Image: Treetops Luxury Lodge, Rotorua, New Zealand
Treetops Lodge & Estate
A destination can leave a lasting impression on travelers, but how often do travelers get to leave a lasting impression on a destination? At New Zealand's Treetops Luxury Lodge, a tree is planted in your honor.
updated 11/4/2008 7:23:57 PM ET 2008-11-05T00:23:57

In today’s wow-their-socks-off travel industry, no act is too big or too small. “The tiniest gestures can have a grand effect,” says Donna Thomas, president of the Pennsylvania-based New Zealand Travel Inc. “If we are to spend [the time and money to travel], we want the wow experience.” From large, luxury hotel chains to small B&Bs, she says, most properties know the future is in the details.

In Singapore's business district, the 40-room Naumi Hotel devotes an entire floor to female travelers. Fashion magazines, aromatherapy and all-natural products—make-up remover, toner and cleanser from Aesop—fill the feminine-minded rooms. A security door makes sure the floor is restricted to women only, and an all-female staff fusses over guests' every need.

Across the board, the industry has moved from hotel staff filling requests to anticipating guests' needs. The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi goes one step further: A week-long $1 million stay includes a private jet for day trips. One jaunt goes to Iran, where guests can ensure that a handmade Persian carpet from well-known craftsmen is done to their tastes. That’s it, you ask? Of course not. Another trip goes to the Dead Sea, Jordan, where guests can experience the sea and have spa treatments; another skips to Bahrain, where the area's legendary pearls can be hand-designed into jewelry of the traveler's design.

On Australia’s Hamilton Island, Qualia resort hands over the keys to two-seater electric golf buggies, the transportation of choice on this rustic isle in the Great Barrier Reef. The buggies are a hot commodity on the island during peak seasons, but Qualia guests get one as part of their reservation. After walks on the bush trails or cuddling with koalas, the buggies can zip visitors to any of the island's dozen restaurants.

Other accommodations offer transportation using physical strength over electricity. Anatara Golden Triangle, Thailand, has resident elephants available for hire. Sunrise rides through rice paddies and dips in the river are both elephant and guest favorites. The Grand Hotel in northern Michigan transports guests from the ferry boat landing or island airport to the hotel with a team of horses driving a stately covered coach.

It's the unique experiences that make properties popular, says Angela Grainger, agency manager at Panorama Travel in Wilsonville, Ore. "Sometimes people can't pinpoint why they love a hotel, but they know they only want to stay there," she says. It's the smallest details that create that feeling. "It's about making the experience so spectacular that [guests] talk about it."

For Grainger, that experience comes at Little Beaver Creek Ranch in British Columbia where three log lodges are situated around a lake and a 100-year-old main house in Canada's wild west. But guests are by no means roughing it. A five-course dinner in the main house starts with a personal note written to each guest from the chef. At meal's end, they may find their names hand-scrolled in chocolate around the dessert. "It's just a little thing," Grainger says, "but the impact is huge."

Image: Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach, Fla.
Mark Weiland
For all those times guests wanted to create a music-video-worthy pillow fight in their hotel room, the Ritz in Palm Beach will provide the ammunition offering two versions of "Pillow Games".
The Four Seasons group is providing more villas and private residences at properties around the world for something more special and more private than "just" the penthouse suite. But the real perk is the opportunity to have the space and freedom of a home coupled with the attention of a hotel staff. Villa dwellers can have the refrigerator and kitchen shelves stocked with their favorite foods and drinks before they cross the threshold. Literally, the comforts of home.

Only the biggest divas expect constant pampering and attention, Grainger says. The details, she's noticed, are for everyone else—the traveling majority. "These kinds of things are for the everyday person who is discerning and wants something special." See our slideshow for where to find them.


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