As Demand Deepens for Rooftop Pools, Hoteliers Dive Into Revenue Opportunities

Insightful read from Hotel News Now on the revenue opportunities from rooftop bars as they highlight a few properties that are leading the trend.

Published by: Dana Miller/Hotel News Now
Published date: March, 2022

Perhaps once considered a frill, rooftop pools have become more in demand at hotels as guests place increasing value on outdoor spaces. Hoteliers say guests weighing hotel booking options are more apt to choose the one with a rooftop pool.

That demand opens revenue-generating opportunities for hotel managers and marketers looking to make a splash this spring and summer, and potentially year-round in some markets.

Here’s a look at how three hotels are driving demand at their rooftop pools.

Banyan Tree Puebla

As social distancing becomes a “new normal,” Banyan Tree Puebla director of sales and marketing Oscar Molina said outdoor spaces and rooftop pools have become a big factor in guests’ hotel booking decisions.

“Our demand is higher than other hotels in the area because they do not have outdoor heated pools,” he said via email.

The Puebla, Mexico-based property has its rooftop pool on the fifth floor, with views of the historic city center and volcanic belt that surrounds Puebla.

Molina said the hotel’s team has enhanced its services at the pool and restaurant terraces so guests are encouraged to spend more time there. Because weather in Central Mexico is pleasant year-round, the pool space has become a favorite feature among guests.

The omicron variant of the coronavirus caused a slowdown in leisure bookings for the first quarter of 2022, Molina said. As of March, occupancies began looking healthier, albeit with a very short booking window.

“The expectations are that for the second quarter and onward, traveling will reactivate. We have seen a gradual growth in number of visitors to Mexico, which makes us keep a positive attitude for the remainder of the year,” he said.

Due to space limitations, the property does not have day passes available for locals. They also do not charge for pool access because their guests expect to have access to that area without an additional fee, he said.

Marriott Marquis Houston

The Altitude Rooftop & Pool at the Marriott Marquis Houston, which features a Texas-shaped lazy river, has been a significant demand driver, said director of sales and marketing Scott Gentile via email. Guests can take advantage of a full-service bar, cabanas, outdoor yard games and seasonal activities on the rooftop.

Given Houston’s climate, Gentile said the Marriott Marquis Houston keeps its rooftop pool and bar space activated all year to take full advantage of opportunities. The pools are also heated to 80 degrees.

In the summer, for example, the hotel hosts a pool party during its “Summer Elevated” program, which features pop-up entertainment, weekend DJ sets and signature summer cocktails. In the winter, the rooftop space is transformed for its “Texas Winter Lights” program, which features lights, fire pits, holiday movie nights and seasonal cocktails.

To drive additional revenue through the Altitude Rooftop & Pool, the hotel offers a ResortPass, which allows non-guests to spend the day at the hotel and use its amenities.

“Through ResortPass, we allow guests to rent our daybeds or cabanas for daily use,” he said. “It is possible to rent out the space for events. However, we are very selective as to when we allow it.”

Alaia Belize, Autograph Collection

The suspended rooftop pool at Alaia Belize, Autograph Collection, makes an impression with guests from the moment they enter the breezeway, as it is visible from beneath through its partly glass bottom.

“The developer was smart in that he didn’t just make it a pool but he made it a destination,” said Sandra Grisham, general manager of the Alaia Belize Autograph Collection. “When you’re on our rooftop, you see things you would not normally see unless you were on an airplane.”

She said the rooftop was designed to have three separate senses of place, and it’s common that each space is rented out to guests for private dining. Sometimes the charge is based on food and beverage consumption or it’s a pure rental for the full day.

“That has really brought a lot of revenue,” she said. “We thought at first it would just be a daytime event, but it’s turned into a nighttime event [too]. We see people having private dinners on the north and south sides [of the] rooftop.”

Hotel room and special rooftop rental bookings are typically made 20 to 30 days before arrival, she said, and per night there are about 20 to 32 bookings on the rooftop. She noticed that bookings do depend on the status of COVID-19 cases.

“It goes up and it goes down,” she said in regards to how COVID-19 affects special rooftop bookings. “Right now, it’s on the uptick. People want to travel. They’re going to go no matter what. They’re ready to spend.”

Belize recently lifted its testing requirement for vaccinated travelers.