Cool trends are just that — cool! Trend hunting gets me going as it stimulates the creativity, keeps a roof over my head and, often (knock on wood), breakthroughs occur that truly make a difference!
Currently, I am witnessing a downright explosion from chains looking for new products or experiences with one consistent caveat: it must contain a twist. Coming off of a challenging decade that was about everything needing a functional purpose, or if it ain’t broke, don’t break or change it. This new pulse is unlike anything I’ve experienced in the industry over the last two decades.
Let’s examine a few examples of this new movement, which is all about “guest delight.”
First-class concierge teams are masters of going above and beyond to ensure guests can access one-of-a-kind experiences — after-hours shopping in the best boutiques; difficult-to-obtain tickets to sold-out events, theater and TV shows; and private excursions that would make the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalogue staff shiver! Concierge staffers are hunters, and like trend hunters, they love to chase the avant garde and obscure.
Nothing is impossible at the notable Four Seasons Prague, which relishes offering exclusive tours of the Lobkowicz Palace with Prince Lobkowicz himself! Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon arranges personal bullfighting experiences, while Four Seasons Los Angeles can secure the downright impossible ticket to the mega-hit TV show, “American Idol”!
Signature room amenities have returned while some properties are moving their luxury dials towards posh, sexy and inventive pleasures! Take the return of “the bath,” with a butler-drawn tub experience (including a tub organizer filled with luxury products) or a chef’s bed dinner for two, in-room stripper poles, overstocked wet bars and — my personal favorite — in lieu of those uncomfortable terry cloth slippers, The Ivy in San Diego stocking their suites with Swarovski-encrusted Havaianas flip-flops!
Giving your kids an opportunity to sleep in the middle of their dream is back on trend. (Thank you Mr. Cruise and his 10-star Suri pampering!) The world of fairy tales is more popular than ever, which leads me to believe a kids room devoted to a princess or Barbie theme should end up becoming a popular booking. It’s luxury for your princess or prince, whether it be a room reminiscent of Cinderella’s royal chamber or decked out in your local sports team paraphernalia, or a setting where everything is pink and accessorized with Barbie.
A rather genius idea took place at a Laguna Beach, California, boutique property — La Casa del Camino — which partnered with local, top-notch clothing designers to create what was dubbed the Casa Surf Project to brand its rooms. This brilliant idea allows the guest to stay in the sportswear-branded suite of their choice while the designers foot the bill. The ad campaign was also clever: “crash in style”!
This idea will get your property into a tech-savvy mode if it isn’t already. The Algonquin Hotel in New York City is known for housing some of the biggest authors, which has assisted the property in becoming a historic hotspot. Guests receive complimentary books via loaned Kindles that are preloaded with their preselected choice before arrival. The novel idea was strategically launched during National Literacy Month.
So for some, a bed and four walls obviously just isn’t enough. Guests want it all, which is setting new standards for the hotel experience. Hotels rooms are reverting to the stuff dreams are made of, which leads me to offer some relatively safe and logical advice. Don’t allow your properties to settle for anything average. In other words, get back to knowing your guests, follow their lead and give them something they don’t have.
Isn’t that why we’re all here anyway?