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Hotel Challenge: What Are You Giving Guests For Free?

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You know me: Always complaining about excessive fees aimed at travelers. I've kvetched about the worst rental car rip-offs. I've bemoaned the world's most outrageous hotel fees. I've griped, groused, growled, and grumbled about airline surcharges here and here and here. But before I have to rush back to my thesaurus again for another way to say complain, let me acknowledge that there are some travel companies that are doing it right: They're giving stuff away, free. May I just say, yay.

The go-go publicist who sent me this information may simply have wanted some upbeat P.R. for her clients, but I have no problem with that if it saves you and me money or gives us some extra perks while we're on the road. Some examples:

Westin lets guests check-out at 3 p.m. on Sundays at no charge at each of its 192 properties around the world. Hoorah.

The Waldorf-Astoria Chicago (which the publicist in question assures us is "uber-chic") has had a no-tipping policy since it opened as the Elysian in 2009. Hear hear.

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts offers athletically inclined guests a complimentary "gym-in-a-bag" with an exercise mat and equipment, delivered to your room. All 430 of the chain's hotels also have in-room on-demand fitness videos, gratis. Boola boola.

The Charles Hotel in Cambridge and the Bowery Hotel (above) in New York allow guests comp use of hotel bicycles, while the Chanler at Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island, shuttles its clients among the mansions and yacht basins--sans fee--in a "specially designed" Buick Enclave. Yahoo, pip pip, and huzzah.

So hotel owners, general managers, senior vice presidents of guest services and integrated marketing, and other assorted species of lodging industry management, consider this a challenge: What are YOU offering your clients--for free, at no charge, without cost, on the house--that most other hotels don't offer? Post your comments below and maybe we'll Tweet them or mention them on our Facebook page. If you want me to stop bellyaching, bewailing, and whinging (sorry, I think my thesaurus must be Australian) about hotel fees, then stand up and show us what you got.

Mark OrwollMark Orwoll is the International Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @orwoll and "like" him on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of the Bowery Hotel.

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