How many times have you paid for a hotel stay, only to use the property as a place to lay your head at night? My recent stay at the Westin Portland Hotel reminded me that there’s so much more to a hotel than a comfy bed and clean bathroom. Here are four easy ways to get the most out of your next hotel stay.
Get The Most Out of Your Next Hotel Stay
Your hotel room is your home away from home when you’re on the road. But it can be so much more than just a shower and a pillow. Follow these tips to get the most out of your next hotel stay:;
1. Get to Know Your Concierge
Don’t ask a concierge where to go with your kids. First ask to speak to a concierge who has kids and then ask what their kids like to do. Concierge staff have been trained to know the ins and outs of their city including what to do and where to eat, but a lot of those recommendations are what they think tourists want instead of what they know kids will enjoy. I remember one time I was at a hotel waiting for my car and was looking up directions on my phone. The concierge noticed and gave me a much quicker and faster route than what my GPS showed – and his advice saved me from driving straight into a construction zone.
At the Westin Portland, all front desk staff are trained to give guests restaurant recommendations and make reservations. They can also help secure event tickets, find medical care if you have an emergency, or something as simple as letting you in on where the closest grocer or pharmacy is. Portland is an incredible foodie scene so it’s helpful to have a local share their personal preferences in addition to the “safe” touristy recommendations. They can also share the hotel’s story, which makes for a more interesting stay.
2. Ask a Bartender
So, you’ve just gotten off a plane or have been in the car with your kids for hours straight and want to relax with a cocktail in your hotel bar. A great way to learn all about the city favorites is by chatting with the hotel bartender and asking what the locals drink. Many times the in-house bar has an original “house” cocktail made with local spirits- a really great way to catch a bit of the local flavor without ever having to leave the hotel. The bartender at the Westin’s Daily Grill made me his special Moscow Mule with a cucumber muddle. It was fantastic and my recommendation for anyone in Portland.
If you do want to venture outside of the hotel, its location is perfect for parking the car and walking to downtown areas including two blocks of Portland’s famous food trucks, the Portland Art Museum, and Pioneer Courthouse Square.
3. The Art of Discovery
The Westin Portland is owned by the Provenance Group and its chairman and CEO, Gordon Sondland, is a great collector and owner of art. You’ll find several of his pieces at the hotel including a piece by Pablo Picasso in this boutique-style hotel-giving it a local flair with a special feel. If you have a QR code reader on your smartphone, kids can scan the code by each piece (there’s nearly 50 of them!) for more information about the art and artists.
Make your own discovery game out of the art in the hotel. Use the paintings on the walls or the lobby sculptures to encourage a love of art in your kids. Let the kids pick out their favorite piece, least favorite piece, weirdest piece, ugliest piece..you get the idea. Have them take pictures of the art with their smartphone or sketch the art themselves. Then, discuss. Ask their opinions and interpretations about the art and share yours. This makes for great dinner conversation later.
4. Ask for Upgrades & Rewards
At check-in, ask if a room upgrade is available. Ask if there are any special points or room night offers – the Westin offers 500 SPG points if you choose less frequent room cleaning. The Westin Portland has a full coffee station available every morning and bottles of water behind the front counter. And many hotels have a library so you can borrow, instead of buy, a book.
Check your credit card’s reward program to see if there are special offers for your hotel like double points or a discounted room night.
Taking time to call the hotel to ask a few simple questions can be invaluable when it comes to making a hotel stay more interesting. Ask, ask, ask. Hotels want you to enjoy your stay so you will return and tell your friends.