When it comes to food trends, edibles and beverages might be in and out faster than you can say ‘matcha tea,’ but these hotel and travel industry trends are panning out to have big staying power for 2016. We spoke with Catherine Colford, Senior Content Strategist at Hawkins International PR, a boutique public relations firm specializing in hotel, travel and tourism brands, to find out what’s in store for vacationing in 2016. Read on, and pack your bags to destination #Bliss.
1. The sky is the limit
What’s out: Drive-to excursions
What’s in: Fly-to excursions
“The sky is literally the limit when it comes to offsite excursions for hotel guests,” says Colford. At Ireland’s Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, Doonbeg you can float your way through a daylong helicopter excursion to the Burren National Park and over the Cliffs of Moher. Cue the stunning Instagram photos. Hitting up Utah for some outdoor adventure? As part of Montage Deer Valley’s Moab Adventures, guests are treated to a private plane ride from the resort to Moab’s airport where they can set out on an 18-mile bike loop (don’t forget to pack some snacks).
“Guests staying at Madeline Hotel and Residences in Telluride, Colorado can opt for paragliding explorations and hot air balloon rides to take in the spectacular views of the Uncompahgre Valley and San Juan Mountains,” Colford adds. Thrillseeker? Head to Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid, New York where guests can add an Adirondack Scenic Flight onto their visit and buckle up for a soaring plane adventure over the state’s highest peaks, breathtaking lakes and the village’s iconic Olympic venues. Fashion guru? At Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, you can arrange a VIP flight to Valentino’s Haute Couture Atelier in Rome or Paris as a next-level shopping experience awaits.
2. Vacations that deserve more than a selfie
What’s out: Selfie sticks
What’s in: Vacation photographers
“Hotels and travel companies are recognizing that travelers are looking for quality photography to help remember their trips. In Florence, Lungarno Collection’s Portrait Firenze offers a package that includes a professional photographer who also serves as a local tour guide, while Utah’s Montage Deer Valley has an on-staff photographer who guests can utilize complimentary,” explains Colford. “On Maui, Montage Kapalua Bay partnered with Pacific Dream Photography to offer all guests complimentary photography sessions, with photos professionally edited overnight and available the next day.”
3. Undercover meals
What’s out: What you see is what you get
What’s in: Food that looks like other food
“Hotel chefs are having fun and getting playful in the kitchen with dishes that appear to be one food but taste like another. Created to look like the French delicacy, the Faux Gras Mousse at Sustenio at San Antonio’s Eilan Hotel is really a just-as-tasty chicken liver mousse with jalapeño jelly layer,” offers Colford.
“Order a ‘Breakfast of Champions’ at Hotel Vermont’s Juniper Bar and be treated to an edible cocktail disguised as a bowl of cereal, complete with ‘milk’ made from Vermont Spirits White Vodka and Boyden Valley Spirits Apple Cream. Madeline Hotel and Residences’ Black Iron Kitchen & Bar in Telluride offers a surprising spin on a classic with an Organic Salmon ‘BLT’ stuffed with butter lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, Applewood smoked bacon and unexpectedly, salmon.” And to satisfy your sweet tooth, did we mention the Madeline Hotel has its own Dylan’s Candy Bar? Giddy up.
4. Race to relaxation
What’s out: Yoga retreats
What’s in: Run-cations
“Hotels worldwide are catering to serious runners who travel to run, as well as those who use running as a way to experience a destination. Runners embarking on Lake Placid’s annual half and full marathons and September’s Lake Placid Classic can book Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort’s ‘Run For Your Life’ package complete with a carb-loading dinner, welcome bag and nightly accommodations. The resort also offers 20% discounts for marathoners who want to train on the course in the spring leading up to the full marathon in June,” says Colford.
“Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, Doonbeg in Ireland has a Running Coach on staff to give tips for running on the area’s tricky beaches and trails,” adds Colford. Heading to Boston? Grab your running shoes. XV Beacon offers guests personalized running maps for checking out sites while you’re hitting the pavement. And talk about a stellar post-run routine: Runners can request ice baths on return and refuel with runner’s essentials in the mini bar like protein bars and coconut water.
5. Meals ‘a la Cart’
What’s out: Grab ‘n go meals
What’s in: Food and drink that comes to you
“Hotels have long catered to guests who want to eat on-the-go, but what about guests who want their meals to literally come to them — no matter where they are? Many hotels have introduced over-the-top food and beverage carts that let guests customize their meals without ever leaving their room or seat in the lobby. 45 Park Lane in London recently partnered with specialist tea company JING to launch a curated Rare and Seasonal Tea Menu featuring some of the world’s rarest and most sought-after teas, paired with delicate pastries and served from a Mobile Tea Bar,” says Colford.
“Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, NH offers a new ‘ATB’ (All-Terrain Beverage) cart for guests to enjoy seasonal beverages throughout all areas of the resort — from sipping a mimosa on the golf course to enjoying a refreshing lemonade on the front lawn.” Cheese aficionados? Meet your match. At The Nines in Portland, you can summon your very own ‘Cheese Cart’ which is stacked with fresh, seasonal cheeses and accouterments (Yes, that would include honey from the hives on the hotel roof) and work with the hotel’s cheesemonger to create a custom plate of moo-infused fantasies.
6. Travel that transforms you
What’s out: Vacations that change your life
What’s in: Vacations that change your lifestyle
“More and more travelers are taking vacations they hope will have a major impact on the quality of their lifestyles long after their suitcases have been unpacked,” says Colford. And there’s no shortage of swoon-worthy options to get your wellness fix. At South Florida’s, The Carillon Hotel & Spa in Miami, you can enjoy a one-of-a-kind, integrative medical wellness center, and yes, the beautiful beach surely won’t hurt.
During guests’ stay, they can meet with renowned Medical Director, Dr. Karen Koffler for everything from physician consultations to specialty and diagnostic services. The Medical Wellness Team can also create personalized itineraries for weight loss, stress relief (sign us up!), and more, with a goal of making sure you bring the lessons and habits you learn away back home. Traveling abroad? “In Zurich, The Dolder Grand also offers a professional Medical Wellness Team comprised of specialists from the Aesthetic+Health Link network of doctors. The team can provide medical advice and carry out treatments in anti-aging and preventative medicine, checkups and second opinions, aesthetic dermatology and laser medicine, as well as aesthetic plastic surgery,” says Colford.
7. Creative collaboration
What’s out: Foodie meeting breaks
What’s in: Artistic meeting breaks
Game, set, Picassos-in-training. You don’t have to hit a museum to get a hint of culture. These days, “Hotels are sparking meeting attendees’ creativity with art-inspired breakouts and amenities,” says Colford. In Florida, Orlando’s B Resort & Spa has a partnership with local Baterbys Art Gallery where you can indulge in group Wine & Paint Classes hosted by the gallery’s professional artists. Groups staying at The Nines in Portland can take a break from the day’s action and embark on an inspirational time to explore the hotel’s 419-piece art collection through a twice-a-week free guided art tour hosted by the hotel concierge.
Hopping over the pond? Art-themed hotel 45 Park Lane in London offers group art classes with local artist Jane McAdam Freud, celebrated artist and great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud. Groups at The Dolder Grand in Zurich can set out on their own private art tours with the help of the hotel’s iPads, which are pre-loaded with an app to guide them through the 124 pieces on display, including works by Henry Moore, Salvador Dali and more. Don’t forget to grab your sketch pads!
8. Dish this
What’s out: Perusing the Menu
What’s in: Exploring Upscale Buffets
Buffets are about to get kicked up a serious notch, so lame breakfasts and Chinese restaurants better step aside. “You’ve never seen a spread like the Flatbed Buffet in the back of a working 1950s cherry red Ford FI pickup complete with a selfie station at American Q at the new B Resort & Spa in Orlando. The one-of-a-kind buffet serves seasonal and authentic side dishes from homemade soups to a baked potato bar with savory toppings,” says Colford.
Farm-to-table has also taken a leap into the buffet zone. “With the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop, the Art of Breakfast Buffet at The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, offers satisfying farm-to-table specialties, with everything from a yogurt bar to a doughnut buffet and special gluten-free items to start the day,” adds Colford. Looking for something unconventional? “Don’t expect the typical Sunday Brunch at the elegant Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires, where wild game dishes, gourmet cheeses and pasta are laid out in style with an accompanying wine list perfect for a mid-day meal,” Colford elaborates.
9. Meetings get playful
What’s out: ‘Bored’ Rooms
What’s in: Playrooms
“Hotels are taking meetings out of the boardroom and into the playroom, offering groups excitement on property and off,” Colford suggests. “Pullman Hotels and Resorts, the upscale brand of Accor Hotels, has reinvented the boardroom experience with Business Playground by Pullman. The concept, developed by designer Mathieu Lehanneur, offers all sorts of playful distractions from a conference table reinterpreted as a poker table to Pullman Curiosity Boxes inspired by the living spaces of scientists and collectors, and more,” Colford explains.
Meanwhile, Omni Bedford Springs Resort has a team-building ropes course that will get your adrenaline pumping on its 2,200 acre property in the beautiful Alleghenies in Pennsylvania. At The Omni Homestead Resort in Virginia, certified N.S.C.A. shooting instructors guide groups through sporting clay courses, four skeet fields, trap and five-stand courses on the resort’s world-famous sporting clay course. So say goodbye to stealthily checking your smartphone under the table and hello to meetings that are actually fun.