When was the last time you were impressed by a mint on the pillow? Yeah, we can’t remember either. Not that we’re complaining: High-end hotels have been engaged in something of an amenities arms race for years, with guests ending up the winners. We’ve all come to expect—and usually receive—niceties like flat-screen TVs, crisp duvets, multiple charging ports and high-end bath products. That’s why we’ve created the Skylark Originals: a list of innovative amenities that show a spark of creativity or thoughtfulness, and special experiences that bring a destination to life in a new way. Along the way, we also discovered airlines, airports, and apps that made us feel like V-VIP’s, so we included those, too. Hats off to them and the other travel providers that are Making Amenities Great Again!
By Kathryn O’Shea-Evans
SAIL MANHATTAN, TWO WAYS
The Mark Hotel, on New York’s Upper East Side, has chic black and white sailboats to whir around Central Park’s Conservatory Water—accompanied by a picnic lunch by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Toy boats not your thing? Pack your Saint James striped boatneck shirt for a Hudson River cruise on the hotel’s vintage schooner, complete with cocktails and JG hors d’oeuvres.
The Mark vintage schooner
Photo by The Mark
NEXT-LEVEL BEAUTY TREATMENTS
Amenities for those who don’t feel good unless they look good: In Paris, the Hôtel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel, offers men haircuts by the city’s first female barber—avec straight razor—and shoe shines using Delamain cognac. • At New York’s Baccarat Hotel, guests of select suites can receive gratis blowouts each evening from 5 to 7, plus beauty swag from the on-site La Mer spa. • At The Upper House in Hong Kong, your paws get the star treatment, with in-room mani-pedi’s—using Louboutin nail polish, of course.
Men's salon at the Crillon
Photo by Hotel de Crillon
SUN, SAND, SERVICE
Hauling yourself from your languid perch on a chaise lounge to the hotel bar is becoming a thing of the past. At Faena Miami Beach, simply raise the red flag by your chair and the hotel’s own butlers will fetch you a cocktail (we recommend the Tortured Genius, with Bulleit bourbon) and even wash the sand from your feet, so you look shower-fresh for dinner at the Francis Mallmann restaurant, Los Fuegos. • In Los Cabos, Mexico, Chileno Bay Resort’s proprietary app means you can request everything from fresh fluffy towels to an ice cold cerveza to be delivered to your exact locale. • One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos practically invented poolside pampering. We love that they still provide an assortment of pillows—for neck, knees, feet—to make your chaise even chilller.
Faena's pool butler
Photo by Faena Miami
Chef Pierre Albaladejo (left)
Photo by Park Hyatt Aviara Resort
SURF WITH THE CHEF
Park Hyatt Aviara’s Executive Chef Pierre Albaladejo has done stints in Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton kitchens, but his obsessions go beyond food: He’s a surfer. On a two-day exploit at the San Diego–area resort, he’ll teach you to “shred the gnar,” take you up the Pacific Coast Highway to Greg Noll’s surfboard workshop in San Clemente, and, of course, cook for you. Did we mention he’ll send you a personalized surfboard after you return home?
BEYOND THE BATHROBE
Hotels are stocking ultra-luxe amenities you can wear, and not just slippers. At The Lowell on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, suite guests may find monogrammed pajamas awaiting for a cozy night in. • In certain suites at Claridge’s, Burberry trench coats—the city’s most famous fashion export—are on loan in case it rains (it’s London; it will). • In Venice at the Gritti Palace, slippers made by storied textile company Rubelli will have you padding around the 1475 palazzo in smashing style.
Photo by Claridge's
Beijing Summer Palace
Photo by Aman
BACK ENTRANCE TO THE PALACE
The closest thing you’ll likely ever experience to living like Chinese royalty is booking a stay at Aman Summer Palace in Beijing, which proffers after-hours back-door access to its neighbor, the ornate UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t miss the Hall that Dispels the Clouds, where it’s said occupants are graced with a longer life—i.e., more time for Aman’s phenomenal spa treatments.
UBER FOR RESORT SHUTTLES
The glam Boca Beach Club is one of our favorite things about the Boca Raton Resort and Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, in South Florida. But getting around the spread-out property takes some advance planning. Thanks to to the resort’s app, you’ll always know the exact locations of the shuttle buses, and how much time you have to smear on sunscreen before it arrives.
Photo by Boca Raton Waldorf Astoria
Window under massage table
Photo by Velaa Private Island
BLISS WITH AN UNDERWATER VIEW
You haven’t experienced a truly relaxing massage until you’ve had one at Velaa Private Island in the Maldives, whose spa sits on stilts over the glass-clear Indian Ocean. The massage table is positioned over a glass window into the otherworldly turquoise water below—with tropical fish so eye-poppingly beautiful, you’ll swear you’re in a screen saver.
Photo by Blade
ELEVATING THE AIRPORT TRANSFER
For guests of the iconic Ritz Paris, the legendary experience starts as soon as they land at Charles de Gaulle: The hotel’s staff meets you at the door of the plane, speeds you through customs, and whisks you to the hotel in coddled comfort. Flexible check-in and check-out times make the transfers extra-seamless. • In New York, Delta has partnered with helicopter company Blade to whisk passengers from Manhattan to JFK in five minutes flat. An escort through security (or immigration and customs for arrivals) is included. Remember to wave at all the cars stuck on the Van Wyck Expressway!
PALM TREE TO TABLE
Newly opened on the southern Sri Lankan coast, Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort introduces guests to an ancient local custom: freshly picked coconut. Upon request, their resident “coconut guru” will scamper up a tree in the property’s 21-acre plantation and return in two minutes to open one for you poolside—by machete! The fruit aisle at Whole Foods just doesn’t compare.
Photo by Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort
Sleep in a teepee
Photo by Tschuggen Grand Hotel
GLAMPING GONE WILD
Tschuggen Grand Hotel, a modernist hideaway in the Swiss Alps, combines the best of Switzerland with a dose of the American West with its Tepee Experience. After a night in the hotel, designed by Carlo Rampazzi, and a chug up the mountain on the Tschuggen Express funicular, guests enjoy a night in a tricked-out tepee complete with an alfresco barbecue and antique Coca-Cola coolers. • Across the globe in Belize, Ka’ana Resort can arrange a glimpse even further back into human history with overnights at nearby Mayan ruins—sites of centuries of secrets, now lost to the wind.
Photo by Rosewood San Miguel de Allende
DISCOVER YOUR INNER ARTIST
That whole “adult coloring book” trend has met its match at Mexico’s Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, where en-suite easels (in both adult and kid sizes) and paint supplies await in all Artesana Private Residences. It’s a way to get in touch with your creative side—whether you fancy yourself a Frida or a Diego.
SPEED THROUGH SECURITY (AND MORE)
For anyone who has ever had a bad day at an airport (read: everyone), Solve helps ensure it doesn’t happen again. The service, available at over 500 airports around the globe, essentially gives you Beyoncé status, assisting, escorting and expediting every minute you're there, from customs to connections to baggage. • Clear already puts TSA Pre-Check to shame by letting members scan their eyeball or fingerprint to speed through security. Now it’s rolling out the service to sports venues, including New York’s Yankee Stadium, San Francisco's’ AT&T Park, and Miami’s American Airlines Arena.