By Rachael Oakes-Ash
Courtesy of the Brisbane Times
A club lounge and complimentary glass of champagne on arrival no longer cut it for the time-poor travelling business person.
Instead, unique spa concepts, sleep support and nutrition services have been designed to offset punishing work schedules and lure travel-weary business people.
Here are some of the main players:
Hyatt Hotels were the first to introduce the 'residential spa' concept.
Guests in its Hong Kong and Bangkok Grand Hyatt hotels can combine all the benefits of a five star hotel stay, with rooms or villas located within the spa floor with direct access to treatment rooms or the option of in guest room treatments.
Breakfast is also served in the spa lounge or in your suite and check in is done via the spa reception rather than the main hotel lobby.
The Crown Metropol in Melbourne has introduced similar options. The spa guest room floor has direct access to its ISIKA day spa, and guest rooms feature soothing hues and healthy mini bar options so harried business travellers can soak up the peace and quiet of a spa floor between meetings.
Keeping fit while on the road presents its own challenges and Intercontinental Hotels recently announced the launch of a new hotel brand, EVEN, which focuses on wellness and fitness with rooms equipped with yoga mats, pull up coat rack bars and sit up bench luggage racks to suit the time-poor traveller. The first hotel is expected to launch in the USA in 2013.
Sofitel Luxury Hotels in North America offer a low calorie De-Light menu featured on their restaurant menus and room service options, and over four hundred Sheraton Hotels and Resorts worldwide offer 'Colour Your Plate by Sheraton Fitness'.
This nutrition concept is designed to help travellers get the nutrients they need with yellow foods for brain, green for bone and muscles, orange for skin and eyes, red for heart health, white for immune system and purple for microcirculation. Each meal is five hundred calories or less.
Sleeping in a hotel bed does not always come easily - even with signature beds from Rydges, Sofitel, Westin, and pillow menus now de rigeur in any business hotel. Jetlag, an overactive mind and the anticipation of an early wake up call can all contribute to a restless night's sleep which is no help for those with a client meeting first thing.
The Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel offers a Quiet Zone Floor with complimentary earplugs and eye masks in sound proof rooms where guests can snooze between 8.00am and 8.00pm without housekeeping or mini bar checks disturbing them. The Quiet Zone floor rooms can be booked for as little as four hours.
Vie Hotel in Bangkok even goes so far as offering a 'Sleep Consultant' to recommend best sleeping positions, meditation and muscle relaxation. The consultant helps with sleep friendly meals and sets up an in-room environment to soothe the senses. A sixty minute relaxation treatment and VIE bath at the end of the day offers a finishing touch.
Businesswomen may prefer the security and solace of an all-female floor such as the Orchid Floor at the Georgian Court Hotel in downtown Vancouver. At first glance the rooms look no different to the other two hundred, but delve deeper and you'll find a yoga mat, hair dryer, hair straightener, fashion magazines, satin padded coat hangers, and an emergency kit with an extra pair of stockings.
The Hamilton Crowne Plaza in Washington DC offers complimentary concierge service, upgraded amenities and women's networking dinners for guests on their women only floor available Sunday to Thursday.
Gone are the days of set check in and check out times. Replaced with a twenty-four hour stay from time of check in, regardless what time that is.
Any decent hotel catering to business guests will have a business or club lounge on their clubroom floors - which allow the check in process to occur within a hotel's club lounge - to create an even more relaxing atmosphere.
The newly refurbished Crown Crystal Club in Crown Towers has taken this concept a step further with an outside terrace and a dedicated concierge front desk service.
The Pullman in Auckland even offers 'in car' check in. A personal chauffeur service in a luxury European sedan where the check in process is completed during the drive from Auckland airport to the hotel. Guests alight from the car with room key in hand.
The Ritz Carlton Beijing Financial Street also offers limousine transfer for travel around the CBD, a complimentary laundry service and personalised stationery.
Word in the world of business hotel trends is we can look forward to more innovative ways for work and play time to be melded due to constant connectivity.
The Hilton Request Upon Arrival system ensures that when you have checked in all your favourite comforts are in your room before you arrive. Guests can pre-order specific alcohol, pillow styles, food platters and reading material.
Guests at the Andaz properties in New York City check in with 'floating hosts' on a mobile computer tablet. No need for front desk when you can check in over a beer at the bar or in the elevator on the way to your much needed bed.
Speaking of tablets, The Royal on the Park Hotel in Brisbane offers business guests in royal rooms, corner spa suites or executive suites an iPad with full internet access during their stay plus free unlimited wireless internet access.
In Singapore the Mandarin Orchard sychronise the hotel's iPads with the television so guests can perform express checkout, order room service and use the tablet as a television remote control.