Gone are the days where hotels can entice potential guests with fancy soaps or in-room coffee makers, as travelers are increasingly lured by experiences rather than material possessions.
In fact, according to travel publication Skift, more than two-thirds of consumers would rather spend their vacation dollars on "better activities" like tours, dining, and events, than a "nicer hotel room." As a result, hotels have pulled out all the stops, creating experiences that vary from unique to luxurious.
1. Kayak with man’s best friend.
Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, offers several pet-friendly amenities. Dogs can accompany their owners on a kayaking excursion led by the team of marine experts at Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment, which include pre-sized, dog-friendly rash guards and life jackets available for a variety of canine explorers.
Dorado Beach also provides customized tepee-style dog beds, complete with a personalized name plaque, that can be easily transported to the beach or the pool to provide shade from the afternoon sun; as well as healthy, house-made dog food with gourmet ingredients and late-night hand-made treats brought directly to their guestroom or suite.
Photo: Dorado Beach
2. Sample a 55-year-old single cask whisky.
A set from Balvenie’s third part of the DCS Compendium collection of single malts will be featured exclusively at Ty Bar at Four Seasons Hotel New York. Chapter Three includes the oldest whisky ever released in The Balvenie’s 125-year history, a 55-year-old single cask whisky that was laid down in 1961. It will be available to sample by the flight (tasting several selected whiskies in small pours) for a cool $5,000, or individual pours of each vintage with price varying per bottle.
Photo: Four Seasons
3. Take a tour of the Grand Canyon by helicopter.
Through Waldorf Astoria’s Unforgettable Experience program, guests staying at the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, can take a scenic, full-day helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. The experience also includes a custom, 80-minute massage and a special dinner at Wright’s Restaurant’s private wine cellar.
4. Pint-sized extras for pint-sized people.
Special amenities aren’t limited to adults. At Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, kids can stay in bunk bed rooms, hula-hoop in the fitness center, or sport an animal-print bathrobe. For those who might want a little extra company, a goldfish in a bowl can be delivered to the hotel room as part of the hotel’s “Guppy Love” program. Parents, don’t worry – hotel staff will take care of feeding and clean-up.
Photo: Kimpton Hotels
5. Dive into Puebla’s rich culinary history.
Rosewood Puebla offers several cooking and mixology classes and excursions to nearby markets and wineries. The two-hour cooking course led by Executive Chef Jorge Gonzalez utilizes signature ingredients to create signature Poblano dishes. A Mexican Wine Seminar takes guests through Mexico’s regional wine-making traditions with samplings from Chihuahua, Queretaro, and Baja California; or a mixology class will teach attendees how to create cocktails using Mexico’s main spirits, mezcal and tequila, and introduce a variety of other regional distilled spirits and liqueurs such as raicilla, sotol and xtabentún. Rosewood Puebla also hosts an in-house artisanal market featuring a variety of local products and crafts.
6. Be a rockstar for a day.
After taking guitar lessons from a local artist, Westin Downton Austin guests will make an on-stage appearance with a local artist or band. The Guitar Rockstar experience also includes a guitar in-room; a customized tour of the Austin music scene; VIP access to a show; and dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Stella San Jac, the night of the concert.
7. Shop in style at Paris’ oldest department store.
Get the VIP treatment while shopping at the legendary Le Bon Marche Rive Gauche department store. L’Hotel Paris guests will enjoy a personal shopper, champagne and canapés, and use of the VIP lounge facilities as they peruse high-end merchandise. Afterwards, shoppers can relax during afternoon tea at Le Restaurant.
Photo: ERIC SALARD
8. Consult with a personal sleep concierge.
The Benjamin New York’s buzzed-about sleep concierge is there to make sure guests have everything they need for the best possible night’s sleep, whether it is providing a sound machine, aromatherapy bath products, or comforting treats like warm milk and cookies. The consultant can also help navigate the “Pillow Menu,” which includes options such as a five-foot body cushion, a pillow with ultra-thin speakers tucked inside that can connect to any MP3 player, and one with more than 10 million air beads to keep the head cool at night.
9. Exclusive access to MoMA exhibits.
The Quintessential New York Hotel offers exclusive access to select galleries at the Museum of Modern Art one hour prior to the public; and membership-only privileges when viewing the Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louise Bourgeois, and Stephen Shore exhibits. Guests can also take a private guided tour of the museum led by a MoMA art historian, before opening hours or after closing hours.
10. Take a Porsche for a spin.
Take one of the luxury vehicles for a test drive at the Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in partnership with Porsche of San Diego. Guests can take their pick from a Cayenne GTS or a Panamera S Hybrid, as long as they have a valid U.S. driver's license and proof of U.S. insurance.