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Some hotel amenities are silly, some are stylish, some are gimmicky and some are over-the-top awesome. And then there are those that you’d take any day over six sessions with a pet psychic–that is, amenities that are supremely practical.
For the millions of Americans who suffer from dust and chemical allergies (or are just plain sensitive to either) traveling and staying in hotels can be a huge headache, as we expose our systems to new environments whose elements we can’t control. To some a fluffy feather comforter is heaven–to others, it means a sneezefest. The Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile is paying attention.
If you’ve been hankering for the conveniences that once came free with your plane tickets, you’ll be happy to learn that many of them are being offered again on American Airlines – but, rather predictably, with a price tag attached. The airline rolled out a “Boarding and Flexibility Package” option on its menu of “Your Choice” services last week, as part of its commitment to giving customers increased control over their travel experiences. Now, passengers can secure their places in Group 1 of general boarding (allowing them to be among the first to board their flight), enjoy a 50 percent off discount on flight changes (a $75 value), and have the option to standby for earlier flights on departure days, free of charge. With introductory prices as low as $9, depending on your flight route, we think these conveniences may be well worth indulging in.
J.D. Power and Associates, a global marketing information services company, published its 2010 North America Airline Satisfaction Study last week, revealing that for the first time in 3 years, customer satisfaction with North American airlines has actually increased. Yes, this may come as a surprise given the seemingly constant complaints from passengers about extra fees, poor service, and airport delays, but it seems to us that travelers have finally had time to come to terms with the barrage of new á la carte fees introduced back in 2008, and are even learning to appreciate their benefits (namely, less lost and delayed luggage due to fewer checked bags, and the lower bottom line on airfare ticket costs thanks to “unbundled” fare pricing). Read more
The Stafford London by Kempinski is one of our favorite hotels in London: the St. James location (within walking distance of St. James’s Park and Buckingham Palace) is perfect and the elegant décor a flawless mix of contemporary conveniences and traditional style. But what truly sets the hotel apart is the staff, who specializes in a rare brand of unstuffy-but-spot-on service (the head concierge, Frank Laino, is as good as they come).
To wit, the hotel’s latest amenity, the Baggage Emergency Response Squad, is both exactly what you want and just a bit whimsical. The squad works to ameliorate that most pesky of travel problems: luggage lost on the flight over. Read more
Before ever stepping foot into the extravagant five-star boutique hotel, confirmed guests arriving at Red Carnation’s The Milestone, located across Kensington Palace and The Royal Gardens, are invited to fill out a detailed preference form.
Personalized questions such as “what are your hobbies/interests?” or “what is your favorite color?” allow Milestone staff to tailor one of their uniquely designed 57 luxury rooms and 6 apartments to suit your individual style. Handpicked antiques, original oil paintings, and intricately designed décor add to each room’s deluxe personality. Themes range from a Safari suite with animal prints and a colonial ceiling fan to the Mistinguett boudoir-styled room named and fashioned after the 20th-century French actress and her flamboyance with vivid splashes of red and plush fur. Read more
You have traveled far, mighty traveler. You are tired. You have checked into your hotel room, dropped your bags, and feel refreshed after a shower. All thats required now is the perfect cocktail to make the world right again.
But the hotel lobby bar is, well, in the lobby. And you are not.
Say “adiós” to your rug rats, family, and friends in the States and “¡hola!” to the adults-only El Dorado Royale Resort on the Riviera Maya, in Mexico this winter. For a limited time only, this opulent all-inclusive beachfront resort is slashing its nightly prices to $359 – that’s $120 off standard rates! Plus, El Dorado Royale is giving its guests $500 worth of resort credit, which can be redeemed at the resort spa and wine cellar, or used for a romantic candlelight dinner on the beach.
The hotel staff may be the ultimate amenity. They are the welcoming faces, the helpful hands to your room, an insider who knows how to get a reservation—basically, they make or break your stay in a new destination. Lately I’ve been reading up on some of these behind-the-scene staffers who have earned more than their share of gold stars in service. Here, some of the notables:
Ali Kasikci, Managing Director, Montage Beverly Hills
Known for his attention to deal, Kasikci keeps tabs on all his guests—literally. Well-known and repeat guests are assigned a note card that specifies preferences, even habits of guests. It’s these extra details that makes for a personalized stay, and ensures the property gets it right each time. What guests may not realize is that Kasikci has a hand in everything, from the closet’s hangers (designed to specifically help fill out men’s suits) to the bathroom’s amenities (they were pop top and prone to spill…now they screw on and off).
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