How Does Music Affect Your Hotel Decisions?

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.

Honeymoon In Bali, Care Of Your Wedding Guests

Some couples request practical items like crock pots and cutlery sets on their wedding registries. But if you’re anything like the Gadling crew, you’d probably prefer experiences to expensive china … like, say, a honeymoon in Bali.

With that in mind, the Ayana Resort & Spa in Jimbaran, Bali, recently announced its new Ultimate Honeymoon Package and Wedding Registry Service – a way for wedding guests to pitch in toward luxury hotel experiences for the newlyweds. And luxury, Ayana’s got. The resort is comprised of 290 artfully appointed guest rooms and 78 private villas, each with its own swimming pool and butler service. Travel + Leisure named Ayana among the World’s 20 Top Hotels in 2010, and Conde Nast readers voted it Asia’s best resort in 2011. From appearances, it looks like the perfect spot for a little post-nuptial relaxation.

Honeymoon registry gifts can go toward the cost of the stay, or they can be allotted to specific experiences: a honeymoon yoga class ($45/person), a perfume spa package ($240/person), a cooking class and tour of the Jimbaran fish market ($90/person) or an extravagant five-course lobster dinner on a secluded pier, accompanied by bamboo xylophones ($580/couple).

Any of those options certainly beats a new set of craft beer glasses in my book.

Hotel Openings: First Look Inside Las Vegas’ Nobu Hotel

Sushi and celebrity lovers alike know Nobu as one of the country’s ritziest places to order your tuna and tempura. Now you can know it as a place to lay your head as well. Nobu Hospitality is opening their first hotel in Las Vegas, now taking reservations from October 1, 2012.

The first branded hotel venture by a celebrity chef, Nobu Hotel includes not only a top toque but a celebrity actor as well – Robert De Niro is also a partner in the hospitality group.
A Hotel Within A Hotel
Earlier this week in New York City, the group showed off the initial plans for their new hotel, which will be located inside Caesar’s Palace.
The hotel-within-a-hotel will offer a Japanese Zen feel, from the wooden tiles that extend from the elevator to the hallways to the sleek cherry blossom patterned carpet and custom light fixtures inspired by origami. Sleek touch-screen elevators will add a hint of the hotel’s cutting-edge technology and guide guests to the 181 hotel rooms and 18 suites with Strip or garden views.
“We have created a distinctly Japanese experience in the heart of Las Vegas with the first Nobu Hotel, but with a playful interpretation of Nobu’s style and the Vegas bravado,” said Rockwell, founder and CEO of Rockwell Group. “Using the grand canvas of a hotel, we were able to elaborate on the use of hand-crafted, curated materials that create a luxurious effect and provide a world-class Nobu experience.”
Inside the Guest Rooms
Guest rooms will be distinctly more Zen-like then most of their over-the-top counterparts and will feature neutral tones with hints of purple and aqua. Custom art by up-and-coming Japanese artists will feature a mix of traditional prints and expressionist designs, speaking to the link between traditional Japanese and modern art. The main focal point of the room will be the feature wall that displays a custom calligraphy, as seen in the photo above.
Bathrooms will feature rich teak fittings, stone tiles and traditional black Umi tiles. Walk-in showers will offer multiple showerheads and a teak bathing stool, a commodity seen in traditional Japanese bathhouses. Toto toilets and sinks that showcase custom freestanding concrete bowls set on wood plinth are designed to evoke a garden fountain. Luxurious bath amenities will include a selection of products by Natura Bissein, featuring a signature rosemary and white tea scent designed exclusively for Nobu Hotel.
A Zen-Like Experience
The arrival experience will include personalized service with in-room iPad registration and a traditional hot tea welcome amenity.

The unique turndown service will include his and hers yukata robes and slippers displayed bedside along with an exclusive Nobu Hotel blend of scented sleep oils. An upgraded minibar curated by Nobu will consist of unique selections including organic Wild Poppy blood orange chili juice crafted from orchards in California, chocolate-dipped Pocky pretzels, Japanese beer and an assortment of Dean & Deluca snack items. Nobu’s signature brands of chilled sake and Genmai-Cha brown rice green tea will also be available.
Nobu Hotel guests will also have private access to the adjacent 11,200-square-foot restaurant and lounge with priority seating and 24-hour access to Nobu cuisine through the first ever in-room dining menu.
The menu will include popular Japanese items, along with Nobu’s signature twists on American classics. A selection of bento boxes will offer a customary Japanese breakfast and the Vegas-themed High Roller, which features lobster wasabi, Wagyu steak, spicy garlic shrimp and an assortment of nigiri and premium sushi rolls. Additional menu items will include green tea waffles served with braised short rib, egg and aged maple; bagel and lox featuring salmon sashimi served on an “everything bagel” made of crispy rice; the RLT with rock shrimp, butter lettuce and Maui onion tomato salsa in a creamy spicy sauce; and the tonkatsu sandwich with panko pork and prune katsu sauce on shokupan bread.
The hotel is now taking reservations for October 1 and beyond. We’ll keep you posted on an opening date! What do you think? Can’t wait to stay or would prefer just to dine and stay elsewhere?

Leading Hotels of the World launches benefits program for luxury hotels

Luxury travel isn’t going anywhere. In fact, one hotel group believes luxury travelers will pay extra for the value and service they get at luxury hotels, which is why they’re adding a fee to their membership program.

The Leading Hotels of the World, which comprises 430 unique independent hotels and resorts worldwide, announced additional benefits for members of its Leaders Club but eliminated the free aspect of joining their club.

According to the hotel, “In addition to their existing benefits – ability to earn free nights; early check-in, late check-out; room upgrades; welcome gifts and exclusive rates – Leaders Club members will now be able to enjoy daily complimentary continental breakfast for two and complimentary Internet access at all Leading Hotels.”

The cost of the enriched benefits? An annual $100 for an Access level membership and $1,200 for an Unlimited level membership.
Members with Access level will enjoy complimentary continental breakfast for two each day, complimentary Internet access, complimentary nights (based on point accumulation), access to member-only rates, early check-in/late check-out, invitations to club events and specially created experiences. Unlimited level gets all of the above plus the guarantee of a room upgrade at time of booking.

According to USA Today, Leading Hotels first began revamping its loyalty program in late 2009. By December, Leading Hotels quietly showed their loyal members a little love with one free night in any of its hotel after five paid stays within a calendar year.

Paradores: the historic luxury hotels of Spain

Spain is known for its rich history, fine art, and excellent cuisine. By staying at a government-owned Parador, you can get all three right in your hotel.

Just look at this shot by Michael Stallbaum . This castle in Zafra, Extremadura, dates to 1437 and was once home to a duke. It’s the sort of place where you’d expect to pay a few euros, get your ticket stamped, and line up for the guided tour. Actually it’s a hotel with luxurious rooms, a restaurant, a garden, and a pool! It stands in the center of a beautiful and old town and right next to a sumptuous Renaissance church.

The Paradores of Spain offer luxury accommodation in some of Spain’s most historic and popular cities, many of which, like Cáceres and Mérida, are World Heritage Sites. In Extremadura, Spain’s historic southwest, there are seven. Besides Zafra, there are Paradores in Guadalupe (in a 15th century hospital), Jarandilla (15th century castle), Plasencia (15th century convent), and Trujillo (16th century convent), Mérida and Cáceres.

When I visited Mérida with my family, we stayed at a Parador housed in an 18th century convent. A lofty chapel is now a lounge and activities room, and an interior courtyard has columns from Roman times. I’m not sure what conditions were like for the nuns two hundred years ago, but our room had comfortable beds and all the usual amenities. The staff were very friendly and helpful. Don’t worry if your Spanish isn’t up to snuff; Paradores always have people on staff who can speak English and other languages.

The popular destination Cáceres has one of Spain’s older Paradores, a 14th century palace built atop Arab foundations. Much of the interior is original, including the grand mantelpiece in the lounge. It’s currently being refurbished and will reopen April 15.

While I’ve concentrated on the Paradores of Extremadura here, you can find more all over the country. Probably the best and certainly the most popular is the one in Granada, housed in a 15th century convent on the site of the famous Alhambra. This Moorish palace is one of the architectural wonders of the world with its quiet gardens, burbling fountains, and intricately carved marble. The best time to go is on the full moon, when the marble glows with an ethereal light. Book WAY in advance for this one.

Another plus with staying in a Parador is that most have excellent restaurants. There’s usually a formal restaurant and a bar that serves light meals and tapas. They tend to attract a lot of the local population, which is always a good sign.

Guys, a word of warning. My girlfriend took me to the Parador in Sigüenza. Now anybody who follows my work knows I’m a sucker for castles, and the combination of staying in a 12th century castle and a bottle of fine Spanish wine made me pop the question. I think it was a plot.

Don’t miss the rest of my series: Exploring Extremadura, Spain’s historic southwest