Shermans Travel » Blog » Amenity Watch
Captain’s Manor Inn isn’t a full-fledged hotel, but the label “bed and breakfast” hardly seems to do it justice. Don’t get us wrong — we’re huge fans of B&Bs, so we don’t mean it derisively by any means. The intimacy and character of an independent inn, after all, is something that big hotel chains are actually trying to emulate. But when’s the last time you stayed at a bed and breakfast with a dedicated housekeeping staff, with a regular afternoon tea hour in its “bistro” and rain showers in guest bathrooms?
In these days of AirBnB and Couchsurfing, travel that highlights the local experience is becoming more attractive. Traditional travel companies need to compete; this is how some hotels are doing just that.
They say idleness is the mother of all vices – so it’s a good thing we had so much to keep us busy during a recent jaunt through rural southern Utah. Heading for St. George, a small, oft-overlooked town in the state’s bottom-left quarter that’s just under two hours from Vegas, we packed in a full three days of hiking, kayaking, outdoor yoga, and even a little art gallery browsing. And the best part: We even had time left over for some poolside lounging. Here’s how you can do it, too:
You know you can ask the concierge to arrange a jeep tour or recommend a local restaurant. But did you know they’ll also hunt down the perfect souvenir or replace those dress slacks you forgot to pack while you lounge by the pool?
Most concierges want to do whatever it takes to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. The best part is that the concierge’s time and expertise is usually complimentary, though you’ll of course be charged for items and services purchased on your behalf. Gratuities aren’t mandatory but are always appreciated (a simple thank you in person or a sincere email when you return home go a long way, too).
Here, some surprising requests that you can ask of your concierge:
Forget lounging by the pool with a sleepy novel as you drift from port to port. Cruise ships today are working hard to outdo each other when it comes to thrills. Here are the latest on-board attractions that pack a serious adrenaline rush.
Who doesn’t love looking at photos of beautiful hotels? OK, maybe lots of people don’t, but our travel-addicted selves definitely do. Case in point, we’re loving these new shots of the remodeled Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles. This classic hotel is known as a haven for celebs — especially musicians. (Harry Connick Jr. met his wife by the pool. Dave Grohl met his by the bar.)
The Kimpton Hotel Group pioneered the boutique hotel concept in the U.S. when it opened its first property in San Francisco in 1981. Since then, its stylish hotels have popped up in 29 cities across the country. And there’s more on the way: Properties will open in Pittsburgh, Austin, Chicago, and even the Cayman Islands, to name a few, within the next two years.
With two hotels welcoming visitors in the “City of Brotherly Love,” we took the opportunity to check in at the Palomar, Kimpton’s first Philadelphia hotel, which which debuted in the Rittenhouse Square area in 2009.
It’s not uncommon for upscale hotels and resorts to offer guests extraordinary excursions and activities, but Four Seasons takes it to a whole new level. From dining center stage at a historic opera house to designing a custom pair of Lucchese boots, here are a few exclusive Four Seasons that we love dreaming about.
These days, hotels are offering more extra perks than ever to tempt potential guests. Some go with a bottle of water, others throw in breakfast, and free WiFi is becoming more common than ever. Brands like Andaz and Kimpton also grant free minibar access (for reward program members). But when it comes to over-the-top treats, three properties have gone above and beyond in the generosity factor in lending luxury cars to their guests — allowing visitors to save while exploring their surroundings in comfort and style.
Are the days of being subjected to pre-selected movies in those tiny overhead screens on airplanes truly coming to an end? Within the past few months, several airlines have rolled out a bevy of new inflight-entertainment options. Many of these options are low-cost or completely free, leaving room in your budget to spring for an inflight beer.
Last week, I flew 30 hours halfway around the world and back, just to spend 61 hours in Asia. Considering that I had to report back to the office the morning after the trip, it seemed like a great time to cash in all of my EVA Air miles and upgrade myself to business class from premium economy.
It was glorious.
I know I probably won’t be experiencing business class again anytime soon, but there’s no harm in dreaming. Whether you’re already scrounging together your points or just like to fantasize, here are five things I really loved:
You select your seat when you make a flight reservation, so wouldn’t it make sense that hotels would let you choose your room? Hilton think so. The company has recently launched an update to its HHonors app that allows guests to pick specific rooms from a floor plan using their mobile device, making them the first hospitality company to do so. Hilton aims to offer this service at 4,000 hotels (covering 650,000 rooms) by the end of the year. Read more
It’s the last month of summer. Make it count with a memorable weekend away. Whether you crave an island vacation in the Caribbean or a few days steeped in American heritage, these last-minute deals for August (and beyond) will satisfy both your wanderlust and your thriftiness.
While restaurants are constantly touting their farm-to-table ingredients, it isn’t often that diners actually get to see where their meals are coming from. But a growing number of hotels are giving guests a chance to peek behind the curtain, with working farms located right on property. Here, how four hotels across the country are incorporating a true “farm fresh” movement into their visitors’ stays.
Volcanoes and tropical rainforests are all well and good, but to get a taste of Costa Rican culture at its core, head into the countryside. That is, after all, where fiestas and horse parades came to fame. It’s where the only “traffic” might come from a feisty cow that’s strayed from its cattle, with a sabanero (cowboy) hot at its heels — where horseback actually is a popular mode of transportation, and where any local can howl exactly like the ubiquitous monkey clans that rove the trees.
If this sounds like a far-reaching haven, don’t worry. Along the northern Pacific Coast, Guanacaste is easily accessible via Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, serviced by 12 airlines from North America. (JetBlue, for one, flies direct from New York JFK from less than $400 roundtrip.) For an affordably pampering home base, check into JW Marriott Guanacaste. With its spacious rooms and tropical hacienda look — not to mention palatable off-season rates right now — it’s a fine extension of the laid-back, grounded spirit of the region.
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