Photo: Ian Harrison/Rates To Go
For some people, a comfy bed and a minibar are the only things they need in a hotel room.And then there are those who need personalised business cards and a steak for their dog.
In this floundering economy, hotels are continuing to offer extravagent perks for their customers. Those with loyalty points, as detailed in a recent New York Times article, can trade in their earnings for a visit to a Zulu village in South Africa, or a tennis lesson with pro James Blake.
But you don’t need to be a repeat visitor to take advantage of some of the more ridiculous hotel amenities out there. From Naples to New York, check out some of the crazy things hotels are offering their guests.
An unfortunately named program called the Winks' Kidzzz Club is doing parents everywhere a valuable service by getting their kids to go to sleep. The sleep concierge at the Benjamin Hotel gives kids sleep tips, child-sized robes, a iPod with lullabies on it, stuffed animals, bedtime books and milk with cookies.
For an extra $495 dollars a night, you kid will get all the above, plus four tickets to the Central Park Zoo in the Good Night, Sleep Tight package.
Want to visit New York, but can't imagine having to hail yourself a yellow cab or getting on the subway? Behold, the Ty Warner Penthouse at the Four Seasons, which comes complete with a chauffeured Phantom or Maybach. Use the car as much as you want, and decide whether or not you want to drop a few hundred grand on one for yourself.
Pets are a part of the family, and thus should be no exception when it comes to being treated well. Pet friendly should hotels should consider including some of these perks: pet massages and grilled beef tenderloin, or voice lessons that can be memorialised on a CD, or even a dog DVD, featuring dog-friendly programming for when you're out of the room.
Don't have a pet? Borrow one.
Leave all your devices at home and borrow a cell phone, iPod, video game system or e-reader from the hotel
Though not many people would leave their cell phones or music player at home in favour of a borrowed device, getting one from the hotel with preloaded information has its advantages. Cell phones can come ready with recommended restaurants, bars and clubs, and the complimentary digital reader means less space taken up by beach-worthy paperbacks.
There are a bevy of free fitness options at hotels all over, from the virtual golf screen in Naples (complete with historic Scottish clubs) to direct ski lift access on Whistler in Colorado.
But the most ridiculous we've seen has to be the tennis courts at Las Ventanas al Paraíso in Los Cabos, where the hotel staff will remain court side to give you a cold towel, clean your sunglasses, chase your ball and spray you with mists of Evian water when you need it. The only way to cool off in Los Cabos is clearly with water from the French Alps.
Complimentary toiletries are usually basic, generic forms of shampoo and hand soap, in tiny bottles that require a fair amount of shaking to dislodge even the tiniest dollop.
Some hotels have the right idea: at the Hôtel Fouquet's Barrière in Paris, suites feature a full-size bottle of Hermès perfume (which usually runs $170 for six fluid ounces). You can get massage oil infused with a rare night-blooming cactus at the InterContinental Montelucia in Arizona. And our favourite has to be the Ace Hotel's soap made of pearls and charcoal. Smells good -- we assume.
Sure, you can get drunk on your time -- you don't need a hotel for that. But you couldn't do much better than the bottle of Don Julio tequila waiting in your room when you arrive in Mexico. You can also drink some nice teas on your own -- but the Mandarin Blossom tea at the Mandarin Oriental has fruit that is exclusive to this hotel.
Other cool arrival drinks include strong Arabic coffee with fresh dates in Oman, and a glass of Prosecco in Ottawa.
For people on extended business trips, staying connected is critical. So critical, apparently, you can grab a set of business cards with the hotel's address on it. Conduct business as usual with your dedicated phone, fax machine and stationary.
'We're visiting Toronto,' you might say to your significant other, 'but let's stay in tonight.' Are they thinking what you're thinking? Present them with this menu from the Drake Hotel and find out:
- Pleasure Pack #1 - Some cheeky suggestions to get your night started.
- Pleasure Pack #2 - This one is for the thrill seekers.
- Pleasure Pack #3 - Feather + flog + vibrate + velvet + oil. Enjoy!
- Pleasure Pack #4 - The Lap of Luxury. A 24-carat good time.
The Ritz-Carlton is famous for enlisting a variety of 'butlers' to take care of a variety of needs. The most helpful could be the 'Technology butler,' first introduced by a Ritz-Carlton in Doha, to help visitors connect to the internet or use the television. Now technology butlers can be found in Ritz locations worldwide, 24 hours a day.
But the most outrageous butler for Ritz is of the tanning variety: in South Beach, butlers patrol the hotel grounds, providing creams, oils, shade and the ability to cover up those hard-to-reach places. Because if a stranger hired by the hotel won't rub sun tan lotion onto your lower back, who will?
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