It’s no news to anyone that the pandemic has changed the way we think about travel. As Americans have become more comfortable getting back on the road this year, many are now placing more emphasis on ensuring some level of protection against a certain dreaded virus.
This is certainly the case when it comes to choosing a hotel, and many travelers seem to focus less on traditional considerations, like loyalty programs and location, and more on the hotel as a destination. herself. So how do hotels respond to these demands? By changing things up and offering unique amenities, expanded facilities, and personalized experiences that allow guests to stay put and avoid most crowds. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there these days – beyond the bed.
Graffiti artist Defer at Thompson Hollywood — Photo courtesy of Wendy O’Dea
To celebrate the brand’s 20th anniversary, Thompson Hotels has launched its “Culture Lives Here” program at the end of 2021, featuring local creatives – or culture changers, as they call them. These brand ambassadors are selected based on their significant impact on the local cultural landscape and include graffiti artists, such as Los Angeles-based Defer, as well as tattoo artists, musicians, fashion designers and others. Installations take place at select Thompson properties and dates and artists vary by location.
You hesitate to go around the galleries? Book a stay at The Langham Boston where you can view the work of local artists in the hotel’s brand new Artists’ Lane, located in the first floor foyer. This hotel-based gallery features pieces from the Copley Society of Art, America’s oldest nonprofit arts organization, with the goal of providing a new platform for local artists.
“There are a lot of talented artists in our city,” explains Michele Grosso, general manager of the hotel. “This new rotating art installation is another way to invest in the livelihoods of artists in the Copley Society.”
further west, Hotel Clio, a Luxury Collection hotel in the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver also prides itself on its art collection. It has been revamped to convey a “River of Hope” theme, reflecting the days when prospectors flocked to the area to get rich in Colorado during the Gold Rush. Their collection includes custom furniture and artwork, and the hotel also partners with nearby local galleries where guests can learn about the neighborhood’s rich history.
Rossano Ferretti Hair Spa at Park Hyatt New York — Photo courtesy of Wendy O’Dea
Enhanced spa and wellness offerings
Hotel spas are a dime a dozen, but some are now moving towards more unexpected services and treatments. The Park Hyatt New York recently converted part of its spa area into the Rossano Ferretti Hair Spa, bringing the world-famous Italian salon to its top floor, with stunning views of Central Park.
In Hawaii, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea focuses on holistic health and recently partnered with Next Health, a California-based health and longevity optimization center. Resort guests can book treatments that include ozone therapy, stem cell therapy, and exosome therapy. They also offer IV therapy drops, vitamin injections, biomarker wellness tests and more.
Health IV Drip at Four Seasons Resort Maui — Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
Is it possible to discover and taste wine without moving between the vines and the tasting rooms? It’s in Sonoma. The Lodge in Sonoma, an Autograph Collection hotel, has launched a “Women in Wine Country” series for the 2022 harvest season. Held on the property every other Thursday, the series will allow guests to discover and celebrate women winemakers, creatives, artists, chefs and other notable locals. The events take place until November. Let’s toast to that!
“Just for You” at Hotel Metropole — Photo courtesy of Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo
Private tours and personal experiences
Sure, the hotel concierge can book you a dinner reservation or direct you to the nearest museum, but more upscale hotels have recently raised the bar for concierge services. The Post Oak Hotel in Uptown Houston now offers to host private “Uniquely Post Oak” experiences for guests, such as a helicopter flight to Johnson Space Center for a private behind-the-scenes mission control tour (with an astronaut, no less). Or, for affluent sports fans, they’ve created a Houston Rockets package that includes floor seating, special VIP lounge access, signed jerseys and more.
Likewise, the chic of Monaco Hotel Metropole in Monte Carlo offers a signature program called “Just For You” which is tailored to clients’ preferences and can include anything from arranging a meeting with prestigious French leather designer Berluti or having a private portrait painted by the French painter David Djiango.
Suites with kitchenettes at Mandarin Oriental Boston — Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Boston
Reception, meeting at the hotel
For travelers who prefer to stay alone but still yearn for a refined and pampered hotel experience, Mandarin Oriental Boston found a solution: a superbly designed suite with a small but functional kitchenette. Conveniently located in Boston’s Back Bay, the rooms and suites are impeccably designed and the kitchenette includes a cooktop, microwave and small sink.
Even better: if you’re not in the mood to cook a meal, you can skip Ramsay’s Kitchen which has a private entrance off the lobby for hotel guests. One of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s newest ventures, the contemporary restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner – the latter menu featuring Ramsay’s famous Beef Wellington.
If you want to find a warm and cozy nesting space on the road, grab a book and a cup of tea and settle in for the afternoon in the library of The Jefferson in Washington, DC History buffs love the hotel’s ode to Thomas Jefferson, with its presidential busts and original signed documents. But the piece de resistance is the Monticello-inspired library on the first floor. Guests can leaf through vintage tomes and imagine they’ve traveled back in time.
Bookworms might also enjoy a stay at Oregon’s The Ninea Luxury Collection hotel in Portland, where they can relax in the library with floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books or join in a game of pool while sipping a drink from the library’s cocktail menu.
The private beach at Pelham House Resort — Photo courtesy of Pelham House Resort
Sure, staying outdoors will help limit virus exposure, but maybe not so much when you’re heading to a beach full of wall-to-wall people. For a more secluded getaway, book a hotel or resort that offers a private beach, like Cape Cod’s Pelham House Resort.
Guests of Pelham House could head to the famous Sea Street Beach, adjacent to the property, but why should they when they have access to lounge chairs, a fire pit and food service on the beach Private Pelham, just across the street from the property? And here’s some insider info: Guests staying at the resort’s more affordable sister properties, Pelham on Main and Pelham on Earle, also have access to the private beach, as well as other resort amenities (including the pool and two restaurants). A free shuttle between properties is provided at no cost.
Self-care at RESET Telluride — Photo courtesy of RESET Telluride
Private Wellness Retreats
Wellbeing has never been more important than it is today as we emerge from the pandemic and seek new ways to manage our wellbeing. A number of properties are investing in dedicated personal care suites, such as the one in Los Angeles Hotel Figueroa which now offers a “Rest and Recovery Suite”. The suite includes features such as a mattress that adapts to body temperature, personalized pillows and a Forme fitness mirror for personalized workouts.
Or bet on your well-being and book a six-night stay in all-new Colorado RESET Telluride. This private, ultra-luxury wellness and trekking retreat offers three personalized routes that allow guests to “challenge and indulge in equal measure”. The REACH pathway is a high-impact pathway for goal-setters seeking increased athletic performance; ROAM is adventure-centric and emphasizes the freedom to roam and discover new perspectives. And RECHARGE encourages customers to pause and relax to awaken new energy.
Stargazing balconies at ADERO Scottsdale — Photo courtesy of Wendy O’Dea
I love the idea of being able to stargaze without even leaving the hotel, and I was able to do that recently at ADERO Scottsdale, an Autograph Collection Hotel. The Fountain Hills area of Scottsdale is one of only 37 dark sky communities in the world, and depending on the room category you book (opt for the “celestial suite!”), a telescope may be ready for use on the balcony or terrace of this hotel located above the Sonoran Desert. You can also inquire about various stargazing equipment when you arrive.
The daytime views are equally breathtaking with vast desert landscapes, views of the McDowell Mountains and plenty of desert hiking trails to discover.