We looked at how to book hotel rooms, how to check-in, even how to store your bags but we haven’t actually gone into the room yet so here we are! The previous section described how technology is shaping experiences throughout the hotel including amenities in the room. There is no question the shift is continuing towards more control and independence all delivered through the use of personal devices, giving the guest the capability of leveraging all the technology they’re travelling with.
Apart from control through personal devices, hotels are also thinking carefully about offering a stimulating in-room experience in a multitude of different ways. The latest darling child in in-room experiences is the inaugural Virgin Hotel in Chicago. We have to admit, we’re fans partly because so many of its ideas are well thought-through rather than mere gimmicks. Its features include a clock that projects the time onto the ceiling at night, a swivelling table, shoe racks, mini Smeg fridges, service lights instead of ‘do not disturb’ signs and our personal favourite, in every shower there is a built-in bench for ladies to be able to shave their legs easily. (Clearly a woman was part of that design team!)
The Virgin Hotel also offers guests snacks and drinks from the honour bar at high street prices rather than the usual inflated prices at many hotels. These days what you can buy from your mini-bar goes way beyond salted nuts and miniatures. French fashion brand Pimkie has joined up with Banks Boutique Hotel in Antwerp to offer a Mini Fashion Bar. The clothing range is curated by fashion bloggers and focuses on things that women may have forgotten to pack like a trench coat for unexpected weather or an evening dress for a night out. A menu and price list reflect a traditional mini bar and once a selection is made the concierge can replace the item you desire with one that is your size. As soon as clothes are worn they are owned by the guest and paid for on check-out.
A similar service has been launched at the W in London except that rather than fashion bloggers choosing what’s in your clothing mini-bar, the “Walk Out Wardrobe” puts you firmly in control of your fashion choices. Digital clothing hire company Girl Meets Dress can deliver a selection of different dresses to choose from or you can use an iPad to view the full range of 4,000 garments for same day delivery.
The W seems to be all about glamour. In the W in London you can dress for the party, at the W Amsterdam you can stay in a purpose-built party room. Whilst they are most often used for product launches and events, guests who want to celebrate that special occasion will be able to party in the knowledge that their bed is just a few feet away from the dance floor! ‘WOW Suites’ as they are called are also available at other W properties around the world.
All that partying’s got to take a toll at some point but even if our days have been a lot less exciting, a good night’s sleep is still the key need when staying at a hotel. Some hotels are taking their responsibility very seriously. We have seen pillow menus at various establishments; mattresses that promise heavenly slumbers and even specialised lighting to help reset guests’ circadian rhythms after long trips. The Benjamin Hotel in Manhattan has gone one step further by bringing in a sleep consultant. Rebecca Robbins helps to advise guests on various sleep-related issues including what to eat before bed, what type of pillow to use etc. The Benjamin’s range of pillows include a music-playing lullaby pillow and a maternity pillow. We also like the idea of a “work-down” call (as opposed to a “wake-up call”). This is to remind guests to wrap up what they’re doing so they can focus on getting a good night’s sleep.
And just as you are tucked up in bed… what better way to ensure those zzzs come fast than by giving you a little reading material to send you off in the best possible mood. The Ace Hotel in New York is tapping into the old-fashioned charm of the handwritten letter to personalise their guests’ stay. The Dear Reader initiative will invite a different writer to stay each month of the year who will then write an open letter to guests. The 12 writers were selected to tell an unforgettable story and hope to leave a lasting memory with guests who will receive their letter at turn-down on a surprise day… and they all lived happily ever after…
For the next section of this trendsletter click here. Alternatively you can download your full PDF edition of TMI-Spy Hotels & Leisure Summer 2015 here or you can also email [email protected] to receive your copy straight into your inbox.