It's the Little Things

fairmont masai mara welcome gift[Welcome gift at Fairmont Masai Mara]

Travel Proprietors Take Note Beyond the regular in-room amenities hotels or vacation rentals provide, it's ultimately the little extras I remember---and change my opinion from "my vacation was good" to " it was amazing."  For example, I'm not going to look back and thank my lucky stars that my room in Venice had shampoo and conditioner because I expect that. It's the unexpected that makes me remember each destination I visit in an ultra-special way.

Here are some recent examples of small gestures that went a long way in terms of welcoming, acknowledging and personalizing each experience beyond the destination itself.

The Little Things

  • Hot chocolate wake-up = Masai Mara
    • Every night at dinner our server at the Fairmont Mara Safari Club would ask us what time we wanted to be woken up and what beverage we wanted: hot chocolate or coffee.  Adding to the whole sleeping-in-a-lux-canvas-tent experience, the next morning someone would come to the tent with hot chocolate and a biscuit to wake us up.  It was different and novel, and made you feel like you were 'in the bush.' But let's be honest, it was totally glamping!
  • Welcome wine bottle = Sonoma
    • In true wine country form, each guest who stays at the Faimont Sonoma Mission Inn receives a bottle of wine, presumably to start their wine tasting adventures off on the right foot.
  • Nespresso cappuccino maker = Scottsdale
    • I was more than ecstatic (and even tweeted about it) when I discovered my in-room Nespresso Machine at the Fairmont Scottsdale.  Since most hotel coffee makers offer sub-par coffee, this up-scale offering was almost euro-esque.
  • Cruising aboard Princess Grace's honeymoon yacht & manicure = Jamaica
    • During our honeymoon, my husband and I stayed at the now foregone Grand Lido Negil (now Grand Breezes Negril).  Our experience was excellent---in fact it was the best all-inclusive we've ever experienced---but what made it more special was the not-so-little extras.  The option to cruise in Princess Grace's Honeymoon Yacht at sunset, or the complimentary manicure offered at the spa were incredible.
  • Signature Floral Smell = Mandalay Bay
    • Although this is not personal in any way, from the moment I walked into Vegas' Mandalay Bay, I was pleasantly surprised by the gentle, floral smell that permeated the entire hotel.  If I ever go back to Vegas (which seems inevitable at some point in my life) the floral smell alone would make me re-book at Mandalay, especially given the unfortunate array of aromas that usually flood your nose in Sin City.
  • Included Economy = Hawaiian Airlines
    • Even though it's ironic, Hawaiian Airlines serves Italian-style food on its mainland to Island flights.  In the wake of crazy airline cut-backs, at least they are still providing an actual meal--and one that's decent! Coupled with their excellent customer service, if I'm headed to the Islands, Hawaiian is my first choice!

Take-Away Creating a welcoming, genuine, sense-of-place makes guests feel comfortable; while the following gestures will create a sparkle in their eye: - being acknowledged - ie. "welcome back" - a personalized experience - ie. hotel stationary with their name - anticipating their needs - ie. welcome champagne or hot cloth for face and hands after long flight - localization - ie. giving wine in wine country