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September 20, 2018
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(Magic Castle Hotel’s famous popsicle hotline. Image credit: Magic Castle Hotel)
A great example on the smaller side of things is the poolside phone at the Magic Castle Hotel in Hollywood. Guests simply pick up the wall-mounted handset, request a popsicle, await poolside delivery and enjoy a free treat. Magic Castle is known around the world as the hotel with the popsicle hotline. That and a 24-hour free snack bar. Oh, and free soft-serve ice cream every day from 2:30pm. (Sometimes earlier if you ask nicely.)
Amenities like these are relatively inexpensive guest-experience offerings. They can, however, turn a low-expectation hotel stay into something quite extraordinary. Magic Castle Hotel isn't the only hotel having fun with quirky guest experiences. Each of the 17 bures at Qamea (pronounced Gah-may-uh) Resort & Spa Fiji, comes with a bright-red painted coconut which, guests are advised, is a do-not-disturb sign.
Simply lob yours out the front of your bure and you'll be left in complete privacy. Not surprisingly, Qamea's red coconuts have become a bit legendary. Ask your ATAS-accredited travel agent about their own travel experiences, and you'll hear many stories like this, and these...
(Qamea Resort & Spa’s infamous red coconuts. Image credit: Qamea Resort & Spa Fiji)
The Peninsula Chicago offers a unique in-room camping experience for kids. The 'Camp Peninsula' package includes a complimentary tent set-up complete with a 'campfire' and camping-themed treats.
New York's The Benjamin hotel offers a unique Sleep Concierge service. Popular family hotel, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona has a dedicated kids check-in area in the lobby. And when families arrive at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston, a welcoming staff member wheels around a red wagon filled with small stuffed animals, inviting little ones to pick (and keep) their favourite.
(The Peninsula Chicago’s 'Camp Peninsula' room set-up. Image credit: The Peninsula Hotels)
To top it off, the spa at Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace hotel takes things up a notch or two with treatments that include an astonishing 24-karat gold facial.
As experienced professionals trained on the unique offerings by all kinds of travel providers, ATAS accredited travel agent are a great source of quirky insider's tips like these. As travellers, they will have sampled many similar experiences first-hand. In fact, hotels will go out of their way to ensure these influential guests experience them.
(A keepsake from Four Seasons Hotel Boston’s red wagon. Image credit: Four Seasons Hotels)
Whether you're after a tea sommelier, a fragrance butler, a 24-karat facial or something altogether different, just ask your favourite ATAS accredited agent.
Hotels don't limit these enhanced offerings to guests after they've checked in. Serving up unforgettable, Instagram-able, 'travel braggable' arrival experiences is another way hotels try to take your breath away before you set foot on the property.
(Six Senses Zighy Bay’s paragliding arrival option. Image credit: Six Senses Zighy Bay)
Six Senses Zighy Bay on Oman's northern Musandam Peninsula (just two hours drive from downtown Dubai) is renowned for its range of arrival methods. The resort sits on a secluded beach at the base of a rugged escarpment, and guests choose between a dramatic 4x4 drive down from the ridge overlooking the bay, an arrival by scenic speed boat transfer from a nearby port, or a companion passenger with the resort's professional paraglider.
For years, a stay at the resort had been a high-priority bucket list item for ATAS accredited MTA Luxury Travel Expert, Cath Gyles.
"My husband and I stayed at Six Senses Zighy Bay as a stopover on our way home from Europe. I was drawn to it by images of the mountains rearing up behind the resort so close to the sea, and the fact that guests can paraglide in to reception on arrival", says Cath.
On the day of her arrival, however, the weather had other plans. A strong breeze meant that paragliding wasn't an option, but Cath reports that "standing at the take-off spot, taking in the incredible view then driving down towards the resort was still an unforgettable experience."
Just like Cath's visit to Six Senses Zighy Bay, not everything goes to plan every time you travel. An ATAS accredited travel agent can't change the weather, but having the experience and support of a travel professional like Cath behind you, is your ticket to peace of mind.
(The Peninsula Hong Kong’s legendary fleet of Roll Royce Phantoms. Image credit: The Peninsula Hotels)
The Peninsula Hong Kong offers one of the world's most iconic arrivals, with guests regularly saying that being collected at Hong Kong Airport by a liveried chauffeur in one of 14 Rolls-Royce Extended Wheelbase Phantoms is one of the highlights of their stay.
Scheduled to open in November 2018, Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild will be nestled deep in Cambodia’s South Cardamom National Park Wilderness. Set in a pristine wildlife corridor three hours’ drive south of Phnom Penh, guests here will be able to take an adrenaline-pumping entry to the resort via a 380-metre zip line over river and waterfalls, arriving in the appropriately named Landing Zone Bar.
Ask your ATAS accredited travel agent about hotel arrival experiences with a difference when you're planning your next trip. After all, everyone loves to make an entrance - especially on holiday.
For more great travel inspiration for unique travel destinations, read our blog Palace Hotels - India's Luxury (R)evolution or if you need handy tips for packing we have 6 Tips for airport check-in and carry on luggage.
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