What started out as a novel way to attract single female travellers and groups of ladies has turned into a legal nightmare for a boutique hotel in Denmark. The Bella Sky Hotel in Copenhagen opened last year as Europe’s largest design hotel. It reserved one floor specifically for women and added extra feminine touches such as makeup mirrors and glossy magazines to make their female guests feel more pampered.
Unfortunately Denmark’s Equal Treatment Board ruled that the initiative was illegal. The hotel is currently refusing to comply with the ruling, stating “the only man who can access this floor will be a fireman in the case of fire”.
The Dukes Hotel, a five star London boutique hotel has also decided to woo women guests and has assigned some of its rooms as “Duchess Rooms”. These rooms are serviced solely by women staff and have added extras such as fresh flowers, styling accessories and female bathroom amenities. They are proving very popular with their upmarket female clientele, but may prove to be less than popular with the European Commission on Gender Equality.
The luxury travel market is suddenly being inundated with a new term – “Pop-up”. While the term is common in temporary pop-up seasonal shops, it is also now being applied to hotels. One British company calling itself the “Pop-Up Hotel” specializes in crafting temporary spaces for events and retreats, and other hotel chains are now joining in.
While temporary usually equates to cheap, in the case of the Papaya Playa Project in Mexico, it is anything but. Priced at up to $675 per night, the hotel group Design Hotels has created a pop-up hotel in a series of cabanas and casitas right on the beach at Tulum. Claiming that it offers a luxury “glamping” experience (being a type of glamorous camping) it does promise high thread count sheets, a spa incorporating Mayan shamanism and food from KaterHolzig, better known for its Berlin Bar 25 fame.
Design Hotel Founder Claus Sendlinger also plans to bring famous DJs and musicians to perform on the natural amphitheater on the beach, introduce an on-site designer boutique and offer the luxury traveler perks such as sustainable and organic food-on-the-go.
Not to be outdone, the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas luxury hotel is offering a Pop-Up Wedding Chapel for a short time. There is a choice of ceremonies: the Hitched in a Hurry economy package which includes a photo booth picture and space eraser rings, or the deluxe “Going to the Chapel” package which has a silk flower bouquet, logo tee shirts and party favors.
by Gillian at Luxique
According to the Miami New Times, luxury hotel breakfast buffets are being seriously affected by the economic downturn. Locals are apparently posing as guests and helping themselves to free hot breakfasts, muffins, bagels, fruit and whatever else may be on offer. Hotel General Managers in luxury hotels in Miami are reporting that the problem is worse in hotels where the buffet is on the first floor, or visible from street level.
Many luxury hotels have a two-tier system; free breakfast for those with room keys and a charge of anything from $12-30 for non-residents. In practise, these hotels rarely ask guests to show their room key. They simply ask for their room number before seating them, for fear of causing barely-conscious guests a bad start to their day. However, this is allowing brazen free-loaders the chance to enjoy a tasty breakfast for free on a regular basis.
Some on-the-ball restaurant managers in boutique hotels know all their guests on sight. However, many city hotels in Miami have a stream of one-night guests who are catching flights. Adam Zembruski, spokesperson for Pharos Hospitality was quoted as saying, “When I was GM, I was very hands on and knew most, if not all of my guests personally. More importantly, they knew me. So, I was out there at breakfast every day – and knew the regulars (so) the ‘outsiders’ stuck out like a sore thumb.” While some hotel managers involve the police, others either give the offender the bill or remove them as quietly as possible.
by Gillian at Luxique
Courtyard by Marriott was one of the first luxury hotel groups to redesign their dead lobby space into something more functional. So far they say the investment is paying off with a 50% increase in food and beverage revenues. As business and leisure guests spend more time socializing and ordering snacks and drinks in these public foyers, they have seen revenues from pay-per-view movies and room service drop. Overall, however, they report higher food and beverage sales that more than make up for the losses.
Business guests find the new social lobby spaces, often with private booths, are the perfect place to conduct business or socialize with colleagues. However some lobbies have fallen victim to their own success as they attract a hipper, more techno-savvy crowd. One guest complained that “a hotel should be a hotel. If I go to the front desk, I should be able to check in without running the gamut of people who are transacting business that has nothing to do with a front desk function.”
Another unhappy guest could not hear the desk clerk over the noise from the lobby. “Moving a nightclub into the lobby is too much,” he said.
More than 50% of guests currently make use of the Link@Sheraton lobby and computer lounge area. Competitor Starwood plans to create more library lobbies with comfortable sofas, space for speakers to lead meetings and a relaxed coffee/wine bar area.
There have been plenty of news articles about the theft of hotel items, but one chain of luxury hotels in Australia is actually encouraging it. Each of the Art Series Hotels in Melbourne is named after a well-known artist and aims to attract art lovers, seekers of culture, corporate travellers and those who enjoy the good life. From December 15, 2011 to January 15, 2012 they are also encouraging those with a slight criminal tendency to book a room.
Guests are being challenged to steal an original artwork by Banksy, best known for his graffiti-style. Those caught in the act will simply have to admit defeat and rehang the painting, but anyone who gets clean away with the painting gets to keep the AUS$15,000 signed masterpiece as the prize. The challenge was to lift the Banksy original “No Ball Games” and two female guests did indeed use all their cunning and guile to persuade the staff to actually load the painting into their car on December 19, claiming it had to be moved to another hotel.
Previous failed attempts including guests hacking into the CCTV system; placing a listening device beneath the Reception desk and countless requests for false housekeeping issues in a vain attempt to get staff to leave the painting unattended.
The Art Theft challenge continues with a second Banksy original now hanging. Guests have until January 15 to make off with “Pulp Fiction”, by fair means or foul!
As airlines tighten up on luggage excess and begin to charge per bag, guests are really appreciative of the new service at Westin luxury hotels and resorts. They have begun a rental service of New Balance sneakers and workout clothing to save guests having to pack bulky items. Sneakers are provided with brand new sports socks and replacement inner soles, and sports shirts are washed between workouts.
Fairmont Hotels are also addressing the idea and offer Adidas gear free to elite members of its loyalty program, or $10 per stay for all other guests.
The idea of guests carrying less luggage seems to have snowballed, as the Four Seasons Chicago is one of several luxury hotels to provide a storage service for repeat guests, charging only for laundering and pressing. This new service is certainly one way to guarantee customer loyalty from returning guests.
The Trump SoHo in New York also appreciates the need to assist with guest’s wardrobe dilemmas and uses the valet company Garde Robe to store guest’s garments between visits. All these services are sure to eliminate the difficulty of traveling with bulky suitcases, as well as saving on excess luggage fees.
The Hampton Inn and Suites at Wesley Chapel, Florida also sympathises with guests getting hit with excess baggage charges. They have installed a luggage scale in the lobby and provide postal boxes for shipping excess items home to minimise airport charges. It seems that travelling light is the new way to go.
Luxury hotel chain Hyatt has joined with Michelle Obama, Honorary Chair for Partnership with Healthier America, in creating new healthier menus for children. Currently Hyatt Hotels serves nearly 3 million children as guests in their hotels each year. They now pledge to provide a children’s menu with an “improved nutritional profile” in the fight against childhood obesity.
Changes that Hyatt guests will notice include making non-fat and low-fat milk available with free refills, alongside sodas. The children’s menu will be headed with a meal option that meets the MyPlate Federal guidelines for low-calorie healthy food and Hyatt will ensure that illustrations depict the nutritious options. Other changes in the menu should see fruit and vegetables arriving automatically on a child’s plate instead of fries or chips, and french toast will be made from wholegrain bread rather than white bread as at present.
Adult guests are not exempt from the new healthier standards as Hyatt vows to revamp recipes to reduce calories, sugar and sodium. They already serve cage-free eggs in all restaurant and room-service options. All Park Hyatt and Grand Hyatt properties will have the new improved menus in place by the end of 2012 and the hotel aims to reduce calorie intake by 10% across all its menus within three years. Kimpton Hotels has a Healthy Choice Menu with all choices under 500 calories and the Pierre in New York is also featuring lower calorie dishes.
While promoting these new healthy options is commendable, will it really impress loyal guests? And will other movers and shakers in the luxury hotel industry follow the Hyatt’s lead?
As airlines cut back on VIP services, luxury hotels are stepping in to fill the gap by offering new airport services to their valued guests. One of the first luxury hotels to see the need for a resident airport concierge was the Peninsula Beverly Hills. They now employ a team of five staff to meet guests at Los Angeles International Airport and help departing guests by securing better seats or helping with minor emergencies. The airport concierge service is free on arrival but departing guests are charged $100 per family for speeding them through security and giving them access to private airport lounges.
Luxury hotels in Jamaica, including the Island Outpost Hotel and Round Hill Hotel and Villas offer a similar Club Mobay service at Montego Bay Airport. For $30, departing guests can enjoy speedy processing through security and immigration and can relax in the private hotel lounge with Wi-Fi internet access, a mini-spa and a kid’s corner. The Four Seasons Marrakesh goes one better and whisks its guests out of the line at immigration to a VIP lounge where their passports are checked in comfort. Guests are catching on and are choosing to stay in luxury hotels which offer these valued extras.
As in-flight food becomes an optional extra, luxury hotels are also offering meals-to-go. The Jefferson in Washington D.C., the Four Seasons Seattle and the Montage Deer Valley in Park City, Utah are all offering delicious lunch boxes for passengers to enjoy in the airport lounge or onboard. Treats include sandwiches made with Creminelli salami, homemade granola bars and honey pops made by the hotel’s resident beekeeper!