Can a luxury hotel influence how a guest feels about a particular property or brand through the use of flowers? Absolutely! Floral strategy is a deliberate marketing ploy that in today’s competitive environment allows some hotels to shine.

As a frequent traveler, I pay such close attention to a hotel’s floral and decorative displays that, now, I can gauge the kind of experience I’m going to have based on how they look. It’s a theory, but I challenge you to think about it next time you check into a hotel!

The Emotional Impact Of Flowers

Studies have proven there is a link between mood elevation and flowers. A detailed study at Rutgers University showed that every participant that received flowers smiled in some way instantaneously upon bring presented with a bouquet.

It’s why we send flowers; to relieve stress and sadness or just to literally brighten someone’s day. It’s also why we have a tendency to buy flowers before a dinner party and place them in community spots around the home like foyers and dining room tables.

Flowers show guests that not only do you care about your home, but you made the effort to extend a warm welcome. It’s the same reason why some luxury hotels place giant arrangements in the lobby intended for you to stop, photograph, and remember long after you check out.

Despite the hundreds of DSLR photos I’ve taken of spectacular hotel flower arrangements over the years, I haven’t sent many over Instagram (though I am a late adopter of this social media tool). Expect many more of these from me as I’ve noticed that people enjoy seeing flowers even on a small smart phone screen.

This photo was taken in the lobby of the brand new Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. Though this arrangement is quite simple, it plays off the dandelion sculpture in the background nicely.

Luxury Hotel Lobby Flowers:  An Example

It was almost midnight by the time I arrived at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, but I knew the second I saw this arrangement in the lobby that no detail would be overlooked during my stay. In the end, I enjoyed 5 flawless nights there.

This is one of the most impressive arrangements I’ve ever seen on a table. On hindsight, I wish I would have shot it close-up from several angles and then sent it out on Instagram, because you can’t get a true feel for the artistic textures, colors and use of flowers. I digress…

On the flip side, we recently stayed at a luxury resort with a huge yet unimpressive display of flowers in the lobby. The orchids on the room service trays were on their last legs. An entree in the main restaurant was served cold and I noticed areas where corners were cut–almost like they were understaffed. We had a fantastic time, but overall, I felt sort of lost in the crowd.

Unusual Designs Create Interest

If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be discussing luxury hotel flowers, right? Hotels that implement a good floral strategy throughout can keep a guest engaged while creating talking points and loyalty. The “wow” moment starts (and ends, as you check out) in the lobby, but maintaining the “wow” as guests journey through the hotel can be a challenge.

It’s sort of like a good book that you can’t put down. There are moments of excitement, but enough interest throughout to keep you from getting bored. Think of hotel flowers in the same way next time you check into a luxury hotel.

And, they’re a brilliant marketing tool long after a guest checks out. Maybe I’m a geek, but I still talk about some hotels largely based on design elements, like flowers.

Flowers Enhance A Destination

A hotel in Hawaii with white roses isn’t going to elicit the same response as one full of plumerias and hibiscus, right? If you’re on vacation in Hawaii, the hotel wants you to feel like you’re in Hawaii and send you into a state of relaxation you’ll likely tell your friends about or return to over time.

A hotel in Japan is probably going to have zen, Ikebana-style arrangements versus big, bushy hydrangeas. China luxury hotels also lean toward zen arrangements. You get the picture. Flowers reflect where you are.

How Do They Do It?

Despite living at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong for 4 years, I only saw the flower person once. I assume the arrangements are touched up in the VERY early morning as not to disturb guests. What a treat it was to wake up on some mornings to new flowers accenting entries and creating focal points throughout the hotel.

I’m not sure there is a table anywhere in the hotel that doesn’t house even just a simple orchid floating in a vase. What I appreciated is that sometimes, there were subtle changes–just a simple addition or deletion of a flower past its prime. Angled flowers (top post photo) have been their specialty for years and years. And, never a wilt to be seen anywhere.

Instagram It!

Going forward, I’ll be photographing more hotel flowers, starting this weekend at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles, another luxury hotel that takes it’s floral arrangements seriously. Follow me at @lajollamom to see them all.

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. I like your theory. When a hotel is taking the time to notice their floral displays, you know they are paying attention to every detail. Be sure to let us know if the elaborate/well-maintained displays ever exist in a hotel overlooking other details.

  2. I love this post! You are so right, flowers make a huge difference into ambiance, and I too pay attention to them at hotels! Thanks for participating to Instagram Travel Thursday 🙂

  3. Love, Love, Love this post. Of course, I would. So nice to meet you, and I look forward to your next hotel stay.

    Thank you for participating in Instagram Travel Thursday

  4. Oh wow, this is something I have never thought about, but I’ll definitely pay attention on my next hotel visit!

  5. Flowers are definitely one of the first things I notice when I go to a hotel, and the Four Seasons Hotels that I have visited definitely set the standard.