Extra touches to make your stay special

We’ve all been to hotels and received little freebies on arrival or departure, but in the luxury hotels it is something of a challenge for them to be original and provide guests with memorable tokens to help enhance their stay.

Items like pens, extra towels and welcome chocolates are all lovely, but they aren’t going to set the tone for your holiday or even stay in your memory once you’ve returned home.

In the really, really top class hotels, you almost expect these gifts to be of certain standard and be rolled into their promise of ‘great service’, but they aren’t always and this is sometimes a bit of a disappointment. I’m happy to report however that there are plenty of exceptions and lots of really good hotels who do use their imagination and creativity with their ‘free gifts’.

Of all the hotels I have visited over the years, Abama in Tenerife really stands out. They delivered a daily tasting plate of patisserie selections to our room, so when we returned from the pool they were waiting for us, covered, chilled and ready to tuck into. And they were sublime, really top class homemade cakes. And what made this special was that element of surprise.

It’s also great when a hotel has thought ahead of things you might physically need when you’re there. We were on a group tour of Dubai with the Jumeirah Group and were given boxed embroidered Chinese hand held fans to take away, and boy did they come in useful in the 40 degree temperatures. You might think that sounds like a small, insignificant trinket, but this gift was practical at the time and it remains practical even now.

Other hotels delve deeper into the minds of their visitors, and depending on their location provide items that are essential for excursions that you wouldn’t want to pack in your case and in some cases couldn’t even if you tried. I’m talking about things like umbrellas, rain jackets, binoculars and regional maps which can be often be found in touring destinations with a tropical or interchangeable climate like Borneo or parts of New Zealand.

Dinarobin in Mauritius gave us a chocolate egg when we were staying over Easter, and this was nice gesture. Other hotels surprise you with the offer of free spa treatments, wine or fruit platters (it helps if you are on honeymoon!) and other regular freebies tend to include things like painted fridge magnets, customised leather passport wallets, business card holders and key rings.
My wife got a really beautiful hair brush from CuisinArt in Anguilla that she still uses to this day. It’s a high quality brush and reminds her of the time we spent there.

I can’t help but think the next level might be to provide something electronic – perhaps a personal organiser with local places of interest, excursions and nearby bars loaded onto it? Just an idea!

Dominic Speakman is the CEO at Destinology.

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