Every hotel is fighting to get the edge in the hospitality wars and, for many hoteliers, the memorable amenity is the weapon of choice. In recent years, it seems that the "signature amenity," a singular gift to clients designed to create an indelible memory, has become a staple of the luxury hotel business.
In fact, many of the hotels that offer truly bizarre amenities are on the more expensive end of the spectrum. These amenities run the gamut from the physically to intellectually stimulating, from the playful to the downright eccentric. They showcase not only the breadth of what is on offer for savvy travelers, but the diversity of travelers themselves.
Keep in mind that if these amenities are still being offered, someone is providing positive feedback.
Guests of the <a href="http://www.sixsenses.com/sixsenseszighybay/">Six Senses Hideaway at Zighy Bay in Oman</a> can arrive at the hotel in three different ways: by speedboat, by Jeep or by strapping yourself to a professional paraglider and soaring to the resort’s front steps from a nearby cliff.
The family of Rothschild giraffes living at <a href="http://giraffemanor.com/">Giraffe Manor</a> in Nairobi have been trained not to fear the guests and have developed the rather strange, if photogenic, habit of sticking their long necks in the doors and windows to say hello.
The Pet Psychic
The <a href="http://www.hoteldeluxeportland.com/">Hotel deLuxe in downtown Portland</a>, Oregon, has dedicated the entire third floor of the hotel for pets and their human travel partners. The hotel offers everything from gourmet doggie room service menus to doggie acupuncture or massages. Topping the list of services? Telephone and in-room pet psychic readings, meant to strengthen the bond between man and beast.
<a href="http://www.thedrakehotel.ca/">Toronto's Drake Hotel</a> has a rather elaborate room service menu. Food aside, the hotel offers visitors their choice of sex toys to make their stay memorable. Some toys are for single occupancy, some for double. Beyond that, travelers will have to explain themselves to the front desk.
Truffle Sniffing Dogs
Visitors to the <a href="http://www.crillonlebrave.com/">Hotel Crillon Le Brave</a> in Mont Ventoux, France can hunt for the truffles famous in the area with the help of a pack of dogs. There is, of course, a truffle cooking demonstration after the hounds find the goods.
The gigantic showers in <a href="http://www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1444">Mexico City's W Hotel </a>offer enough space for a small dance party and, rather inexplicably, bathing hammocks.
Forgot your swimsuit? <a href="http://www.standardhotels.com/">Standard hotels offer poolside vending machines</a> that sell skimpy black bikinis and retro board shorts in four styles inspired by the hotels’ locales: Los Angeles, Hollywood, Miami, and New York.
Pillow Fight Supplies
As an alternative to the usual turndown service, the <a href="http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/PalmBeach/Default.htm">Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach</a> will provide all the ingredients for the perfect pillow fight: a bag of 30 tiny silk pillows and kid-size boxing gloves, accompanied by milk and cookies.
As of late January, the Morgans Hotel Group began offering a so-called "Minibar for the Mind," a box filled with 250 conversation starters featuring quotes and questions; selected readings meant to evoke feelings of either seduction or relaxation; a blank notebook and pencil; and a book of columns written by the "faculty" of the School of Life, the group that created the boxes for the hotels. The price for such heady snacking? A cool $56.
In a sea of lovey-dovey promotions, the traditional "I Hate Valentine's Day" package at <a href="http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_guides/new_york_city?refer=CSYND-hp-amenitywatch-020911" target="_hplink">Night and The Time hotels</a> in New York stands out. For those who aren't feeling the love this February, the package includes a table for one at Upper East Side staple Serafina (with a free double shot of booze) and 24-hour access to an "adult entertainment" channel back in the room. Visitors also get black candles, a box of Kleenex, two complimentary bottles of tequila from the minibar, bottomless ice cream room service and a basket filled with break-up movies.