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New hotel trends for 2006

SmarterTravel

“At the heart of all our decisions is the comfort, well-being, and quality of life of our guests,” says Sue Brush, senior vice president for Westin Hotels and Resorts. That sentiment reflects what most major hoteliers have planned for 2006. Guest comfort is at the forefront of most hotel changes, with improved common spaces, decor updates, and smoke-free properties among some of the upcoming plans.

Here’s a preview of changes to come, or those currently in progress, throughout 2006.

Hilton

Hilton is striving to make its common spaces and guestrooms multi-functional, including refurbishing lobbies, guestrooms, and meeting areas to cater to both business and leisure travelers (or those on the road for [% 10352 | | both work and play %]). The brand is introducing a new bed line, luxury toiletries, and updated coffeemakers to its guestrooms as well. Additionally, the hotel’s restaurants recently unveiled Hilton’s “Eat Right Menu,” which features nutritional items for health-conscious travelers.

Kimpton

Kimpton Hotels recently announced the acquisition of four new properties: the Hotel Palomar D.C. (Alexandria, Virginia), Hotel Palomar Dallas, the Harrick in West Palm Beach (opening in 2007), and the Caleo Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Additionally, Kimpton plans to expand its Hotel Palomar luxury brand in other cities in late 2006.

Beyond new properties, the brand is also ramping up guest services. “Kimpton is launching the Mind.Body.Spa. program, which includes in-room yoga, Pilates, meditation, and core strengthening, as well as in-room spa services,” notes Alli Goldstein, Kimpton’s director of public relations. The popular wine club will also be expanded this year, covering wines from Australia, California, Chile, Spain, and Washington, among others.

Marriott

This year, Marriott will be revamping its hotels’ public spaces, using a “great room” concept in many of its hotel lobbies to serve business, leisure, romance, and family travelers. Planned amenities include Internet access, kiosks for speedy check-in, and audio-visual equipment areas for business travelers.

Marriott has also designed a new personalized customer service program, “Spirit to Serve our Guests.” This initiative enables travelers to customize their travel plans, room preferences, and membership benefits through coordination between reservations, check-in, and concierge services. For example, visitors will enter their room preferences (allergies, smoking or non-smoking, bed type, etc.) when making a reservation; once entered, Marriott reps will then have that information on file for use with future stays, and all requests will always be honored. Additionally, guests will receive pre-arrival emails listing events scheduled during their trip, nearby restaurants, and weather conditions, and may take advantage of the brand’s “virtual concierge” to make dinner reservations, order theater or movie tickets, and more.

New Las Vegas developments

Las Vegas, one of the country’s top tourism destinations, is expanding its condominium hotel brands with the opening of the new Platinum Hotel and Spa in June 2006. Such properties allow condo owners to rent out their homes as hotel rooms, and typically appeal to travelers who want a quiet spot after exploring Vegas’s many attractions. The Platinum will have 255 suites with views of the Strip and mountains, a spa, indoor and outdoor pools, and a restaurant.

Westin

Westin Hotels recently became the first hotel brand to ban smoking in its domestic and Caribbean properties—77 throughout the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Additionally, all former smoking rooms are undergoing a thorough renovation process, including cleaning, smoke treatment removal, and replacing air filters and furnishings. For travelers who smoke, designated outdoor smoking areas at each hotel have been established. Several properties are also offering free passes to the hotel fitness center for travelers who turn in a pack of cigarettes upon checking in.

Hotels typically have sales around major holidays, weekend getaways, and high travel seasons such as summer. To stay abreast of upcoming offers, visit the SmarterTravel.com [% 49700 | | hotel section %], or the website of your favorite hotel. You can also check for sales and new promotions on [% 59960 | | BookingBuddy.com %], a partner site of SmarterTravel.com.

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