Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises
Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Welcome Treats That Make You Feel At Home
After a long journey, there's nothing better than arriving at your hotel and feeling instantly welcomed. The little touches that hotels provide can go a long way in making guests feel at home. Something as simple as a welcome treat left in your room can put a smile on your face and elevate your entire stay.
Welcome amenities are a thoughtful gesture that shows your hotel cares about your comfort. They can be anything from a plate of freshly baked cookies to a bottle of local wine. Tucking these small surprises into guest rooms is a way for hotels to make a great first impression.
Many luxury hotels around the world have become creative with their welcome gifts. At andBeyond lodges in Africa, rangers greet guests as they arrive by safari vehicle and lead them to their room. Waiting inside is a refreshing towel and homemade ginger ale - the perfect treat after a bumpy drive.
Some Rosewood hotels provide a welcome amenity inspired by local culture. At Rosewood Bangkok, guests find a beautiful bronze bowl filled with fresh tropical fruit and Thai sweets. In Sanya, China, the Rosewood resort leaves Hainan coconut candy, said to bring good luck. These gestures give a taste of the destination.
Other hotels take customization to the next level by using guest preferences to design one-of-a-kind welcome gifts. Aman properties are renowned for anticipating needs and tailoring stays. At Amanpuri in Thailand, villa hosts contact guests before arrival to learn about dietary restrictions, interests, and reason for visiting. This intel informs special amenities they arrange.
Joali Maldives goes above and beyond by assigning each guest a "Joali Being." This dedicated staff member corresponds with guests before and during their stay to understand preferences. Based on this, they craft unique welcome gifts. One family received a treasure chest filled with the kids' favorite snacks and activities for them to enjoy.
While welcome gifts are common at luxury hotels, certain budget and mid-range hotels also participate. Though their amenities may be more modest, they can still make guests feel valued. Country Inns & Suites by Radisson leaves a sweet treat at check-in, often tied to a local place. Microtel Inn & Suites surprises road warriors with grab-and-go breakfast bags.
What else is in this post?
- Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Welcome Treats That Make You Feel At Home
- Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Tailored Touches Based on Guest Preferences
- Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Surprise Upgrades for Special Occasions
- Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Personalized Activities and Experiences
- Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Next-Level Concierge Services
- Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Unique Local Partnerships and Perks
- Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Anticipating Needs Before You Even Ask
- Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Going Above and Beyond To Delight Guests
Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Tailored Touches Based on Guest Preferences
Personalization is a rising trend in hospitality, transforming stays from cookie-cutter experiences to unique adventures tailored to the guest. By getting to know visitors and understanding their preferences ahead of time, hotels can provide bespoke amenities, services and surprises that feel like they were designed just for you. From private in-room concerts to multi-course tasting menus based on your palate, the possibilities are endless when hotels tap into guests’ passions and preferences.
Luxury hotels around the world have perfected the art of hyper-customization by assigning staff members to communicate with guests before and during their stay. These private butlers, ambassadors or "Joali Beings" act as personal concierges, delivering one-of-a-kind experiences. At the Garza Blanca Preserve in Puerto Vallarta, guest assistants contact you prior to arrival to learn about your interests. When the Bristow family stayed, the staff arranged a private horseback riding lesson for their daughter along the beach. Mrs. Bristow called it "a mother's dream" to see her child's face light up in delight.
Rosewood Hotels takes a high-touch approach by having staff study a guest recognition file prior to visits by repeat visitors. This contains detailed preferences to allow seamless, personalized treatment. The Romney family books Rosewood Mayakoba in Riviera Maya annually for their family reunion. Without having to ask, the Romneys find their rooms refreshed each day with their favorite snacks, beverages and fruit. The family appreciates feeling "at home but even more pampered."
For one guest celebrating her 10-year anniversary at Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa on St. Barts, the staff picked up on her passion for astrology during her stay. That evening, she returned to her room to find a hand-drawn birth chart and a telescope for stargazing. It was a deeply thoughtful gesture she'll never forget.
Food and beverage teams can also employ personalization to enhance the dining experience. At Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana, all dietary needs and restrictions are noted so chefs can modify menus accordingly. Guests are asked ahead of time about favorite ingredients, flavors and preparation styles. Meals become customized culinary celebrations rather than just homestyle dishes.
The iconic Raffles Hotel in Singapore has an extensive guest recognition program. It maintains years of dining preferences, including what patrons like to eat, drink, their preferred tables and more. One Raffles-lover always orders their signature Singapore Sling cocktail. When he arrived one evening, a bartender immediately brought it over, perfectly mixed without having to ask. It's next-level service that wows.
Personalization requires behind-the-scenes coordination between departments. At Calistoga Ranch in Napa, staff collaborate to tailor stays through hyper-customized surprises and amenities. One guest was moved to tears when she walked into her cabin to find photos from her Pinterest board printed and framed. Her dream vacation vision came to life.
Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Surprise Upgrades for Special Occasions
Surprise upgrades are a cherished hotel tradition for honoring special occasions and creating delight for guests. By proactively upgrading room categories, granting late checkouts, and extending credits, hotels show appreciation in a meaningful way. Surprise upgrades make celebrations even more memorable.
Birthdays, anniversaries and honeymoons are common times to receive upgrades, but the reasons are limitless - as long as hotels are made aware. The Cove Atlantis surprises kids with waterpark passes and treats on birthdays. Banyan Tree extends double resort credits for anniversaries and honeymooners. Both are examples of hotels making milestones more magical through upgrades.
Even when there's no obvious occasion, surprises still happen thanks to observant staffers and unique guest recognition programs. At andBeyond's South African lodges, rangers work closely with guests on safari drives. They pass along insights to hospitality teams who can identify opportunities to surprise and delight - like refreshing rooms with champagne at turn down.
Upgrades also occur thanks to loyal guests who are recognized during repeat visits. Many hotels document guest preferences, including room location and category, in internal files. Ritz-Carlton even allows members to attach room upgrade preferences to their rewards profiles. This enables hotel staff to preemptively upgrade elite guests.
For one couple's five-year anniversary at Ventana Big Sur, the staff noted their upcoming celebration and preference for rooms with outdoor showers. Upon arrival, the front desk team surprised them with a complimentary upgrade to a suite with panoramic views and a private terrace shower. It made their stay extra memorable.
Online travel agencies like Virtuoso allow guests to communicate special occasions to hotels upfront during the booking process, enabling hotels to prepare upgrades in advance. The subject line "Honeymooners!" or "Celebrating 25 years!" clues hotels in. Conrad Bora Bora surprises Virtuoso guests with overwater bungalow upgrades, spa credits, and vow renewal ceremonies.
Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Personalized Activities and Experiences
Moving beyond basic concierge recommendations, some hotels are crafting one-of-a-kind excursions based on guests' individual interests and bucket list desires. By tapping local partners, hotels can open new doors for privileged access and specialized programs. The result is exclusive, personalized activities that immerse guests in authentic local experiences.
The mark of a top-tier hotel concierge is their expansive contact list. At Explora Rapa Nui on Easter Island, the team leverages connections with archaeologists and native Rapanui guides to curate in-depth excursions just for you. Based on their academic backgrounds and unique island access, they can customize both route and insight. One guest was moved to tears after a private moai excursion where their guide explained the meaning behind the sacred statues.
Some city hotels provide insider access to cultural institutions based on personal passions. At The Peninsula Chicago, a guest who collected rare musical instruments had a private tour of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's archives. They saw 1,000+ instruments and documents, including a bow used by Paganini. The concierge was able to facilitate the privilege through their partnership.
The posh Mulia and Mulia Villas in Bali have an entire department dedicated to crafting personalized guest experiences with local experts. Upon learning a guest's interest in jewelry design, the team planned a private session with the island's top jeweler to design a custom piece using Balinese influences. The guest was able to take home a meaningful, one-of-a-kind souvenir.
Nihi Sumba Island goes above and beyond by assigning guests a "Sumba Host" to unlock VIP experiences during their stay. The hosts tap into their deep local connections to make travel dreams come true. From private meal events on secluded beaches to horseback riding alongside a local tribe, they pull out all the stops based on guests' bucket lists. The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai excels at this as well, creating "Only at Hualalai Experiences" customized around guest passions, from astronomy to Polynesian culture.
Some hotels have partnerships that enable exclusive access to wilderness areas, gardens and zoos. Ventana Big Sur can arrange after-hours tours of The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Nayara Gardens' ties with Costa Rica's wildlife rescue center allows guests to accompany sloth releases back into the rainforest. Montage Deer Valley offers private tours of the arboretum's off-exhibit greenhouses. For repeat guests, hotels can reference trip archives to suggest evolutions. A couple who already swam with dolphins at Four Seasons Resort Maui might then have the rare opportunity to spend time with the marine mammal training team on their next visit.
Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Next-Level Concierge Services
Today's luxury hotel guests expect more than just restaurant recommendations from the concierge desk - they want insider access and elevated, customized service that opens new doors. That's where next-level concierges come in, going beyond the typical to-do list to facilitate rare experiences and privileges for guests seeking unique adventures and exclusive perks.
The mark of a great hotel concierge is their little black book - an extensive contacts list to unlock the kind of high-touch experiences you can't easily plan yourself. Thanks to long-tenured relationships nurtured over years, top concierges have their finger on the pulse. They know who is who, opening the possibility for privileged access.
During a stay at Aman New York, one guest was delighted when the concierge surprised them with tickets to a sold-out Broadway show that happened to be their all-time favorite. Turns out the concierge had a connection with someone at the theater. It was an only-in-New-York moment made possible by insider access.
The concierge team at Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana has a direct line to private ranch owners nearby who don't list guest accommodations publicly. By leveraging these connections, the concierge can facilitate multi-night stays at exclusive properties in the region that most travelers don't even know exist. This opens the door to ultra-exclusive, under-the-radar adventures.
The Peninsula Hotels are renowned for their elite clientele, which enables extraordinary concierge feats. At The Peninsula Shanghai, a guest hoped to visit a new skyscraper under construction that was not yet open to the public. The concierge used connections to arrange access, providing hard hats and exclusive photos from unfinished floors - an incredible insider privilege.
Language skills also enable next-level concierge work, especially in exotic destinations where access depends on local relationships. At Six Senses Zil Pasyon in the Seychelles, the multi-lingual team taps into their unrivaled address book to go the extra mile, surprising one guest with a private, after-hours tour of the island's historic clock tower.
Guests also rely on skilled concierges to leverage partnerships with cultural institutions, entertainment and tour companies to facilitate VIP experiences. At Ventana Big Sur, the concierge can coordinate privileged access to Hearst Castle before hours. In Switzerland, the Baur au Lac concierge leverages ties for private tours at the Läderach chocolate factory.
The most seasoned hotel concierges continuously evolve their black book with new contacts to up the ante. They proactively seek introductions that enable them to craft over-the-top experiences - like after-hours museum tours, archaeologist-led excursions and even submarine adventures. The Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park's concierge desk keeps a notebook filled with guests' ultimate bucket list dreams that inspire their relationship-building. Nothing is impossible.
Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Unique Local Partnerships and Perks
Part of what distinguishes a luxury property is the extent of its local connections. Cultivating partnerships with businesses, cultural institutions and individuals opens doors to exclusive experiences and perks that immerse guests in the locale’s richness. These hyper-local collaborations enable privileged access and bring a destination’s hidden gems to light in meaningful ways.
Some hotels tap partnerships to share hyper-local flavors and talents. Six Senses Fiji developed an exclusive relationship with an organic farm 15 minutes away by boat. The resort’s culinary team journeys daily to hand-pick ingredients and learn ancestral island cooking techniques to incorporate into dining menus. This farm-to-table experience gives meals a distinctly Fijian flair.
Indagare-vetted hotels utilize partnerships to offer signature experiences that spotlight destination culture. At Hôtel Madame Rêve in Paris, guests can join a local fashion illustrator for a private couture sketching workshop. And at Fogo Island Inn, a cultural custodian hosts workshops in rug hooking, a traditional Newfoundland folk art. Workshops with local artisans allow travelers to dive into traditional crafts.
Partnerships with museums, theaters and zoos enable privileged access. Ventana Big Sur arranges private after-hours tours of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The luxurious Singita Serengeti House has an exclusive partnership with the on-site Grumeti Reserves research station, allowing guests to join scientists tracking wildlife. These VIP experiences are only possible through deep local ties.
Some hotels cultivate relationships with prominent locals to surprise VIPs. Amanzoe in Greece has welcomed guests with a private dinner under the stars with renowned Greek musician Yanni. The setup was only possible thanks to the GM’s friendship. Amanera in the Dominican Republic arranged a private concert by famed musician Juan Luis Guerra as a wedding surprise - leveraging their ties in the community.
Hoshinoya Bali chartered a boat from local fishermen to transport guests directly to the resort’s private beach, bypassing crowded shores. This exclusive arrival experience relied on relationships nurtured over time.
At Nihi Sumba in Indonesia, resort ties mean tribal elders share legends around the fire during private beach dinners. Local spa therapists use nativeSumbanese healing techniques passed down generations. Intimate exposure to local culture arises from long-established bonds.
Partnerships allow hotels to give back by supporting local enterprises and marginalized communities. At 3-Michelin-star Meadowood Napa, the Chef’s Garden program sources produce from local purveyors and the on-site garden, assisting regional farmers. Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay in Morocco sells local handicrafts at the boutique and spices in the restaurant to economically uplift nearby villages through sustainable tourism.
Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Anticipating Needs Before You Even Ask
Luxury hospitality is defined by service that exceeds expectations, with staffers so attuned to guests that needs are fulfilled before requests are even made. By observing unspoken cues, leveraging data like past stays, and simply being highly intuitive, top hotels make travel frictionless. Before you can ask for an extra pillow, it appears. When you want to explore a late lunch spot, tailored recommendations are ready. This level of anticipation keeps guests satisfied.
Part of what enables anticipation is hotels getting to know repeat visitors over time, collecting data across stays that informs personalized treatment. At Calistoga Ranch in Napa, staff document preferences in guest profiles. One traveler always requests more hangers, so now extra hangers automatically appear in his closet upon arrival. A guest who enjoys lavender aromatherapy finds the scent wafting when she enters her room.
Luxury hotels often assign staff members as personal hosts to learn habits and anticipate needs. At The Peninsula Beverly Hills, guests connecting from long-haul flights find their preferred snacks and at-home comforts waiting in-room thanks to their host's intuition. Given tight schedules, hosts also take the liberty of booking spa treatments in advance for regular guests who always carve out wellness time. The attuned staff makes travel more seamless.
Part of anticipatory service is recognizing needs guests themselves may not realize at first. At Ranch at Rock Creek, observant guides notice one traveler reaching for their lower back during horseback rides, realizing a massage is in order. Upon return, a therapists is already booked. This reactionary care is appreciated.
The most subtle cues can signal desire. An offhand comment about the weather may prompt a butler to deliver a cozy blanket and hot tea to a guest. Noticing someone pause at a painting may lead to housekeeping leaving books on that artist and passes to a local exhibit. Listening closely and picking up on body language allows staff to provide stealth service.
Technology aids with anticipation when thoughtfully used. Aman properties input dining preferences into tablet profiles, allowing waitstaff to surprise guests with customized menus based on past orders. With their taste profiles on file, guests need not ponder options. Data cultivation enables flawless, personalized treatment.
While luxury hotels have service anticipation perfected, certain budget brands also partake through simple touches. Tru by Hilton plants extra packs of coffee in rooms of rewards members who typically order multiple cups. Some Embassy Suites locations note late risers and automatically dispatch late morning room service. Anticipation comes in all forms.
Properties That Go the Extra Mile:The Little Touches: Hotels with Outstanding Service and Special Surprises - Going Above and Beyond To Delight Guests
In the world of hospitality, delighting guests is the highest achievement. While luxury hotels are all about pampering and service, some go above and beyond in creative, thoughtful ways that wow visitors and create lifelong memories. Identifying these special moments that spark joy is an art - and one that the best hotels have perfected through intuition, passion and truly caring for each guest on an individual level.
Some hotels indulge children in ways that melt parent's hearts. The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island provides kid-friendly binoculars, scavenger hunts, star shows and complimentary cookies and milk to turn the resort into a wonderland. At Montage Palmetto Bluff, the recreation team incorporates kids' birthdays and interests into tailor-made experiences. Maybe it's decorating their bicycle at the bike painting party or embarking on a personally curated scavenger hunt. Moments that make kids beam with delight mean the world to families.
For one couple's anniversary at Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley, the husband mentioned they had to cancel their honeymoon years ago due to work commitments. While enjoying a creekside dinner that evening, the on-site team surprised them with a sailboat ride at sunset on the private lake, complete with champagne to make up for the missed honeymoon. The incredibly thoughtful gesture brought the couple to joyful tears.
Some hotels create delight by tapping into guests' heartfelt passions. At Ranch at Rock Creek, a multi-gen family stays annually so the grandmother can enjoy horseback riding. One year, staff surprised them with monogrammed barn jackets and a private trail ride and picnic just for granny. The personalized touch to honor her tradition delighted the whole family.
The Montage Deer Valley left teary-eyed parents overjoyed by secretly arranging for Santa Claus himself to tuck their toddlers into bed on Christmas Eve and deliver customized gifts. The wide-eyed wonder and excitement was priceless for that family, especially parents wanting to instill cherished holiday memories.
Hotels focused on guest delight curate surprises based on details that attract their interest. Noticing a guest's curiosity about the on-site planetarium, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai arranged a private astronomy lesson with a well-known professor - delighting the guest by tapping into their passion. At Calistoga Ranch, a wine connoisseur was surprised with a meeting with the vineyard's winemaker over an exclusive tasting - an over-the-top experience created just for them. Making dreams come true is what guest delight is all about.