Daily Pampering: Chicago’s tranquility suite

Seems we missed National Relaxation Day on Sunday, Aug. 15, but that doesn’t mean we can’t time out for a little breather. For those of you in the Chicago-area, Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco has a “tranquility suite” perfect for zoning out.

Located on the 11th floor of the Hotel Monaco, the suite offers views of the Chicago River, best enjoyed from the room’s plush oversized window seats. Calming beige and silvery-blue colors are accented by feathers and suede textures. At the center of the suite’s living room is a seating area with Leonardo chairs and reflective glass furniture, an ideal spot for unwinding with champagne and chocolates.

Rent the suite and you’ll get a plush robe, an electric tea kettle, sound machines, pajamas and breakfast in bed. Included in the room is an air purifier and our favorite part: the sleeping cove, which features an exclusively-designed Simmons mattress, wrapped in ultra-soft bamboo sheets. In the bathroom, an opulent bath includes a two-person soaking tub and beaded glass wall covering, beautifully lit by a 42-strand crystal chandelier.

Relaxed, yet? Nightly rates range from $409 to $669, but packages including in-room spa services and other amenities are priced a bit higher.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Hotels making a move on social media, with targeted help

The hotel industry has plenty of faith in the social media world – and no reservations about using it to gain reservations. But, it’s struggling to take control of the medium. A survey by Wine and Hospitality Network indicates that most respondents (in the business) spend only two hours a week managing their Facebook fan pages – with 14.2 percent having no such page to manage. Forty-two percent don’t use Twitter, and 25 percent tweet for less than an hour a week (they should reach out to @Colonnade for tips).

But, it isn’t for lack of trying. The internet is littered with the corpses of abandoned social media marketing initiatives, inside the travel industry and out. Notes online marketing publication ClickZ:

“Before hoteliers even consider a social media initiative, they should be aware that social media is a very engaged, hands-on marketing format. The social networks are a graveyard of abandoned hotel profiles and fan pages by hoteliers who did not realize the complexity of social marketing,” said Margaret Mastrogiacomo, social media specialist with Hospitality eBusiness Strategies, a strategic services and design firm.

Several properties are getting in on the action, committing resources and genuinely seeking returns. New York’s Roger Smith Hotel has made a clear social media play, according to ClickZ, by adopting Revinate, a tool to facilitate active social media management specifically for the hospitality business. Kimpton has adopted this platform as well.

ClickZ continues:

The focus on hotels pays off for the Roger Smith’s Simpson, who used to spend hours using search and setting up news alerts on competitors. While Revinate doesn’t include some of the hot new social media startups he keeps an eye on, like Bizzy and Pegshot, he says it covers the major sites, especially TripAdvisor, the most important. The ability to compare his hotel’s buzz with competitors is also unique. “It’s one thing to do it manually for your own establishment, but for me to do that for surrounding hotels or for what other people we have an interest in are doing, that becomes more laborious.”

So, what does this mean for the average traveler? Your opportunities to engage with the hotels you’ll call home, if only temporarily, are set to increase. Think beyond deals (though they are important) to every other reason you’d contact and open dialogue with a hotel. The possibilities are immense, and hotels, a bit slow to move in social media, appear to be on the brink.

Hotel Palomar Chicago officially open to Windy City guests

Kimpton’s new Hotel Palomar Chicago welcomes its first guests today to the 261-room art-themed hotel.

The pièce de résistance of this 4-star-caliber hotel is the green roof, which helps promote Chicago’s city-wide eco-friendly initiative. The roof is covered with grass and vegetation and helps improve air quality, clean and retain rainwater, and helps promote Kimpton’s brand-wide EarthCare program.

Located in Chicago‘s River North district, the Hotel Palomar Chicago features an indoor rooftop pool, 23 suites on higher floors and like its sister property is a pet-friendly hotel.

To celebrate the launch of the new Windy City digs, the hotel is hosting a “Hot Sexy City” promotion good for weekend stays through April 28, 2010. Book a room Thursdays through Sundays and get overnight valet parking and two in-room signature cocktails for $139 per room, per night. (The cocktail, for those who need a little convincing is called the Chelsea, and consists of Death’s Door white whisky, pink port, basil and strawberry-allspice bitters.)

Kimpton takes the edge off tax season

‘Tis the season for taxation. We gather up our W-2s, sift through 1099s and try to figure out just how painful the experience is going to be for our wallets. Tax season isn’t the most pleasant of experiences for many, so Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is hoping to take the sting out a little bit. With its “Sweet Tax Relief” deal, Kimpton will make sure tax time leaves you with an enjoyable taste in your mouth – for a change.

To start, participating Kimptons will pay your room tax for you, for stays during the entire month of April. And, your meal tax will be picked up when you throw down some grub at its restaurants. If you’ve ever taken a close look at your restauant receipt or hotel folio, you know just how substantial this savings can be. To sweeten the pot, so to speak, candy bars like “Payday,” “100 Grand” and “Sugar Daddy” will be provided, which you can munch on while waiting for your late checkout to come.

According to Niki Leondakis, chief operating officer of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, “Tax season can be a stressful time of year and this fun promotion is a great way for travelers to save a few dollars on the road and enjoy some sweet treats.”

Kimpton’s cocktail hour features wines with a conscience

Kimpton Hotels is always looking for ways to spice up the party. From the leopard print robes and funky pj’s that hang in their closets, the Kimpton brand is known for its saucy elegance that graces the rooms. To help set the mood, Kimpton also hosts nightly wine hours in the lobby of their hotels (all things point to a happy traveler so far) but the newest addition to Kimpton’s wine hour comes with morals: Starting this month, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants will introduce their “Wines That Care” selection.

Yes, the wine is still free for guests who want to kick back in the lobby with a glass of red or white, but now every sip goes to a good cause. Kimpton will feature a different winery each month that has commitment to environmental preservation and sustainability including:

Barefoot Wine (Modesto, CA): Each year more than 25,000 beaches in the U.S. are closed or posted as unhealthy. To remedy this, Barefoot Wine and Surfrider Foundation encourage local residents to volunteer at cleanup and restoration events across the country to help make these beaches “barefoot-friendly.”

Hayes Ranch by Wente Vineyards (Livermore, CA): This 127-year old winery features a progressive Farming for the Future program that enhances the vitality of the soils, creates a balanced, sustainable ecology, minimizes water use and reduces non-organic wastes.

Banrock Station (Australia): Named one of the world’s most powerful wine brands in the annual “Power 100” list of the world’s top wine and spirits brands, this company was recognized for its extensive commitment to global conservation with generous contributions to 60 projects worldwide including the preservation of native ducks in New Zealand, Flamingos in Kenya and the re-introduction of otters in Holland.

Walnut Crest/Emiliana Vineyards (Chile): As the number one seller of bottled wine in Chile, this winery was the first to earn the International Standard Organization 14.001 certification, which acknowledges the vineyard’s high production standards and constant concern for the environment.

Bottoms up!