Hoteliers are Looking at Finding New and Enticing Extra Services.
By David Wilkening
Friday, 23rd February 2007
Over at the Five-Diamond Pan Pacific Vancouver - they're offering what might be called "a breath of fresh air" The perk is portable oxygen canisters for quick pick-me-ups.

"Travel is so exhausting today that people who are traveling from one meeting to another often take them along. From comments we had, our guests love the amenity," says Steve Halliday, president, Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts North America.

The oxygen containers that cost $15.95 are far from alone, however, in the breath-taking and innovative amenities being offered by hotels these days.

"This falls under the innovative and creative category. We all say we provide outstanding service. That's all very well and good, but we also want our guests to remember the thoughtful touches and think of them when they leave," Halliday says.

Many of the old-time hotel perks such as flat screens, coffee-makers and in-room safes are old hat by now. So hoteliers are looking at finding new and enticing extra services that are generally offered at no extra cost.

"It's partly due to the competitive nature of the business, but the bigger places are particularly looking for things to compete with the personalized service at smaller hotels," says Darren Ross, general manager of the Magic Castle Hotel & Hollywood Hills Hotel

Ross's hotel in California offers a free mini-bar but that's not as good as it sounds because the Magic Castle has no liquor license. Still, guests can choose free candy, water and sodas at the mini-bar.

Another California hotel, the Portola Plaza Hotel in Monterey, has some new Executive Guest rooms that offer a wide variety of upscale amenities such as personalized stationary (with pen), upgraded ironing boards and coffee pots.

"We're in a resort area and everyone gets a nice room. What we're trying to do is get the ‘wow' factor where guests say, 'that's cool, we'll be back,'" says Wade Bryant, director of sales and marketing.

New and innovative perks may start off a hotel guest's day. For example, the Hyatt Regency San Francisco recently launched its customized wake-up calls that allow family and friends to record greetings for newly-woken hotel guests.

This new option joins other unusual touches such as Hyatt's YogaAway, which is described by the hotel as an "easy to use yoga program" available in the privacy of a guest's room.

Many of the perks, though far from all, involve new luxury touches.

In the later category: Creative amenities from various hotels in recent months have included offering four kinds of sheets (Rosewood's Las Ventanas in Mexico, among others); 15 soaps, 22 bottled waters and 16 coffees (The Rome Cavaleiri Hilton); and an in-room basketball court (The Palms In Las Vegas).

The later also has a suite with a bowling alley.

Butlers have always been popular as an upscale amenity with the Ritz generally credited with pioneering the concept. But now the St. Regis chain has added E-Butler Service, where guests can be in constant e-mail contact with their wireless handheld PDA-equipped butler.

The pillow menu option is almost common (with the possible winner here Chicago's Conrad, with six choices that include a pregnancy pillow).

An expert at coming up with innovative perks is Arnelle Kendall, who has spent 24 years at Red Carnation Hotels. Perks at the chain where she is vice president of public relations include nighttime giveaways of teddy bears, buckets filled with different soaps and bedtime slippers.

"We've studied it. We've done research with our guests. We know what they like," she says, adding that these small items are very valuable in drawing repeat business.

Such small touches are very important, she says, because "they make our guests feel like they're at home and in a comfort zone."

The Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa has such homey touches as a shawl or lap robe that matches the room décor, and CD players by Sharper Image that also have about 18 nature sounds such as surf or bird songs.

Some hotels/resorts offer perks that are logical because of their nature or location. Universal Orlando Resort, for example, offers Premier Pass members a variety of special privileges such as preferred self-parking, admission to the park and special events, and eight free bottles of Zephyrhills water.

The geographic location of The Westin Bayshore in Vancouver is touted for its connection to the 1,000-acre Stanley Park via a picturesque seawall.

Perks can be as small as free Bloody Mary's offered at the Hotel Rouge in Washington, DC, where complimentary morning drinks also include energy potions. Guests who ask for "yoga" rooms receive mats and instructional tapes.

A little more upscale perhaps is another Washington hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel at 2800 Pennsylvania Avenue that offers complimentary sedan service weekdays anywhere within the district.

The OHANA Hotels & Resorts announced that as of December, it will offer all guests' free rides on the Waikiki's famous Pink Line trolley, which goes to most of the area's best-known destinations.  In the same announcement, a somewhat more pedestrian but perhaps even more valuable new perk will be free in-room and long-distance phone calls to the US and Canada.

Tampa used to be known for its cigars, so it's no surprise that the Quorum Hotel-Tampa offers interactive cigar rolling demonstrations and history lessons every Wednesday. But the hotel also offers a six-day amenity of free massages in the lobby.

Guests receive complimentary bottled water upon arrival and a Borders book lending library to utilize during their visit.

A high-tech amenity is now available at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, where 32-inch TV's offer split screens to surf the Web or answer e-mails while still watching a favorite program.

The Hotel Preston touts its good location near the Nashville airport and Opryland, but one of its perks offers a real claim to fame: goldfish in guest rooms. There's also a pillow menu and lava lamps.

Frequent guests at the 37-hotel Kimpton chain who become GuestWare members by staying 15 nights or 45 nights during a calendar year not only get invited to hotel openings; they also get the direct phone number of CEO Tom LaTour.

Looking at the "green" market, the Renaissance Chicago O'Hare Hotel offers complimentary, prime parking spots, a pair of Chicago Transit Authority passes and a cup of Starbucks to guests driving hybrid vehicles.

Family or even perks aimed at children are also popular. The TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Petersburg Beach in Florida puts on glow-in-the-dark volleyball games on Tuesday nights. Families dress in washable neon paint clothing to volley and spike.

The Ritz-Carlton South Beach is looking at the "tween" market of 13-17 who are too old for its traditional Ritz program but presumably enjoy the latest Apple G5 computer systems with build-in iSight cameras. Itunes music, custom software and digital cameras are all part of the program available to kids.

Don't forget seasonal perks for creative hoteliers who don't look gift horses in the mouth. The Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa in Lake Placid during this year's holiday season is offering the Santa Turndown Service. Yes, Santa Claus himself visits rooms to greet children, hand over cookies and, of course, take down their Christmas wish list.

The younger ones should also fancy Ohio's Cherry Valley Lodge, where guests of all ages can feed the ducks with free food found at the front desk of the resort located about 35 miles east of Columbus. Adults also have their own perk: they can rent a mascot who will not only entertain the youngsters, but also do the often distasteful job of tucking them into bed. 

David can be reached at: dwilkening@cfl.rr.com
 Latest News  (Click title to read article)

 Latest Articles  (Click title to read)

 Most Read Articles  (Click title to read)

~ Important Notice ~
Articles appearing on 4Hoteliers contain copyright material. They are meant for your personal use and may not be reproduced or redistributed. While 4Hoteliers makes every effort to ensure accuracy, we can not be held responsible for the content nor the views expressed, which may not necessarily be those of either the original author or 4Hoteliers or its agents.
© Copyright 4Hoteliers 2001-2024 ~ unless stated otherwise, all rights reserved.
You can read more about 4Hoteliers and our company here
Use of this web site is subject to our
terms & conditions of service and privacy policy