Savvy travelers’ best-kept-shopping-secret: their hotels

Savvy travelers’ best-kept-shopping-secret: their hotels
According to John Zoller, VP of Retail Operations of The Breakers Palm Beach, an independent luxury oceanfront resort which owns and manages its own 11 boutiques, “We've long tapped into the leisure and conference market, those who like to shop while on vacation or on breaks from business/meetings… to treat oneself to personal items/home accessories, or in pursuit of gifts for family and friends. Hotel stores provide an ever important and stylish component of travel experience and resort lifestyle, much like restaurants, bars or spa.

Resorts like The Breakers Palm Beach have gone to such entrepreneurial lengths as to create their own retail concepts or align with high-end brands. Zoller's team trains its associates in five-diamond hospitality and highly personalized service. Zoller (previously a veteran of Neiman Marcus and now with The Breakers for 20 years) was a pioneer in the hotel/resort-retail industry, and years ago, drew visits from other hotel corporations looking to see what this independent hotel was doing with its merchandising capabilities, private-label boutique concepts – a resort shoe salon MATCH, fashion jewelry boutique MIX, and Absolutely Suitable for designer swimwear, and others – and luring names like Lilly Pulitzer, Ralph Lauren and Guerlain as outposts of the brand.

Hotel guests, in turn, become coveted store customers, relying on the sales associates to keep them informed on new styles and merchandise, and shipping their purchases home to avert those heavy baggage charges.

Hilton Hawaiian Village boasts over 90 onsite shops and boutiques. Guests can get the latest designer accessories from Louis Vuitton or upscale jewelry from a range of stores. Guests can pick up some trendy sunglasses from Hi Trend or take home handcrafted Koa furniture from Martin & MacArthurv, find Ikat weavings, masks, baskets and drums at Noa Noa Hawaii or even find Hawaiian musical instruments at Aloha Ukulele. The resort is also centrally located within walking distance to the “Rodeo Drive” of Waikiki also known as Ala Moana Center, which is a premier international and local shopping destination with over 290 shops from beachwear to high fashion in a beautiful open-air setting filled with lush tropical landscaping and koi ponds.

Sheraton Puerto Rico launched Puerto Rico's first “Retail Therapist,” a new position catering to discerning guests' shopping needs as San Juan increases its retail options for travelers. Marked by the upcoming debut of The Mall of San Juan (featuring luxury retailers such as Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue) as well as the increasingly popular historic shops on the cobblestone alleys of Old San Juan, the Retail Therapist will offer local shopping insights for guests such as customizable itineraries through San Juan's most popular shopping districts, takeaway shopping maps designed by the Retail Therapist and curated lists of artisanal markets and insider shopping tips.

The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico is a luxurious nature-filled retreat at the foot of El Yunque National Rainforest. Catering to today's global shopper, the AAA Five Diamond Resort encourages guests to communicate directly with the resort's eButler post-shopping and prior to arrival via email. The butler will be ready to unpack their belongings, press their new clothes and ensure all travel necessities are packed before heading to their next island activity - no request is unattainable no matter the time.

AKA has seen a large increase of international travelers, including from Europe, Australia and Brazil, to both its NYC and Beverly Hills properties. Catering to guests at its NYC properties, one of which is around the corner from Bergdorf Goodman, AKA has partnered with the luxury department store to launch a shopping program that includes highly curated and specialized designer trunk shows in the hotel's VIP guest lounge for customized shopping experiences. Most recently, AKA Central Park hosted Bergdorf's exclusive beauty press review event, giving nearly 50 top-tier journalists and all AKA residents an opportunity to check out the latest in upscale cosmetic and fragrance lines. For its international shopping guests at AKA Beverly Hills, AKA has launched a personal shopper program that includes partnerships with various luxury personal shoppers who speak a second language, ranging from Portuguese to Chinese.

After seeing an influx of travelers from Mexico and Latin America venture to Tucson specifically for La Encantada (an upscale two-level outdoor specialty center boasting shops from St. John to Louis Vuitton to Kate Spade and beyond), The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa launched complimentary shuttle service to the shopping center as to streamline the retail therapy experience for guests.

Recently, The Wolcott Hotel has seen a huge influx in international travelers, particularly from Europe, with increases of up to 400% per country. In response, the hotel, which is steps from Herald Square, one of the city's most popular shopping districts, created the “Shopping Suite” with a third room for shopping bags alone, all while accommodating up to three guests.

The Pagoda Hotel in the heart of Honolulu is just minutes away from major Waikiki shopping. Centrally located just off the beaten path of two of Waikiki's most prominent shopping centers, Ala Moana and Royal Hawaiian Center's, visitors from the neighboring islands and Asia flock to the area to visit the upscale shops and stay at the Pagoda with its affordable rates and spacious rooms great for accommodating all of those shopping bags!

The Personal Concierges in the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria (the luxury hotel atop the Waldorf) are always available to arrange personal shopping experiences for guests at their favorite high-end retailers on Fifth Avenue and the coveted boutiques on Madison Avenue – just steps from the hotel. Presidents, heads of state, celebrities, and tourists from around the world seek out the Towers Chief Concierge Michael Romei to fulfill last-minute shopping requests – from gown alterations for a special appearance, to a new pair of Jimmy Choos for a night on the town.

Connected to New Orleans' famed high-end Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, Hilton New Orleans Riverside offers a “Shop Til You Drop” package which includes savings at the mall, parking, Wi-Fi and access to the Health Club, starting at $139. Shoppers can save on great deals from Coach, Steve Madden, Johnson & Murphy, Guess and more. In addition, the shopping mall is tax-free for international shoppers, making it a favorite for those visiting from overseas.

Hilton Chicago is walking distance from the famed State Street Shopping, one of Chicago's historic shopping destinations that became famous with Frank Sinatra sang its praises in his song “Chicago”. Today, it's home to a pedestrian mall and a variety of well-known stores.

Brickell City Centre, possibly the largest mixed-use construction project in the country, is building a 565,000 square-foot shopping center to cater to the rising demand for premium shopping experiences in Miami. Miami is undergoing a cultural transformation and has been seeing record numbers of travelers from Latin America, the Northeast and Europe. The project is nearing completion of its outdoor, multi-level shopping center, with Saks Fifth Avenue and Mexico-based Cinemex as anchors. Hong-Kong-based East, Miami has been selected to open its first US hotel at Brickell City Centre and will offer direct access to the world's premier luxury brands.