As the end of the year approaches, hoteliers are tapping into old traditions and new trends alike to drive business. Below are 12 unique ways that hotels are catering to guests this holiday season.
Inspired by the 2003 holiday film Elf, Club Wyndham Midtown 45 has decked a one-bedroom suite with hundreds of paper snowflakes, a Lite Brite welcome message, sugary treats, and more. This first-ever experiential suite at Club Wyndham Midtown 45, created in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, includes a towering Christmas tree, jack-in-the-box toys, a Lego replica of the Empire State building, a gift wrap mural wall with six-inch ribbon curls, and a full-size fridge stocked with elves’ four essential food groups—candy, candy canes, candy corn, and maple syrup.
2Winter Garden Pop-Up
The Ivy Hotel in Baltimore, a 19th Century mansion that opened as a hotel in 2015, is creating a winter wonderland this season with its new tented Winter Garden at Magdalena, the property’s fine-dining bistro. The climate-controlled tent with twinkling lights and rustic-inspired decor transforms the courtyard into a space for winter events and celebrations. The Winter Garden is open to hotel guests or locals looking for an intimate and outdoor space for any type of occasion—whether a seated dinner for up to 30 guests, a cocktail reception for up to 25 guests, or a full restaurant buyout.
The travel industry is catching on to guests’ desires to disconnect from their devices and reconnect with those they love. The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa is the latest to follow this trend, creating an unplugged experience to help guests start the new year refreshed and rejuvenated. Upon check in, guests will be given the option to go mobile free. The concierge will place guests’ phones in a safe, locked space for the duration of their stay and guests will receive their phones when they check out or any time before check out if needed, allowing guests to build connections and make memories without distractions.
Heathman Hotel in Portland, Ore., a landmark of the city since opening in 1927, has a “Deck the Tent” package for families looking to glamp from the comfort of their hotel room this holiday season. The deck-out tent set-up for kids comes with a miniature tree, a children’s holiday-themed book that can be taken home, and a cookie decorating kit.
5Locally Inspired Cocoa
Loews Hotels has created a Holiday Cocoa + Cocktails program, offering complimentary kid-friendly cocoa with the purchase of a cocoa-themed cocktail for adults. Each Loews address is putting its own locally inspired twist on the holiday classic. Flying V Bar & Grill and Cascade Lounge at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort are mixing up the “Southwest Spice & Everything Nice” cocktail (hot cocoa with Tequila Añejo, chili powder, and cinnamon) while Lure Fishbar and Bar Collins at Loews Miami Beach Hotel are serving “Café con Cocoa” (Godiva white chocolate, Miami Club Rum, Miami Club Coffee Rum, and a scoop of chocolate Azucar Ice Cream topped with raspberries for seasonal color).
6The Art of Entertaining
Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts has launched La Fête by Le Méridien, a new global program inspired by idyllic European winters and the art of entertaining. Designers Astrid Chastka and Kelly Britton curated their top 10 tips on entertaining in style for guests to take home, as well as the botanical guidelines for the hotels’ seasonal displays. Hotels will also have custom gift-wrapping paper, holiday cookies, cocktails with local twists, and an exclusive winter soundtrack curated by Le Méridien’s global music partner French Bossa Nova collective, Nouvelle Vague. Individual activations include a Wine and Wreaths Class at Le Méridien Denver Downtown, an ornament painting workshop at Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph in Ohio; and gift-wrapping workshops at Le Méridien Charlotte, N.C.
Gingerbread artists of all ages and backgrounds from across the country came together last month to exhibit their edible creations at the National Gingerbread House Competition, hosted at The Omni Grove Park Inn. The property will be displaying all gingerbread creations this season. Half of the proceeds from parking fees for drive-in guests will go towards several local nonprofit organizations. Since 2013, The Omni Grove Park Inn has contributed more than $430,000 through the Holiday Parking Program, supporting the local community and not-for-profit partners in western North Carolina.
8Pop-Up Holiday Bar
Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach is among the select locations nationwide to host the Miracle Pop-Up cocktail bar this holiday season. The property’s Sessions Bar will be completely transformed to showcase an over-the-top, retro-themed holiday décor display and offer specialty drinks from Miracle’s list of seasonal cocktails. Miracle on Ninth Street came to be when owner and creator Greg Boehm’s mother encouraged him to halt construction of his bar Mace in 2014 and transform the unfinished space into a winter wonderland for the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since then, Miracle has grown to more than 100 pop-up locations.
The Ivy Hotel in Chicago, where the holiday favorite, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” was filmed thirty years ago, is introducing a Christmas Vacation-inspired suite package. “Christmas Vacation at the Ivy” includes ugly Christmas sweaters upon arrival, a fully trimmed tree, Christmas lights throughout the suite, and a set of Christmas ornaments for guests to take home. To top off the experience, guests will be treated to a fully catered, in-room Christmas dinner, complete with glazed honey baked ham, sliced turkey, and a wide selection of sides.
10Holiday Cards for Military
For the second year, Kimpton Marlowe is participating in the non-profit initiative, Holiday Cards 4 Our Military Challenge. Guests staying at the hotel or dining in the hotel’s restaurant, Bambara Kitchen & Bar, as well as meeting attendees and hotel staff are asked to sign greeting cards for those who are actively deployed overseas during the holiday season. The hotel has set a goal of collecting more than 2,500 greeting cards this year.
11Feast of the Seven Fishes
Helmed by James Beard Award recipients and “Top Chef” finalists Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, Conrad Washington, D.C.’s signature restaurant Estuary serves dishes with ingredients sourced from the Chesapeake Bay watershed. During the Christmas season, Estuary will offer guests an innovative take on the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes. The Voltaggio brothers’ combination of their Italian heritage and Chesapeake Bay roots inspires this three-course meal with dishes from both sea and land, including Dill Pickled Shrimp and Octopus “hot dogs” and Calamari Bolognese.
InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile has a variety of holiday packages and programming this year, including a Santa’s Workshop in its two-story lobby complete with a toy building area for children and a “Letters to Santa” station, a North Pole Pop-Up Marketplace with goods and products by local Illinois makers, and a holiday-themed “Dive-In” Movie Series complete with a bag of reindeer mix and a peppermint pool floaty. Those staying at InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile throughout the holiday season will have the opportunity to text Santa through the “Santa Hotline” to have chocolate chip cookies with milk delivered to their room. Additionally, guests may ask Santa if they made it on the naughty or nice list, as well as tell him what they would like for Christmas.