Did you have a good hotel stay in 2016? What did you like about it? I know I had some amazing stays this year from Cabana Bay Resort at Universal Studios Orlando and EVEN Hotels Times Square to Hotel Monaco in Chicago and Viceroy Snowmass in Colorado.
In addition to staying at and touring many hotels over the course of a year, I write frequently about hotels for a variety of media outlets, so I get to see firsthand what’s working and what isn’t.
Now, let me tell you about some great things that I saw happening with hotels in 2016.
Here’s an overview plus a few more…
Improved focus on wellness
It’s hard to stay on track with your health when traveling. You’re out of your exercise routine and the temptation to indulge in unhealthy foods is huge! Several hotels are making it so easy to keep to your normal health routine with fitness-themed rooms, healthy restaurants and grab-and-go options and more. EVEN Hotels is an entirely wellness-themed hotel from Intercontinental Hotel Group. Read my review of EVEN Hotels Times Square South. Hilton has also been testing fitness-themed rooms and plans to roll them out at many of their properties soon.
Thank goodness, many hotels have figured out that free WiFi is super important to guests and that people will book with a hotel that offers free WiFi over one that does not. Most hotel chains now just require that you be a member of their free hotel loyalty program to score free WiFi. You’ll also get other perks like the lowest price available/price matching and earn points toward future stays.
Hilton McLean Tyson’s Corner, which I got to tour this fall, is where Hilton tests all kinds of cool new features, amenities and technology that it may later deploy at its properties worldwide. For example, the hotel has Ava, a customer service robot that a staff member controls, to help guests or allow people to remotely attend events at the hotel through a video screen on the robot.
Hotels are also getting up to speed on allowing texting for room service and requests — even check in and check out — as well as digital keys at Marriott, Starwood and Hilton and even the option to pick your own room online before you arrive for Hilton HHonors members.
I know I would prefer never to stay in a standard, boring ol’ hotel room again. Thank goodness even the longtime hotel staples like Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt and amping up their game when it comes to design. Some of my favorite examples are Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal (amazingly themed Mid-Century Modern from top to bottom), ACME Hotel Company in Chicago, the new Conrad Chicago off Michigan Avenue and Viceroy Snowmass. They are truly sensational – modern, functional design that is still comfy and cozy.
Here is a video of me demonstrating the table/bed at Walt Disney World’s Art of Animation Resort
When it comes to design, however, design for design’s sake does not float my boat. Hotels need to be functional for guests. Walt Disney World really knocked it out of the ballpark in functionality with its Art of Animation Resort suites, some of the most family functional I have ever seen. There is a separate bedroom for mom and dad, full kitchenette, a Murphy-style bed that folds up into a dining table, as well as a couch that also folds out into a bed, which is actually really comfortable!
There are also many more charging stations and outlets in hotel rooms now in convenient places like your bedside table or even separate charging station areas. I’m also loving the increased frequency of mudroom areas for hanging coats and storing shoes.
What great things did you see at hotels this year?
- My Favorite Hotels: ACME Hotel Company Chicago Review, Get Funky in the Windy City
- My Favorite Hotels: EVEN Hotels Times Square, An Innovative, Wellness-Themed New York City Hotel
- 10 Hotels Targeting Millennials
- How to Use Hilton’s Digital Key
- Hotel Hub
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