After years of slashing rates and cutting extras, hotels are finally getting their groove – and their amenities – back.
And we're talking about way more than a free breakfast.
At hotels these days, it's all about the wow factor – and that ranges from designer pajamas by lingerie designer Arielle Shapiro in the VIP Suites the W South Beach Hotel all the way up to the 24-carat gold iPads at Dubai's Burj Al Arab. The hotel claims to be the first in the world to offer the iPads to guests. No, the iPad is not yours to keep.
And there's a world of cool amenities that fall somewhere between free PJs and 24-carat gold iPads.
At The Kitano Hotel in Manhattan, they're very proud of their new toilets. Their toilets?
Yes, said General Manager Clement Carey. "At The Kitano Hotel, we have 149 guest rooms, each one equipped with a Toto toilet. It's a combination bidet and toilet," he said. "They cost $1500. It's quite an amenity."
There's a wash feature (you choose pulsating or not) and a blow dry feature. "It's a warm wind of air that dries you off," Carey said. The Kitano is the only New York City hotel to offer the Toto toilets in every room, a feature desired by the hotel's large Japanese clientele. Totos are popular in Japan, but only now starting to catch on in the U.S.
If fancy toilets aren't your thing, head uptown to the Surrey Hotel on the Upper East Side where the in-room mixology program sends a bartender to your room to mix drinks to your liking. And it won't cost you a penny more than the bottle you buy.
"The mixologist will come to your room and create a drink for you based on the flavors you like," said Patrick Chiappetta, director of operations. "The bartender will make the first four or five for you, teach you how to do it and if you want to have them come back they will or you can make them on your own."
It's the perfect amenity, Chiappetta said, for people who want to relax with a cocktail in the luxury of their hotel room before heading out for a night on the town. And the experience is a memorable one.
One couple that ordered the cocktail experience called back a month later from Australia to find out what ingredients were used and how exactly it [the drink] was made."
Speaking of drinks and fancy mixologists, there's also a new camel's milk mixologist at the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi. Locally-sourced camel milk combined with freshly muddled ingredients like strawberry and mint were initially introduced for Ramadan. But the camel milk mixologist will make the drinks anytime.
"Camel milk has only recently been introduced to the main-stream consumer," said manager Hasan Al Masri, manager of Mijana, the hotel's Arabic restaurant where the concoctions are available. "Our guests are always looking for new experiences and this would be an interesting and authentic opportunity for anyone visiting Abu Dhabi."
Back in the U.S., at least two California hotels offer luxury cars to guests. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa recently rolled out a program that allows guests to borrow a Porsche -- complimentary -- as long as it's returned the same day. There are three models available: 911 convertible, Panamera Hybrid and a Cayenne GTS. And at the Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel, a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce Phantom is on hand to take guests anywhere they want to go in the three-mile radius of the hotel. And if the Rolls is out with another guest? There's a Mercedes on hand, too.