Looking for ‘a Different Kind of Wow’: Next Level Hotel Experiences

Heli-hiking on a remote slice of Vancouver Island in Canada. Concocting your own perfume in southern France. Planning a shoot with a New York fashion photographer.

Now that amenities like infinity pools and posh spas (rebranded as wellness centers) are practically de rigueur at upscale lodgings, many properties are trying to distinguish themselves with activities that are ever more bespoke and brag-worthy.

“All of this is part of the trend we’ve seen for a while, especially since the pandemic, when everyone wants what they want and they want everything hyper-customized to their interests and their requirements,” said Ashley Isaacs Ganz, the founder and chief executive of Artisans of Leisure, a luxury tour operator.

Indeed, said Janelle Ruhumuliza, a travel adviser with Embark Beyond, “experiences have to go further than what they were before.” She notes that social media has amplified travelers’ desire to “one-up” what others are doing online.

Hotels are feeling the urgency. “We have guests that are almost aggressive in how they want to experience something,” said Philippe Gills, who oversees the concierge team at the Langham, Chicago. “Even if it’s something that they’ve experienced before, they’re looking to do it new now, so we have to be creative.”

Next-level activities

Activities and experiences have long been part of luxury hotel offerings. But many current offerings come with extra cachet.

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