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Unique Ways Hotels are Redefining Luxury Amenities for Their Guests | By Adam Hoydysh
Imagine you're an avid traveler, who is no stranger to luxury perks. With a passport that boasts stamps from destinations around the world, you've found yourself making a temporary home at countless hotels, each with their own unique appeal. On a leisure trip to the Palms Resorts Casino, you check into the Empathy Suite; a room which, by any measure, marks the very epitome of luxury. The villa is recently redesigned, featuring sharks suspended in formaldehyde, a salt relaxation room, butler service and even a cantilevered outdoor pool, set across 9,000 square feet of prime resort real estate. The biggest perk of all? You've been granted a $10,000 credit to spend at the hotel just for being a VIP guest. If this paints a rather far-fetched picture, it's likely because the luxury described here comes at a cost. A steep one, at that. While the suite is surely a worthy backdrop to the ultimate Las Vegas dream vacation, it is currently the most expensive hotel suite in the world. $100,000 per night, to be exact. Of course, extreme luxury offerings aren't a new concept to hotels around the globe. From fragrance or soap butlers to personalized firework displays, private helicopter rides, or even access to a Rolls-Royce Ghost for a day, luxury perks are meant to truly 'wow' guests. However, in many cases, these luxuries are more of a costly add-on than a built-in amenity and, therefore, represent an experience that, although exceptional, may be largely inaccessible for many. With this in mind, modern luxury has become a redefined concept, especially as of late. After all, shouldn't 'luxury' or rather, 'share-worthy' experiences be more accessible to all guests? So, how can hoteliers redefine luxury experiences for the modern traveler? What high-touch services or amenities are accessible and easy to implement, but are still representative of exceptional, stand out service? Unique and Personalized Service Over the past few years, the demand for luxury has steadily shifted away from goods to favor experiences, instead. This, coupled with the subsequent rise in demand for personalization, has created a hospitality landscape in which those properties are offering inherently unique services and enhanced personalization. At the beginning of this year, an op-ed was published to Business Insider titled, "Luxury travelers want more than ever before, and hotels are borrowing a tactic used by Netflix and Amazon to keep up." The article spoke to how rather simple personalization tactics commonly utilized by services such as Netflix and Amazon, can be replicated at hotels to delight guests. Much like Netflix takes note of what we watched last and crafts suggestions according to that information, hotels should make a note of guest preferences and act on them accordingly with personalized amenities or offers. This can be achieved in many ways, ranging from in-room settings (including pre-set temperature, lighting, entertainment and more) or complimentary services, to a chilled glass of a guest's favorite wine, ready upon check-in, via Plum. The Alfond Inn at Rollins, which was recently singled out as a top hotel in the Condé Nast Traveler 2018 Readers' Choice Awards, has made a name for itself through the delivery of unique, memorable, guest-centric service. With the addition of in-room, on-demand wine for their guests, they can provide a unique, hyper-convenient luxury amenity with ease. The St. Regis hotel in Washington, DC has seen similar success, with their Director of Operations sharing that "The positive feedback we've received from guests since we first introduced Plum has been amazing." Not only does this aim to delight new travelers, but it is also a service which can be leveraged to recognize and celebrate loyal, VIP guests. In many cases, it's the simple but meaningful gestures and amenities such as in-room wine and personalized touches, which help to bring special attention to each guest amongst a sea of travelers. This, in itself, is modern, tangible luxury. Ultimately, a hotel doesn't have to go to extremes to differentiate their service. Instead, it's about going the extra mile to get to know guests, recognize their preferences and provide them with a home away from home. Tapping Into Authentic, Local Experiences Guests today have a noted penchant for local experiences, often seeking out opportunities, amenities, and services which allow them to get closer to the culture of the area which they are visiting. Guests want to experience the world through a local perspective, in ways that aren't to be defined as the status quo. To answer this demand, many hotels around the globe offer their guests in-depth destination guides or host their own locally-led tours and experiences. London-based hotel, Leman Locke, does this especially well, offering guests a 5K running club every Wednesday that involves a scenic jog through the city led by the hotel's running coach. Not only that, but guests can join a Saturday morning yoga club hosted by local yoga coaches Sabi and Danielle, and an atmospheric dawn tour of East London with London-based photographer Anthony Epes. Many hotels are also relying on their F&B program to achieve this effect, with the help of locally-inspired dining and beverage menus. Even going beyond on-property restaurants and bars, The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills now offers guests in-room wine from the award-winning, local winery, J. Lohr and Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay. This allows guests to get a taste of premium, California wine culture without having to buy a whole bottle, and within the comfort of their hotel room. 'Wow' Them with Wellness Initiatives Wellness enclaves are becoming relatively common across luxury hotels, as travelers express a growing desire for health-conscious programs and services. Hotels around the world are now finding creative ways to integrate wellness into their service model, from property design and amenities to daily operations. The Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., took note of the rise in wellness travel and decided to cater to their prospective health-conscious guests with the creation of 13 new 'Wellness Rooms.' Each room is focused on one of the three elements of wellness: comfort, relaxation, and fitness, including amenities such as aromatherapy bath salts, showerheads delivering water infused with Vitamin C, desk wellness balls, yoga mats, sound + sleep machines, air purifiers, and more. These rooms are also conveniently located near the hotel's recently renovated fitness center which features state of the art equipment and a full-service spa. While this may seem like a rather lofty investment into the wellness segment, consider this: The Global Wellness Institute calculated the global spend on wellness tourism at $639.4 billion in 2017 alone. Of course, not every wellness program will require extensive renovations. Many hotels are tapping into this new kind of luxury by offering their guests health-focused dining options, saline swimming pools, fitness centers or incentives for local fitness offerings, in-room exercise or meditation guides via a Smart TV, bike-share programs, and so much more. While certain extravagance and grandeur will always have its place in hospitality, many travelers are interested in a different kind of luxury today. For them, high-end service is not necessarily found in the Penthouse Suite, but can instead be accomplished through unique and personalized service, local experiences and wellness-focused amenities. Fortunately for hoteliers, luxury service doesn't always need to be a far-fetched or costly concept. It can be achieved with something as simple as a personal gesture or touch in a hotel room, a fully stocked fitness center or, perhaps, a chilled glass of in-room wine.

Airbnb Morphing Into The Amazon For Accommodations | By Larry Mogelonsky
We've all witnessed Airbnb's dramatic growth over the past dozen or so years. Rising from a backpacker's way to secure a cheap room, this distribution behemoth recently introduced its Luxe product line. Ranging from private Pacific Atolls to elegant French Chateaux, the offerings are a far cry from their original couch-surfing roots. Airbnb's incredible brand expansion has translated into a market valuation of over $30 billion or roughly two-thirds that of Marriott, the traditional accommodation segment leader.

Technology Disruption and The Future of Hospitality F&B | By Sridhar Laveti
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