Furniture Delivery Delays? Designers Find A Way
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Furniture Delivery Delays? Designers Find A Way

Couches, upholstered beds, rugs and light fixtures can take up to a year to arrive.

By MICHELLE SLATALLA
Wed, Oct 27, 2021 11:57amGrey Clock 4 min
MY MOTHER, who was not known for her patience, once waited for nine months for an armless rocking chair upholstered in a custom green velvet stripe. Long waits were common in the 1960s. A wait of nine months was long even for the 1960s. She complained to the furniture store, which blamed the factory, which said actually it was the shipper’s fault.

“I’ve had babies in less time than it took for me to get this damn chair,” my mother observed to my father, who knew better than to engage.

For everyone waiting for furniture delivery these days, it feels like the 1960s all over again. Thanks to the pandemic, the supply chain has been tangled up in knots over the past year and a half—and it has become routine to wait for many months for furnishings.

“Two-thirds of all goods trying to come into this country are coming in really late,” said furniture industry analyst Ray Allegrezza, executive director of the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association in High Point, N.C. “I’ve never seen anything this crazy—and it’s not going to get better any time soon.”

Custom fabric would add up to 10 weeks to this sofa’s production, said designer Michelle Gage.
PHOTO: BRIAN WETZEL

Of course, far worse things happened during the pandemic. “It’s just furniture,” said Ali Budd, an interior designer in Toronto. “That’s what I remind people.”

Ms. Budd said that even getting the simplest things is a challenge. “Getting a stone slab right now is like the Wild West. You show up and have to be ready to buy if you don’t want to lose the slab,” she said. “Everything is selling and people won’t hold things, sometimes not even for 24 hours.”

Why is the home décor industry being hit so hard by supply chain problems?

Home Furnishing Pros Explain

“It was a perfect storm,” Mr. Allegrezza explained. “There’s a higher-than-normal demand for home goods because everybody who was forced to stay in place during the pandemic realized they hated their sofas. Meanwhile the companies in Asia that make furniture had shutdowns. Ports everywhere are clogged, so ships can’t find a spot to unload, and when they finally do, there aren’t enough crane operators to unload the containers. Also, the trucking industry has a shortage of drivers, because a lot of them decided to retire in recent months.”

Worsening the perfect storm was actual bad weather. Winter 2021 storms in Texas and Louisiana shut down two major factories that manufacture chemicals used to make foam padding for sofas and chairs. “The delays are so bad that I had a client recently who needed a bed for a guest room, and I said, ‘Maybe don’t get an upholstered bed,’” said Michelle Gage, an interior designer in Philadelphia.

Manufacturers and retailers say it’s difficult to predict when furnishings will be delivered. “We have a container of rugs coming from Morocco that was delayed for weeks in Barcelona—with no real explanation—so we gave all the customers who purchased them a 10% discount to try to assuage the anger,” said Ben Hyman, chief executive of Revival Rugs in Oakland, Calif.

“We had 200 or 300 customers waiting for a woven-wire chandelier that was shipping from India and was expected in four to five months,” said Brownlee Currey, chief executive of Currey & Company in Atlanta. “It ended up being nine or 10 months. We kept ordering more meanwhile, and when they finally sent them, we got an enormous shipment.”

What America's Supply-Chain Backlog Looks Like Up Close

What America’s Supply-Chain Backlog Looks Like Up Close California’s Port of Los Angeles is struggling to keep up with the crush of cargo containers arriving at its terminals, creating one of the biggest choke points in the global supply-chain crisis. This exclusive aerial video illustrates the scope of the problem and the complexities of this process. Photo: Thomas C. Miller

The bad news is that the situation isn’t going to get better soon: “The pundits are saying maybe 2023,” Mr. Allegrezza said.

The good news? Interior designers are coming up with creative workarounds.

How to Sidestep Shipping Delays

“I’m getting more things custom made by local craftsmen—things like small side tables and upholstery pieces—because then you don’t have to worry about shipping,” said Courtney Sempliner, an interior designer in Port Washington, N.Y., who I phoned for advice. “We’re fortunate to have a lot of local mom-and-pop craftsmen in Brooklyn, Queens and upstate.”

“Who are some of your favourite go-to suppliers?” I asked.

“Sorry, I can’t share my sources—it’s too dangerous, because I don’t want them to be overwhelmed,” Ms. Sempliner said. “But here are other tips: Buy floor samples from showrooms. Or reupholster something you already own—the wait time is much shorter.”

Ms. Gage, the interior designer in Philadelphia, said a quick way to shave off weeks of wait time is to eschew custom fabrics. “Where in the past we might have picked a custom fabric for a sofa and waited for the fabric to get shipped from the manufacturer, now we choose a stock fabric for a sofa,” she said.

Other strategies: If you are shopping online and see that an item you want is in stock, “order it immediately. Don’t want until the next day, because who knows if it still will be available,” said Ms. Budd, the interior designer in Toronto.

One-of-a-kind vintage wooden furniture from sites such as 1stdibs, Chairish and Etsy are another option. “Vintage coffee tables and consoles are good because if they are high-quality pieces, they retain their value—just be sure you ask the seller for a lot of pictures taken from every angle to ensure that there’s no damage,” said Joy Williams, an interior designer in Chicago.

The main thing is to keep some perspective. It’s just furniture.

In my mother’s case, nine months after she ordered her rocker, the delivery man—the poor delivery man—finally arrived. On the appointed day, all four of us children gathered around his hand truck, expecting a thrill like Christmas morning.

With a flourish, the delivery man unwrapped the package—to reveal a chair upholstered in the wrong fabric. It was another nine months before they got it right.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: October 26, 2021.



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Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.

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