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Luxury hotels and their cars - there’s a subject we’ve covered from many angles. From tooling in a Tesla around SoCal, to hotel suites dedicated to the Bentley and the Jaguar, to an entire hotel that celebrates the Ferrari.
For a traveling luxury car enthusiast, what could be better? How about driving one of these babies yourself? You know you want to, and now you can, if you're staying at the The Athenaeum in London, or at one of a selection of Waldorf Astoria Hotels around the world.
A typical Moiree offering
You know the feeling. You travel to a place and realize you forgot your nice clothes. Or you want to go to a posher restaurant than you realized. Or, heaven forbid, your airline loses your suitcase and you have no clothes. What to do? You run out and buy a new outfit.
Not if you’re in Vienna, where you call Moiree and order some clothes. And not just any clothes – clothes designed by Austrians.
Moiree, which launched late last year, is a bit like Rent the Runway – you can rent clothes for 15% of their retail value – except unlike Rent the Runway, it works exclusively with hotels, and it delivers in three hours. Yes, three hours max.
Hotel Cars / Hotel Amenities / Hotel Services / Bentley / St Regis Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / → All Tags
And then there are the Bentleys that go out of date and get replaced by a new fleet of Bentleys, so swish is the hotel that they work for. The hotel in question? The St Regis New York.
Running a little later than the year, the St Regis has just unveiled its “2015 Bentley fleet” (because the 2014 Bentley fleet is over). It’s not just any Bentley fleet, either; this is one with a separate car for day and night (the only Bentley house car service in the world to do this, although if you have enough money to buy a fleet of Bentleys, why wouldn’t you switch them up when night falls?).
Tipping extra for room service, when there are already gratuity and delivery charges involved, has long been a hot topic here at HotelChatter. But contributing editor Will McGough is seriously fed up with these service shenanigans. Here's his rant. Got a hotel rant of your own to share? Send it to us!
Before I went to bed at a $300+ per night luxury hotel, I called room service and ordered two plates of eggs, wheat toast, yogurt, and coffee for two. I asked that it arrive around 7:30 a.m., and after confirming this and my order, the woman hung up. I went to sleep. I woke up the next morning via my alarm at 7:20 a.m., brushed my teeth, and got back in bed to wait. I was on a semi-tight schedule, having to leave the room by 8 a.m., so when the clock turned 7:32 a.m., I decided to jump in the shower.
A few minutes later--probably five or so by my mental clock--I heard the knock at the door. I was in the shower, so my girlfriend signed for it. A little late, but no worries. I dressed and came out, poured some coffee, and dug in. After the quick meal, my girlfriend went to get dressed, and as I was moving the service table out of the way, I saw the copy of the receipt under one of the dishes. Curious as to what my girlfriend left for a tip, I looked at the bill.
She had left a smaller than usual tip, and when I asked her about it, she said it was because the food had arrived late. A woman after my own heart, for sure.
But then I looked closer, and my eyes immediately transformed into saucers. A forced gratuity had been added to the tune of 18%, something my girlfriend, an innocent rookie when it comes to luxury hotel stays, had overlooked.
Hotel Butlers / Viceroy Hotels / Caribbean Hotels / Hotel Services / Hotel Technology / St Lucia Hotels / → All Tags
Remember that bright red phone that went straight to Batman’s cave, summoning him whenever crime was afoot and a superhero was required? Well, Viceroy Sugar Beach Resort in St. Lucia has one of those. Except it’s not red, necessarily. And it doesn't summon Batman, but rather, your butler.
But this one works from the beach. And if you find yourself in a dire champagne emergency — well, let’s just say that not all heroes wear capes.
We recently spent some time at Sugar Beach, a resort replete with amenities throughout its luxury villas--from infinity plunge pools overlooking the sea below, to full wet bars stocked with local beers and rum. (Also awesome: private terrace views of a spectacular Caribbean sunset flanked on each side by the lush Piton mountains.)
One of our favorites, though, is the handy provision of Firefly mobile phones. The brand is typically treated as a “starter cell” for kids, since the phones are restricted to dialing among a handful of pre-programmed numbers. Sugar Beach, however, cleverly repurposes them as service bells, basically.
Front Desk Tips / Repeat Guests / Hotel Loyalty Programs / Aditya Rajaram / Hotel Services / → All Tags
Recently, a reader and frequent hotel guest was exasperated that a hotel did not recognize his repeat stays, asking the forced and scripted question,"Have you stayed with us before?" each time he checked in. We turned to our Front Desk Guy, Aditya Rajaram to answer why this happened. As hotels ramp up their "let's be friends" and "we care about you, really" marketing schemes to entice the "new generation" of travelers, we thought this was an important aspect of the hotel experience to analyze. Here's his take on it all.
The question of loyalty at hotels is perhaps one of the most fundamental questions in hospitality. The ability to recognize and appreciate a returning guest is a balancing act between art and science. The "science" of it is left to the multiple hotel company systems and databases that store prior stays, preferences and options but the "art" comes from the hotel employee's ability to filter through all the data, and perhaps rely on their own memory system, so they can genuinely welcome back each guest and provide them with a customized stay.
Unfortunately, both science and art can fail, leading to a really bad scenario. When this happens, the hotel does not only have the requisite guest information (history of stay, preferences etc) on file but they do not appropriately reward their loyalty with warmth, relevant perks or a heightened level of service.
Below, I'll explain how recognizing repeat guests *should* work, as well as explain what commonly goes wrong.
We've long been a fan of Kimpton Hotels' Forgot it? We've got it!" amenity program, which sends up, on request, any toiletries that guests may have forgotten to pack from contact lens solution to straightening irons. But now at The EPIC Hotel in Miami, the amenity program extends to Halloween costumes.
That's right, if you've forgotten to pack your sexy ladybug costume, or just decided on a whim to go trick or treating, the EPIC Hotel can lend you a costume to wear for the night.
We inquired about the Halloween costume choices and they include the following:
· Clown make up
· Clown noses
· Rainbow bow tie
· Child & adult cat costume
· Bunny ears
· Various mustaches
· Venetian masks
And if you stay at the hotel on Halloween, you can indulge in special pumpkin oil aroma therapies and massages from the hotel's Exhale Spa during the hotel's complimentary wine hour. A Halloween candy buffet will also be on display. Over at the hotel's bars and lounges--LILT, Area31 and a the rooftop pool deck, speciality Halloween cocktails will be served too.
Rooms at the EPIC start at $249 a night.
Hotel Cars / Hotel Amenities / Hotel Services / Macau Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Rolls Royce / Hotel Openings / → All Tags
Rolls Royce Phantom
Here's one way for a hotel to drum publicity before opening: Place the world's single-largest order for Rolls-Royces ever.
There were no figures released on how much the cars were purchased for, but given that the hotel recently raised another $135 million in funding, we're guessing money was no issue. The total cost of the hotel, shown in rendering format below, will be about $1 billion.
The newly-opened EVEN Hotel in Norwalk, Connecticut
The development of the EVEN Hotels brand has been an interesting thing to watch as it attempts to appeal to travelers, presumably of the business variety, who want to stay in shape while on the road. And it's introduced some ideas and concepts that are sure to keep even casually health-conscious people thinking fitness, including "in-room training zones" and an in-house restaurant concept that makes it easy to make good decisions.
Obviously, the idea is to attract active guests. Which is why we're curious to hear your thoughts on the brand's latest guest service offering: Waterproof wristbands that act as the room key and a form of cashless currency.
According to a press release, the wristbands will reflect the "new, wellness-oriented hotel brand's efforts to appeal to particularly active guests." They cost $8, but can be kept and reused on a future stay. The wristbands can even be customized with a company logo.
Hmmm... guess that takes the "presumably" out of the above statement about EVEN Hotels going after business travelers. It's convenience for repeat guests that is for sale here, and there's probably a small underlying assumption that active guests are likely to rock an athletic-type wristband.
The practice of using robots in hotels is rare but not new.
We came across a space-themed capsule hotel in China entirely staffed by robots. Way back in 2006, a Sheraton Hotel in Japan unleashed some robots to greet guests. The Hotel @ MIT has a robot on display and of course, we cannot forget about the Yotel luggage robot in Times Square. Yet while these were all innovative additions, with the exception of the Yobot, these hotel robots really didn't fulfill a service need for guests. Until now.
The NY Times reports that the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, across from Apple's headquarters, will start using a Botlr Robot by Silicon Valley start-up Savioke on August 20. (Follow the adventure on social media with the hashtag #MeetBotlr.)
The Botlr's mission is simple. It "will shuttle items from the hotel lobby desk to guest rooms." So let's say you've just got settled into room and have changed into your pajamas when you realize that you've forgotten a toothbrush. Instead of going back downstairs or calling housekeeping and waiting forever to have a toothbrush delivered, the Botlr will bring it up to you. Here's how Botlr does what it does:
James Hotels / Hotel Books / Hotel Literary Programs / Joel Stein / Hotel Services / Hotel Amenities / Hotel Coctails / → All Tags
While most hotels are introducing new services to guests via in-room tablets, James Hotels are going a different route.
The boutique brand has partnered up with writer, author and humorist Joel Stein, who we first fell in love with during his stint on VH1's "I Love The 80s" show, to create a new literary program for guests.
Stein has chosen four paperback books for each James location--New York, Chicago, Miami and the upcoming Los Angeles hotel--which guests can read during their stay. The books will be available in the living libraries at each hotel but in New York and Miami, the books can be also uploaded to the eReaders and Kindles that are available (So, it's still a tech-forward program.)
But that's not all. Master mixologist Johnny Swet who does the libations at JIMMY in New York, has created cocktails that pair with each city's corresponding books and personalities. Hmm, we're seeing a pattern here--James, Joel, Johnny. Maybe with my name, I could get a job too?
Here's what on the James summer reading list, as selected by Stein and the corresponding cocktail as crafted by Swet:
· The Big Short by, Michael Lewis: “Sure, there’s advertising and media, but this is actually a one-industry town and that industry is money. Michael Lewis explains how our economy depends entirely on a bunch of traders who don’t entirely know what they’re doing and how they messed up in 2008.”
· A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan: “Unfortunately, you have to finish the novel to feel all the disparate stories come together, but I hereby give you permission to steal it. I’m guessing I’m empowered to do that.” Heat by, Bill Buford: “Everyone in New York is a part-time restaurant critic. You’re going to spend a lot of time talking about where to eat and what you thought of where you ate. So you might as well read this and find out how hard it is to cook that meal.”
· From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by, E.L. Konigsburg: “Yes, it’s a kid’s book. But that’s exactly what you have time for in a hotel. And if you take the book’s advice and check out of this hotel, hide in the Met after it closes, sleep there and buy street food with the coins you find in the fountain, you’ll save your company a lot on your expense report.”
· New York Cocktail Pairing: Blood & Sand - a classic cocktail that blends Chivas Regal Scotch, Sweet Vermouth, Cherry Herring and Orange Juice.
It's not a rare 1961 Ferrari GT California but it is pretty sweet.
Thompson Chicago has revved up their offerings for hotel guests, thanks to a new partnership with Lexus.
Guests can ride around town in a sleek Lexus IS 350 convertible or a ginormous LX 570 LUV--luxury utility vehicle--without any mileage restrictions, i.e. no one telling you the ride is only good for a one-mile radius from the hotel. The rides are complimentary and feature a pre-programmed navigation system with addresses to Chicago landmarks and nearby road trip destinations outside of Illinois. But of course, you'll still rely on Google Maps anyways.
Guests can also choose to ride in the house car, which is an LS 460 L flagship sedan, driven by a personal chauffeur and equipped with complimentary bottled water, the Chicago Tribune newspaper and Wi-Fi mobile hotspot functionality.
Rates next weekend at Thompson start at $429 a night so having the use of a Lexus during your stay makes that a little more bearable. And if you already own a Lexus, you can book the Thompson Chicago through the Lexus Drivers Site and get a $100 hotel credit which can be used towards dining and drinks at the hotel's Salone Nico or Nico Osteria.