Every hotel guest loves the surprise of chocolates on their pillow or generously sized toiletries in the bathroom. But while thoughtful touches like these make you feel pampered, some hotels really know how to enhance a stay. Whether it’s by lavishing guests with the opportunity to take to the road in a luxe car or look to the skies to stargaze, these packages and amenities are sure to impress.
Ocean House in Westerly, Rhode Island, has a top-rated spa. Photo courtesy of Ocean House
At Whiteface Lodge, a AAA Four Diamond all-suite luxury resort in Lake Placid, New York, the experience of fishing for rainbow trout in a private catch-and-release pond, complete with complimentary gear, is just the beginning of the extras available for guests. Other included amenities—such as a 56-seat surround-sound theater, showing three films daily (plus all the popcorn you can eat!), and an old-style two-lane bowling alley—ensure that you and your family will never run out of things to do.
Guests can borrow a guitar, amp and headphones as part of Hard Rock Hotel’s Sound of Your Stay package. Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel
Curious guests of The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia, can get the scoop on its outstanding collection of maps, paintings and documents related to our third president, as well as more information on must-sees around the hotel, thanks to historian Susan Sullivan Lagon. She holds court in the hotel library on Saturday mornings, ready to answer questions or lead a guided tour that can be customized to participants’ interests. Guests can also pick up one of Lagon’s self-guided itineraries of DC (maybe the one on famous dogs and animals?) at the front desk.
The Jefferson Hotel in Washington, DC, has a historian on staff in the hotel library on Saturday mornings to answer questions and give tour advice. Photo by Susan Sullivan Lagon
Walls lined with guitars and vitrines filled with leather jackets are a staple of Hard Rock Hotels, which not only provide accommodations but also immerse guests in rock’n’roll. New York City—where the brand has opened the latest of a small handful of non-casino, non-resort hotels—seems an especially apt place to indulge in Hard Rock’s Sound of Your Stay package. Guests can borrow (at no extra cost) a classic Fender guitar, complete with a small amp and headphones, to make like Jimi Hendrix all weekend long. Add that to the hotel’s curated Spotify playlist—when’s the last time you heard a set move from Sammy Davis Jr. to Bon Jovi to Nicki Minaj?—and its in-room turntable, and you’ll wanna rock and roll all night.
Guests at the Hawaii Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa can join a NASA astronomer for star-viewing with an HD telescope Photo by Taiga/Stock.adobe.com
THE OUTDOORS BECKONS
When touring Newport, Rhode Island’s famed Gilded Age mansions, why not do so in a custom that befits the setting? Guests of Ocean House and Watch Hill Inn, two AAA Five Diamond properties in Westerly, about 40 miles outside of town, can take advantage (at no extra cost) of the hotel’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz USA to enjoy a one-of-a-kind driving experience behind the wheel of a new convertible, sedan or SUV. Choose from a day excursion or an evening jaunt and be sure to ask for the brochure that highlights some suggested drives and stops. The six hotel cars are also available as shuttles for guests who prefer to leave the driving to someone else.
Lodgings at Sunset at the Palms in Negril Jamaica are raised cottages with decks set in the jungle. Photo courtesy of Sunset at the Palms
Shimmering galaxies appear this close from the roof of the AAA Four Diamond Hawaii Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa when night owls join NASA astronomer Edward J. Mahoney for the Tour of the Stars program, Thursday through Sunday evenings. Peer through a state-of-the-art Celestron Deluxe HD telescope and learn about what you’re seeing and how to navigate the dark skies. Reservations are required; experience costs $30 for adult guests and $20 for children. For those who want to dig a little deeper, an astrophotography workshop is available on Mondays ($45 per attendee).
Guests who choose Sheraton Phoenix Downtown’s Rest and Restore package receive a Cove unit to lull them to sleep. Photo courtesy of Sheraton
Tired of being tired while traveling? Sleep tight with the Rest & Restore package at Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, a AAA Four Diamond property. Your snoozefest starts with a welcoming chamomile-lavender tea and biscotti, continues with a borrowed Cove headset (the soothing vibrations it emits purportedly relieve stress and encourage sleep) and ends with a late checkout and breakfast for two. Sweet dreams are made of this, indeed.
Cuisine at Shangri la Bosphorus, Istanbul, Turkey. Photo courtesy of Shangri-La
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
Two newly renovated hotels within Kingston Resorts in South Carolina—the Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort and Embassy Suites Myrtle Beach—are also getting in on the Wine Water bandwagon. Almost literally. A fleet of three beverage-stocked tricycles—dubbed SipCycles—quench the thirsts of pool-side guests at both properties (in the fall, on weekends only), delivering ice-cold canned water wine, along with a selection of other refreshing beverages, popsicles and ice cream. Simply pop the can and lift it to your greedy lips. Then repeat.
A few years ago, the world’s top luxury brands began introducing butlers to their service. A butler to unpack your bags. A butler to draw your bath or light your fire. In the “can you top this?” sweepstakes, the Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul, has a winning entry: the world’s first baklava butler. Its elegant version of the gooey concoction—which consists of layers of transparent phyllo dough topped with honey and filled with crushed pistachio—is custom-made by bakers in Gaziantep, baklava’s birthplace. As part of the presentation, a baklava butler, dressed in a stylish take on traditional Turkish garb, adds a dollop of ice cream called Maras, sliced from a marble-like slab. Add a cup of Turkish coffee or herbal tea for the perfect pause that refreshes.
Vermonts Topnotch Resort pampers canine guests. Photo courtesy of Topnotch Resort
If you prefer bleats to treats, then the goat picnic at the AAA Five Diamond Sunset at the Palms in Negril, Jamaica, will be udderly perfect. When the property’s first goat, Becky, arrived several years ago by way of a local farmer, she was put to work grazing away to keep the grounds under control in sustainable fashion. She’s proved so popular with guests that she and her offspring—the only “kids” allowed at this adult playground—are now available to join guests for a picnic or breakfast ($35 per person). The resort’s culinary team assembles a basket of fruit, sandwiches, desserts and beverages, plus some foliage for the goats. (Special requests, such as a vegan-only menu are honored when possible and priced accordingly.) To get your goat, make arrangements in advance or with the concierge upon arrival.
Hotels and resorts in the US and abroad offer special themed packages and unique amenities that just might suit you to a T—and make your trip more memorable. Browse the properties’ websites or ask your AAA travel advisor about nontraditional hotel offerings when planning your next getaway.