Posts in the category "Hotels":

Capsule hotel opens at Tokyo’s Narita Airport


Travelers now have a snug option for sleeping and showering between flights at Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

The first airport branch of a capsule hotel called nine hours — the estimated minimum time needed to shower, sleep and groom — offers guests individual pod-like sleeping spaces, luggage-storage lockers, high-speed Wi-Fi and shared shower and lounge facilities in a pre-security area at Terminal 2.

Men and women sleep in separate areas of the hotel, in door-less pods that are 43 inches, 86 inches deep and 43 inches tall. Prices start about $39 for one night and about $15 for one hour if you’re just in need of a nap and a shower.

Narita’s nine hours is the newest addition in the airport “capsule” hotel trend.

Yotel rooms – they call them “cabins” – at Amsterdam’s Schiphol and London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports measure about 75 square feet. And napping rooms by Minute Suites, at the Atlanta, Philadelphia and Dallas-Fort Worth airports have enough space for daybeds, HDTVs/computers, desks and office chairs.


(My story about Narita’s capsule hotel first appeared on NBC News Travel)

You kill it, these hotels will cook it

If you sometimes wonder where the food served at a hotel restaurant comes from, you might want to check out one of the programs I profiled for CNBC Road Warrior where the on-site chef will cook up what guests catch, shoot or forage.

Me? I think I’m going to try the forage option.


Courtesy Turkey Trot Acres

Farm-to-table meals have become so popular that hotels are now getting in the game with an even closer-to-the-source experience by offering chef-prepared meals using food hooked, foraged or shot by their guests.

You might visit Turkey Trot Acres in Candor, New York, for a wedding reception, reunion, barbecue or zombie-fest, but wild turkey hunting in the spring and fall is what this upstate lodge is best known for.

Turkey Trot specializes in three-day guided hunting packages that start at $1,200 and include single-bed rooms, meals and guides. And while not everyone bags a turkey, those who do usually pose proudly with their bird before it goes into the cooler.

“Turkey Trot will clean the turkey for you, package it and tell you how to cook it. And if you want it prepared for dinner, they’ll do that too,” said Marlin Watkins, a well-known turkey call maker from southeast Ohio who’s been a regular at the lodge for the past 25 years.

“But when you harvest a wild turkey it’s such an event that most people would rather take it home to show off to their friends and family. I’ve seen a lot of turkeys go home in the back of a Cadillac,” Watkins said.

Next winter, Viceroy Snowmass, near Aspen, Colorado, will be adding a “you kill/we cook” option to its menu of hotel activities. From Nov. 8 to Jan. 18, guests will be able to hunt for pheasant, duck and goose—but not turkey—with guides from the Aspen Outfitting Company. The hotel’s executive chef, Will Nolan, will show guests how he breaks down the game and then prepares it for a meal. The cost: $2,200, not including accommodations.

“Guests are constantly looking for ways to get closer to their food, and I can’t think of a more intimate experience,” said Nolan. “The most memorable meals are those that you actually have a part in creating, so this fits the bill in a number of exciting ways.”

Michigan’s Catch & Cook program, a joint project of a half dozen public agencies and commercial associations, connects charter fishing clients and charter boat operators in the state’s Great Lakes region with about 50 restaurants, many of them linked to hotels and inns, which will cook and serve the day’s catch.

The program began in 2012 and has reeled in a net full of economic benefits.

“Distinctive experiences like Catch & Cook are likely to be told and retold,” said Jordan Burroughs, a wildlife outreach specialist at Michigan State University. Charter boat businesses benefit through positive word-of-mouth, restaurants get added business during the early afternoon—a traditionally slower and less profitable part of the day—”and communities benefit when visitors extend their stay, supporting local restaurants and presumably, other local businesses,” Burroughs said.

In Florida, the Hyatt Regency Sarasota has a “You Catch ‘Em, We’ll Cook ‘Em” offer for visiting anglers, including those who dock at the hotel’s 32-slip marina. For $40 per person, the chef at the Hyatt’s Currents Restaurant will grill, blacken, sear or pan fry a fisherman’s cleaned and filleted catch and serve it up with soup or salad, sides of fresh vegetables, other accompaniments and dessert.

A similar program, called “Hook N’ Cook,” is offered at the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village in Cape Coral, Florida. There, chefs at two onsite dining venues will prepare a guest’s freshly-caught and cleaned fillet for a typical plate fee of $15, with other menu items included with the meal at an additional cost, said Stefanie Eakin, the Westin resort’s marketing manager.

Nita Lake Lodge_foraging

Courtesy Nita Lake Lodge

Each Wednesday morning during September and October, guests may go foraging for wild and edible plants, shoots, lichens and mushrooms with the executive chef of Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler, British Columbia.

Wednesday evenings, those same guests can dine with their fellow foragers on a five-course meal using the ingredients plucked that morning in the Whistler Valley. Tickets are $70 per person, plus tax, for the foraging foray and the dinner.

The class spends a great deal of time talking about and studying false or deadly look-a-likes. “All amateur foragers learn a key rule,” said Paul Moran, the executive chef at the lodge’s Aura Restaurant, “When trying to identify wild plants and mushrooms, even if you are 99 percent sure something is edible, if you still have 1 percent of doubt, it’s not worth eating.”

Hotels court Chinese tourists with tea & special amenities


For U.S. hotels hoping to attract big-spending Chinese travelers, it may start with learning to say “Nin Hao” but it’s also about knowing the lucky numbers, unlucky colors, and which carafes to order for the coffeemakers.

The staff at the New York Marriott Marquis hotel recently got a crash course in how to welcome some of Amway China’s 1,500 guests who won incentive sales trips to New York City in April.

“We replaced the carafes so these guests could make tea each morning,” said Kathleen Duffy, Marriott International’s Market Director of Public Relations/NYC. “And we brought in Terri Morrison, author of ‘Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands,’ to give a course for managers to learn all the cultural things we need to be aware of.”

From the days when its only Chinese visitors were high government officials, the Marquis had already assigned names (Royal, Pinnacle, etc.) to presidential suites on the 44th and 45th floors, because the number 4 is considered unlucky in Chinese culture.

But now that many more Chinese citizens are heading to the United States on business and leisure trips, Marriott International hotels, as well as Starwood, Hilton and many other lodging brands, are working harder to boost brand recognition and make the hotel visit a more important part of the Chinese tourist’s visit.

The target market is big – and getting bigger.

In 2013, an estimated 1.8 million Chinese tourists visited the United States. For 2014, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries expects that number to rise by 21 percent, to more than 2.1 million, with increases of about 20 percent per year through 2018.

Los Angeles and New York City received the most Chinese tourists in 2012, according to the Department of Commerce. And in the New York region alone, Marriott has seen a 17 percent growth in 2013 over 2012 for the Chinese market, according to Robert Ambrozy, Marriott International Sales Director for the New York City region.

On an internal website for its associates, Marriott International provides tips and guidelines for properties to use to “customize, personalize and cater to the Chinese traveler.”

The suggestions are separated into categories that include pre-arrival, food and beverage, guest amenities, concierge, and things to avoid, such as writing a guest’s name in red ink – which signifies death in Chinese culture.

The number eight is considered lucky in Chinese culture, so standing out to a Chinese guest “can be as simple as what the Chicago Marriott Oak Brook did, which was to put eight chocolate coins and candy in a small mesh bag with an attached welcome note,” said Seema Jain, director of Multicultural Markets and Alliances for Marriott International.

In Chicago, tourism growth from Asian markets was up more than 30 percent in 2012; twice the national average, according to Choose Chicago.

That led the Hyatt Regency Chicago to create a “Nin Hao” welcome program which makes sure Chinese guests checking into their room find bathrobes and slippers, tea kettles with special teas and tea cups, a welcome letter, maps and information brochures in Chinese and a Chinese TV channel.

hyatt nin hao menu


The hotel also tries to insure a Mandarin-speaking employee is available and, in addition to having translation technology such as iPad and iPhone translation apps handy, maintains a 24-hour hotline to a Mandarin-speaking translator.

Overall, in 2012, Chinese visitors to the U.S. spent $8.8 billion, nearly $6,000 per visit, according to the U.S. Travel Association, an industry trade group.

Nightly room rates in New York City and Los Angeles can be quite pricey, but not all that money was spent at hotels.

Shopping, dining, sightseeing, visiting museums and spending time at amusement and theme parks are among the top activities participated in by Chinese visitors to the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

And while right now only about 4 percent of all outbound Chinese travelers head for the United States, “it’s a burgeoning market and, beyond hotels, there are companies and destination adapting their products and services to these new clients,” said Greg Staley, Vice Presidents of Communications at the U.S. Travel Association.

It’s a new market for many destinations around the country and a vast opportunity to grow the U.S. economy,” he said.

(My story about U.S. Hotels Courting Chinese Tourist first appeared on CNBC Road Warrior)

Women-only floor at Danish airport hotel ruled illegal

Bella Sky Hotel - copenhagen

A ruling by a Danish court has put an end to the women-only floor at the Bella Sky Hotel, located near the Copenhagen Airport.

The rooms will stay, but now men will be allowed to reserve a spot on the hotel’s secure-access Bella Donna floor, where rooms cost about $28 extra and include amenities such as large towels, international women’s magazines, upgraded beauty products and a minibar that the hotel website boasts is stocked “with smoothies and champagne instead of potato chips and beer.”

“We had no idea this product could be remotely illegal,” said Allan Agerholm, CEO of the company that owns Bella Sky Hotel. “It is a business product we created to differentiate our hotel from others. This is a petty case that should have never been brought. It detracts from real discrimination issues happening in our society.”

Last Friday, a court ruled that even though the hotel had two ladies-style rooms elsewhere in the hotel bookable by men, the women’s-only floor was indeed discriminatory.

The hotel has opted to keep the Bella Dona floor intact, but open it to men and women.

“If for some reason a male guest should find it interesting to stay there in the pink environment, they are welcome to do so,” said Agerholm.

When the 812-room, two-tower hotel opened in spring 2011, the 20 upgraded rooms on the secure-access “Bella Donna” floor were set aside for women only, with feminine touches and amenities ranging from large dressing mirrors to a minibar stocked with smoothies, wine and high quality chocolate.

Bella Sky Hotel - Bella Donna Room

But shortly after the hotel opened, two men complained about the women-only floor to the Danish Board of Equal Treatment, which ruled the floor was gender discriminatory and illegal. Because the board had no authority to sanction, Bella Sky kept the Bella Donna floor women-only and appealed to the Eastern High Court in Copenhagen.

While not very common, some hotels in the United States and elsewhere continue to offer women-only floors, including the Hamilton Crowne Plaza in Washington, D.C., and the Crowne Plaza in Bloomington, Minn.

“Our ladies floor, where we charge a $20 premium, is usually 85 percent occupied or sold out Monday through Thursday and is very popular with female corporate travelers,” said Charlie LaMont, general manager of the Crowne Plaza Bloomington. “Some like the amenities, but for most, it’s the security of the secure-access floor,” he said.

The 10 rooms on the 10th floor of the 127-room Ellis Hotel in downtown Atlanta are set aside for women. In addition to private-access entry, the rooms include upgraded amenities, slippers and use of curling iron and a flat iron.

The hotel charges an added fee of $20 for the rooms, “which are most popular with the female corporate traveler,” said Tom LaVaccare, director of sales and marketing. “It’s a privacy issue, not necessarily a security issue,” he said, “but we’re working on adding more amenities.”

LaVacarre said no male customer has ever complained about being excluded but “if they wanted to be on a floor just for men, we could accommodate that.”

For several years, the Georgian Court Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, has offered 18 Orchid Rooms on a “women-preferred” floor with amenities such as curling irons, flat irons, high-powered hair driers, upgraded Aveda products, satin-padded hangers, nylons and other items at no extra charge.

The rooms were so popular that the hotel recently added a second floor of rooms with the same amenities, and men aren’t excluded from those floors, they rarely book there, General Manager Lisa Jackson said.

( My story about hotels with women-only floors first appeared on CNBC Road Warrior in a slightly different version.)

Little lodging at Caravan: the Tiny House Hotel

While some hotels trumpet the ample square footage of their guest rooms, others rely on quirky coziness to attract customers.

Yotel Room mockup, June 2010Designed by Rockwell group, NY

Yotel, for example, offers ship-cabin-inspired rooms at several European airports and operates a full-sized hotel filled with snug (170-square foot), extremely efficiently-designed rooms near Times Square in New York City. The chain plans to open another Yotel hotel on upscale Orchard Street in Singapore. Other pod hotel have been making big business in small spaces.

Last summer, in Portland, Ore., a couple inspired by the growing Tiny House movement—which celebrates downsizing and promotes housing affordability—opened Caravan, billed as the country’s first hotel comprised of tiny, self-contained houses.


Courtesy: Caravan


“We’re concerned with environmental impact of housing and are proponents of the alternative housing movement in Portland,” said Deb Delman, a part-time teacher who runs Caravan—The Tiny House Hotel with her husband, Kol Peterson, whose day job is with the U.S. Forest Service.

When a repossessed car lot came up for sale in the recently gentrified but still funky Alberta Arts District of Portland where Delman already owned a house, “we came up with the idea to showcase small housing designs by opening a tiny house hotel,” she said.

Licensed for up to six small structures, Caravan’s lot currently has four tiny guest houses, ranging in size from 100 to 160 square feet. (By contrast, typical hotel rooms range from 303 to 578 square feet, according to HVS International’s 2013 Hotel Cost Estimating Guide.)

Each tiny guest house is on wheels, with hot running water, showers, flush toilets, full-size beds, small kitchens and sitting areas that could be “as big as a table or as small as bench,” said Delman. Room service is provided by a restaurant across the street.

And while the words “caravan,” “wheels” and “tiny” might summon up images of recreational vehicles and weekend campers, “these are real homes that are connected to the city’s water and sewer system” with all the elements of fine, handcrafted larger homes, Delman said, “just smaller.”

“Rosebud is our smallest house and Skyline, with lots of reused and recycled items, is the most ‘Portland’ of them all and two more tiny houses should roll in this summer, “including a cute little one—Roly Poly—that should show up in July,” said Delman.

Leased from the growing pool of local tiny house builders, each small guest house sleeps two to four people and is parked around a courtyard with a central fire pit that, along with unlimited ingredients for s’mores (including Fair Trade chocolate, of course) is designed to encourage socializing.

“We were a little worried that it was going to be in a noisy area full of bars and hipsters,” said Grace Decker of Missoula, Mont., whose mother-in-law booked two side-by-side tiny houses for a family gathering earlier this month. “But we made a fire, roasted marshmallows, sat around chatting with our neighbors, played music and had a great time. It was like camping in the city.”

Decker said she and husband, who is over six feet tall, were also worried that “tiny house” meant tiny bed. “But the loft area in our tiny house had a bed bigger than our bed at home and the space had plenty of creature comforts,” she said.

Rates at the Caravan are $125 a night and are equal to the starting rates at Portland’s Kennedy School, another offbeat—but much larger—neighborhood hotel located in a former elementary school that’s also home to a movie theater, music venue, soaking pool, brewery and restaurant.

“Some people are looking for a downtown hotel property and others are looking to stay in the heart of one of our neighborhoods,” said Megan Conway of marketing group Travel Portland. “Unique lodging options like these offer one more element of Portland’s unique character.”

Of course, tiny or “boutique” lodging isn’t for everyone.

The most important factors for hotel selection are location and price, according to Douglas Quinby, vice president of research at market research firm PhoCusWright. About 60 percent of travelers put those criteria first, he said, while 30 percent say brand and amenities are the most important factors.

(My story about Caravan: The Tiny House Hotel first appeared on CNBC Road Warrior)

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