Guide on Biophilic Design in Wellness Resort by Dr Prem Jagyasi- Concept, Philosophy, Key Features, Experiences, Design Approach, and Challenges

Guide on Biophilic Design in Wellness Resort by Dr Prem Jagyasi

Biophilic design in wellness resorts is directly linked with the guests’ intent who always look for relaxing and rejuvenating escapes to soothe their stressed minds and body. The design supports wellness resorts in creating healing and restorative spaces where guests feel refreshed and revitalized ready to take on the world with heightened zeal.

Biophilic means love for living things. Human beings are deeply in love with nature throughout different evolutionary phases. Biophilic design is purposed to reset the human-nature interaction that is lost in the urban concrete jungles.

The vacationing intent of individuals is evolving. Travelers are keen on healthy and pleasant sensory engagements to promote their well-being. Biophilic design in wellness resorts plays a great role in fulfilling this objective.

In this wellness guide, we explore the exciting domain of biophilic design and its useful application in wellness resorts.

Guide on Biophilic Design in Wellness Resort by Dr Prem Jagyasi- Concept, Philosophy, Key Features, Experiences, Design Approach, and Challenges

What is Biophilic design?

Biophilic designBiophilic design is a unique approach to architecture and interior design that facilitates human adaptations to natural elements that have been instrumental in fostering health, fitness, and well-being. It facilitates continuous human engagement with different elements of nature in daily activities.

Man is a social animal whose security, well-being, and productivity depend largely on spatial interactions whether at home, workplace or leisure spaces. The biophilic design also means fostering connections among individuals and the environment with enhanced relationships and a feeling of belongingness.

Why and how Biophilic design has evolved?

Portrait of stressed despair man closed face by two handsIt is due to piling tales of worries and miseries. Industrialization and rapid urbanization have forced a radical change in human lifestyle and behavior. While people embraced tech, they ditched nature forgoing the basics of well-being. The price is massive growing anxiety, stress, and depression and killer non-communicable diseases stemming from them. Stress, anxiety, and depression cost the global economy $1 trillion due to lost productivity.

Research shows, 120 minutes of weekly exposure to nature enhances health and well-being. And this finding has made a significant impact on people’s lifestyles who are now considering bringing outdoor nature indoors leading to the evolution of biophilic design. Time spent in natural surroundings is £4.5  trillion worth a year regarding improvement in mental health alone as per a peer-reviewed study published in Nature Communications that involved 20,000 people.

Not only homeowners but globally leading corporates are setting up their headquarters and campuses in vast countryside or city outskirts with ample access to nature. Studies have shown, workers in workplaces with ample greenery, sunlight, and air showed a 6% increase in productivity, reported a 15% enhancement in well-being, and are 15% more creative.

Nature-inspired wellness resorts and hotels regardless of their location in urban or natural settings are more focused on biophilic design elements to enable guests the consistent and repetitive engagement with nature.

Biophilic design in wellness resorts is more conspicuous that facilitates the holistic well-being of guests syncing wellness programs and therapies with nature. Most of the popular wellness resorts in the world enjoy a big advantage of their natural settings. But to what extent can they tap the potential of biophilic design for enhanced guest wellness experience depends on their vision and outlook.

What are the key elements of Biophilic design in wellness resorts?

Young female freelancer sitting near the pool with her laptop. Busy at holidays. Distant work concept. Copy space for your text.Nature-inspired biophilic design in wellness resorts typically (but is not restricted to) covers the following features:

  • Non-disruptive – Unrestricted view of nature
  • Natural auditory elements – Chirping of birds, flowing water, swaying of branches
  • Natural olfactory factors – fragrant blooms, the aroma of the foliage
  • Pleasant sensory stimuli- Birds flying, flowing water, fleeting clouds
  • Aesthetic Landscaping – lush pastures, decorated gardens
  • Variations in temperature and airflow – Fresh breeze, mellow sunrays
  • Natural daylight – Sunlit rooms
  • Biomorphic patterns and shapes – Conches, leaf motifs, shells
  • Natural modifications – rock formations, pebbles, designed tree branches
  • Spatial Orientation – positioning of rooms, walking spaces, lounges, and other shared spaces
  • Location-based cultural and ecological elements – traditional art and artifacts
  • Provisions for healthy relationships and communication 

What do you mean by nature-human interaction in biophilic design?

Person booking hotel room on laptopThe core of the biophilic design is the uninterrupted human-nature interaction. Else, how can you explain the fact that guests spend 36% more time in lobbies decorated with fresh foliage and other natural elements than in hotels without these features?  And why hotel rooms with ocean views are priced 20% higher? Guests always prefer water views or sea view rooms in a hotel or resort, these rooms get booked faster during the peak season!

Human beings nurture a deep emotional connection with nature devoid of which is detrimental to well-being. This explains the deep relationship between biophilia and mental well-being and why modern built environments are seriously considering biophilic design.

Mere sporadic placements of natural elements do not justify the biophilic concept simply because it does not facilitate interaction. Biophilic design should allow the user unlimited interaction with nature that may often blur indoor-outdoor boundaries.

If you have an unrestricted view of green nature and bright daylight from indoors, it sets your interaction with nature. The feel of fresh breeze, the warmth of the daylight, the chirping of the birds, and the blooming of flowers and their fragrance every element of nature contributes to nature-human interaction. We interact with them directly or indirectly.

In a wellness resort, outdoor mind-body programs are mostly held in open spaces under the sky. The aim is to foster interaction with nature to achieve the desired mind-body harmony. Wellness resorts in urban settings with limited exposure to nature and greenery can integrate elements that mimic nature, which is also known as biomimicry.

Understanding the Direct and indirect experiences with nature in biophilic design

Direct and indirect experiences with natureNature-inspired wellness resorts and hotels are focused on enhancing guests’ experiences with nature direct or indirect. What does it mean?

Direct experience with nature could be a visual connection with nature through windows and doors. It can also mean being physically present in nature as in gardens, landscapes, green walkways, treks, trails, water bodies, and also the presence of animals. Direct experience encompasses the entire auditory, haptic, olfactory, or gustatory connections with nature through various experiences.

The smell of fresh green foliage or the wet soil after a downpour makes you feel great. You feel exhilarated when you dip your feet in the flowing stream. A dip in the pool leaves you refreshed. You relish a particular dish unique to that location. Countless such direct experiences with nature are integral in biophilic design in wellness resorts, hotels, or spas.

Indirect experience with nature involves audio-visual interactions with various biomorphic shapes and patterns, colors, textures, and materials, and simulated light and air. For example, pictures of nature, waterfalls, oceans, forests, mountains, etc. contribute to indirect interaction with nature. Earthy materials, conch shells, rock formations, natural fiber, and fabrics are also a part of the indirect experience with nature.

In biophilic wellness resorts, you will come across plenty of such direct and indirect experiences with nature that make your stay so awesome in all respects.

Why Biophilic design in wellness resorts?

vacationing togetherFor the last couple of years, we are seeing some interesting shifts in vacationing modes and needs making the biophilic design more relevant. Travelers today are seekers, not hoppers.

  • In a 2021 survey, 47% of respondents report mental health and wellness are top motivators for vacationing.
  • According to a survey by Wellness Tourism Association, access to quiet spaces and outdoor nature is a ‘must have’ for vacationers.
  • Neo-nomadic workforce is creating newer modes of vacation where nature-filled destinations are the top priority.

This demand shift has underscored the importance of biophilic design in holiday accommodations.  People want to feel better and energized while putting up in a resort or hotel, and biophilic elements enhance this inherent desire.

Biophilic design in wellness resorts should be considered for two prime reasons. Firstly, growing evidence shows biophilic elements have real measurable benefits on human well-being regarding stress reduction, productivity, emotional upliftment, restoration, and healing.

According to experts, interaction with nature is linked to better cognitive functioning on tasks needing memory and concentration. Amid the growing global workplace burnout incidences, the positive impact of biophilic design is pronounced.

  • The University of Chicago in a study found green offices result in a 6% decrease in employee stress levels.
  • Another study from the University of Washington showed that improved access to natural views from the workplace resulted in a 13% decrease in burnout symptoms.

Secondly, from the environmental standpoint, biophilic design helps to appreciate nature leading to increased efforts in the preservation of nature reinforcing its sustainability. Biophilic design by default enhances the guests’ appreciation of nature and the value of harmonizing self with the surroundings in the journey to holistic wellness.

How does biophilic design in wellness resorts create a positive impact on guests?

young attractive awesome man is testing new wooden bathtub which is situated in the forest.Prolonged periods of cognitively demanding activities build mental fatigue that manifests in stress, mental exhaustion, and burnout. The prime objective of vacationing is to get rid of this burgeoning mental and physical fatigue.

To overcome this, people need to go through 4 distinct phases: fascination, directed attention to the fascinating environment (what makes it so fascinating?), mindful observation, and immersive restoration.

These phases do not surface naturally but through careful and sustained efforts to nudge people’s attention toward those fascinating elements. Studies have shown biophilic design helps in calming and stimulating the mind enabling people to enhance their performance. This type of design allows your mind to relax and refocus periodically without allowing fatigue to set in.

Biophilic wellness resorts are great havens for relaxation and restoration and pose one of the biggest attractions in wellness tourism. Guests enjoy the immersive restoration programs that are further complemented by biophilic design. Whether it is for a digital detox, workcation, or wellness sabbatical, biophilia in wellness resorts creates the perfect ambiance.

What should be the design approach for biophilic design in Wellness Resort?

Entrance to spa resort

Integrating biophilic elements into a wellness resort demands a unique approach detailed as follows:

Do a feasibility study of the proposed wellness resort site using a drone

Drone flyingTo what extent can you tap natural ingredients available in the proposed site? Exploring with a drone gives a bird’s eye view of everything related to biophilic elements that you can successfully integrate into the resort’s design. You get a clear view of the topography and nature reserve that can be designed for a great sensory experience.

Mark the land contours and identify the best viewpoints of the resort premises

Specific viewpoints that allow maximum visibility and interaction with nature are the biggest plus point of a wellness resort. Splendid viewpoints leave guests fascinated. Before laying the plan, it is important to identify those viewpoints to create the best immersive experiences for guests.

Study the girth and age of the surrounding greenery to develop a conservation plan

wellness resort siteAbundant greenery and thick woods provide the best options for biophilic design in wellness resorts. But what if the greenery withers off in a few years? You lose your investment. A workable conservation plan is vital to preserving the greenery.

Keeping a note of the girth and age of the trees. Tall trees and thick woods add a lot of value to the resort experience. You can run afforestation programs to create new greenery that will replace the old trees as they wither in due course of time.

Study the seasonal aspect of the foliage and greenery

Is the greenery around your wellness resort seasonal or remains same all the year round? Study the noticeable changes in the foliage color especially during the fall season or winter to orient the interiors accordingly. You can allocate special spaces and resources to cultivate specific plants and foliage resilient to seasonal changes.

Take steps to preserve the ecosystem thriving in the existing greenery umbrella


Green nature cannot thrive without the support of living organisms. While you put efforts to preserve trees and plants, care should also be taken to support the lives of birds, animals, insects, and other microorganisms that depend on this greenery for their sustenance.

Apiculture, floriculture, organic gardening, and other small-scale farming activities help in preserving the ecosystem for sustainable biophilic design in wellness resorts. Your guests have better access to interact with nature directly and indirectly.

Maximize natural light and air through diurnal motion orientation

A key component of biophilic design is harnessing natural light and air to enhance the indoor environment. The positioning of rooms, open spaces, and other interior areas should depend on the diurnal motion of the earth to facilitate a calming and relaxing environment for guests. This would be a truly transformative space in wellness resorts that will reduce stress and promote overall well-being.

Design water bodies or aqua streams in sync with the existing landscape

biophilic-design-in-a-resortWater bodies like lakes, rivers, streams, or pools provide direct human nature interaction opportunities in a wellness resort. Therefore, existing water bodies in the proposed site are a big plus point. To enhance biophilic components in a wellness resort, you can create artificial lakes, streams, or cascades but that should be in sync with the existing landscape.

Make sure to take every step to preserve nature

Wellness resorts with rich natural reserves are crowd-pullers. While this may give you a competitive edge, inadequate efforts to preserve nature can ruin the biophilic ambiance. Forge partnerships with professional conservationists to prevent the degradation of nature.

Create provisions for unrestricted panoramic views

The restricted outdoor view is against the biophilic concept. Rooms, villas, and cottages must be carefully orientated to provide guests with uninterrupted panoramic views of their natural surroundings. This way, guests can immerse themselves in the beauty of nature and experience its calming and rejuvenating effects. In urban wellness resorts, biophilic design can be further elevated by incorporating specially designed elements and features that mimic the look, feel, and sounds of nature, creating a truly immersive experience for guests. 

Carve trekking and hiking trails for incredible experiences

Finding solitude in wilderness concept. Young woman resting in forest, sitting in camp chair and reading book

Hiking and trekking are the most sought-after activities in wellness resorts for their immense health and wellness benefits. Carved trekking, hiking, and walking trails allow immersive human-nature interaction. Guests are filled with ‘awe’ as they set out for hiking and trekking.

Invest in the best of skills, expertise, and experience for topography-optimized plans

resort designer at work

Hire designers and architects with deep knowledge of biophilic design concepts and implementation. Experienced wellness resort and hotel consultants have biophilic experts on board who can help you with the best guidance to ensure your ROI.

Create the 3D format of the massing of the built structure in the context of the topography

energy efficiency of buildingMassing is the fundamental aspect of architectural design that has a significant impact on the building’s performance, energy efficiency, and aesthetic appeal. A 3D format of the massing of the built structure will help you create great biophilic designs and features matching the topography. You can do accurate cost estimation and future projections related to its upkeep and enhancement.

Apply advanced GIS and BIM to make the built forms fit into the site contours.

Geographic information systems concept, woman scientist working with futuristic interface in GIS software on a transparent screen.Advanced GIS (Geographic Information System) and BIM (Building Information Modeling) are now extensively used to create intelligent and practical designs rich in information. To make your biophilic design sustainable, GIS and BIM will give you full clarity about how the entire resort landscape will look and impact the surroundings. You will also come to know how the wellness resort with all its biophilic elements will evolve.

BIM stands out from traditional 3D models in the fact that you can feed abundant information in it related to design, materials, and landscape. It will generate a massive predictive analysis for every object planned in the wellness resort helping you anticipate costs, planning, and maintenance.

What are the challenges in biophilic design in a wellness resort?

 A woman squatting, scratching her bitten legs with her hands.It sounds great to create a biophilic wellness resort to offer a superior holistic wellness experience that guests crave for.  Though the design is nature-inspired, a lot of work needs to be done that could be quite challenging.

  • Lack of understanding of human inclination toward nature. Too much of profiteering motive can spoil the biophilic design opportunities. You need to respect the human-nature connection to make your wellness resort business thrive.
  • Lack of experts to create the right biophilic ambiance. It is not anybody’s job. Neither it is easy to find biophilic design experts.
  • Expensive maintenance. Biophilic materials are likely to wear out faster making them unsustainable in the long run.
  • Chances of impaired accessibility for disabled persons or those with restricted mobility. Green-manicured lawns and gardens may pose difficulties for guests on wheelchairs.
  • Seasonal allergies arising from pollens may catch guests unaware and land them into serious health problems.
  • Balancing the existing ecosystem with the built environment. Any construction is likely to have a detrimental impact on the surroundings. Felling trees to make room for villas and cottages are common and not beneficial for the environment.
  • Thick greenery can create unhealthy damp and moist conditions if not taken care of properly. Wellness resorts in tropical countries are more likely to face such situations due to persistent humid and damp weather.

What does not make a biophilic design in a wellness resort?

Young creative couple standing with house model on the balcony, designing or dreaming about eco houses in the forest

Biophilic design in wellness resorts means setting up a dialogue between guests and nature that mainly include direct and indirect stimuli to various natural processes. It is like the feeling of awe at the sight of crashing sea waves, the mighty snowcapped peak, or glistening dewdrops on the green foliage.

The tragedy with biophilic design happens in the following instances:

  • Biophilia is not only about greenery. The scattered placement of greenery does not justify the concept. One has to take a holistic view and incorporate different elements of nature.
  • Exposure to irrelevant and out-of-context shapes and features with very little impact on guests’ perception and appreciation.
  • Exposure to nature in a disconnected space.
  • Unnecessary complexity in space design.
  • Too many aesthetics undermining natural and earthy essence.
  • Placing artificial lights to compensate for the obstructed natural light.
  • Ignoring the local cultural essence in interior décor.
  • Improper orientation of doors and windows restricting the natural energy flow.
  • Disrespecting the natural ecosystem. Cutting down too many trees to accommodate more cottages and villas.
  • Ignoring the importance of emotion.
  • Lack of space to foster sustained and positive interactions irrespective of the greenery and waterfront views.

Wellness resorts and destinations are largely nature-inspired. Biophilic design can create wonders in elevating the guest experience.

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