time this has come up as kind of a topic” since the mid-1980s, said Bjorn Hanson, an adjunct professor at the New York University Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality.

Smart beds, SmartGoggles

Like the Westin Heavenly Bed, which experts point to as an industry game changer when it was introduced in 1999, Bryte wants to be the next hotel-mattress disrupter.

The $6,299 AI-assisted, smartphone-pairable mattress is, according to Luke Kelly, the CEO of Bryte, the only bed with an active pressure-relief system, which adjusts as you move to optimize deep sleep.

Mary Bemis, a journalist who lives in the Pacific Northwest, recently slept for two nights on a Bryte bed at Carillon Miami Wellness Resort. “It really surprised me,” she said, specifying the way the subtle rocking of the mattress “hit the right notes. It brought me back to a baby stage.”

The Park Hyatt New York has five Bryte sleep suites (from $1,095), which were added after the hotel reopened following a 376-day pandemic closure.

The hotel worked with Bryte on best-sleep practices, such as setting the thermostat to 68 degrees and recommending that guests have a warm pre-bed bath (with calming Le Labo bath salts) and chamomile tea.

The Park Hyatt Chicago has the similar Bryte-bed-equipped Mindfulness Suite ($645), as do the Little Nell, in Aspen, Colo., and the Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito, Calif.

With the Sleep Wellness package at the Beatrice (starting at $419 per night) in Providence, R.I., you’ll have to settle for a Serta Perfect Sleeper, but will have access to Therabody SmartGoggles, an eye mask that uses heat, massage and vibration to lower your heart rate and ease facial tension. The package also includes a mocktail at the rooftop bar (alcohol is an enemy of good sleep) and herbal teas.

‘Cocooning’

Relaxing the mind is a common theme in sleep tourism, but how each property tries to accomplish that varies. The bedrooms at the Park Hyatt “cocoon” away from the living space, meaning you can close off the sleep area and make it dark and cozy; Britain’s Zedwell hotels, a rare bargain entry, feature small, dimly lit “cocoons” (from about $142 per person) with nary a distraction from the window to the wall: no TVs, no phones and, actually, no windows.

Tempo by Hilton is offering rooms divided into three zones, including “an enveloping sleep environment” with a Sealy Accelerate temperature-controlled mattress and sound-absorbing acoustics; lights that dim at sunset; and, in some rooms, Peloton bikes, for people who consider exercise their Ambien.

At the Conrad Bali, guests can book a private 60-minute Sway session in the spa (starting at about $95), which entails lying in a swinging, aerial, swaddled hammock that looks a lot like an actual cocoon. The rocking is meant to mimic floating on a cloud or being in the womb.

At the Beaumont in London, travelers can stay in the Room (about $1,780 per night), a 745-square-foot suite inside a three-story stainless steel sculpture at the hotel entrance. It lacks a TV, a phone, even wall art. The goal of British sculptor Antony Gormley, who designed Room, is for guests “to achieve a meditative stillness, to lose a sense of one’s body in the darkness and to allow the mind to expand.”

You are getting sleepy

This month, to coincide with the the sleep foundation’s Sleep Awareness Week (which ran through March 16), the Mandarin Oriental will begin a partnership with the hypnotherapist Malminder Gill, aka the Sleep Concierge, at the Hyde Park property in London. (After Hyde Park, the service will be available at the Mandarin Oriental in Mayfair, which opens this spring, followed by pop-ups across Europe, New York and other destinations later this year.) Starting at about $635, guests can see Gill in the spa for a sleep consultation and session tailored to their particular sleep issues. There will also be an option for a private bedside session, during which, if all goes well, guests drift off for the night.

The Benjamin Royal Sonesta New York has a similar program, called Rest & Renew, run by Rebecca Robbins, co-author of “Sleep for Success! Everything You Must Know About Sleep but Are Too Tired to Ask.”

And Hyatt hotels in New Zealand and Australia now feature the Sleep at Hyatt program, with Nancy H. Rothstein, aka the Sleep Ambassador, as its guru.

Experts’ view

What sticks and what doesn’t in this round of sleep tourism remains to be seen. Joseph M. Dzierzewski, vice president for research and scientific affairs at the National Sleep Foundation, wonders why, for example, special sleep amenities aren’t standard in every room.

“The hotel should be providing an environment for people to sleep,” he said. Isn’t that the whole point of a hotel? In addition, “you have to view sleep from a 24-hour time frame.” As important as it is to slumber in a dark room, he said, you also need exposure to bright morning light. “A lot of people forget about how important the day is for your nighttime.”

Dr. Jing Wang, medical director of the Mount Sinai Integrative Sleep Center, thinks the puzzle of better sleep can be solved for most people if they learn what’s at the root of their troubles, whether it’s sleep apnea or psychological issues. Getting educated at a posh resort instead of a hospital sleep lab may sound nice, but the key, she said, is follow-through and follow-up. Without them, there’s little chance for lasting change.

Similarly, Dzierzewski points to one common affliction — getting stuck in a bad-sleep rut — that a short, snooze-centric hotel stay might fix. “Perhaps you just need a hard reset if you’re stuck in a never-ending spiral. Poor sleep begets poor sleep begets poor sleep,” he said. “If you can stop that cycle, perhaps there could be some enduring positive change. But without additional information about how you got in that cycle in the first place, I question whether or not you’ll have any long-term benefit.”

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