From bars that come to you to local literary partnerships producing original works, top addresses are rewarding guests with creative offerings like never before. Here are 10 trends to watch in the year ahead:
A New Spin on the Bar
What's Out: Drinks and a cheese plate at the bar
What's In: Drinks and a cheese plate served tableside
Hotel restaurants bring the party to you with impressive bar carts drawn tableside. Brunch guests at 45 Park Lane in London are treated to a Bloody Mary trolley stocked with the finest local market ingredients to cater to every taste - from beef stock and horseradish vodka to chili syrup and spice gomme. The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia surprises with an unexpected cow-shaped cheese cart named Faira that is arrayed with a remarkable selection of cheeses from around the world, while the Omni Royal Orleans' iconic Martini Cart serves $2.00 martinis tableside - and double the size of a regular martini at that!
A Sleep to Remember
What's Out: Staying up all night
What's In: Sleeping all night
Why party all night when you can get the best sleep of your life? Hotels are putting an emphasis on sleep offerings to help their guests get a good night's snooze. Hotel Vermont in Burlington has a special bedtime menu with a long list of sleep-friendly amenities including a Lunaroma aromatherapy selection, Vermont flannel PJ sets, Vermont teddy bears, bedtime stories, and a hot toddy selection. The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina is turning up the heat on turndown amenities with temple balm and reflexology foot treatment as a turndown amenity, along with a "Good Night Wishes" card with tips for relaxing. The Dorchester in London offers a Sleep Deeply massage to send guests to slumberland in a hurry.
Text Your Request
What's Out: Dialing "0" to reach the concierge desk
What's In: Using your smartphone or tablet to reach the concierge...and book reservations
Hotels are inviting guests to make requests without saying a word. Three Loews Hotels properties are testing a pilot program that takes guest requests through text messages - from additional pillows to wake up calls - with replies guaranteed within four minutes. Loews Hotels also recently debuted a program that invites guests to make "social reservations" through Twitter: Simply tweet @Loews_Hotels with the hashtag #BookLoews and a Loews travel planner will assist with your reservation. The Nines in Portland offers its own "Nines Touch" app enabling guests to "chat" directly with hotel staff through their mobile devices to order room service, check out local events, arrange transportation and submit requests to the concierge. Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa's Red Coat Direct program lets meeting planners text hotel staff with questions, comments or requests during their meeting.
Boost Your Bath
What's Out: BYO toiletries
What's In: Bath Bars
Decadent baths have long been a favorite treat at luxury hotels. In 2014 many properties are enhancing their already lavish bath experiences with expertly drawn baths. Hotel Madeline in Telluride, Colorado offers a "Bath Bar" and "Bath Barista" who comes to your room to customize your bath with bath salts, facial cleaners, facial oil and body oil infused with lemon, juniper, cardamom and more. Guests at Lake Arrowhead Resort in California can summon the Bath Butler to deliver luxe amenities like Bamboo Lemongrass Foaming Body Scrub and Bamboo Lemongrass Body Crème. Ingredients change seasonally, with special products offered for Valentine's Day and other occasions. Seabourn Cruise Line invites guests staying in their Penthouse Spa Suites to customize their baths by choosing from a menu of luxurious bath sponges and designer soaps by Hermes, L'Occitane, Baudelaire and Salvatore Ferragamo.
Ride in Style
What's Out: Designer suites
What's In: Designer bikes
Hotels are teaming up with designers to create custom bikes that express the style and individuality of the property. Even as Citi Bikes take over Manhattan, Gramercy Park Hotel worked with Lorenzo Martone to create "the Christian Louboutin" of bicycles for guests. The bikes are all-white save for Martone's signature bright red chain. Le Meurice in Paris offers chic pistachio-green bicycles with all the trimmings including a green basket and elegant gold bike locks, while 45 Park Lane in London invites guests to take a spin on bespoke Brompton bicycles in the hotel's signature purple color. Maine's Chebeague Island Inn located 10 miles off the coast of Portland allows guests to explore the island with custom L.L. Bean-designed bikes.
What's Out: Connecting flights
What's In: Train tourism
One of the hottest travel trends for 2014, train tourism is breaking out in a big way, with tour operators adding rail excursions to their list of trip selections. Mongolian tour operator Nomadic Expeditions is unveiling four new rail trips for 2014, with trans-Siberian routes spanning from Moscow to Beijing and Ulaanbaatar to Moscow. Luxury tour operator Big Five Tours & Expeditions' 13-day Madagascar trip lets travelers observe lemurs in Analamazotra Special Reserve, visit workshops of crafters and artisans, meet the famous Vezo fisherman of Anakoa, and experience culture and scenery on a day-long train journey through the rainforest.
Local Libraries at Hotels
What's Out: Buying a bestseller at the airport
What's In: Discovering a local author at your hotel
Hotels are taking the local travel trend one step further with local literary partnerships and amenities. Hotel Vermont in Burlington has partnered with the Burlington Writers Workshop to publish new writing on a quarterly basis. Each guest room will be stocked with small books filled with original works by workshop writers for guests to enjoy onsite and take home. The Nines in Portland has a partnership with nearby Powell's Books - the largest new and used bookstore in the world - to offer a wide selection of more than 3,000 books in the hotel's on-site library.
Cajun Goes Global
What's Out: New Orleans cuisine in New Orleans
What's In: New Orleans cuisine in unexpected places
Like Vietnamese, Scandinavian and Korean cuisine before it, New Orleans-inspired fare is taking over menus in unexpected places in 2014. Jean-Paul Bourgeois, Chef de Cuisine at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York, honors his Bayou background with a new in-room menu featuring JP's Po-Boy (cornmeal battered shrimp, tabasco mayo, pickle, lettuce and tomato), the Bourgie Burger (8 oz. La Frieda ground burger with all the trimmings served with Cajun Spiced fries) and more. The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa is home to Executive Chef Michael Farrell who brings NoLa-inspired Southern Coastal style to the Caribbean with dishes like Shrimp and Grits and Seafood Gumbo.
What's Out: Hotel as escape
What's In: Hotel as home
With short term home and apartment rental sites like Homeaway and Airbnb shifting hospitality towards homelike experiences, luxury hotels are offering more personalized options that don't skimp on luxury. The Lodge at Doonbeg in County Clare, Ireland has a range of accommodation options including suites and cottages - all tailored with modern conveniences including full kitchens and spacious living rooms complete with intimate comforts of home like gas fireplaces and large book selections, plus bespoke furnishings, fabrics and hand-selected antiques. Guests can dine at the Lodge's two full-service restaurants, or arrange for room service to deliver the ingredients for a DIY BBQ or pizza party for a more homelike dining experience. Lungarno Collection, the Ferragamo family-owned hospitality group, will launch a new property, Portrait Firenze in May 2014. The hotel is the second to employ the collection's "portrait experience" concept (the first is Portrait Roma in Rome). Portrait properties put guests at center stage, with rooms customized to suit individual guest needs, preferences and pursuits.
What's Out: Walking Tours
What's In: Experiential Tours
Hotels are offering new ways to get up close and personal with their destinations. Rather than walk through wildlife, fly through it on Omni Mount Washington's canopy tour - the longest zip-line tour in New England, which treats thrill-seekers to views of the East's tallest peak. Guests at The Dolder Grand in Zurich can enjoy an art history lesson with their stay courtesy of an Art iPad app that provides insider info on works in the hotel's impressive art collection, with pieces by Andy Warhol, Salvatore Dali and others. Kiawah Island invites visitors to discover and observe the fascinating flora and fauna that inhabit the island's diverse ecosystems on a "Wildlife in the Wetlands" bike tour.