There’s A Barbie Hotel Room In Costa Rica, And It’s Like, Totally Cool

barbie suite hilton costa ricaIt’s pink and girly and awesome! We jest. But Barbie lovers disappointed that the new Royal Caribbean cruise packages are just for kids can now get their fill of the blonde doll’s signature color with a new themed room at the DoubleTree by Hilton in San Juan, Costa Rica.

It isn’t the first time Hilton has partnered with Barbie – themed rooms pop up around the world, generally for a few months at a time, including hotels in Toronto, Argentina and Korea.

A bit at odds with the hotel’s modern hacienda style, the room is nevertheless sure to delight Barbie lovers of all ages with its pink-on-pink-on-pink decor and Barbie-themed accessories.

The best part? The room is pretty cheap, starting at just $109 a night with breakfast for two kids. The room attaches to a King-bedded room, perfect for parents with children. To reserve, guests must call the hotel directly.

What do you think? Would you stay here? Personally, we’d prefer the Barbie Suite at The Palms in Las Vegas.

For Business Travelers: Comfort On The Road Is Paramount

business travel survey Frequent business travelers are looking to make their travel as comfortable and “normal” as possible, the Workstyles Study conducted by Hilton‘s Homewood Suites found. Work-life balance is a becoming a popular catchphrase amongst frequent business travelers who want room to spread out, the ability to maintain a normal routine and opportunities to interact with business associates and fellow travelers.

The most frequent complaint amongst respondents (32%) is that they missed their “normal routine,” a statistic up 12% from the 2012 study. Business travelers specifically missed their kitchens (25%), up 18% from 2010.

Business Travel Isn’t Going Anywhere

Being on the road can wear on travelers, with 34% also responding that the biggest obstacle of business travel is simply “being away from home.” In an effort to feel more at ease in their surroundings, two-thirds of travelers take the time to unpack their suitcase.

This “wear and tear” on travelers doesn’t mean that business travel will cease, however. Nearly three-quarters of respondents agree that traveling for work is the most effective way to do business, and one-third have made what they would call an “important business connection” while socializing at a hotel.“Corporate travelers are emphasizing both how to maximize value for their travel expenditures and their productivity while traveling,” said Bjorn Hanson, Dean, New York University Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management in a release. “Business travelers are indicating increased willingness to try new brands this year, so extended-stay hotels, for example, will help extend their travel budgets and meet their business needs.”

Most Important Amenities

Most travelers work an hour or more a day in their hotel rooms, choosing the desk or the living room for their workspace. Internet (88%) is the most used amenity, but a number of factors play a role in the booking decision.

Travelers prefer healthier food options versus enhanced fitness facilities (69%) but also place a heavy emphasis on value and location (34% each) as well as a “large, comfortable room” (63%).

“In 2012 the hotel industry has seen a rebound in business travel, but returning guests are now demanding more than just a fiscal value,” said a Hilton representative in a release. “Less impressed by bells and whistles, they want amenities and services that deliver both comfort and productivity.”

The study profiled nearly 600 business travelers.

How (And Where) Business Travelers Stay Productive On The Road

hotel bedAre you productive when traveling for work? The easy answer is that it depends on how much you travel. Frequent business travelers know how to maximize productivity while on the road, and those who are able to quickly acclimate to new environments may also be good at this trick of “on the go productivity.”

I, personally, am writing from a hotel bed while eating Pringles from the mini bar. That’s all about productivity, no?

Were I in San Diego (74%) and Seattle (69%), I’d be best primed to be “work-life” productive on a U.S. overnight business trip, a new survey from Cambria Suites found. I’d also do well in Boston, Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco, Denver, New York, Phoenix or San Antonio.

The survey showed that nearly all travelers state that work-life balance is an important goal for business travel. Seventy-one percent of respondents say the key to achieving work-life balance is focusing on “work-life productivity” while traveling, which means living their entire life more productively and putting equal focus on work and personal needs.

As such, the study explored how travelers stay productive on the road and what tools best help (or hinder) their experiences.Employer Expectations Grow Even As Travel Budgets Shrink

On the heels of reports that U.S. business travel continues to grow, so do the expectations of employers. The survey shows that road warriors feel employers are demanding greater outcomes and higher efficiencies from each and every business trip.

Almost a quarter (23%) of business travelers say that they are staying less frequently at hotels that are full service or luxury class, and more than one out of five (21%) say they are facing greater scrutiny over outcomes from their business trips.

Technology Critical to Balance Top Personal Challenges on the Road

The Cambria Suites survey found that spending time with loved ones (62%) and missing important events and milestones in their personal lives (42%) are two of the top five challenges cited by business travelers while on the road. Others include: eating healthy and on a regular schedule (68%), getting proper sleep (62%), and exercising regularly (60%). Caring for pets at home (24%) is also a concern for some business travelers.

According to the survey, technology is a top tool for business travelers to balance personal and professional needs; nearly two-thirds (66%) of business travelers cite technology as critical in achieving greater overall work-life productivity. While technology has made business travel more efficient and productive for nearly eight of 10 travelers (78%), it is equally significant in helping them stay connected with loved ones on business trips (81%).

Right Hotel has More Impact on Staying Productive than Flight or Rental Car

The survey also revealed the importance hotels play in achieving balance and productivity when traveling. More than half of road warriors (56%) say that the hotel component has a greater impact on their ability to work productively than other trip components, such as their flight or rental car. Comfortable beds and bedding (65%), closely followed by free Wi-Fi (62%) are cited as most important when it comes to hotel services and amenities. Friendly, helpful staff (39%), free parking (30%) and a spacious, well-appointed hotel guestroom (26%) complete the top five must-have hotel services for business travelers.

More Women Than Men Use Technology to Stay In Touch with Loved Ones

The survey found women value and use technology more than men to stay connected with their personal lives on business trips. Women are more likely (plus 13% points) than men to say that social media in particular has enhanced their business travel experience by keeping them in touch with their personal and professional networks (42% compared with 29%). Eight of 10 female business travelers state that technology is just as important in their business and personal life to enhance their overall productivity, compared to seven of 10 men. The survey also revealed that achieving work-life balance is more important to female road warriors, with 96 percent of women saying work-life balance is an important goal compared with 82 percent of men.

How do you stay productive and balanced while on the road?

Hilton launches “Authentically Local” programs in the Caribbean and Latin America

Can a mega-corporate hospitality chain with 3,750 hotels provide authentic local experiences to travelers? Select Hilton Worldwide hotels are giving it a shot with the just announced “Authentically Local” packages. Available through the end of the year in the Caribbean and Latin America, the packages are aimed at introducing travelers to local cultures and languages through experiences such as dinners featuring local flavors, dance lessons in the local style, destination and tour suggestions hand-picked by locals, and more. There is even the opportunity for hotel guests to choose wearing a “language immersion pin” that identifies them as someone hotel employees will only speak to in the local language.

Options under the new package include tasting conch at the British Colonial Hilton Nassau in the Bahamas, learning rumba at the Hilton Cartagena in Colombia, snorkelling in the clear waters at the Hilton Curaçao off the coast of Venezuela, or touring the Mercado Municipal when staying at the Hilton São Paulo Morumbi in Brazil. The hotel chain also says culture consultants will be avialable at each participating property (full list after the jump) to help guests learn about the most celebrated experiences in the destinations.

So, is Hilton’s new initiative to help travelers partake in authentic experiences when staying at their hotels a way the chain is reaching out to the community, or is it just a marketing ploy? It could go either way, but no matter what it’s nice to see more travelers will be learning about local cultures.PS. For those interested, the “Authentically Local” package is being offered at the following locations: Hilton Buenos Aires, Argentina; Hilton São Paulo Morumbi, Brazil; Hilton Belem, Brazil; Hilton Bogota, Colombia; Hilton Cartagena, Colombia; Hilton Garden Inn Santiago Airport, Chile; Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort; Hilton Mexico City Reforma; Hilton Villahermosa & Conference Center, Mexico; Hilton Garden Inn Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico; Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa; DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Central Pacific – Costa Rica; DoubleTree Cariari by Hilton San Jose, Costa Rica; British Colonial Hilton Nassau, The Bahamas; Hilton Barbados Resort; Hilton Curaçao; Hilton Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre.

[Photo: Man selling conch shells in Nassau, Bahamas by Libby Zay]

Got a Visa Signature card? Get free Hilton Honors Gold status

Check your Visa card, you might have free access to Hilton’s Gold status sitting dormant in your wallet. The credit card company and massive hotel chain just hooked up to offer a promotion for all Visa Signature card holders: fill in the form at the promotion link and you’ll get free Gold status through the end of the summer (8/31), and if you stay for three nights between now and then the status stays active for the next year.

What does gold status get you? A whole host of perks, from room upgrades to free internet to stays on the executive level (read: free snacks and drinks!). You can read the full benefits over at hhonors.

Great, but what’s the catch? There isn’t one technically, you just get exposed to the portfolio of Hilton properties on a limited, intensive basis for the next few months, and the chance that you stick around and keep giving them your business is an investment risk that they’re willing to make. Demographically, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Signature brand happened to contain a higher percentage of “upper middle class business travelers.”

Hey, a freebie is a freebie. Drop on by the Hilton page to sign up for the promotion.