Luxury hotels become more feminine

Whether it is the introduction of dedicated ladies’ packages, allocating an entire floor to female travellers, introducing designer suites of major fashion brands, running advertising campaigns specifically targetting female traveller – nowadays, luxury hoteliers seem to have entered a ”ladies’ affair frenzy”.

Dorchester Collection is one of the high end hospitality players to have created an entire ladies’ branding for its hotels. With the exception of three locations (45 Park Lane in London, Coworth Park in Ascot and Le Richemond in Geneva), all Dorchester Collection hotels display elaborate fashion pictorials of beautiful models, depicting a specific mood for each hotel. The shooting of the last episode of the hugely successful Sex and the City television series at the Plaza Athenee in Paris, three years ago, must have played an important part in the new trend embraced by the Dorchester Collection. Recently, the advertising campaign for the re-opening of the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles featured a fashion atmosphere photo of a model in a serene garden setting entitled ””A legend reborn”. A making of video of the photo shoot complemented the print advertising.

American luxury hotel chain St Regis runs a dedicated lifestyle programme entitled Aficionado (connaisseur in English) which features special offers at its hotels divided on several categories including fashion & design, arts & culture, SPA & relaxation etc. Not surprinsingly, of the eight special packages featured in the fashion & design section, seven packages are dedicated to female travellers. These include an exclusive visit to the showroom and ateliers of San Francisco renowned jeweller Wilkes Bashford, a tour of the Palazzo Fendi escorted by a Fendi specialist, while in Rome or breakfast featuring items from Julia Child’s recipes, while in Washington.

Shangri-La‘s ”It’s in our nature” campaign launched earlier this year went from a creative concept featuring a man lost in the woods amidts a snow storm, was saved from freezing to death by wolves to a new concept launched this Fall, featuring an Asian female model with flowers in a fashion mood.

Even independent hoteliers such as the heritage golf resort of Gleneagles seem to have embraced a more feminine approach. The latest print campaign by the Gleneagles Hotel is entitled ”Gleneagles by Train” depicting a female model dressed in a retro attire and surrounded by many suitcases in a train station.

LOEWS Hotel in Santa Monica has come up with an ingenious service dedicated to female travellers. By teaming up with Fred Segal, a shopping institution in Los Angeles, LOEWS has created a lending library of coll fashion essentials, for those who have forgotten to pack them. The 50-strong catalogue which includes necklaces, belts, foldable sunglasses and woven leather clutch bags, among many other accessories is available for guests staying in Ocean Front Suites.

But why would hoteliers focus so much on female consumers? Besides the obvious explanation that women are decision makers when it comes to leisure travel, on a romantic weekend or a family trip, women travellers have been taking more purpose leisure trips, especially SPA and shopping. With the ongoing financial crisis and corporations reducing travel costs, targetting female travellers is a long term strategic approach for luxury hotels.

Oliver Petcu