Best New Hotels for Business Travel
Amenities tailored to business travelers shine in some of those great new hotels.
The world’s newest luxury hotels may be investing in opulent design and spectacular artwork, but the smartest among them are spending on the amenities that will romance the high-end business traveler.
Following two years of restrictions from corporate travel departments and business travelers’ defections to less pricey (often so-called select service) brands, “the business traveler is back,” says Joe McInerney, president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. As corporate travel picks up from 2009 lows, rates may be bouncing back, but so is competition among hotels to secure the loyalty of the power executive. And the key to clinching their allegiance, he says, is to offer them the business amenities they want without gouging them in the process—despite their ability to pay (or bill to a third party). Today’s business traveler, says Forrester Research analyst Henry Harteveldt, “is time-starved and craves digitally consumable information and entertainment.” To truly distinguish themselves, he says, hotels have to think creatively, particularly since many have already upgraded bedding and bathroom fixtures. “Hotels need to offer relevant services, whether for free or for an additional (but reasonable) fee.”
To that end, notes Bjorn Hanson, dean of New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management, luxury hotels are taking a page from the rule books of select service hotels, the earliest adopters of services like free Wi-Fi and telephone calls. Some business travelers, he says, “have found that the select service experience is preferable, with its kiosks and free Wi-Fi, and upscale hotels are now answering their demands.” Enter in-room exercise equipment, downloadable applications that allow guests to use smartphones as key cards, and use of e-readers and tablets.
The new amenities, Harteveldt adds, are smart for business; providing tablets “may help get the guest out of his or her room and into a lounge or restaurant, where the guest might spend some money on food or beverages.” Plus, “wow factor” services might get the hotel discussed not only at a party, but on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. The challenge for hotels, of course, is that the bar is constantly being raised. From airport transfers in a Maserati (at the Armani Hotel in Dubai) to microchip-embedded in-room dining carts (at the Jefferson in Washington, D.C.), to fully contained in-room offices (at the Elysian, Chicago), luxury hotels are wooing executives like never before. Here, 10 recently opened hotels that are taking business amenities to new levels.