Hotel amenities play a big role in delighting guests and creating happiness.
I’ve experienced this first-hand staying at the Gaige House in Sonoma, California, the past few days. The hospitality they show through their amenities made a big impact on me: simple things that made me smile, take out my phone to take photos to share on social media – and made me want to leave a 5-star review and return again soon.
That’s what you want your guests to do, right?
While hotel amenities can be monetized (and should be in some cases), there’s nothing like having things given to you for free that make you feel cared for.
In this article, I’ll share some of the low-cost amenities I’ve experienced at the Gaige House and other hotels that made me happy – and could provide ideas for inspiration for your hotel. And then at the end of the article, I’ll share more ideas for hotel amenities from other hospitality providers that you might find work for your property.
Let’s jump into it…
Cozy amenity: a fireplace
We were visiting the hotel during a rainy week when it was quite cold outside – which made the fireplaces they have throughout the hotel all the more enjoyable:
I love fireplaces as a hotel amenity. Here’s another one I enjoyed at the Silverado Resort in Napa:
Fireplaces create a cozy environment and gathering place for your guests and do a lot to make you feel warm and welcome.
Literary amenity: local books
I didn’t know the author Jack London lived here in Glen Ellen, California, and bought a ranch here. But after reading about his life I wanted to read more of his work.
Fortunately, the Gaige House had already thought of this and had hardcover copies of his work to borrow from their bookshelves:
The Four Sisters Inns, which runs the Gaige House, offers this as a signature amenity, and my wife and I have enjoyed this at each of their properties. It’s not free to provide this but it creates a fun gathering space for guests.
We’ve enjoyed sampling wines from the region and chatting with other guests.
F&B amenity: All-day sake tasting
The Gaige House goes beyond the happy hour to make sake available for tasting all day long at no cost:
Play amenity: board games
OK, I might be terrible at Mancala but chess is my jam and I enjoyed the chance to play during our stay.
Sometimes you’ve eaten all the food, drank all the drinks, and read all the books you can – and just want to mix it up. Games were a fun way to do this.
F&B amenity: Free (delicious) breakfast
This amenity is common in lower-budget, select-service hotels, but it’s cool to see great food provided for free in a buffet-style breakfast.
Those French Toast and eggs were pretty good this morning…
Wellness amenity: Meditation room
The Gaige House created a beautiful space near the creek that runs by their property for guests to meditate.
Very on-brand for the Gaige House and doesn’t cost much for them to offer.
Tech amenity: A convenient charger
Simple but practical! You can’t put enough plugs like this in an easy-to-reach area for your guests.
Tech amenity: Chromecast and/or Apple TV
Another simple thing, but there’s nothing like bringing your own entertainment and easily playing it without trying to enter your Netflix password through a remote control.
Experience amenity: Spotify playlists
During my stay, I was jamming to playlists that Clay Bassford created. It was the perfect way to immerse myself in California’s wine country.
I enjoyed it so much that I plan to stay at Stanly Ranch soon…
Luxury amenity: A house car
OK, maybe this one isn’t low-cost, but it’s one of my favorite hotel amenities. Experienced this Mercedes car service at the Fairmont in Vancouver:
This amenity – and everything else on this list – is all about feeling cared for as a guest. And providing this feeling is why we focus on hotel operations.
They are just a few of the best amenities I’ve enjoyed, and I’d like to see more hotels offer things like these.
Amenities ideas from other hospitality providers
I asked other hoteliers I know about the best amenities they’ve seen (or offer) and wanted to share a few of the things they told me.
Free bottles of water (Jesse Lear, Epicurean Properties)
“Free perks are an easy way to stand out and often have a higher perceived value than their cost. It’s been funny to hear how impressed some guests are that the bottles of Fiji water we provide are free (they’re so used to seeing an ~$8 tag on them in hotels). Only costs us a few dollars per guest to get that reaction.” – Jesse Lear, Epicurean Properties
Free live music, yoga classes, and lawn games (Ken Barber, Wildhaven)
“We made the decision not to nickel & dime also, even at our $150-$300 price point. Even though our guests might pay the extra charges, we believe the experience of paying these can hurt their overall stay experience. We include free wine tasting, live music, yoga classes, telescope viewings, board game rental, lawn games, & coffee & tea service. We only charge for inner tube rentals since many people bring their own. We discussed the all-too-common resort fee, but don’t want to force guests to pay for things they might not use. There’s an element of glamping that’s self-sufficient, where guests want the bed and tent, and bathroom, but they like to bring their own cooking gear, food, hammocks, campsite games, river gear, etc. And do it themselves. So we shouldn’t charge everyone for things that only some use. And no guest wants to be surprised by a resort fee after they saw an advertised rate and started their checkout.” – Ken Barber, Wildhaven
Hot chocolate, marshmallows, and movies (Joyce Turchetti)
“Hotels penny pinch because they think they have to. When in fact if the services were offered by what the guests are asking for, all of a sudden you have a full hotel. It goes back to one of the very first things I learned as a manager, KNOW your market. I once ran a property with a high percentage of children, so we offered Storytime, hot chocolate, and marshmallows at check-in. All of the innovative ideas we put into practice paid off and my RevPar was awesome. I sold more of my share of available rooms.” – Joyce Turchetti
Your hotel rates should pay for your amenities
Some of the best hospitality leaders I know told me how hotels should charge more and provide amenities like we’ve looked at in this article for free.
“Why don’t hotels just charge what they need to charge, end with the fees and present clear info to the guest before they book? There’s no need to try to blindside the guest with a low rate at the moment of reservation and to supercharge them during the stay.”David Santos, Chief Financial Officer, Savoy Hotel & Beach Club
Hotels can aggregate costs and spread these out across rate structures such that ADR rises are mild compared to incremental pricing. The piecemeal pricing model hurts my head and soul.William Murray, Professor of Hospitality Management, University of Guelph
What are your favorite hotel amenities?
I’d love to get your input. What are your favorite low-cost, high-impact hotel amenities? Let me know here on LinkedIn.