Israeli hotels revive the art of scent

Daniel Marciano is the brains behind the specific scents you find in a wide number of hotels in Israel.

 Daniel Marciano CEO Corporell LTD, creators of premium cosmetics & fragrances, (right) with the writer in Raanana. (photo credit: MOTTI VERSES)
Daniel Marciano CEO Corporell LTD, creators of premium cosmetics & fragrances, (right) with the writer in Raanana.
(photo credit: MOTTI VERSES)

Entering master perfumer Daniel Marciano’s 8th-floor office in Ra’anana is similar to stepping into Harry Potter’s Potion-Mixing Room, the laboratory located in the dungeons of Hogwarts Castle. 

Here it is not a fictional motion picture. This is where one can find the ultimate answer to the question luxury travelers ask so frequently – why do hotels smell so good? Hundreds of jars, bottles, tubes and jugs are organized or spread on shelves, tables and different surfaces in numerous rooms. This is the secret kingdom of Marciano, where the crucial decision will be made – what will be the scent we will all smell when we enter a luxury hotel in Israel.

How come the sense of smell became so important in the hospitality industry?

“This sense varies from person to person depending on gender, age, period and culture. People experience smell differently. It throws them deeply into an experience or an emotion of their past,” says Ra’anan Kahani, owner of the Israeli Basmat Eden fragrance institute and expert at Cinquième Sens, the Paris fragrance house and professional training center. 

“Smells are stored in our memory with an emotional context, linked to an experience causing scents to be so powerful.”

Ra’anan Kahani, owner of the Israeli Basmat Eden fragrance institute

Marciano understands this power best. With his Corporell firm, creators of premium cosmetics and fragrances, he advises luxury hotels in Israel on how to create the necessary emotional link to their guests, leading to loyalty via ambient fragrance.

“The Carmel Forest spa resort in Beit Oren was the first hotel in Israel that understood why ambient fragrance is so important for relaxation... almost a decade ago”, says Marciano.

“By developing a scent with a strong pine tree dominance, felt in all areas of the hotel, Isrotel made the first step in our local hospitality industry. This scent was used in soaps and shampoos in the bathrooms, it was part of spa treatments, and guests requested to purchase it for home use, in order to preserve the wonderful relaxed feeling they experienced. 

“Isrotel management understood the importance of the ambient fragrance and it became a way of life in their exclusive products all over the country. I believe that the success of their newer hotels’ fragrances like Beresheet (brown color resembling the desert with an amber scent), Cramim (pink color with a winery and red fruit scent) and lastly Mizpe Hayamim (with citrus and lavender scent) have tremendously to do with that understanding. Fragrances are now available in the chain’s hotel shops and online as well. Scents for sure create loyalty and at the same time profit for the hotelier,” he says.

Signature scents for big luxury hotels have become a common practice. Technology allows hotels to diffuse them via the air conditioning system to reach public areas, focusing on the entrance, lobby, gym and spa areas, and even meeting rooms. Boutique hotels spray scents manually. They all share a goal of adding to the guests’ experience.

There are some great examples of scent marketing in Israel’s hospitality industry, in addition to Isrotel’s scents. Here are some used by famous properties around the country: The Golan Heights Pereh Hotel’s signature fragrance is a unique blend made by La Maison du Savon. It’s both woody and fresh, and feels like early morning dew on burnt wood from the fire we had last night, with hints of citrus and figs, both very common trees in the area. 

Mamilla Hotel’s Jerusalem fragrance is inspired by the Mediterranean ambiance and infused with Middle Eastern and Asian cultural influences. The hotel’s basic scent is a mix of citrus-infused with lemongrass and green tea. On top of that, a bit of a European Mediterranean perfume by Culti was added. Together the scents merge East and West – the heart of Jerusalem’s life. 

The luxurious The Jaffa hotel in Tel Aviv naturally focuses on citrus, highlighting red grapefruit and oranges, diffused also by air conditioning in numerous public areas. Together with amber and bergamot, guests are offered to purchase reed diffusers, room spray, scented candles and body-care toiletries exclusively at The Jaffa’s boutique. Using them at home, they will be reminded of the lemon and loquat tree-lined corridors, bringing back pleasant memories from their vacation.

How does hotel scent marketing planning actually work? According to Marciano, hotel owners and general managers invite him for a comprehensive briefing with a hotel tour. “A while after, we select a trial-leading fragrance and ask for no fewer than 24 ideas from different experts in numerous countries in Europe. Twelve make it to the next stage, delivered to the hotels in mini bottles. Three move on to the grand final, using spraying techniques with a substantial focus group, and the winner is finally selected,” he says.

How has the pandemic affected this fragrance heaven in hotels and our life? 

The Washington Post tried to anticipate the future of scents when the coronavirus emerged. In an article under the title “As hotels reopen, some employ new scents to create a sense of clean,” experts shared the belief that health and safety should be communicated through sight, touch and smell.

“The COVID pandemic has restored the importance of the sense of smell to its proper place. It is one of the most neglected of senses, although it is extremely important, says Kahani. “Culturally, the sense of smell is considered inferior, [being thought of as animalistic].... In contrast, losing one’s sense of smell, partial or complete (anosmia), as happened occasionally during the pandemic, has significant consequences for human behavior: A decreased quality of life, loss of appetite and fear of food poisoning, danger of detergents or gas accidents at home due to the lack of smell. 

“This oft-talked-about COVID side effect has injected a renewed vigor in the study of the sense of smell, in which there is still much more hidden than there is revealed.”

The writer is the Travel Flash Tips publisher.