Hotel Concierges To Cure Your Hangover And Fix Your Love Life

Pouring a drink
Dinner Series, Flickr

If you’re like many hotel guests, you probably just waltz right past the concierge desk without a second thought. After all, unless you need a hard-to-get restaurant reservation or last minute theater tickets, you can probably figure out whatever you want to know with a quick search of Google. But what if we told you your concierge might be able to help you quell that nasty hangover, or that they could put the spark back into your love life?

A growing number of high end hotels are bringing in specialty concierges whose job is to provide more personalized services to hotel guests. For example, Westin Hotels & Resorts has recently employed a running concierge who can share advice and help guests achieve their fitness goals. Meanwhile the Viceroy Riviera Maya has its own soap concierge for the traveler who just can’t bathe without some hand-shaved artisanal soap.

One specialty concierge we can imagine being in high demand is the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans’ “Recovery Concierge.” Guests who partied a little too hard can head to the concierge for hangover help, and might find themselves being prescribed a hair of the dog treatment, an in-room massage, or some fresh fruit to give them a healthy energy boost. And then there’s the “Romance Concierge” at the Rendezvous in St Lucia. Her job is to help romantically challenged individuals woo their partner by organizing private dates on the beach, musical serenades, and private sunset cruises, among other things.

What kind of fantasy concierge service would you like to see in a hotel?

Find hotel deals with new booking site Guestmob

hotel deals guestmob collectionsThe Internet has brought us many ways to research and book hotels at prices much lower than the hotels’ published rate. Aggregate sites like Kayak and Orbitz give you the best available rate (BAR) without pre-payment on a specific hotel, while “opaque” sites like Priceline and Hotwire allow you to bid for a room below BAR but the actual property remains hidden until after you book and the purchase is non-refundable. Now a new booking site offers you hotel deals well below BAR while ensuring consumers flexibility and a standard of quality.

Guestmob differs from other hotel booking sites by combining high-tech algorithmic pricing and expertly curated properties hand-picked for their high user ratings. The site works by grouping hotels into collections of four to eight properties in a given category and neighborhood. You enter your travel dates and can immediately see a room rate of up to 50% below BAR for each hotel collection. The Thursday before you check in, the exact hotel is revealed but you are guaranteed one of the specific hotels in the collection. Best of all, unlike other opaque booking sites, you can cancel your reservation up to three days before check-in.hotel deals guestmob booking pagePreviously, some savvy travelers have tried to “game the system” with sites like Bidding for Travel, a forum that tries to guess winning bids and participating hotels on opaque sites by sharing successful bookings. Guestmob removes the need for this research by specifying hotels in each collection and immediately offering a deeply discounted price. While room upgrades, frequent guest points and other requests are still at the discretion of the hotel upon check-in, it’s still a great option for travelers with flexibility.

A Guestmob search for a hotel in Chicago on a weekend in mid-May yielded a price of $164 for a 3.5 star hotel on Magnificent Mile (such as a Courtyard or Embassy Suites), or $203 to bump up to a 4 star in the same area such as a W or Westin Hotel. The same properties ranged from $221 to $279 on other sites. Most Guestmob hotels are part of well-known chains such as Marriott or Starwood, or smaller chains like Kimpton and JDV.

Guestmob soft-launched last year in San Francisco and has now expanded to include New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Portland and Phoenix. The site is well connected to social media so you can get help, learn news or give feedback on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You can also chat with them right on the site if you have questions.

Westin teams up with New Balance to give travelers a reason to stay fit while traveling

westinIt’s getting a little harder to avoid working out on vacation. Westin Hotels & Resorts and New Balance have joined forces to empower travelers to stay healthy and fit when away from home by providing New Balance footwear, apparel and fitness program content at Westin Hotels worldwide.

During a pilot program in 2010, guests of 10 Westin properties were given access to New Balance shoes and accessories during their stay to incorporate some wellness with their travel. The program was so successful, Westin is planning to roll out the New Balance offerings in all Westin-branded hotels worldwide in 2011.

“Convenient access to the proper athletic equipment and programming is vital to the traveler who wants to stay healthy and fit while they’re away from home,” said Hilary Keates, director of global marketing and brand management for New Balance. “New Balance is excited to partner with Westin to provide their health and fitness-minded guests with footwear, apparel, accessories and programming for an overall enhanced experience. As leaders in our respective categories with like-minded consumers, this alliance made perfect sense.”
Westin guests wanting to workout will get travel-specific fitness content from New Balance Fitness Ambassador and Exercise TV celebrity trainer Holly Perkins, who will develop exclusive in-room fitness and equipment-free content that includes stretching and strengthening workouts, cardio and yoga. The program includes “Wellness in Travel” tips from Holly on nutrition and creative ways to combat jet lag and healthy living. New Balance is also working with individual Westin properties to enhance its current three- and five-mile local area running maps. As part of the partnership, participating properties will provide guests traveling to a city for a major athletic event, such as a marathon, with wellness amenities, including turn-down gifts with “performance/fuel” goodies for the race and “good luck” wake-up calls.

We want to know: If given all the equipment, including shoes, would you be more inclined to workout when you travel?

Westin and Amazon team up for co-branded storefront and bonus gift cards

Westin Hotels & Resorts have teamed up with Amazon to deliver the first hotel branded storefront for the popular online retailer.

Westin started selling its own merchandise ten years ago, and since then they have sold nearly 40,000 Heavenly beds, 100,000 pillows and more than 10,000 of their Heavenly spa amenities.

That kind of retail success is very impressive, and it makes sense for them to turn to Amazon to continue the trend.

Starting March 1st, fans of Westin products can head to Amazon.com/Westin for an assortment of brands such as Gaiam, Kate’s Paperie, Tea Forté and Riedel. Of course, the Amazon Westin store will also be home to the Heavenly bed and other Westin signature retail products.

To celebrate the launch, Westin guests with two mid-week stays between February 22nd and May 13th 2010, will receive a $100 Amazon gift card. To be eligible, you will need to register for the promotion at westin.com/balance before booking the stays.

As someone who is a huge fan of the Heavenly bed, I’ll certainly be checking it out as soon as the Amazon store opens on March 1st.

Mixing Business with Adventure

The New York Times had an excellent article a couple of days back offering up some great tips on how to mix business and adventure for travelers who are frequently heading over seas for their jobs. Often times those travelers are short on free time, and may only be visiting a country for a few days, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take advantage of that time to still take in the local sights and soak up some culture.

The article is written by Sue Brush, who is the Senior Vice President for Westin Hotels and Resorts, and for the past 20 years her job has taken her all over the planet. In that time, she’s seen a lot of changes in the way that we travel, and had the opportunity to explore dozens of foreign lands.

For business travelers, the key is to be efficient and take advantage of what ever amount of time is at your disposal. Sue says that when she was in Egypt back in 2007, she immediately switched into casual clothes upon her arrival and went to see the pyramids and to ride a camel in the Sahara. In total, she estimates that she spent no more than an hour taking in the sights, but it was still worth the effort.
The frequent flyer also recommends getting as much work done on the long flights as you possibly can. Many people relax, read, watch the inflight movie, or sleep while in transit. But if you take advantage of that time, and get some work done before your arrival, it may afford you the opportunity to enjoy the destination to a much larger degree.

With a little foresight and planning, the opportunity to mix in a little adventure can make those long business trips more rewarding and pleasureable.