Beyond free Wi-Fi: Offbeat hotel perks that make resort fees a little more tolerable

Courtesy Fairmont Orchid

Fairmont Orchid

In-room coffee makers, Wi-Fi, a bottle of water and, sometimes, complimentary nationwide phone calls are now among the standard amenities travelers will find included with most hotel rooms.

But to stand out — and in many cases, justify — the sometimes hefty “resort” or “convenience” fees many properties now tag onto bills, hotel guests are being offered more offbeat and intriguing perks.

For example, the Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda offers complimentary daily garden and Hamilton Harbor tours. And the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco offers built-in oxygen systems in every room and coca leaf tea to help guests acclimate to the high altitude in Peru.

From hairdo help and loaner athletic gear to culinary classes and cuddle time with chickens, we found a wide variety of unusual amenities being offered to hotel guests. 

Hairdo help, sparkling wine and shopping bonuses

Sparkling wine – courtesy Thompson Seattle

Thompson Seattle

Located near Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market and the Puget Sound waterfront, the Thompson Seattle welcomes guests with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine. Perks build from there with complimentary blow outs and bang trims at a nearby salon; tickets to area attractions and museums (when available) and the Uncovered Seattle program, which secures discounts and/or bonus offers for guests at a dozen downtown boutiques, jewelry stores and spas.

“We are passionate about being an authentic part of our neighborhood and community,” said Amanda Parsons, general manager of Thompson Seattle. “That’s why we curated our guest benefit program to be a truly local experience encapsulating the best of our surrounding neighborhood.” (Rates start at $279. Daily “destination fee”: $25.)

Gear shed with hoverboards, cameras and guitars

Gear shed at The Hotel Zags

Harriet Baskas

In Oregon, The Hotel Zags Portland fits into the Rose City’s hipster scene with complimentary perks that include a gear shed filled with everything from bicycles and basketballs to hoverboards, skateboards, guitars, fishing poles and cameras.

An astrology program is a part of a its soon-to-launch lobby events. It also offers art classes in the hotel’s “living wall” courtyard and “forest bathing,” which is a walk in the city’s greenery.

“We want to provide our guests with offerings that can’t be found elsewhere; enhancing their experience for an unforgettable stay,” said Nic Barger, the hotel’s general manager.

Hotel guests also get one $15 mini-bar or hotel sundry shop credit each stay, access to an elaborate game room and passes to a nearby gym. (Rates start at: $199. Guest amenities fee: $24 per day.)

Gourmet bagels and bonus amenity closet

Amenity closet – courtesy Park Terrace Hotel

Park Terrace Hotel

In New York City, the Park Terrace Hotel overlooking Bryant Park has bonus perks that are both tasty and thoughtful.

A community closet on each floor is stocked with take-what-you-need amenities such as deodorant, Malin + Goetz soap, collar stays, toothbrushes and other necessities travelers often leave behind. And the hotel’s complimentary daily breakfast offers a veritable Big Apple food tour with gourmet classics such as Zucker’s bagels, Murray’s Cheese and Doughnut Plant donuts. (Rates start at $350 per night. No resort fee.)

Fairy houses and Whiff Walks

Fairy houses – courtesy Woodstock Inn & Resort

Fairy Houses, Woodstock Inn and Resort

In Vermont, summer and fall guests of the Woodstock Inn & Resort are offered a bounty of free classes and complimentary tours at the resort’s 3.5 acre, certified organic Kelly Way Gardens.

In addition to nibbling tours and aromatherapy Wellness Whiff Walks, guests can try to spot the fairies living in tiny houses made from repurposed gourds.

“The garden immersions are designed to fully engage guests and bring Vermont’s farm-to-table ethos to life,” said Courtney Lowe, the resort’s vice president of marketing and business development.

Additional amenities include a local shuttle service and admission to Billings Farm & Museum, home to Jersey cows, draft horses, Southdown sheep and heritage chickens. (Summer rates start at $279. Resort fee: $35 per day)

Monogrammed pillowcases and airport greeters

Monogrammed pillowcase – courtesy Peninsula Beverly Hills

Monogrammed pillowcase – courtesy Peninsula Beverly Hills

The five-star Peninsula Beverly Hills pampers guests with plenty of posh perks.

A hotel greeter is stationed at Los Angeles International Airport to welcome arriving guests who have booked transfers to the hotel. “Peninsula Time” allows extremely flexible check-in and check-out times, so guests may, for example, check in at 8 a.m. and out at 10 p.m. A Rolls-Royce ferries guests to area destinations. Returning guests will find an extra perk:  monogrammed pillowcases on their beds.

Frequent guests of the Peninsula Beverly Hills may also store luggage onsite while they jet off to another city and make use of the hotel’s complimentary unpacking services when they return. (Rates start at $595. No resort fee)

Culinary classes, creative writing and charming chickens

Silkie chickens — courtesy Sunrise Springs Spa Resort

Sunrise Springs Spa Resort

Amenities at the Sunrise Springs Spa Resort in Santa Fe, New Mexico include unlimited experiential wellness activities ranging from fitness, yoga and meditation to cooking and creative writing classes and courses in making healthy beauty products.

The resort also offers guests stress-busting opportunities to hang out with puppies and with the resident flock of fluffy and friendly Silkie chickens, who have fur-like feathers. (Rates start at $265. No resort fees.)

Stargazing and snorkeling gear

Stargazing at Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii — courtesy Star Gaze Hawaii

Star Gaze Hawaii

Guests at the Fairmont Orchid, a luxury resort along the Kohala Coast on the island of Hawaii, can use complimentary snorkel equipment to spot fish and sea turtles in Pauoa Bay. Guests can also take advantage of a complimentary 45-minute photoshoot with a professional photographer. (Photo packages also can be purchased.) Complimentary star gazing sessions and classes in Hawaiian crafts and culture are also offered. (Rates start at $269. Resort fee: $35 per day).

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