Okay, it’s March 2 already, so I’m a little behind the times posting a what’s in and what’s out in 2014 list, but Catherine Colford at Hawkins International PR put together a pretty interesting compilation of what’s new and old at hotels across the globe these days, so I thought I’d go ahead and share it with you. Here are 8 trends you’ll be seeing at hotels this year and others you can officially wave good-bye to.
1. A New Spin on the Bar
What's Out: Drinks and a cheese plate at the bar
What's In: Drinks and a cheese plate served tableside
Hotel restaurants bring the party to you with impressive bar carts drawn tableside. Brunch guests at 45 Park Lane in London, for example, are treated to a Bloody Mary trolley stocked with the finest local market ingredients to cater to every taste—from beef stock and horseradish vodka to chili syrup and spice gomme. The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia, surprises diners with an unexpected cow-shaped cheese cart named Faira that is arrayed with a remarkable selection of cheeses from around the world, while the iconic Martini Cart at the Omni Royal Orleans in New Orleans delivers martinis right to your table that are just $2, and which are double the size of a regular martini at that.
2. A Sleep to Remember
What's Out: Staying up all night
What's In: Sleeping through the night
Why party all night when you can get the best rest of your life? Hotels are putting an emphasis on offerings to help their guests get a good night's snooze. The Hotel Vermont in Burlington, Vermont, has a special bedtime menu with a long list of sleep-friendly amenities that include a selection of Lunaroma aromatherapy products, flannel PJ sets, Vermont teddy bears, bedtime stories, and a hot toddy selection. The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, is turning up the heat on turndown amenities with temple balm and a reflexology foot treatment as a turndown amenity, along with a "Goodnight Wishes" card with tips for relaxing. The Dorchester in London offers a Sleep Deeply massage to send guests to slumberland in a hurry.
3. Text Your Request
What's Out: Dialing "0" to reach the concierge desk
What's In: Using your smartphone or tablet to reach the concierge and book reservations
Hotels are inviting guests to make requests without saying a word. Three Loews Hotels properties are testing a pilot program that takes guest requests through text messages, with replies guaranteed within four minutes. Loews also recently debuted a program that invites guests to make "social reservations" through Twitter: Simply tweet @Loews_Hotels with the hashtag #BookLoews and a Loews travel planner will assist you with your reservation. The Nines hotel in Portland, Oregon, offers its own "Nines Touch" app enabling guests to "chat" directly with hotel staff through their mobile devices to order room service, check out local events, arrange transportation, and submit requests to the concierge. The Red Coat Direct program at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, lets meeting planners text hotel staff with questions, comments, or requests during their meeting.
4. Boost Your Bath
What's Out: BYO toiletries
What's In: Bath bars
Decadent baths have long been a favorite treat at luxury hotels. In 2014, many properties are enhancing their already lavish bath experiences with expertly drawn baths. The Hotel Madeline in Telluride, Colorado, offers a "Bath Bar" and "Bath Barista," who comes to your room to customize your bath with bath salts, facial cleaners, body oil infused with lemon, juniper, cardamom, and more. Guests at the Lake Arrowhead Resort 90 minutes east of Los Angeles can summon the Bath Butler to deliver luxe amenities like Bamboo Lemongrass Foaming Body Scrub. Ingredients change seasonally, with special products offered for Valentine's Day and other occasions. The Seabourn Cruise Line invites guests staying in their Penthouse Spa Suites to customize their baths by choosing from a menu of luxurious bath sponges and designer soaps by Hermès, L'Occitane, Baudelaire, and Salvatore Ferragamo.
5. Ride in Style
What's Out: Designer suites
What's In: Designer bikes
Hotels are teaming up with designers to create custom bikes that express the style and individuality of the property. Even as Citi Bikes take over Manhattan, NYC's Gramercy Park Hotel worked with Lorenzo Martone to create "the Christian Louboutin" of bicycles for two-wheeling guests. The bikes are all-white save for Martone's signature bright red chain. Le Meurice in Paris offers chic pistachio-green bicycles with all the trimmings, including a green basket and elegant gold bike locks, while 45 Park Lane in London invites guests to take a spin on bespoke Brompton bicycles in the hotel's signature purple color. Maine's Chebeague Island Inn, located 10 miles off the coast of Portland, allows guests to explore the island with custom L.L. Bean-designed bikes.
6. Read All About It
What's Out: Buying a bestseller at the airport
What's In: Discovering a local author at your hotel
Hotels are taking the local travel trend one step further with local literary partnerships and amenities. The Hotel Vermont in Burlington has partnered with the Burlington Writers Workshop to publish new writing on a quarterly basis. Each guestroom will be stocked with small books filled with original works by workshop writers for guests to enjoy on-site and take home. The Nines in Portland has a partnership with nearby Powell's Books—the largest new and used bookstore in the world—to offer a wide selection of more than 3,000 books in the hotel's on-site library.
7. Welcome Home
What's Out: Hotel as escape
What's In: Hotel as home
With short-term home and apartment rental sites like HomeAway and Airbnb shifting hospitality towards homelike experiences, luxury hotels are now offering more personalized options that don't skimp on luxury. For example, the Lodge at Doonbeg in County Clare, Ireland, has a range of accommodation options, including suites and cottages, that are outfitted with modern conveniences such as full kitchens and spacious living rooms complete with homey comforts like gas fireplaces and hand-selected antiques. Guests can also arrange for room service to deliver the ingredients for a DIY barbecue or pizza party for a more homelike dining experience. Lungarno Collection, the Ferragamo family-owned hospitality group, will launch a new property, Portrait Firenze, in Florence, Italy, this May. The hotel is the second to employ the collection's "Portrait Experience" concept (the first is Portrait Roma in Rome), with rooms customized to suit individual guest needs, preferences, and pursuits.
8. Exploring 2.0
What's Out: Walking tours
What's In: Experiential tours
Hotels are offering new ways to get up close and personal with their destinations. Rather than walk through the surrounding wildlife, visitors can fly through it on Omni Mount Washington's canopy tour, the longest zipline tour in New England, which treats thrill-seekers to views of the East's tallest peak. Guests at the Dolder Grand in Zurich, Switzerland, can enjoy an art history lesson with their stay courtesy of an iPad app that provides insider info on works in the hotel's impressive art collection, including pieces by Andy Warhol and Salvador Dalí.