When it comes to catering to luxury clients, they expect nothing but the very best in their hotel choice and amenities, but in today’s luxury market that needs to be coupled with experiences that create memories. Hotels across the U.S. are creating these types of experiences, encompassing the uniqueness of the surroundings, and as travel advisor
Ali Geiger, Dream Vacations franchise owner and vacation specialist, says, allowing for “cultural activities close-by, preferably within walking distance so they can feel immersed in the destination.”
This fall, Hotel Bennett, a Salamander Hotels and Resorts property, will open on Charleston’s King Street overlooking Marion Square. The South Carolina property is named after the Charleston-based Bennett family and owned by local hotelier Michael Bennett and his company, Bennett Hospitality. It sits on the historic site of the original west wing of The Citadel, South Carolina’s military academy, which was most recently home to the Charleston Library.
This 179-guestroom property features a two-tiered restaurant with outdoor seating, and a bar lounge that opens onto terraces overlooking Marion Square, as well as a rooftop pool and bar, a luxury spa, and a patisserie. Camellias, a ladies lounge that pays homage to women during the prohibition era, exudes femininity and features an etched-mirrored ceiling and a reclaimed antique pink marble from the former Charleston Library on its bar and tabletops, topped off with dainty crystal chandeliers. Here, ladies can sip on afternoon tea, aperitifs, and wines from the property’s curated wine list.
The resort’s spa is another oasis, with treatments that incorporate the area’s maritime culture. In addition, the spa hosts rooftop skyline yoga, offers various treatments that focus on heart health, and organizes a shopping experience along King Street.
For guests who want to obtain hard-to-get tickets and reservations at the city’s popular restaurants, the Concierge Club staff will work their magic. The club, which features food throughout the day, offers the opportunity for guests to relax on its King Street-facing outdoor terrace. Hotel guests also receive preferred reservation access to Bennett Hospitality’s collection of nearby restaurants such as The Victor Social Club and Michael’s on the Alley, among others.
“On a holiday, the client’s focus turns to quality of the room or suite, preferably with a concierge nearby, and quiet and privacy are key. A variety of excellent food and beverage services are important, too, including flawless room service. If there is a great golf course, a luxury spa—that’s even better,” says travel advisor Chuck Conine owner of Travel with Charley LLC, an Independent Agency in the Avoya Travel Network.
Naples’ Edgewater Beach Hotel, part of the Opal Collection, is offering guests a new, year-round wellbeing initiative—Be Well, a program that gives guests a kick-start to their self-care regime, and includes complimentary self-care amenities, healthy dining, and happiness retreats led by a certified success coach (upcoming retreat is set for Jan.
Signature packages have been created around this initiative, including Nature vs. Nurture, which includes a 3-night stay, guest’s choice of nature activities such as daily use of kayaks and paddleboards, daily use of bikes, and two private beach yoga sessions; or a choice of nurture activities such as one en-suite massage per guest, full-day use of luxury beach bed, and gourmet picnic lunch basket. Guests will also receive daily breakfast, a welcome amenity choice of dark chocolate and a bottle of red wine or fresh tropical fruit and assorted green teas, plus a selection of aromatherapy misting bottles.
Among the complimentary self-care amenities, guests can choose from a beach yoga guide and loaner yoga mats, meditation tips created by Florida Gulf Coast University’s Spa Lab, a variety of essential oil towelettes to add a touch of aromatherapy to the meditation experience, and a wellbeing podcast series with available earbuds on loan.
Gaming in Spades
The recently opened 252-guestroom MGM Springfield sits on 14 acres in Springfield, Massachusetts, and is an adult playground with a spa, casino, Regal luxury cinema, 10 bowling lanes, and an outdoor plaza showcasing year-round events.
The onsite casino is home to 125,000 sq. ft. of gaming with 2,550 slot machines, 120 gaming tables, a poker room, and high-limit VIP area. The Spa at MGM Springfield, meanwhile, features seven treatment rooms, fitness rooms, and steam rooms.
At the outdoor plaza, guests can take part in events such as a rotating Beer Yoga program with the neighboring yoga studio, Simply Grace. Other unique offerings include the Topgolf Swing Suite, which is open to the general public and features three high-tech simulators within a 2,200-sq.-ft. suite that opens onto the resort’s open-air plaza. Guests can play in groups or practice solo while enjoying gourmet bites and cocktails. The Western Mass News TV station has a stand-alone studio on The Plaza that broadcasts select news of the day and invites guests to step on set and take a selfie in the Western Mass News Experience.
Onsite eateries include a coastal Italian hangout, Cal Mare, by James Beard award-winning chef Michael Mina and San Francisco’s chef of the year Adam Sobel, offering regional cuisine from the Amalfi Coast; The Chandler Steakhouse, by Hell’s Kitchen winner Meghan Gill; and South End Market, a gourmet twist on a food hall that offers quick and casual dining with six food concepts. TAP Sports Bar is a great place for sports enthusiasts to catch a game as it has a video wall featuring 32 screens, and the Lobby Bar, Commonwealth Bar and Lounge, and The Knox Bar are ideal spots to take in the local vibe. As travel advisor Geiger points out, “Another trend that has been happening for a while now is craft cocktails. Everyone loves to taste test locally made whiskeys, bourbons, etc. It started with beer but has definitely evolved. So an in-house bar that has a good local scene with craft options is always a plus.”
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, located in the Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania, is offering a host of new experiences at its onsite luxury boutique property, Falling Rock, this fall and winter. At the Cigar Bar, for example, the onsite bourbelier is available to help guests pick the perfect bourbon and cigar pairing, while the Cocktail Laboratory: Tequila Ole experience puts the focus on teaching clients how to make the perfect margarita while they snack on tacos. The Wine Tasting Experience, meanwhile, includes a cheese pairing as guests learn about and taste wines from Pennsylvania’s largest wine cellar. Foodies will also enjoy the Pasta & Wine: Sip & Learn experience, which takes place in Aqueous’ kitchen—they’ll learn the process of hand-crafting fresh pasta while sipping on selected wines.
There’s also a Garden Tour that takes guests outdoors to the onsite garden with James Beard-nominated chef Kristin Butterworth as she harvests items to use in her Leap of Faith menu that evening; guests will be gifted an heirloom inspirational seed to start their own garden back home.
In addition to these newly designed experiences at Falling Rock, guests can take advantage of all of Nemacolin’s offerings, including its 36 holes of golf, shooting academy, fly fishing, and Adventure Center, with ziplining, off-road driving, canopy tour, ropes course, climbing wall, disc golf, mini golf, bike rentals, paintball, bowling and arcade, and tennis. There’s also a Wildlife Academy that’s home to the Equestrian Center, animal nursery, animal habitats, and educational programs. Depending on the season, guests can participate in downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing. And car enthusiasts will definitely want to hit the road while test driving premium BMW models as part of the BMW Courtesy Vehicle Program.
A Taste of Wine
Located in California’s Napa Valley wine region, the 22-acre The Estate Yountville caters to the very sophisticated clientele with two luxury hotels, one of which has received a complete renovation and design. The new Hotel Villagio features newly designed guestrooms exuding a home-away-from-home feel with viticulture-inspired pops of color throughout, wood burning fireplaces and terraces outfitted with lounge chairs that look out over the valley.
The Estate has also redone its The Spa at the Estate, which offers 12 treatment rooms; five luxury private spa suites featuring their own indoor/outdoor fireplace and lounge area; Swiss showers; and outdoor hydrotherapy soaking baths. This is also the only spa in North America to offer O2CHAIR, good for restorative oxygenation to fight jetlag and exhaustion, and guests can unwind in a private cabana poolside.
Throughout fall and winter, guests can up the ante when staying at The Estate Yountville via a few new offerings such as Love is in The Air, which offers guests a private helicopter tour to get a bird’s-eye view of Napa Valley; That’s Amore, a culinary experience led by chef Michael Chiarello; Once Upon a Vine, a guided vineyard tour and wine tasting on The Estate; and The Art of Sabering, where guests learn the secrets to sabering from experts at V Wine Cellars.
Hotel Bennett: hotelbennett.com
Hotel Villagio: villagio.com
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort: nemacolin.com
Edgewater Beach Hotel: edgewaternaples.com
MGM Springfield: mgmspringfield.com/en.html
Travel advisor Chuck Conine, owner of Travel with Charley LLC, an Independent Agency in the Avoya Travel Network, specializes in locating properties that anticipate guest’s desires and are invested in having guest “favorites” available during his client’s stay. “One of my clients is a retired CEO with a large family,” says Conine. “A recent family reunion for them and their desire for the ultimate in privacy and luxury was their request. We ended up flying all of them to Maui where they spent two weeks in a 6-bedroom villa overlooking the ocean. They asked for food to be in the refrigerator, so we contracted with a local grocery store we knew on the island. We stocked the wines the family liked and the CEO’s favorite breakfast—fruit, granola and a good muffin, plus Kona coffee, of course! We arranged VIP entrance to one of the local golf courses and booked a local family’s luau for a family meal. They loved it!”