The soft cotton robe, the humble shoehorn, and the bathroom swag—if before they were luxury items, today they have become standard hotel amenities. They have become so common that guests hardly see them as items of indulgence any longer.

So what has replaced these amenities? Customizable amenities such as a range of pillows and room scents to choose from, a Moët vending machine, and a pet food menu, among others.

Yes, hotels continue to up the ante by coming up with features and privileges that can easily lure in guests. It’s called the amenity creep, industry jargon for the latest accessories to address a guest’s every desire.

Today’s whims have gone beyond the mini bar and toiletry shelf, as they now attend to people’s core needs, including safety, comfort, empowerment, and personal gratification, to achieve a rewarding experience worthy of customer loyalty.

On the local front, hotels are not solely relying on equipped gyms and swimming pools to entertain guests. They have devised creative ways within the compound that make staycations a lot more worthwhile.

“Home” school

A special cooking class with chef Violet Oon as part of your hotel's amenities? Sign us up
Chef Violet Oon and her plate of pepper prawns

Recognizing people’s wide interest in anything culinary whenever they travel, Discovery Primea has launched the Hub Series, a collection of culinary experiences that inspire and bring people together as they delve deeper into the world of food. With this program, hotel guests can enlist in activities such as a special cooking class hosted by chefs like Violet Oon, a renowned and respected food journalist, chef, and restaurateur.

In the first of many exciting installments of The Hub Series, Oon demonstrated how to prepare three traditional Singaporean favorites: lemongrass steamed fish, pepper prawns, and chili crab. Other sessions included a knife skills class, a Colombian coffee cupping session, and wine tastings, plus seminars on sustainable seafood and even home gardening.

According to Discovery Primea’s director of marketing communications Margaux Hontiveros, “We started The Hub Series to share our appetite for discovery. We want to bring our guests inside the kitchen, behind the bar, to the farms, and share in our passions and what drives our chefs, bartenders, farmers, and partners to create.”

Art appreciation

Artworks such as "The Explorers" by Gerry Joquico are considered one of Raffles Hotels' prized amenities
“The Explorers” by Gerry Joquico

Hardly anyone knows this, but Raffles Makati is actually one big museum. Similar to its international branches, the Makati luxury suite commissioned Filipino artists to produce original works that beautifully illustrate local culture and artistry. It houses 1,800 contemporary Filipino art scattered everywhere, from the rooms to the hallways and public spaces.

Upon entry, sculptor Daniel de la Cruz’s handcrafted metallic woman’s body shaped into a violin greets guests. Across the elevators is a sizeable oil painting representing Old World travel and trade in the Philippines entitled “The Explorer” by Gerry Joquico. Each floor showcases a different artist tasked to fill the walls and spaces with stunning pieces. Included in the roster are Jojo Austria with his modern urban landscape paintings, Max Balatbat and his acrylic on canvas abstract artworks, and Van Tuico with his dreamy pieces.

Even the bars were not spared. At the Writers Bar, you can find six installments of acrylic on canvas illustrating Filipino-style courtship called “Serenade.” These were done for Raffles Makati by Anthony Palomo. At the Long Bar, Palomo worked with Sherwin Gonzalez on a local version of the “Singapore Sling,” a popular cocktail that originated in Raffles Singapore.

To fully appreciate the art and the story behind each piece, guests can take the Raffles Makati’s 45-minute Art Concierge tour, where an in-house staff member will introduce them to select pieces in and around the compound.

Kid-friendly amenities

"How to Fly Your Dragon" attraction at DreamPlay by DreamWorks
“How to Fly Your Dragon” attraction at DreamPlay by DreamWorks

Even kids get their own amenities. A more attractive and entertaining alternative to the typical playroom is DreamPlay by DreamWorks at the luxury integrated resort City of Dreams Manila. It is the world’s first indoor interactive creativity center inspired by animated films like “Kung Fu Panda,” “Shrek,” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”

Within the 5,000-sq.m playground, both children and children-at-heart alike can produce their own 3D-animated movies, bake gingerbread cookies in scheduled classes, and build their own boats. Available activities range from the physically challenging like wall climbing or traversing a rope course to the more imaginative such as creative storytelling sessions or simply interacting and taking photos with Dreamworks characters Shrek, Princess Fiona, Alex the Lion, and Puss in Boots.

DreamPlay is not just a way to keep kids entertained and occupied, it also promotes the concept of “learning through play,” ensuring that the activities at their disposal are educational and informative.

The quality of the hotel experience has vastly improved over the course of five years. What used to be good selling points like free Wi-Fi and flat screen TVs have become standard for guests. With new kinds of amenities catering to their core needs, guests feel that they’re getting better value during their stay. And they don’t mind paying extra for it.

Originally published in F&B Report Vol. 15 No. 4