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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Top 5 tips to planning a luxury escape: selecting your hotel

So what should you look for in a luxury hotel, to continue from my last post on luxury travel planning?
1. Rooms: scrutinize the website pics and list of amenities - the longer the better! You want a big bath or jacuzzi, not just a shower, a plasma TV, DVD and CD player or iPOD docking station (BYO music if they don’t have a library), a fully-stocked mini-bar, balcony or terrace, and lots of space. If the room isn’t sumptuous it had better be plush, unless you’re a minimalist, then you’re after style.

2. Facilities: is there valet parking, 24-hour concierge, florist, beauty salon/hairdresser and lobby shop? Are there swimming pools, with a separate pool for adults? Is there a gym, sports facilities, sauna, steam rooms? Is there a spa offering luxuriant treatments? Ask for a spa menu and book treatments in advance. Are there lush gardens for leisurely moonlit strolls? A crèche or child-care services if you’re taking kids?
3. Eating & entertainment: room service is a given, plus a wide choice of eateries so you don’t have to leave the hotel, and a fine dining restaurant is a must. Check if there's a decadent degustation menu or a local specialty that might need to be ordered in advance. Are there chic bars for pre- and post-dinner drinks? A cigar bar for smokers? And a club if you feel like a boogie? Ask for your names to be put on the door-list when you make your hotel reservation.

4. Activities: are there things to do to make the experience extra special? For instance, a cooking course in Italy, yoga lessons in India, elephant training in Thailand, and hot-air ballooning across the desert in Dubai? If the hotel offers tours and day trips, do they include private car and personal guide if you'd like one?

5. Location:
is the hotel close to the centre if you're in the mood for sightseeing, shopping or a meal, and if so, does the hotel offer a car? Is the hotel on a beach or lake or does it overlook the desert or mountains? Then book a room with a view and balcony. Are transfers available and included or are you better off booking a car service? Forget taxis on a luxury escape, as you want to start spoiling yourself at the airport. Don’t forget to drop into duty free at Arrivals and pick up a bottle of champagne – just in case there isn’t a cold one on ice waiting for you!

See my next post for how you can get the most out of your hotel choice.

Pictured is the swanky Kempinski Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, again.


Anonymous said...

I think it can get coastly ;-)

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Sascha! Thanks for your comment. It can get costly if you allow it to, but I guess I'm suggesting two things here:
1) Everyone deserves to pamper themselves and experience some luxury travel at some time, and so if you're going to do that, then you may as well go crazy and make sure you completely spoil yourself. So these are some tips because not all five star hotels are worth it, not all deserve their rating, and then,
2) There are things you can do to save money and get the most out of your dollar or whatever currency you are using, so those tips will be in my next post.
And then perhaps I might do a post on 'luxury on a budget' - how to make a budget (or mid-range) trip more luxurious. What do you think?

TravelMuse said...

Looking forward to your "Luxury on a Budget" post. I've stayed in luxury hotels and the costs do add up. A tip for the doorman, afternoon tea in the lobby, a personal guided tour. It can get expensive fast.

It's key to find out what's included in your room price and what's not, then to maximize your access to the hotel's amenities. That way you'll get more than a bargain, you'll get value.

Lara Dunston said...

Hi travelmuse, I'll try and post the 'luxury on a budget' piece tomorrow. You're so right, all great points - the trick is to not let the little costs add up and look for hotels/resorts where afternoon tea and a personal guide is included, if that's what you want - I'm also going to post a list of resorts I recommend tomorrow.

Tips is an another interesting issue. I always tip porters but rarely doormen (unless they've done something for me), but then I travel throughout (and write about) Europe, Mid East, and Asia mostly, where people are much more sensible than North Americans about tipping. I'm always astounded at how much New Yorkers tip waiters - sometimes 25% of the bill! In most parts of the world, it's 5-10% OR it's left up to the individual as to how they wish to show their appreciation. And then in some cities/countries it's just not done at all, and foreigners who tip are considered stupid - even by waiters!