JustLuxe: The Fragrant Value of Hotel Scent Branding

I have just returned from Park City and Deer Valley, Utah, where my husband and I visited quite a few hotels for his blog aarongagnonproblems.com. As usual I ask about their signature scents and am fascinated by the variety of scent combinations. Some are familiar because they are brand wide scents and others are regional or specific to that hotel. I enjoyed the welcoming Leatherwood scent of the Waldorf Astoria Park City  and the transition to their spa area Green Bamboo scent. The Public Relations and Marketing Manager gave us a wonderful tour and shared this article with me, this post first appeared on JustLuxe and I wanted to share it here. Here is the link to the article. You can read it below:

I distinctly remember walking into The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba two years ago and smelling a sweet fragrance permeating throughout the property. It wasn’t overwhelming but made an immediate impression. Made specifically for the hotel, the signature scent—a mix of passionfruit and Hyacinth—is pumped through the air vents and creates as an additional sensory experience for guests. A feeling the property was banking on long before I stepped foot within its walls.

Scent branding is not a new, or particularly earth shattering. But it’s grown so fast over the last decade that it’s basically a norm now for hoteliers to offer signature scents from Day 1. Take for example, The Bernic Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. It opens on July 15 but has already established its signature scent: white tea and fig.

There’s a reason the trend hasn’t gone away, and is in fact, overtaking our senses within the hospitality industry. According to Forbes, Mandarin Oriental’s branding specialists stated that “hotel guests remember what they smell two times longer and more vividly than what they see or hear.” The Sense of Smell Institute urges that after a year, the human nose can recall smells with 65 percent accuracy. In comparison, after three months, there is only a 50 percent accuracy of visuals. Plus, 75 percent of the emotions we generate daily are affected by smell. Needless to say, scent branding is an invisible marketing investment that really pays off.

hotel scent branding

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com


Behind the Smell

When starting down the path of customizing their own fragrance, there are a few things hotels have to consider. One of which is how much money and time they want to spend on creating the right smell. According to Bloomberg, hotels poured an estimated $300 million into the scent-branding industry last year. To begin the process, hoteliers look to scent branding specialists such as Air Aroma, ScentAir or Aroma360. having worked with clients such as Fairmont, Swissotel, SLS Hotels & Casinos, Sofitel, Armani Hotels and Ritz-Carlton, Air Aroma is one of the top agencies designing scents for luxury brands.

The group works with a team of perfumers, marketing experts, interior designers, graphic designers and phycologists to craft these one-of-a-kind aromas. The complete process can cost a property anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 per formulation. Which means, if you don’t get what you’re looking for the first time, you’re spending even more to create the next round of smells.

“Creating a signature scent is a very involved process. … I always ask if they could describe the desired feeling/emotion using three words, what would they be?” shared Founder and Aromachologist Farah Abassi of Aroma360. “We then move on to having a very involved discussion as to who their guests are, the mood they are trying to create, brand messaging, décor and color schemes and brand history.”

In deciding which scents are best for a hotel, one thing the brand needs to recognize is that in different parts of the world, what is associated with various smells is unique to the region. “People from India tend to have a preference for sandalwood based scents as it is used in Hindu temples for scenting. Many of the Arab countries tend to prefer a stronger and/or spicier type of scent,” continued Abassi. “Asian countries tend to gravitate to softer, subtler scents with a sweet smoke or woodiness that relate to the burning of incense which is so closely tied to cultural practices.”

hotel scent branding

Photo Credit: InterContinental New York Barclay


Location-Based Vs. Brand-Wide Scents

Abassi goes on to say our interpretation of scents are generational and cultural, which suggests a struggle between choosing a location-based fragrance or a brand-wide aroma. Properties such as Hamilton Island, the Knickerbocker, Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, Boulders Resort & Spa, Fairmont Grand Del Mar and the Baccarat Hotel have all opted for personal fragrances to correspond to their destinations.

InterContinental New York Barclay created their own signature scent in December 2015 following a 16-month development process. “The hotel tested eight fragrance versions to perfect the main hotel lobby scent known as the Barclay Signature,” said General Manager Hervé Houdré. “The signature scent … creates an impression that can only be experienced at that particular property. Once you smell the scent you know where you are, and when you come back to that particular location, you return to that feeling.”

Created in 2004 specifically for Le Bristol Paris, the property chose the perfumery Jean Patou Paris and fragrance designer Jean-Michel Duriez to design the scent. “It was important to us to create a true olfactory identity to strengthen the “homey” spirit of the hotel. The deep scent reflects this residence’s background of over 90 years of history,” said a hotel representative.

hotel scent branding

Photo Credit: The St. Regis Bali Resort


Large brands such as St. Regis Hotels & Resorts chose a single scent for their properties across the board. The brand wanted guests to always be reminded that they are in a St. Regis no matter where they were. In July 2015, the brand created Caroline’s Four Hundred which was made by scent designer, architect and historic preservationist, Carlos Huber and his brand Arquiste.

“He drew inspiration from the brand’s heritage and the famous balls hosted by Caroline Astor herself. The scent takes its name from the 400 notable guests Mrs. Astor welcomed and features the florals that she filled the space with,” said Daphne Sipos, Director of Global Brand Management. “When envisioning the brand’s scent, we felt it was really important to create a fragrance that worked for all of our properties both urban and resort. Whether you stay at a St. Regis in New York, Hawaii, Rome, Istanbul or beyond, the scent is a part of that experience.”

hotel scent branding

Photo Credit: Waldorf Astoria Park City


How They’re Used

How the scents are used with the properties varies as well. Some choose to pump the fragrances through air-conditioning vents throughout the hotel, release the aroma in just the main lobby, or create in-room candles, sprays and body products to release the olfactory experience.

The Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, California has used the same signature fragrance in its lobby since right around the time of its opening in 2007. “The Spicy Apple aroma evokes childhood memories of home-baked goods such as spice cake or classic apple pie,” shared Jacco Van Teeffelen, Director of Operations for the hotel. “By drawing upon nostalgia and creating a sense of comfort, we set the stage for guests to develop new memories, building loyalty in a natural, organic manner.” Ask frequent patrons if they can recall what it feels like to stay at the property, and you’ll usually hear, “it’s warm and homey.”

Or various areas around the hotel can utilize their own scents to create different experiences for guests. “Leatherwood is in the lobby, Green Bamboo is in the spa,” said General Manager Kerry Hing for the Waldorf Astoria Park City. “The lobby scent is especially important as it plays a role in each guests’ initial impression of the hotel. While the spa scent is meant to give an instant relaxation feeling for the unique and calming experience the guest is about to experience.”

Similar to The Ritz in Aruba, properties like the Four Seasons Chicago and Vdara Hotel & Spa use cold air diffusion systems to neutralize the scents while still pumping them throughout rooms, public spaces and corridors. The process utilizes cool air to push scented oil through a nebulizer that produces a micro-fine vapor which is hooked up to a hotel’s HVAC system.

hotel scent branding

Photo Credit: St. Regis Hotels & Resorts


Financial Scents

When done successfully, not only will guests remember their stay, they’ll also want to take those feelings home with them. For hotels, that translates to additional revenue through the sale of these fragrances in gift shops and online. A single candle at Le Bristol Paris costs around USD $42 while Gramercy Park Hotel’s Cade 26 candle starts at $90. At La Mamounia in Marrakech, the fragrance is available for $180 and is a combination of citrus elements and woody notes of Atlas cedar.

No matter how these signature fragrances are marketed and pumped through vents, there’s no doubt they are money makers. Agency 12.29 states that “a brand with an olfactive logo has a 65 percent chance of being remembered by a consumer, while an unscented brand has a 50 percent chance of being forgotten within the first three months.” Last year, Rachel Herz of Brown University, an expert in scent and psychology told Travel + Leisure that within a decade’s time, scent marketing is forecasted to be a $1 billion industry. If that’s true, our noses will either be having a lot more fun when we travel or will need a break from hotels overstimulating our senses.

Carlos Huber Designs a New Scent for The St. Regis

A lovely interview with Carlos Huber, as he describes his view on the links between scent and memory and the storytelling qualities a perfume can have. He recently developed the new scent for the St. Regis. I couldn’t agree more with his views and observations.

New-Scent-St-Regis Celebrated Scent Designer and founder of ARQUISTE Parfumeur, Carlos Huber captures the scent of St. Regis with the debut of Caroline’s Four Hundred. The brand’s first-ever bespoke scent is inspired by Caroline Astor, the matriarch of the hotel’s founding family and doyenne of New York’s Gilded Age society.

Inspired by one of the most splendid of “The” Mrs. Astor’s famous balls, Caroline’s Four Hundred takes its name from the 400 notable guests that represented the highest echelons of New York society. The scent captures at once the exotic woods of the ballroom; the potted palms and apple blossoms that lined the hallways; and the light crisp essence of champagne wafting through the crowds. With notes of rich American Beauty roses – her favorite flower – green stems, white lilies and the delicate sweetness of quince, apple and cherry blossom,Caroline’s Four Hundred, embraces all of the blooms that adorned her ballroom on that unforgettable evening in 1900.

The St. Regis fragrance will be featured at all St. Regis Hotels and Resorts around the world.


This was first published in the St. Regis Magazine, Beyond.

What do you recollect of the scents of your childhood?

Although I’m absolutely in love with plants, I’ve actually always lived in apartments. But growing up in Mexico City I remember, when the elevator doors would open, always discovering a new flower arrangement that my mom had made. So the scent of flowers would always welcome me home.


How does your love of place and history connect to perfume?

More than any other sense, smell is linked to memory. As abstract and evanescent as a perfume can be, in our minds it is always tied to a concrete time and place. I’ve always been very connected to the discovery of a new city, a new landscape, through its aromas. With each of our scents, I want to guide you through a journey. That’s why it’s very important for me that the perfumes be “transparent”, that you are able to smell each ingredient so that you recognize them as clues in the story.


What was it like to train under Rodrigo Flores-Roux at Givaudan US?

When he discussed a specific note, or an historic perfume accord, he would set it up in its period so I would understand the world around it. It was a cultural history of perfume.


How would you describe your work?

I see myself as a fragrance architect: designing the scent so it highlights the significance of a beautiful story. I strive to be meticulous. The more of the picture I can paint for you, the more connection you will find with your life.


Your scents allude to historical events such as the meeting of Louis XIVof France and María Teresa of Spain in 1660. What inspires you about
such moments?

History is my favorite subject. I read about the meeting of the French and Spanish courts in 1660 when the Peace Treaty of the Pyrenees was consolidated. For Fleur de Louis I investigated not only what they used as perfume, but also what they used to scent the room. The king’s cousin said that the pavilion where they met was so new that it still smelled of pine and varnishing tar.


What are the most exotic locations you have visited in your
perfume adventures?

Waiheke Island in New Zealand: it’s full of honeysuckle and jasmine. And Sydney is such a fragrant city – full of star jasmine in late spring, magnolias in the early summer, and frangipani later on. My favorite ingredients are gardenia, magnolia grandiflora, vanilla, lavender and rosemary, from Mexico, Australia, Spain and France.


You live in New York. What is the olfactory character of the Big Apple?

The waterways are definitely important. I love the Hudson for its sharp, briny scent.


And the aroma of home?

I like to buy fresh flowers and to change them depending on what’s in season, to experience a new scent. I also love burning candles. In the living room there will be a green floral (the St. Regis scent actually), in my bedroom something warmer, and in the bathroom something mossy and green.



What is the story behind the perfume you have created for St. Regis?

The ambient scent and candle are inspired by Mrs Astor’s ball, held at her Fifth Avenue home on January 29, 1900. Guests were greeted by the scent of American Beauty roses, the hostess’s favorite flower. They made their way down halls lined with potted palms and pillars of apple, quince and almond blossom. From there, they would enter a ballroom decorated with red roses, white lilies, yellow jonquils, violets and carnations. Our scent is a custom composition that is historic, modern, truly signature.


Does perfume allow us access to something akin to a sixth sense?

Absolutely. Perfume can create a reaction almost like a vibration. It can excite, remind or attract you to something that’s beyond rational explanation.


Essential Oils to Calm, Uplift and Balance

21 Drops is a company that harnesses the power of essential oil blends and their therapeutic healing. They have 21 unique and modern oil rollers that you can use daily to empower you to Be Your Best Self Every Day.

They recently posted a great list of essential oils that can help you change your mood, I recommend popping over to their blog as they have some really informative posts. This is a quick reference list of oils that calm, uplift and balance you mood, try one or a blend in a diffuser or massaged on your skin in a carrier oil.

Essential-oils-to-calm-uplift Feeling frustrated, anxious or nervous? Try these calming oils:

Bergamot: a great sedative for anxiety

Chamomile (German): a grounding oil that helps with tension, anxiety, restlessness,  and irritability

Chamomile (Roman): calming to the mind and emotions

Lavender: a soothing and nurturing oil that reduces anxiety and fear

Opopanax: supports meditation and inner unity


Feeling distracted, depressed or sad? Try these uplifting oils:

Rosemary: helps to clear the mind and aids in concentration

Geranium: increases imagination and intuition

Grapefruit: helps prevent and alleviate depression

Lemon: this uplifting and cleansing oil is full of happy, outward energy

Lemongrass: used during difficult emotional transitions, reduces fatigue

Orange: combats pessimism and expands energy


Feeling off-centered, gloomy or un-stable? Try these balancing oils:

Helichrysum: healing for emotional trauma and wounds

Marjoram: calms obsessive thinking and warms the heart

Patchouli: provides grounding and reduces nervous strain

Productivity Hack: Music that Helps Focus

productivity-hack-focus I love to listen to music while I work, and I am all for it helping me focus. I love biohacking and productivity hacks and this tool is both! Focus@will is music Scientifically Optimized to Boost Concentration and Focus.

You can customize intensity of timed sessions to match your cognitive type and mood.

With music channels like Focus Spa, Alpha Chill and even ADHD Type 1(which is a little scary to listen to), this could be your new secret weapon to being uber productive!

You can actually track your productivity by using the Productivity Tracker to record your productivity and customize your sound sessions. Find out what types of music and energy level settings keep you most focused and productive so you can personalize for your cognitive type and biorhythms.


How it Works

Mainstream music lowers comprehension and creates distraction because it is designed to connect with you intellectually and emotionally.

Focus@Will technology delivers various “Attention Amplifying” music channels scientifically designed to engage with your brain’s limbic system. This soothes the easily distracted fight or flight mechanism increasing attention span and general focus.

Actually based on neuroscience. Trials show typical 12-15% positive increase in focus bio-marker and up to 400% extended session time. Download our White Paper here.


You can get your free 30 day trial here, nothing to lose, try it!

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Stimulating appetites using the senses of sound and sight

We eat with our eyes first and sometimes we can taste with only your mind.

The original article from Getty Image here, shows how food itself is sensory and social. Immersive imagery conjures the same sensations we feel as we experience a meal firsthand.

In the videos below, note your reaction to each scene, not only is your mind stimulating your sense of taste via your sense of sight, but it is working together with your sense of touch showing the rich textures of the food and how they might feel in your mouth. My mouth watered, hope yours does too. I find it quite amazing that our individual senses can be stimulated using the other senses. You can “feel” what things are like without experiencing them.


Below, coffee brand Carte Noire taps the ambitious home chef (along with the avid eater) with a “try this at home” ad that takes viewers through the delicious, delicate process of making cream puffs. This piece also uses extreme close-ups, time-lapse, and unexpected points-of-view to showcase the science of baking. But sound is the biggest star, fooling our senses into thinking we can touch and taste the airy cream puffs since we hear the crack of the egg and the sizzle of the butter. Read more here.

ROSE by Carte Noire from ))) datafone on Vimeo.

What Does a Fresh Start Sound Like?

In anticipation of the new year, I received an email from Shutterstock, a stock photography, music and video company. I love the theme of the email.

Possibilities Abound

Whether for business or pleasure, the New Year means a new opportunity to make your mark. Check out our collections below for inspiration on current projects and future adventures alike.

Fresh-start-music-inspiration They have compiled a list of songs that embody a fresh start: A motivational mix of upbeat instrumentals and catchy vocals for bright days and new beginnings.

Shutterstock does a really nice job of curating their their Sound Boxes into themes and feelings which helps users easily find what they are looking for. Their pricing is really great as well for those of you who are looking for music for your next video, presentation or event.

But why does music matter?
By adding carefully chosen music to your projects you can stimulate the emotions of the listener and connect with them on a level that no other sense can do.

Of course this assumes that you know what feelings you want to convey with your music. If you are a business, you should have a list of key feelings that you want your prospects and users to feel when they think about you; happiness, security, trust… So how would you go about choosing music that evokes these types of “feel good” emotions of your audience? One way is to connect with them through nostalgia.

And researchers have uncovered evidence that suggests our brains bind us to the music we heard as teenagers more tightly than anything we’ll hear as adults—a connection that doesn’t weaken as we age. Musical nostalgia, in other words, isn’t just a cultural phenomenon: It’s a neuronic command. And no matter how sophisticated our tastes might otherwise grow to be, our brains may stay jammed on those songs we obsessed over during the high drama of adolescence. Neural Nostalgia

An example of a band that gives me the warm and fuzzies because of my nostalgia for the 80’s is St. Lucia. Their integration of synthesizers and 80’s sound really resonates with this 30-something. You can hear this influence in my current favorite song of theirs All Eyes On You.

st-lucia music

Additional Suggested Reading:
How to choose the best music for your video marketing projects
This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

Pinrose Surf Siren Scent Review

A while ago I wrote about Pinrose, a company that uses synesthesia to help you find your signature scent. I had a wonderful experience with their customer delight department and yesterday I received this lovely little gift from them including a personal note. The Pinrose brand voice both online and in person is soulful, open and happy. For example, instead of using the traditional perfumer lingo of top, middle and base notes they have named theirs smile, heart and soul. On each scent card they describe the multisensory experience and traits of the scent.

Based on my synesthetic quiz answers, they recommended the Merry Maker, Campfire Rebel or Treehouse Royal however the scent profile of Surf Siren appealed so much to me I thought I would start with that.

2014-09-18 17.19.26 synestheisa to help find scent

Surf Siren multisensory experience:

Smells Like…

SMILE — Lavender, Orange Oil

HEART — Basil, Petit Grain

SOUL — Neroli

Sounds Like…

As I write this, I am listening to the song they say the scent sounds like, This Must be the Place by the Talking Heads. Initially it seems like a strange song to frame the scent, however, while smelling it and perusing the Surf Siren Pinterest board, it seems appropriate – hopeful, unassuming and breezy. They have an entire playlist for this scent and it definitely feel bouncy and happy and relaxed like a beach holiday.

Sips  Like…

This scent “sips like” a French 75. The drink is a classic, slightly sweet, citrus champagne cocktail with floral and herbal notes coming from the gin; another very appropriate cross-sensory reference.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed wearing this scent, the only complaint I had is that it was too subtle at the end of the day. Until tomorrow where I will sample one of the scents they recommended for me.


Tableware that becomes an extension of our senses?

I thought I would share this article about a South Korean designer who has harnessed the phenomenon of Synesthesia to enhance dining pleasure. Her unique tableware designs changed the way people experienced food, with less focus on etiquette and focus on the physical and sensual experience of the food. The added texture, weight and balance of these utensils make for a unexpected and fun experience. The way “people eat changed dramatically, from being “proper”, adhering to conventional table manners, to being more childlike as they clearly have fun, emitting more sounds and laughing more often.

Her “Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli” has been nominated for product awards and she is already working on her next project regarding enhancing the dining experience using sound!

Watch the full video here: Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli from Jinhyun Jeon on Vimeo.

Synesthesia cutlery

You can read more articles about her inventions and where she is headed next here: Tasting the RainbowTableware as Sensorial Stimuli.

Synesthesia Helps You Find Your Signature Scent

Pinrose Ever since I was a little girl, I had always wanted to have my own signature scent. I remember listening to my mother tell me that a scent should be truly yours, if you walk into a room (and people get close enough to take a whiff) you should make a statement all your own. Both she and I do NOT believe in stinking out a room with over-applied scent, but if a person is in your small personal bubble they should delight in your subtle scent and remember you when you go. This applies to both men and women, growing up, my father used the splash cologne on his face and anything he touched had the trail of his scent, hours later when grabbing my lunch box at school, the scent of his Tuscany cologne still lingered and I would feel comforted by the familiarity and security I associated with his scent. To this day, I adore all 3 of his scents that he used to wear.

When getting married, many people recommend wearing a unique scent that, when worn in the future, will remind you of the day.

It is more difficult than you think to find your scent. For example, my skin seems to change the scent of the perfumes so much that once on my skin most turn sickly sweet. Trial and error is the best way to find your one true scent personality, however I recently came across Pinrose a site that helps you find your scent through a synesthesia process. They have a multi-sensory quiz that you can take which leverages synesthesia to help you find your perfect scent.

They have really creative ways of “expanding your scent wardrobe” and delivering their scents. pinrose

You can choose to purchase Petal Packs which are single dose magical fragrance sachets that stay fresh as the day they were created. Their scents sound lovely, synesthesia pun intended, examples include 

  • Renegade Starlit Pretty in pink and everything else. Make an entrance with this mix of gardenia, jasmine, and freesia
  • Surf Siren – For breaking hearts and sinking ships. Dive into this breezy blend of lavender and neroli.
  • Rooftop Socialite – No better place to survey the scene than from the very top. Brighten the crowd with this fresh mix of Italian bergamot, lime, and mandarin.

I know that there are lots of people out there that take as much joy as I do when finding a scent that makes you stand a little taller and augment who you are really are so I couldn’t help myself in sharing this fun site. The only question left is am I a Ballroom Philosopher or a Moonlight Gypsy?

Which one are you?


Sensory Gardens

Gardnening is truly a multi-sensory experience.

mutli-sensory garden for a full life expereince Walking around the Desert Botanical Gardens I came across their Sensory Garden. The sign at the entry let me know that I was now entering a garden where you should stop and smell, touch and experience all the plants. Up until then I was an observer from a safe distance (many of the plants are cacti and although beautiful to look at, pretty painful if experienced close-up). But in this area, it is encouraged to fully engage with the plants and almost guaranteed that you will discover something new.

I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by acres of beautiful gardens and spent my mornings picking fragrant flowers and tending to my very own vegetable garden. I have very specific memories of my childhood and they revolve around how the gardens smelled, tasted and felt.

One of the reasons why I started this blog was to help people open their eyes to the beauty and wonder that surround us every day. I believe that my childhood experiences helped me hone my ability to see the beauty of the everyday, and one way to instill this in your children is to help them experience life through all their senses and get them to put down their ipads. Creating a sensory ‘scratch and sniff” garden would be a great way to get their other senses invloved and create wonder and discovery in their lives.

Here is a great list of  plants to create your very own ‘Scratch n sniff’ garden:

Furry, soft and silky plants

Bumpy, tickly, and prickly plants

Smooth, spongy and playful plants

Scented herbs and edible plants

More suggestions here. How To Create ‘Scratch N Sniff’ Sensory Gardens For Kids