Leisure, Seriously

People often ask me why YWS focuses on designing and building leisure spaces rather than more “serious” things. My answer? Leisure is more fun. And, more importantly, seriously necessary.

Creating a time and place for meaningful leisure experiences is crucial to succeeding in other parts of your life, career included. As no less an authority than Albert Einstein put it, “Play is the highest form of research.”

Leisure, in other words, is serious business.

Life for many of us today revolves around one central fact: we are all crazy busy. It’s the triumph of the urgent over the important, and it is all but complete. Curiously enough, though, doing more stuff isn’t helping us accomplish more. Nothing important, anyway.

That’s why we need leisure.

Leisure is mental white space for an overstimulated society. It’s the break our brains need to rest, process, and catch up. Or even sometimes get a little ahead. How many times has the solution to a problem you’re stewing over come when you weren’t even thinking about it? When you were doing something fun or restful instead? It happens – more often than you think.

On one end, leisure can be as simple as reading a book. On the other, it’s a luxurious, sensuously engaging, fully immersive experience. Setting the stage for those experiences is what we do at YWS.

There’s a science and an art to our approach, one I describe as “90 percent methodology, 10 percent magic.” It’s rooted in knowing the needs of leisure consumers and meeting them in an environment that’s not only well planned, but perfectly executed. Right down to the very last detail.

Leisure is a journey. The more engaging we make it, the more rewarding it will be. It starts at the front door, with a clear message to the consumer: You are now entering a place where being serious is not required, so leave cares and worries behind. Following that transition, our job is to lead the consumer seamlessly through the experience.

We do this by creating a consumer environment where every sensory cue reinforces the quality of the experience. Many of our competitors leave it at this, but we go a step further. We go backstage, ensuring that the support systems that make an experience truly great proceed flawlessly, and largely invisibly, in the background.

The true mark of a high-end leisure experience is that everything happens almost by magic. We make that magic happen.

Another mark of quality is the impact of an environment on your senses. Higher sensual engagement signals a more luxurious experience. By engaging each sense in a very deliberate way, we guide a person’s experience.

Every detail counts. Lighting: warm or cold, blue or yellow, flooded or pooled? Texture: stone, textile, smooth? Do you want the temperature deliberately warm, or deliberately cool? Size and shape: should the space feel grand, or intimate? Sound: Loud and energetic, or soft and quiet? How deeply should you feel the bass? And don’t forget smell: how about exhausting the scents of the bakery into the dining room to stimulate appetite?

With such a huge palette to draw from, the combinations are all but endless. And the choices made not only determine the type of leisure experience that results, but also the quality of that experience. That’s why YWS tasks our employees not just with being true masters of their crafts, but true students of leisure as well. A disciplined understanding of the underlying psychology is key to creating a truly rewarding leisure environment.

Leisure. At YWS it’s our practice and our passion. Because leisure not only differentiates meaningful human endeavor from mere human existence, it’s also a hell of a lot more fun.

And that works for me.