tExtravagant room gadgets, discounts for eco-conscious guests and Smart Cars for shopping are among some of the coolest new ideas at luxury hotels.

Extravagance at your fingertips

Peninsula Hotels is introducing nail-dryers into rooms. The Storrier in Potts Point already has them.

Many hotels have their own scents and candles but Le Bristol in Paris went one step further and employed notable "nose" Jean Michel Duriez, the head perfumer at La Maison Jean Patou Paris, for theirs.

Connections on the house

Sheraton Hotels research shows that 70 per cent of Australians travelling for pleasure feel compelled to check emails while on the move.

To that end, Sheraton has introduced Link@Sheraton, 24-hour, lobby-based communication centres with fixed terminals and wi-fi for laptops. The centres also have widescreen plasma televisions, international newspapers and round-the-clock refreshments, just like in the executive lounges. And it's free. Should be more of it.

But wait, there's more

The guests, will be offered lots of lovely extras to make you feel you got value for money when you paid the bill.
It might be a welcoming bottle of wine and a basket of fruit, the kind of thing usually reserved for VIPs, in your room on arrival. Or even access to the executive lounge and all that entails, like cocktails and free breakfasts.

A warmer welcome

"Modern communication means that registration can be completed anywhere," chief executive and general manager of the Melbourne hotel David Perry says. Such a prominent space is best used as a bar and lounge, he says, which is what the lobby will be when the Windsor makeover is complete in two years.

Problem solved

The Langham Hotel group - with hotels in Melbourne, London, Boston, Pasadena, Auckland and Hong Kong - has introduced what it is calling service stylists into its public areas. In layman's terms, the service stylists are customer-service staff with the people skills and wherewithal to resolve difficulties.

Their brief is twofold: make guests feel welcome and solve any problems they might have. It could be as simple as showing a new chum the way to the spa or telling a family where to buy the best ice-cream in town. Or it might be sorting and then printing out a new flight booking for a harassed business traveller.

Greener with envy

The hotel industry has gone far beyond recycling towels. The next stage will be offering a discount to those who choose to reuse. The Langham Auckland is doing it already.

Le Bristol, long regarded as one of the top-six elite hotels in Paris, introduced a Smart Car for its guests to go shopping.

Westin is now offering healthy foods under the name of SuperFoods, a brand from the US known for its use of grains, fruit and vegetables.

Art for art's sake

Art is no longer mere decoration but a selling point.

A Hotels Group, the creators of The Storrier, are planning a series of hotels using the names and works of some of Australia's most famous artists including Brett Whiteley, David Larwill, Jasper Knight, John Olsen and Jeffrey Smart.

The Le Meridien chain of hotels has appointed a full-time cultural curator in Jerome Sans. And at Le Meridien Ra, 40 minutes outside Barcelona, Moroccan artist Younes Rahmoun has turned the hotel's facade into an art installation with a glass composition of 77 flowers.

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