In the lap of luxury

Thomas Mathes knows how to welcome his guests

Opting for a luxury hotel stay means never having to compromise on comfort and convenience. The environment should be warm and inviting, with guests feeling secure in having all their needs and expectations met. “A luxury hotel offers anticipatory service and lavish accommodations. Every detail exudes quality, from the custom-tailored services to the high-end linens. It is the sensory experience that defines ‘luxury,’” explains Thomas Mathes, 31, a 13-year veteran of the hospitality industry and the general manager of The Muse New York, a Kimpton Hotel.

Luxury status can be objectively based on a four or more Diamond or Star rating–an evaluation from AAA or the Mobil Travel Guide, respectively. But there’s so much more: “A luxury guest room should be well-appointed with everything from the latest technology to indulgent honor bars,” offers Mathes. “Look for exceptional bath amenities and the finest quality linens like goose down comforters and a ‘triple-sheeted’ bed [hotel-speak for the number of sheets between the mattress and the top layer of the bed].”

The concierge, a French term derived from comte des cierges, or “keeper of the candles,” at luxury properties provides a variety of services, such as specific recommendations to premier dining and entertainment options and assistance in securing the best tables or show tickets.

“For the most discerning guests at super high-end hotels, butlers carry pagers and cell phones and are on call 24/7–from helping you tie your shoes to troubleshooting your computer’s virtual private network. Other luxury amenities include personal shoppers and couriers, in-room spa services, or a helicopter to and from the airport.”

Before you decide on a place to stay, you have to assess your needs. “Then, follow up with recommendations from friends, travel guides, and the Internet,” suggests Mathes. Review photos of the guest rooms and check their offerings against your “must-have” amenities. Mathes often uses TripAdvisor.com.

How much will all this luxury cost? “In the U.S., you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $1,500 per night for standard deluxe accommodations [depending on the city and amenities] and upward of $15,000 for a suite.” The Muse is currently working on a package to custom build a room at a price of $100,000. “I don’t think that has been done yet,” Mathes says. “The possibilities are endless.”

AUGUST 2007

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