This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 5 title
 

Monthly Archives: May 2018

Hotels Family-Friendly Options

Summercamp

Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts

Named in homage to the Methodist camp meetings held in the cottage-filled Oak Bluffs area since the early 1800s, the new 95-room Summercamp hotel has revitalized the 19th-century Wesley Hotel. Its bright, playful décor features nostalgic accents like wall-mounted vintage tennis rackets and archery bows, dragonfly-print drapes, platform beds with marine rope for bedposts and child-friendly bunk beds. Porches wrap the hotel, which overlooks the harbor, but for those who want more action, there’s Ping-Pong, Twister, movie screenings in the recreation hall and cornhole games on the lawn. The hotel lacks a restaurant, but stocks its Camp Canteen with retro snacks including Cracker Jacks, “penny candy” and Dreamsicles. Rooms from $149; summercamphotel.com.

Opal Sands Resort

Clearwater, Fla.

Beach-loving families will find Gulf of Mexico views from all of the 230 rooms at the shorefront Opal Sands Resort, each done in tones of driftwood and sea blue. Chairs and cabanas are available for rent at the beach, where the shallow and often calm water attracts swimmers. There’s also a zero-entry pool, which gradually slopes deeper, like a natural beach, and poolside food service. Other restaurants include the Italian Sea-Guini, which has a pasta-making station, and the beachside Sandbar, with live music on weekends. The resort is near the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to the stars of the movie “Dolphin Tale” and its sequel, and it is about a 10-minute walk to Pier 60, which stages a nightly sunset festival with street performers, including musicians and jugglers. Rooms from $269; opalsands.com.

Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina

Bar Harbor, Me.

A convenient base for exploring nearby Acadia National Park or taking a whale-watching or lobstering tour in family friendly Bar Harbor, Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina offers country club-style amenities with a casual spirit. Guests have access to the Bar Harbor Club, with an oceanfront swimming pool, tennis courts and a club for children 5 to 12. Among its 193 rooms, five Kids’ Suites, which include a separate room with a bunk bed, TV, DVD player and video game console, were recently added to the hotel. Four new Boathouse Suites offer more space, with two bedrooms, a full kitchen and a rooftop patio with a hot tub. Located in town, the resort is within walking distance of shops and restaurants and frequently hosts evening bonfires with s’mores. Rooms from $239; theharborsidehotel.com.

Home Ranch

Clark, Colo.

Offering an all-inclusive vacation with a western accent, dude ranches not only have horseback riding but plenty of wide open space for children to roam. The Home Ranch near Steamboat Springs in northwestern Colorado assigns each member of the family (age 6 and up) a horse for the week. Rugged activities such as hiking and fly fishing are balanced by resort-like amenities including a heated outdoor pool. Counselors running the children’s program offer activities until 9 p.m. daily, and teens have their own program, which might include rock climbing or barrel racing. The ranch recently planted an organic farm, supplying the kitchen with fresh produce and serving as a demonstration garden. Accommodations include lodge rooms and log cabins. Rates from $6,920 for two people for seven nights, the minimum stay in the summer; homeranch.com.

Suttle Lodge & Boathouse

Sisters, Ore.

The Portland-based hospitality group the Mighty Union, the creative and management company behind Ace Hotel Portland, is reviving a rustic resort in the Deschutes National Forest of central Oregon with a strong sense of play and an affinity for good food. Suttle Lodge & Boathouse is to open in late June on Suttle Lake, with 11 lodge rooms, six two-story lakefront cabins and eight budget cabins with a shared bathhouse on 15.5 acres. The chef Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene’s restaurant in Portland will oversee the food, including the locavore Boathouse restaurant. A 3.6-mile hiking trail rings the lake, and guests can take to the water via canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Expect naturalist talks and tours, and stargazing with an astronomer. Rooms from $125; thesuttlelodge.com.

The Beaumont in London

When the 73-room Beaumont Hotel opened its doors in London’s Mayfair district in 2014, it made an artistic statement so conspicuous that not even passers-by could disregard it. The building’s southernmost exterior is crowned by the British artist Antony Gormley’s inhabitable sculpture of a crouching man, which doubles as the property’s priciest and most conceptual suite.

But “ROOM,” the official name of Mr. Gormley’s sculpture, is only one element of a very deliberate artistic focus that the owners Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, two of London’s best-known restaurateurs, placed at the center of their concept, one that hinges on a fictional story that Mr. King created to establish a sense of place. Collected in a span of three years by Mr. King and his wife, Lauren Gurvich King, the art selection at the Beaumont works on two levels. “There is a simple decorative element that alludes to a particular period, but there is also a strong narrative,” Mr. King said. “Each work supports the back story I created about the New York hotelier Jimmy Beaumont who moved to London in the late ’20s to open his eponymous hotel.”

The art — a mix of more than 1,700 original paintings, photographs and prints that relate to places or people Jimmy would have known — serves to support the story and lend authenticity, the abiding buzzword today among hoteliers striving to offer guests an immersive and memorable experience. “If the art is not authentic when trying to create an atmosphere from a particular era, then you risk ending up with pastiche, when the intent is to celebrate the craftsmanship and creativity of the originals,” Mr. King said.

Similarly, the Lanesborough in London, which reopened last year after an 18-month design overhaul, features original works of art throughout the property, from public areas to guest rooms. The design teams on the project, Cabinet Alberto Pinto and Visto Images, a Paris art consultancy, conceived of an art collection that resembled that of the private residence of a wealthy Londoner, complete with the various types of art that could have been acquired in the 1830s.

“As the Lanesborough was built then as a hospital, we wanted to be faithful to the period and curate artworks that were authentic to the taste and style of the Regency period,” explained Alex Toledano, the president of Visto Images. The 2,000-some artworks, reflecting English taste at the time, are international, and were sourced not only from Britain but from France, Italy, Holland, Germany and China. They incorporate works on paper, hand-colored engravings, porcelain and paintings, including a pair of portraits from the 1750s by Sir Joshua Reynolds that hang in the entrance.

Whereas most new hotels favor designs that feel of the moment, Cabinet Alberto Pinto’s approach was to offer an Old English experience. “For so long there have been facsimiles used in hotels but guests today want and expect more,” said Amr Mandour, the studio’s lead decorator on the project. “There is a broad, intellectual movement toward authenticity in all areas of life and it’s our job as decorators to respond to that in our designs.”

That many upscale hotels have emphasized elaborate design concepts and curated artistic programs as a means to attract culture-hungry travelers isn’t all that rare in the industry. One of the pioneering examples of bridging the worlds of art and hospitality is 21c Museum Hotels, a boutique chain based in Louisville, Ky., that opened in 2006 and has properties in four other American cities, each with its own 21st-century art museum with curated exhibits open all day, every day, to the public and to guests.

Le Bristol in Paris, known for its classic 18th-century style with original works collected by the Oetker family, which owns the hotel, intends to draw those who love art but who may not be guests. In collaboration withGalerie Kamel Mennour, Daniel Buren created a pergola for Le Bristol that will be on view in the hotel’s garden through October, and the contemporary artist Hicham Berrada will illuminate the mirror screen in the Bar du Bristol with video installations.

Following that, the hotel will incorporate a series of sculptures in the garden by the Colombian artist Iván Argote, in association with the art exhibition Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain and the Galerie Perrotin.

Integrating the scale of original artwork seen in the Beaumont or the Lanesborough is likely to exceed the budgets of most hoteliers, but those who can tell a story through such design considerations can enhance a guest’s experience. “Well-curated art collections in hotels, especially the most ambitious, help guests feel the identity of a place,” Mr. Toledano said. “They help these properties feel less standardized.”

Mexico Oasis Hotels & Resorts

Cancun is a hotly competitive market for all-inclusive resorts, but Oasis Hotels & Resorts has carved out a niche by remaining compact, focused, local and diversified – and committed to the travel agent community.

In all, Oasis has eight all-inclusive resorts in Cancun and nearby Tulum, as well as two urban hotels in downtown Cancun. Enrique Klein, vice president-sales and marketing, said the group has managed to stay competitive over its 22-year history by “staying on top of market conditions and customer preferences by reading and addressing what the customer is looking for in vacation travel.”

For Oasis, diversity is a priority. Properties are tiered by price, concept and target markets. The Pyramid, set within the confines of the Grand Oasis Cancun, is the most luxurious, reflected in its restaurants, amenities and quality of furnishings. A notch below that are the Grand Oasis properties and then Oasis. The recently introduced Oasis Lite category includes two property offerings, said Klein, with “great amenities and services at great price points.” And, typical of Oasis’ efforts to leverage the proximity of its resorts to one another, the Lite properties are nearby “sisters” to Grand Oasis resorts, so that guests on a budget can enjoy many of the amenities and services of the more upscale options.

The two urban hotels – Smart Cancun by Oasis and Oh! The Urban Oasis – also offer contrasting styles and price points. Oh! The Urban Oasis “is more upscale, but the [two] hotels are connected by a walkway,” said Klein. “Both are great for business travel, but we also find leisure travelers coming who want to be where the action is.”

Cancun’s Grand Oasis Sens, a resort for guests 21 and older, provides amenities like large terraces, personal plunge pools and a beach club.

The Grand Oasis Palm and sister resort Oasis Palm focus on welcoming children. They share a 50,000-squarefoot children’s area packed with age-appropriate activities. Parents can stay with their kids or, if they wish to play golf or enjoy a spa treatment, have them supervised. All beach resorts offer a “Kids Eat and Play Free” program for children 12 and younger when staying with two adults. The brand’s off-the-beaten-path resorts, Grand Oasis Tulum and Oasis Tulum Lite, now feature a new KiddO Zone and renovated Kids Club.

All the resorts place a premium on entertainment, but that offering is highest at The Pyramid and Grand Oasis Cancun, which hosts well-known performers like disco queen Gloria Gaynor and such rock legends as Kool and the Gang.

Oasis also aims to distinguish itself with innovative programs and amenities. For instance, the group shares a fleet of 250 Smart cars available for rent at a nominal fee. Those cars come in handy when guests take advantage of Oasis’ Grand Runaway Program, which enables them to patronize 50 restaurants and bars at sister properties. “It’s important to note that TripAdvisor lists two or three of our restaurants in its top 10 for Cancun,” said Klein. “We are very serious about our cuisine, with concepts like dining in the dark, different ethnic restaurants and so forth.”

Looking ahead, Klein said that while Oasis is open to expansion, “we have our hotels at a place right now that is really appealing to agents and customers and at the cutting edge of where the product should be.” He added, “We have invested over $100 million in the past few years in rooms, restaurants and bars, entertainment and back-of-the-house improvements. We now offer almost 3,200 rooms – a full 10 percent of the available rooms in Cancun and that gives us a lot of brand equity.”

OASIS ENHANCES ITS AGENT PLATFORM

To help travel advisors more seamlessly sell and market its resorts, Oasis recently relaunched its agent platform. “We have created a platform to provide agents with anything they need to sell the hotels and be knowledgeable,” said Enrique Klein, vice president-sales and marketing.

The site offers streamlined training programs, generous rewards and simplified tools that enable travel professionals to easily navigate Oasis’ offerings. Agents who register can access Oasis’ higher commissions and other rewards, view all consumer offers, discover perks for group bookings and book fam trips with special year-round rates.

Agents can also download marketing resources like brochures, resort fact sheets, videos, customizable flyers and more; and even book stays directly. The certification program provides a comprehensive overview of everything Oasis offers so agents can feel confident when selling the product.

The site is part of Oasis’ stepped-up effort to reach agents, which includes a fam program that invites agents to visit four resorts on a complimentary basis for up to five nights. Those staying four or five nights can stay at two resorts of their choice and will be asked to complete three site inspections. Agents staying for three nights receive accommodations at one property; they need to complete one site inspection at their home resort and do a site visit at a second one. Agents can book fams from April 17 through June 30.