Rubber Duckies & Sunshine Butlers: Set Your Property Apart with Memorable Amenities

Rubber Duckies

Competition’s tough out there, especially now as it extends to the realm of social media. Amid the noise of the socialsphere, how does a property set themselves apart? No matter how online-focused your marketing efforts are, when it comes to earning loyal guests and advocates it will always boil down to the service you offer on site (your property’s actual, physical site — not your website!). The expertise of the best social media gurus, Web designers and online marketing wizards can only go so far if your actual property lacks pizzazz. You don’t have to install an on-site rollercoaster or hire Cirque du Soleil performers to stand out; there are practical ways to rise above the rest, you just have to use your imagination.
Providing memorable amenities and services is an effective way to grab your guests’ attention and can also inspire them to share their experience on social media, especially if it’s something photo-worthy. Small and inexpensive touches — like personalizing guest service with a complimentary bottle of wine for anniversary celebrators or offering pet goldfish for rent — can create memorable moments that your guests will tell all their friends about… and will keep them coming back for more.
So, to help get your creative juices flowing, here are some inspiring — and some quite outrageous — examples of memorable amenities that have succeeded to wow guests at various properties around the world.
Bathroom Brilliance
Hair dryers, shower caps and little shampoo bottles are considered standard in hotel bathrooms and expected by guests. You’re going to have to go beyond the necessities in order to shine. At the Hotel Triton in San Francisco, guests can bathe with signature rubber duckies, while at the Viceroy Riviera Maya, just north of Playa del Carmen in Mexico, guests are treated to local-made artisanal soap courtesy of the Soap Concierge, who stops by at guests’ villas and slices bars to order from delicious blocks of soap. The Landing Resort and Spa in Lake Tahoe not only lights up vanity mirrors, but the inside of toilet bowls too! Now if that doesn’t make a splash, I don’t know what will!
Bespoke Butlers
Concierges are a hallmark of luxury hotels and stand for high-quality, personal service. They typically assist guests with restaurant and tour reservations, local recommendations, organizing transportation and the like. But some extravagant hotels are kicking it up a notch by offering truly specialized assistance. The Sleep Team at the Benjamin Hotel in New York is entirely devoted to guests’ quality of rest, providing a custom pillow menu, a power nap package (with eye mask, aromatherapy and a wake-up call) and a selection of Bed-Time Bites and relaxing teas. The Club Hotel & Spa in Jersey (in the English Channel) employs a poolside Sunshine Butler to apply sunscreen, polish sunglasses and mist wilting guests with mineral water. And, of course, let’s not forget the Soap Concierge mentioned above.
In-Room Indulgences 
From retro record players to specialty minibar menus, boutique hotels are winning guests over with unique in-room extras. Unusually thoughtful in-room amenities are especially photogenic and likely to be shared on social media.
Becoming more common but still a pleasant surprise, yoga kits, like those offered at Kimpton Hotels, can simply include a yoga mat and complimentary access to on-demand yoga programming. Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona, jazzes up the minibar with all the trappings of a private cocktail party, complete with martini glasses, a shaker and cocktail recipes. Keeping the party going, Chicago’s Hard Rock Hotel inspires guests to unleash their inner rock star or DJ fantasies with Fender guitars and mixing equipment delivered to their room free of charge (this hotel also offers special amenities to nursing mothers so we can assume they have good sound proofing!).
Guests traveling solo can rent a quiet but cute roommate — a goldfish called “Happy” — at Dutton’s Happy Guests Lodge in the UK, and the Six Senses Hua Hin in Thailand shows its thoughtful side through the simple gesture of placing sleep-enhancing lavender sachets by the bed.
Groovy Gadgetry
It might be hard to impress tech geeks these days, especially as iPod docking stations and futuristic in-room entertainment systems are already standard at many upmarket hotels, but the following “out of the box” gadgets ought to do it. The luxury Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa in Sausalito, California, delivers champagne to high-paying groups by a remote-controlled octo-copter drone. Yes, drone. Not quite so impressive, but still pretty cool, are the portable nail dryers you’ll find in guestrooms at The Peninsula Hong Kong.
Trippy Transportation
Lots of upscale and boutique properties provide private transportation for their guests, but not a lot offer chauffeur service with a fleet of Rolls Royce and MINI Cooper vehicles (The Peninsula Hong Kong), or arrival by mule, which is the only way to get to Arizona’s Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon if you don’t want to walk or raft the Colorado River. And to get to the Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman, guests may choose between speedboat, Jeep or — wait for it — paraglider.
OK, so there are a few examples included in this post that may as well be on-site rollercoasters or live Cirque du Soleil performances. Nevertheless, perhaps they’ll succeed in inspiring an idea for your next stand-out amenity. Go forth and be memorable!