The Sweetest Hotel Perks You Can Get Right Now

Free wi-fi, a couple bottles of water, coffee, and gym access were once considered hotel luxuries, but they’re now just the baseline when it comes to travel perks. Hotel chains are packaging up unforgettable experiences for visitors, featuring some truly out-of-the-box amenities, activities, company, and memories.

While some can get pretty pricey, these amazing experiences are more often than not worth it. Take a look at some of the sweetest hotel perks travelers can get right now.

A Personal Concierge

Folks who stay at any of Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria properties — such as its flagship location in New York City, located just blocks from Rockefeller Center and Broadway — can have their trip planning taken care of. Waldorf offers a personal concierge to “guarantee your every request is met” before, during, and after each visitor’s stay. The concierge waits for arriving visitors in the lobby to show them straight to their rooms. They’re also available throughout the stay to answer questions and suggest enjoyable (and sometimes discounted) events in the area. And when it’s time to go, they will neatly pack the visitors’ suitcase and send them on their way.

Fender Guitars

The Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago offers is fair share of standard perks, as rooms include flat screen TVs, mini-bars, and coffee-makers. But this property also cranks things up a notch, in true Hard Rock fashion. Visitors get complimentary access to a mouth-watering selection of 20 guitars and bass guitars, from a candy-apple red Coronado Guitar to a Baja ’60s Telecaster. The chosen guitar is delivered right to the visitor’s room, along with a headphone amplifier and Nixon headphones.

Your Very Own Photographer

When it comes to exciting vacations, the generally accepted mantra these days seems to be “Pics or it didn’t happen.” This next hotel perk, offered at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, is a few steps above an artsy, filtered Instagram posts of the property’s luxurious outdoor pool or stunning city views. Visitors who choose the “California Getaway” package get to enjoy an hour-long photoshoot with a professional photographer in iconic locations like the Santa Monica Pier, Griffith Observatory or Rodeo Drive. Other perks in the package include laundry service, valet parking and unlimited in-room entertainment — but those won’t last a lifetime like photographs.

Super Cars

To call a Ferrari 458 Italia a hotel perk might just be the understatement of the year, but that’s what it is for visitors of the Arizona Bitmore in Pheonix. This Waldorf hotel used to be an invitation-only resort, but now anyone can book a room and enjoy the 39-acre property, plus its gardens, golf courses, pools and supercars. Select Waldorf locations offer “driving experiences” that let visitors drive Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other fancy sports cars around the stunning property.

A Part-Time Pet

Pet-friendly accommodations are becoming increasingly common and luxurious at hotels across the country, but what about vacationers who don’t have a pet? Well, folks who stay at the Red Mountain Resort in Ivins, Utah can borrow a puppy in what’s perhaps the most adorable hotel perk ever. The adventure spa provides access to unlimited exercise and wellness classes, including a “Pound Puppy Walk” during which visitors travel to the local shelter and enjoy a morning walk with a dog in need of a home. Other more standard perks at this remote haven include an extensive spa menu and flat-screen televisions, but a part-time puppy has to be the cherry on top.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on February 12, 2016.

Where to Travel For The Best Stargazing In The World

In most urban areas, only around 500 stars are visible on a given night, but in the prized locations highlighted below, up to 15,000 are easily seen. That’s pretty incredible. It you’re planning a trip and want some nighttime eye candy, here are six of the best places in the world to go outside and look up.

Mauna Kea, Hawaii

The Mauna Kea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island has perhaps the most ideal stargazing conditions in the world. At an elevation above 13,000 feet, it is the highest point in Hawaii. Its high elevation and location in the middle of the Pacific create excellent conditions, but the surrounding cloud layer makes it even more perfect for studying the sky. A tropical inversion cloud layer 2,000 feet thick sits below the summit, preventing pollutants and moist air from the ocean from rising up. The view itself is so spectacular that one of the world’s most advanced astronomical observatories is located at the top. The visitor’s center at 9,000 feet offers lectures, question and answer sessions, and telescope viewing.

Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania might seem like an odd place for first-class stargazing, but Cherry Springs State Park is one of the best viewing points in the world. The 82 acre park is set within the 262,000 acre Susquehannock State Forest, protecting it from light pollution. A tremendous number of stars are visible at this Gold-Certified International Dark Sky Park. In fact, the sky is so dark that the Northern Lights were seen here four times in 2014, a very unusual event this far below the Arctic Circle. The park offersNight Sky Tours on Friday and Saturday nights that use lasers to identify and explain constellations and planets. Visitors can also use telescopes on site.

Atacama Desert, Chile

The Atacama Desert in Chile is already a stunning natural wonder with its red dunes, huge rock formations, and even a desert flowering in wet years. It’s also the driest non-polar desert in the world due to its high elevation, which makes it an exceptionally perfect place for stargazing. The newly constructed ALMA Observatorytakes advantage of these conditions and the lack of light pollution in the desert. At times, the Milky Way can shine so brightly here that it casts a shadow on the desert floor.

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

In 2007, Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah became the first ever International Dark Sky Park, a designation since reserved for the best stargazing locations in the world. The beauty of the stars visible in the desert is supplemented by the striking natural setting. Owachomo bridge, perhaps the oldest bridge in the park, was created when a river changed course and carved a hole into solid rock.

Denali National Park, Alaska

The Northern Lights are caused by a coronal mass ejection, which is a gust of solar wind and magnetic fields that interact with the earth’s atmosphere. The result are stunning dancing waves of green, red, blue, and violet that are occasionally visible in northern climates. Denali National Park in Alaska is one of the best places for viewing the phenomenon. The park encompasses four million acres of federally protected land, and the cold and clear Alaskan nights made conditions ideal. The magnificent park also offers bears, wolves, caribou, and moose as well as some of the most stunning mountain views in the world.

Tromsø, Norway

Brave stargazers might seek to venture inside the Arctic Circle itself for viewing the northern lights. There’s no better place to experience the enchanted north thanTromsø. Not only does it offer fantastic views of the aurora borealis (the sun is invisible from November to January), it’s a lovely city in its own right. In the 19th century it was called the Paris of the North, and visitors can enjoy reindeer spotting, sledding with huskies, and visiting the famous Arctic Cathedral in this Norse and Sami medieval city.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on December 16, 2015.