God is in the Amenities

By Gretchen Kelly

The day that the Four Seasons pulled its Bulgari Green Tea amenities off its hotel bathroom shelves was a dark day for me. The reason was clear – Bulgari had just opened it’s own luxury hotel. It took me a while to get used to seeing L’Occitane in its place and frankly, I’ve never quite recovered from the loss of those fabulous fizzy bathtub cubes.

To paraphrase a famous architect, God is in the amenities.

What hotels should realize is that for most women travelers (and a lot of “metrosexual” men, too) a fine French milled soap and a great luxury shampoo work miracles and go a long way in keeping customers loyal. Having a bad hair day on a holiday doesn’t make your stay a brighter and happier one. The difference between luxuriating in your bath with pampering products and slapping on a cheap shampoo and getting a rash from a harsh soap is huge.

Sometimes when a hotel chain picks a brand you don’t love it can affect your entire stay.

Neutrogena is now the brand of almost all the Westin Hotels I’ve ever stayed in. It’s hypoallergenic, yes, but it’s harsh and detergent-like and just doesn’t feel like luxury to me. So if I had a choice of staying in a Westin or a chain that supplied a higher level of luxury amenities, I’d pick the latter. One of the worst offenders are German hotels (and some Italian) that use those all inclusive, soap and shampoo dispensing bottles bolted to the shower wall. No, we actually would not want to steal such a shabby excuse for an amenity, so you can dispense with the deadbolts.

Here are some traveler’s classics to look out for and the hotels that are smart enough to use them:

Holm House Hotel, Wales – Jo Malone Grapefruit. Heavenly scent, unisex but sexy. The bath oil can be used as perfume body oil. The product comes in a traveler’s amenity kit too, from the Jo Malone shops around the world.

GLA International – Contemporel, fine bespoke bath products for hotels like Dublin’s Clarence and the Cadogan in London.

Molton Brown – UK-made luxury products on offer in selected W hotels and in amenity kits on board Virgin Atlantic.

Gilcrest and Soames – The Carlton Hotel, New York

Aveda – The W New Orleans. While some hotels are afraid of their heady scent and natural oils, they remain one of the most popular luxury hotel brands.

Accor Hotels France – Roger & Gallet in the luxury properties.

My advice to singleminded business travelers is this. Call the hotel you’ll be staying at and ask them what brand they use. If you don’t like it, bring your own in small travel sizes or in those little clear TSA-approved bottles you can get in local drug stores in clear plastic quart-sized bags.

And if you love the products you find in a particular hotel, tell the management. That way the next time you check in, your favorite body crème will still be waiting for you.

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