From unlimited massages and spa credits to free breakfast and lounge access, here are some of our favorite perks.
Luxury travel advisors know that you can’t get the best hotel perks and amenities yourself.
Travelers who book hotel rooms for themselves online usually can’t enjoy the many perks that travel advisors routinely get for their clients—thanks to relationships between hotels and consortia such as Signature Travel Network, Virtuoso, Ensemble, and Travel Leaders Group. These extras might include complimentary breakfast for two, room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out, free Wi-Fi, or spa or dining credits. According to Virtuoso, such hotel perks can be worth more than $500.
But some hotels go beyond the expected. We talked to insiders about some of the best amenities.
Michael King, Great Getaways Travel
“I love the unusual, but nothing beats practical for value,” says King. The Intercontinental Paris offers access to its private club lounge (valued at €150 a day, or US$168), an elegant space for clients to enjoy breakfast, lunch, tea time, and dinner if they want.
“I also love choices, and so do my clients,” King says. “At the Kinloch Manor and Villas on the North Island of New Zealand, they have an amenity choice: one round of complimentary golf on the Kinloch Jack Nicklaus course, valued at $250, or a complimentary 1.5-hour wine class and tasting for two, which can be enjoyed as a wine match during dinner or as a separate afternoon experience,” he says.
Eve Szembek, vice president of hotels and resorts at Signature Travel Network
At the Peninsula Paris, clients who book a superior suite or above receive a round-trip airport transfer, and there’s a longer list of perks at the InterContinental Marseille: a VIP welcome amenity, a one-way airport transfer with suite bookings, a bottle of champagne with a three-night minimum stay, and free access to Spa by Clarins. Szembek also points to The Mark in New York City, which offers a round of cocktails and snacks at Mark’s Bar or a “Picnic in the Park by Jean-Georges” for guests to take to nearby Central Park.
Josh King, Largay Travel
At Birkenhead House in South Africa, clients get a private tasting of regional wines in the hotel cellar. “South Africa has some of the world’s best wine, and it is really special to experience an exclusive tasting in such a beautiful environment,” King says. Plus, the hotel offers 15 percent off spa treatments. In Scotland, at Gleneagles, one of the Virtuoso perks with a two-night stay is a complimentary round of golf on the King’s or Queen’s course. “Anyone who enjoys golf will have this course on their bucket list,” King says.
Susan Zurbin-Hothersall, Power Travel
The free in-room bar at the Beaumont Hotel in London is one of Zurbin-Hothersall’s favorites, and she also appreciates the hotels that work with advisors to arrange personalized amenities, like peach juice and prosecco, ingredients for a Bellini cocktail, at the Belmond Hotel Cipriani.
Brooke Lavery, Local Foreigner
Le Sirenuse in Positano offers such complimentary activities for all guests as guided morning hikes, champagne cruises, and boat transfers to beach clubs. “But there is one that feels unreal,” Lavery says. “Bill Bensley’s new Shinta Mani Wild in the jungle of Cambodia includes unlimited massages and spa treatments for all guests, all while submerged in nature next to a rushing river.”
Lauren Machowsky, SmartFlyer
The five family-owned properties of the Canaves hotel brand in Santorini, Greece, offer complimentary guided hikes. “Who needs a gym when you have the caldera?” Machowsky asks. Closer to home, Dossier in Portland, Oregon, connects guests with a local run group. “They are the friendliest bunch, and you’re sure to see a new side to Portland by foot!”
The Bulgari London gives VIP guests chauffeured rides to a Bulgari store that will open early or close late for a private shopping experience. The Dolder Grand in Zurich provides e-bikes and complimentary cars, on-call butler service to certain guests, and a $100 Virtuoso spa credit to use on a bamboo shiatsu massage or one of its other unique treatments. “And Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Cabo gives three ‘M’s’: upon arrival, all guests are welcomed with a private serenade from a mariachi band, margaritas, and a 15-minute shoulder massage,” says Machowsky.
Jamie Anderson, Travel & Cruise Desk
Anderson loves the family-owned, all-inclusive Grand Velas Resorts in Mexico: “I recently stayed at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit during their ‘Wellnessing Getaway’ program. It was a three-day event with healthy living and yoga workshops, plus personalized dining menus. This and other similar events are free to any guests who happen to be staying during that time.”
>> Next: Q&A with SmartFlyer’s Michael Holtz