How Does Music Affect Your Hotel Decisions?

music
Library of Congress

Music is becoming common on hotel websites, but does it really make us want to book a room?

A scientific study has come up with the answer: yeah, kinda. The journal Psychology of Music has published an article titled, “Congruency between instrumental background music and behavior on a website.”

As the author states in the abstract:

“Instrumental music (jazz and djembe) was played or not [played] while participants browsed the website of a well-known seaside resort and participants were instructed to select a type of accommodation. It was found that djembe music was associated more with a choice of outdoor accommodation while jazz music was associated with greater interest for hotel accommodation. Both music conditions showed a significant difference from the no music control condition. The ability of instrumental music to prime different memories and feelings is used to explain these results.”

So basically when we hear jazz we think of sipping bourbon in smoky interiors, while djembe makes us want to dance the night away in the moonlight. Um, OK.

Reading the article further, it turns out there’s a whole field of study devoted to figuring out what background music will do to our buying habits. Classical music makes us buy more expensive wines, for example, and playing French music will make us more likely to buy French wines. And here I thought the major determining factor was the physical attributes of my date.

The results of this study are pretty impressive. Eighty percent of the participants in this experiment picked a hotel room when they heard jazz, while 62.5% of the djembe listeners picked camping. For those who didn’t hear any music, 27.5% picked the hotel and 30% picked camping. It appears that mood music is aptly named.

Of course, hotel websites looking to get our money have to pick the right music. More often than not it’s some cheesy tune that makes us turn off the volume, or even worse for the hotel, click on another website. The annoyance factor is even higher if the music is clogging your slow connection or starts ringing out across your office, announcing to everyone that you’re slacking off.

So instead of spending money on music for their websites, perhaps hotels should spend more on music in their rooms. While Blind Willie McTell isn’t around anymore to play his 12-string guitar while you scarf down all the pillow mints, there are plenty of out-of-work musicians who would be happy to serenade you for a small fee.

Culinary Vacations Not ‘Cookie-Cutter’ With Destination Discoveries

cooking classAs we’ve continued to report at Gadling, a new generation of culinary tours is on the rise. Food-loving travelers want more than generic cooking classes that teach how to make pad thai in Thailand or risotto in Tuscany. And a few companies – such as Destination Hotels & Resorts, North America’s fourth largest hotel management company – are complying by offering tours and classes that focus more on culture, locality and experiential elements.

With the launch of Destination Discoveries, hotel guests can tour the on-site apiary at Kirkland, Washington’s, The Woodmark, before taking a honey-themed cooking class with Chef Dylan Giordan. On Maui, personalized farm tours enable participants to harvest ingredients for a private class in their accommodation, as well as visit producers and sample handcrafted foods from the island.

The adventures aren’t just limited to food. There are also art, literature and active themes that reflect a sense of place; fly-fishing lessons in Lake Tahoe; nordic pursuits in Vail; art classes in Santa Fe; or a cultural and historic tour of Walden Pond via the Bedford Glen property in Boston. Here’s to more hotel groups doing away with homogenous travel.

[Photo credit: Destination Hotels & Resorts]

Dominican resort offers ultra-luxe island adventure

Dominican ResortA new Dominican resort has plans to change the travel and tourism landscape in the Caribbean when completed in February 2012. Eden Roc at Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic consists of 34 freestanding suites and three opulent bungalows, each one fully equipped with it’s own private swimming pool, that offer jet-setting guests an unprecedented level of intimate luxury that personifies glamour.

Eden Roc promises to spoil guests further with extravagant amenities such as the resort’s full service spa, three Jack Nicklaus signature golf courses, tennis facilities, Caletón Beach Club, Eden Roc Kids Club, five diverse culinary selections and more.

Located in the uber-exclusive community of Capa Cana, Eden Roc at Cap Cana is a 20-minute drive from the Punta Cana International Airport and private jet landing strip. Home to white haute beaches and tropical rainforests, the Caletón Beach Club offers global luxury clientele everything they may desire.

Families with children will have access to the resort’s jungle-themed Kids Club, designed to resemble a massive tree house complete with video games, mini dining area and Mini Spa, where kids of all ages can enjoy manicures, pedicures and hair styling in style.

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Prices start at $750 per night for an 824 sq ft Junior Suite with a garden view that includes a King bed, private swimming pool, private courtyard with pergola, marble bath with Jacuzzi tub, 2 separate vanities and bidet plus 1 touring cart .

Flickr photo by http2007


Five last-minute Labor Day hotel deals


Labor Day weekend hotel deals

If you’re like me, you haven’t booked a Labor Day weekend getaway just yet because to do so is to admit that summer is coming to a close. Luckily for us procrastinators and autumn deniers, there are a number of hotels that count on luring in last-minute stragglers with deep discounts on room rates and packages. Let’s take a spin around sites like Google Hotel Finder, Expedia, Travelzoo, and others to see what sweet hotel deals are on offer for Labor Day weekend 2011.Mission Inn
Riverside, CA

This historic inn-turned-resort and spa an hour east of Los Angeles has hosted presidents and celebrities and been the setting for books and films during its 125 years of operation. The Labor Day weekend deal at the Mission Inn starts at $169 per night (minimum two-night stay) and includes complimentary valet parking, dinner for two (with margaritas!), and a $25.00 resort gift card, which you can put towards a spa treatment at Kelly’s Spa or more margaritas.

Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa
Stowe, VT

It is neither peak New England foliage viewing time nor ski season, which makes finding a deal at a ski lodge in Vermont pretty easy. The Stoweflake, which has an on-site nine-hole golf course, walking trails, and a spa, caught our eye on Google’s Hotel Finder because its room rates for Labor Day weekend are listing at 35% less than the typical rates. Rates for rooms start at $160 or you can rent one of the resort’s town houses starting at $239 for a studio townhouse and $399 for a two-bedroom townhouse. As for margaritas, I’m sure they can shake up a few. But its Stoweflake’s 3,000-bottle wine cellar that’s worth checking out here.

Wigwam Resort
Litchfield Park, AZ

A vision in the Sonoran Desert just west of Phoenix, the 80-year-old Wigwam does the Southwest to ridiculous excess with golf, tennis, and pools with water slides. Labor Day weekend room rates at the Wigwam Resort start at approximately $79 per night. The hotel is also offering a “pick your perk” program, which includes half-price tennis clinics, $25 greens fees, and a few other deals. To get the perk, you must use the code “ENDOFSUM” when booking on the resort’s website. Did I mention that the Wigwam has tequila tastings? Having a wide variety of tequilas with which to make margaritas is essential to holiday weekend imbibing.

Biltmore Hotel
Miami, FL

You know where you can get a kick-ass margarita? Miami*. And where better to stay in Miami than the beautiful Biltmore Hotel? Through September via Travelzoo, you can get a junior suite at the Biltmore for $149 per night, a 60% discount from the typical price of $369.
*Okay, sticklers. I know the hotel is technically in Coral Gables. But have you checked out the pool, once the largest swimming pool in the world? More importantly, have you seen the outrageous caviar spread for Sunday champagne brunch? It’s $75 a head, but think of all the cash you’re saving on your hotel room!

Tropicana Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV

For less than the price of Biltmore brunch, you can stay at the famed Tropicana Las Vegas, a touch of South Beach on the strip that received an extensive renovation in 2010. Labor Day weekend rates at the Tropicana Las Vegas start at $65 per night, which means you’ll have more money in your pocket for slots and roulette. And, don’t you worry about those margaritas. As long as you’re gaming at the Tropicana’s Las Vegas Casino, the margaritas are free. What’s that, croupier? I lost again?!

Maybe we should just stay home.

After The Flood: Nashville’s Rebuilt Gaylord Opryland Hotel


A few days after I explored vibrant post-flood New Orleans, reborn and bustling in the wake of the storm nobody’s forgotten, I found myself in the lobby of the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, the largest non-casino hotel in the country.

It’s home to the famed Grand Ole Opry, the shrine of country music, and sits along the Cumberland River, which poured over its banks last year, flooding the city and causing more than a billion dollars of damage in an event so severe it’s forecast to happen only once every thousand years.

More than nine inches of rain fell on Nashville in 24 hours. By May 3, 2010, the hotel was no longer on the banks of the river. It was in the river.

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This July, in the vast lobby of the Opryland, I met Jenny Barker, the resort’s PR director. She pointed out the huge chandeliers, hanging about 10 feet above the floor. If these new fixtures had been here during the flood, she says, they would’ve been submerged.

Built in stages since 1977, when it opened with 601 rooms and a single ballroom, the hotel is an adventure in monumental proportion, even more so when seen through the lens of recovery from the disaster. Among other features, the Opryland has a quarter-mile-long artificial river, nine acres of tropical botanical gardens, dozens of waterfalls, thousands of rooms, restaurants of every stripe, more than 600,000 square feet of meeting space. It takes 3,600 employees to run the place, including the musician who valeted my car on check-in. Turns out he’s a friend of a friend of a friend.

The size of the hotel is so staggering–and so confusing upon arrival–that the hotel prints out maps for guests, directing them to their rooms. Carpeting is color-coded to help with way finding. I knew I was close to my room, in the Delta wing, when the green flooring gave way to red, indicating elevator bank D1 would be right around the corner. To make a phone call to another room, you have to press six numbers.

Oddly, my room had a balcony, indoors but overlooking the artificial river and a New Orleans-themed public space called Delta Island. The sun streamed in through a glass canopy, and the stillness of the air gave the feeling of being encased in some elaborate biodome. I was five miles from downtown Nashville, but it might as well have been on another planet.

The flood of 2010 reminded everyone that Opryland is just as real and as fragile as the rest of the rest of the city. Employees rounded up about 1,500 guests for evacuations and the hotel, like many businesses in the city, was shuttered.

Amazingly, the entire hotel opened just 195 days after 71.3 million gallons of water were pumped out of mechanical closets, underground passageways, atriums and the 115 guest rooms that were flooded. (Most guest rooms were not inundated.) In addition to repairs, the property used the flood-forced closure to carry out renovations. Again, the statistics are mind boggling: nearly 281,000 square feet of carpeting were replaced and more than a million drywall screws turned.

The rebuild also allowed Opryland to address environmental concerns. The resort modernized its laundry plant to consume less water and set goals to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent by 2015. Future additions–not an unlikely prospect given the expansionary history here–will pursue LEED certification.

It’s not all wonky either: This winter, a partnership with DreamWorks will bring characters from the Madagascar movie franchise to the hotel for a Christmas program, November 18 through January 8. Unsurprisingly, the show will involve an unbelievably large volume of ice: 2 million pounds of the stuff will be carved for the event.