Nice hotel, great perks: How to make the most of freebies that come with your stay

Do not skip happy hour, advises Ms Lisa Holladay, global brand leader for the Ritz-Carlton, St Regis and Bulgari hotels. Most St Regis hotels, for example, saber a bottle of champagne every evening in their lobby bars for guests.
Do not skip happy hour, advises Ms Lisa Holladay, global brand leader for the Ritz-Carlton, St Regis and Bulgari hotels. Most St Regis hotels, for example, saber a bottle of champagne every evening in their lobby bars for guests.PHOTO: NYT

(THE NEW YORK TIMES) - Forget room service, spa treatments and other for-charge amenities available at most upscale hotels – these properties have plenty of free amenities that many guests do not take advantage of and may not even know about, said Ms Lisa Holladay, global brand leader for the Ritz-Carlton, St Regis and Bulgari hotels.  

“You’re spending your valuable money to stay at a nice hotel, so why not enhance that stay by taking advantage of all the property has to offer?” she said.  

Here is Ms Holladay’s advice on tapping a hotel’s free amenities.  

GO TO HAPPY HOUR

Many high-end hotels offer free alcoholic beverages to their guests in the evening. The drinks vary: Most St Regis hotels, for example, saber a bottle of champagne every evening in their lobby bars and offer a glass to guests who are present for the ritual, while some Ritz-Carltons serve locally influenced cocktails in their lobbies. Also, all Kimpton hotels have a wine hour every evening, when guests are served wine and beer. Ask your hotel’s concierge staff about the free drinks the property may offer.  

HITCH A RIDE

Luxury hotels often have a house car to shuttle guests to restaurants, museums and other attractions around town for free. These cars are usually stylish: The house car at the St Regis New York, for example, is a Bentley, while the three 1 Hotels – Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, in New York City, and South Beach, in Miami – have Teslas. Keep in mind, Ms Holladay said, that house cars are typically available on a first-come-first-served basis. In addition to having house cars, a growing number of hotels today also lend guests bikes for no charge.  

DO NOT PACK TOO MANY TOILETRIES

Your hotel room’s bathroom is stocked with standard grooming products, such as shampoo and soap, but Ms Holladay said that many high-end hotels have additional products available upon request through housekeeping. Ms Holladay always relies on her hotel’s dental kit, which usually comprises a toothbrush, floss and mouthwash. Other items your property may have on hand include hypoallergenic skin products, deodorant and a nail kit with clippers. Also, most resorts provide free sunscreen by their pools or at the entrance to their beaches.  

Another tip: Hotel spas often offer free samples of the pricey skincare lines they sell and even have a makeup area in their retail section where guests can try out sample cosmetics.  

MAKE TIME TO WORK OUT

Do not be quick to dismiss your hotel’s gym in favour of a workout at a local exercise studio, Ms Holladay said. Classes at these studios are often expensive, and your property’s gym may have an equally enticing line-up of classes. “Hotels are increasingly recognising that fitness is a top priority for their guests and are investing money bringing in top instructors from popular spin, pilates, yoga and boot-camp studios,” she said. Also, your hotel’s gym is likely to offer free bottled water and fruit; some gyms even have free juices and trail mixes.