It has long been argued that the HTL (Hotel, Tourism, and Leisure) industry has always been an experience industry (Sternberg, 1997; Hemmington, 2007). However, a particular proliferation of experience tourism has been observed since the 2000s with the coinage of the “experience economy” concept by Pine and Gilmore.
Experiences are powerful in moving, inspiring, making feeling unique, orchestrating emotional connections, and qualifying a link between the most top-notch hotels and their guests. Today more and more hotels reconfigure their hospitality strategies towards the adoption of an experiential orientation. They script, namely, unique, extraordinary experiences, and stage escapist events, individually customized and personally meaningful for each guest persona.
In that vein, the Bovey Castle Hotel, Devon in the UK, has an owl that brings the wedding couples their rings during the ceremony. Eden Rock-St. Barth’s, in the Caribbean, offers a suite with a private recording studio that includes the music-mixing console with which John Lennon recorded the song “Imagine.” Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora helps you create your own underwater coral garden on the seabed of Bora Bora.
The White Cave Suites Hotel, in Fira, Santorini, opening its doors this spring, embraces this world of experiences and benchmarks its hospitality in an unprecedented way: It names a real, visible to the naked eye, star in the sky after you. This signature experience applies to all suites and all bookings.
Rolling out this global innovation in the hospitality industry, the hotel collaborates with a renowned star registration provider and achieves an elusive dream: In partnership with the star registration provider, the star with the guest’s name is forever recorded in the Star-naming Registry, a commercially-managed registry. This means that the star will bear the guest’s name for eternity.
Upon arrival, the hotel will provide you with a star certificate indicating the name of your star, its coordinates, and the date the star naming was recorded. Along with this document, the staff delivers your celestial map, which, among other information, determines the star's distance from Earth in light-years, the galactic longitude, and latitude, etc. Circled in white, your sequin-silver star in Santorini's and Earth's uranography dominates the night sky being so bright and gleaming; a star visible to the naked eye without any astronomical instruments. A star that stays up all night just after the sun sets over the Aegean Sea, one of nature's greatest spectacles that has been thrilling cultures, emotions, everyday life, vacations, and people for thousands of years.
Affectionately nestled in a converted winery, sheepfold, and home dated back to 1870, the White Cave Suites offers an experience epitomizing the attunement of improvisation, eventfulness, locality, and personalization that emotionalize the guest’s experience in a stupendous way.
In this way, the hotel attains what Csikszentmihalyi (1990, p. 3) once identified as the optimal experience: The optimal experience happens when “we feel a sense of exhilaration, a deep sense of enjoyment that is long cherished and that becomes a landmark in memory for what life should be like.” Eventually, it attains what hospitality has always been: the art and capacity to make people dream what otherwise could not be dreamed.