Many elements tie into travel but perhaps none as dominant as that of scent. Currently, there is a growing trend around luxury hotels and exclusive travel points along one’s destination, which is now incorporating scent to create an enchanting experience.

Scent is Significant

“Our sense of smell is our most powerful sense that we possess,” explains Sue Phillips, scent expert and head of Scenterprises, a company that develops bespoke perfumes for discerning clientele. “Scent triggers memories and recalls more than any of our other senses, which is why many five-star hotels are expanding fragrance initiatives as a way to ‘scent-brand’ their properties.”

Indeed, the task is not an easy one. The intent is to offer fragrances that are neither too feminine or masculine, and certainly not too strong. Phillips says that woodsy fragrances appeal to both men and women and that they are solid choices because the creamy, warm sandalwood notes remind visitors of the comfort of home.

But certainly, the trend is to custom-tailor the scent to match the hotel’s demographic. Phillips adds, “[The scent of] strawberries is trending right now, for example, but smart luxury hotels will consult with a professional who will customize it and create a fragrance specifically for their property.”

Indeed, ScentAir is one of the top consulting companies in the field and has worked with such companies as MGM Resorts International properties, including Mandalay Bay for a number of years to provide fragrance.


Image courtesy of Mandalay Bay Resort And Casino

“ScentAir worked closely the Mandalay Bay team to create their signature Coconut Spice, a scent that fit the highly thematic brand experience,” explains Edward Burke, VP Customer Strategy & Communications. Burke says that a number of different directions were presented before settling on the current one that wafts through the resort.

“Let’s face it, our mood when we arrive at hotels is often shaped by the hours or days of travel that led up to that moment,” Burke explains. “So it is critical for a hotel operator to deliver a great first impression. Since our sense of smell is our most powerful sense in terms of emotion and memory, you are more likely to have a more pleasant experience and to remember it longer and more vividly with the right scent attached.”

Scent around the World

But the trend is not limited to hotels. Burke divulges that airlines are now incorporating fragrance into member-only lounge areas to create a more relaxing, luxurious environment. Many of the designer stores and shops that a traveler visits within the airport may also begin to welcome visitors with new, signature scent.

Burke says that their company creates the scents from a combination of high-quality, naturally derived and engineered materials. “For example, we work with many of the same raw materials that a perfumer would use and we go through a very similar design process,” he adds.

In most cases, the scent is delivered in a hotel lobby or common space with a system that is installed somewhere in the space and that can be controlled for intensity.

Certainly, the trend is not limited to domestic venues. For example, Hidden House on Croatia’s ultra-exclusive island of Hvar is now incorporating scent into each of its luxury guest houses using island’s famed lavender to scent every room. In addition, in Bulgaria, nearly every hotel uses rose petals and rose water for scenting now.


Image courtesy of Hidden House

A unique approach to scent is taken by the new AKA University City in Philadelphia. This multi-faceted luxury property includes both a hotel section as well as an extended stay section. It’s served as temporary stay for many people including celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Hart while shooting on location.

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Totaro for AKA

“We feel that scent is key to the experience that we provide at AKA,” explains president and CEO, Larry Korman. “My wife was one of the first aromatherapists in Philadelphia, and our company has been integrating scent into our properties for 25 years. We use only pure essential oils, and we change them periodically. Currently, we are using a cinnamon, orange, and tea tree blend.” AKA actually uses authentic diffusers rather than infusing the scent via the building’s ventilation system. “We’re about providing calm via a multi-tiered experience. And the scent is absolutely key to achieving that goal.”

Above all is the king of hotel fragrance, The Ritz Paris. With its hypnotic, amber-based, proprietary scent that greets each guest the nano-second one enters the building, the brand and fragrance are massively intertwined. Years ago, the president and the general manager at The Ritz Paris at the time conducted exhaustive research and testing to develop what would become the brand’s signature luxury scent.


Image courtesy of Vincent Leroux for The Ritz

For over 20 years, the fragrance has been present, though not many working at The Ritz seem to know much about how and why the composition of the scent arose. However, what is widely acknowledged is that customers connect deeply with the fragrance. A spokesperson for the Ritz said that when the hotel reopened after its lengthy, recent renovations, people commented en masse that they were extremely happy to smell the fragrance again as the scent is synonymous with The Ritz.


Image courtesy of Vincent Leroux for The Ritz

For the first time this year, fans are now able to purchase the home fragrance via the hotel’s website. Prior to that time, it was only available at the hotel’s concept store. It can be found nowhere else in the world.

Given the evocative nature of scent, the growing trend of bespoke fragrances specifically intended to deepen a luxury travel experience is going to become an enticing component of journeys that will be hard to forget.


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scentWritten by DLX contributor Lauren deLisa Coleman.

Lauren is a contributor to leading media outlets such as Forbes,, and Inc. She tracks the convergence of cultural trends with that of emerging tech and the impact of that on business and politics. When she’s not on-air or speaking at events, she is all about listening to the best in hip-hop.

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