When our team of incognito inspectors hit the road to evaluate the world’s top hotels, restaurants and spas for the 2014 Forbes Travel Guide Star Ratings list — which comes out Wednesday — they kept an eye out for travel trends. While we can’t reveal which properties won the coveted Five-Star, Four-Star and Recommended awards just yet, we can give you a peek at the hot new things inspectors spotted during their journeys.
One culinary trend is the abundant use of truffles, both black and white. Of course, they are in season, so top restaurants usually incorporate them around this time of year anyway. But they are all over fine-dining menus. Truffles are also considered a luxury product, so I think they’re seen as a value-added menu item.
I’ve noticed hotels providing computer cleaners and wipes. They will place either disposable wipes or a logoed one by computers and phones, which is nice.
Places also have been trying to pick up on the green juice trend hitting the country and offering things like chlorophyll to add to water, cold-pressed juices or fresh green juices. Some hotels have been doing this for a while, but it’s becoming more common.
I’m seeing check-in occurring in the guest room. It’s a convenient process that allows for privacy and means the guest doesn’t have to wait around when he arrives at the hotel. It’s one of my favorite trends.
There’s also a lack of mini-bars. Many hotels are foregoing mini-bars and are having guest rooms stocked with empty fridges for the guests to fill themselves.
In addition, I’ve noticed in-room iPads in lieu of paper binders containing hotel collateral. This is a big one. This is a nice perk because the iPads are generally stocked with additional info, such as concierge recommendations — which are especially helpful in foreign cities — and newspapers. You can order room service, schedule housekeeping and wake-up calls all without having to pick up the phone.
Several hotels I visited offered newspaper and magazine options via tablet technology as a complimentary amenity upon check-in. So, instead of two or three newspaper choices, guests could select from hundreds of publications around the globe in countless languages — all from the convenience of their guest room or the lobby of the property. It’s pretty sensible for today’s business traveler.
Visit www.forbestravelguide.com on Wednesday to see the list of 2014 Forbes Travel Guide Star Award winners.
Photos Courtesy of Dorchester Collection