Xenia Hotels & Resorts Finalizes Sale of Lorien Hotel & Spa for Corporate Purposes

Xenia Hotels & Resorts Finalizes Sale of Lorien Hotel & Spa for Corporate Purposes

ORLANDO, Fla., July 9, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Xenia Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: XHR) (“Xenia” or the “Company”) today announced it has completed the disposition of the 107-room Lorien Hotel & Spa in Alexandria, VA, for $30 million, or approximately $280,000 per key. The sale price represents a 21.3x multiple and a 3.1% capitalization rate on Hotel EBITDA and Net Operating Income for the trailing twelve months ended May 31, 2024, respectively.

Proceeds will be utilized for general corporate purposes, which may include share repurchases, debt repayment, capital expenditures and acquisitions consistent with the Company’s long-term strategy.

About Xenia Hotels & Resorts, Inc.
Xenia Hotels & Resorts, Inc. is a self-advised and self-administered REIT that invests in uniquely positioned luxury and upper upscale hotels and resorts with a focus on the top 25 lodging markets as well as key leisure destinations in the United States. The Company owns 31 hotels comprising 9,408 rooms across 14 states. Xenia’s hotels are in the luxury and upper upscale segments, and operated and/or licensed by industry leaders such as Marriott, Hyatt, Kimpton, Fairmont, Loews, Hilton, and The Kessler Collection. For more information on Xenia’s business, refer to the Company website at www.xeniareit.com.

For additional information or to receive press releases via email, please visit our website at
www.xeniareit.com

SOURCE Xenia Hotels & Resorts, Inc.

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Preferred Hotels & Resorts Adds New Member Properties to its Legend Collection

Preferred Hotels & Resorts Adds New Member Properties to its Legend Collection

Preferred Hotels & Resorts has announced that its Legend Collection has reached over 100 member properties. From palace hotels in India to coastal resorts in California, each of these properties provide custom-curated guest experiences. Legendary Collection members include The Mark (New York, NY), Post Ranch Inn (Big Sur, CA), Salamander Middleburg (Middleburg, VA), Passalacqua (Lake Como, Italy), The Sanchaya (Bintan, Indonesia), The Alpina Gstaad (Switzerland), The Fullerton Bay Hotel (Singapore), Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti (Pinzolo, Italy), Hotel Unique (São Paulo, Brazil) and The Leela Palace Hotels in Udaipur and Jaipur (Rajasthan, India), among others.

“I am honored to represent so many exceptional properties across the globe. This milestone also coincides with the 20th anniversary of my family’s ownership—marking two decades of believing in the spirit of travel and independent hospitality,” said Lindsey Ueberroth, CEO of Preferred Hotels & Resorts.

The Legend Collection continues to see strong global growth as it surpasses 100 members. The latest properties to debut in the Legend portfolio include:

  • The Hotel Maria (Helsinki, Finland) – Opened December 2023
  • Grand Velas Boutique Los Cabos (Mexico) – Opened December 2023
  • The Global Ambassador (Phoenix, AZ) – Opened December 2023
  • The Newman (London, U.K.) – Opening spring 2025

Through its four global collections—Legend, L.V.X., Lifestyle and Preferred Residences—Preferred Hotels & Resorts connects travelers to luxury hospitality experiences. Travelers can book via the Preferred brand website, while travel advisors can book client stays via GDS using the “PH” and “PV” chain codes.

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“Hotels Strive to Adhere to California’s Junk Fee Laws for Pricing Transparency and Compliance”

"Hotels Strive to Adhere to California's Junk Fee Laws for Pricing Transparency and Compliance"

Come July 1, U.S. hotels will need to comply with a California state law that requires upfront disclosure of the total cost — including all mandatory fees — of hotel rooms, among other travel services like short-term rentals and cruises.

California Senate Bill 478 was designed to expose hidden “junk fees,” and marks a shift toward transparency about non-optional charges, including resort, destination, and parking or facility charges. A similar law, AB 537, creates the same restriction to let consumers do quick and accurate cost comparisons upfront.

The laws pose a compliance challenge for hotel operators selling directly and through third parties like Google and online travel agencies.

“We’re hearing from, hotels, large and small, varying levels of comfort with the implementation deadline looming,” said A.J. Rossitto, the advocacy director of the California Hotel and Lodging Association. “Definitely some implementation pains as folks are getting it sorted out, and it’s kind of a race to the finish at this point.”

California Hotel Operators Get on Board

Maulik Pandya, whose management company runs hotels in California, said his properties are now compliant after a week-and-a-half of work.

For example, Pandya runs an independent property on Route 66 in Victorville called GT Hotels Inn & Suites Extended Stay.

“I had to make sure all the OTAs [online travel agencies] and our own website list all the mandatory fees, mainly a resort fee,” Pandya said. “I updated all the rates and codes in the property management system, the revenue management system, the channel manager, and all the OTA extranets.”

Updating rates on countless smaller online travel agencies has been the biggest hurdle for some owners.

“It was straightforward to update the rates in the owner portals for main brands like Expedia and Booking.com,” Pandya said. “But I don’t have portal access for all the subsidiary brands of Expedia Group, like Hotwire, and of Booking Holdings, like Agoda. Smaller OTAs keep displaying the wrong rates, and I’ve had to call to try to get things updated, and it’s been frustrating.”

Tech Is Mostly Not a Problem

Last-minute hiccups aside, most hotel owners don’t anticipate a problem on July 1, according to Laura Lee Blake, president and CEO of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) — whose 20,000 members own about 60% of the country’s hotels.

Broadly speaking, small and large hoteliers have the existing tech tools to display advertised prices in compliance with the law.

“Getting into compliance with the California regulations should not be an issue for most hotels, even independent ones,” said Sebastien Leitner, vice president of partnerships at Cloudbeds, a property management system. “Transparent pricing is already standard in Europe — including showing the total cost to travelers for a stay — so any hotel technology platform serving a global market would already have the capability to comply with these regulations.”

However, for smaller operators like Pandya, the struggle is real.

“As a generalization, I don’t believe independent hotels are ready to be in compliance because independent hotels operate with more constrained budgets,” said Mark S. Adams, a partner at the California law firm Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell (JMBM).

“Also, smaller operators don’t seem to be fully aware of the new law and its requirements,” Adams said.

Even especially conscientious operators face headaches.

“There are also a few online travel sites like Skyscanner or the app Super.com where there’s no portal access for owners, and I am trying to navigate how to get our rates to correctly display as we don’t know where they’re getting their feeds for rates,” Pandya said.

A National Ripple Effect?

California’s move could be the first domino in a nationwide shift toward pricing transparency. Minnesota has already passed similar legislation.

Wary of a patchwork of state regulations, the American Hotels & Lodging Association is pushing for federal standardization.

The hotel industry broadly prefers that the federal government step in with nationwide regulations to streamline operational challenges.

In October, President Biden announced efforts to address junk fees. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a rule to ban misrepresentations of total costs. In February, the American Hotel and Lodging Association submitted a letter on the FTC’s proposed rule, which remains under consideration along with 12,000 other comments.

A National Solution?

Meanwhile, the main national effort against junk fees came earlier this month when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill for essentially a national version of California’s law.

“Rep. Kim is thrilled that the No Hidden Fees Act passed the House and hopeful for swift passage in the Senate to provide cost transparency as families budget for trips,” said a spokesperson for Representative Young Kim of California, who co-sponsored the House bill. 

However, a counterpart piece of legislation in the Senate has stalled. The Hotel Fees Transparency Act (2498) introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) in the Senate a year ago would require anyone advertising a hotel room or a short-term rental to clearly show, upfront, the final price a customer would pay to book lodging. It would make the Federal Trade Commission responsible for pursuing violations.

Optimism for a Nationwide Fee Law

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, where it has apparently stalled. Senator Klobuchar’s press office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We’re hoping to avoid having multiple standards across multiple states,” said Rossitto of the California hotel lobby. “When you create a patchwork of statutes that don’t align, implementation becomes much more difficult, especially if you’re a hotel owner with assets in multiple states and you have to create customized solutions and processes.”

A key difference between the Senate and House bills is that the Senate has a provision that requires hotel companies to share accurate rate information with online players. That’s according to Laura Knapp Chadwick, president and CEO of the Travel Tech Association, which has helped work on the Senate bill.

Chadwick said the Senate bill currently also requires intermediaries, such as online travel agencies, to have a clear way for hoteliers to complain if something needs fixing, such as the accidental display of so-called rogue rates.

“For 916 to move forward, it will need to be reported out of the committee and then passed by the full Senate before being reconciled with any House versions and sent to the President for signing,” said Adams of JMBM. “That’s a lot.”

Yet others say there are reasons for optimism a national law will get passed.

“All the key players support it, and it’s bipartisan, so we are very optimistic a bill will come out of reconciliation by the close of the [legislative] session,” Chadwick said.

Supporters include hotel groups like Hilton.

“We support legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House to establish a uniform standard for mandatory fee display across the entire industry – from hotels to online travel agencies to metasearch sites and short-term rental platforms,” a Hilton spokesperson said. “We continue to work with the federal bill sponsors to ensure any final legislation that may be signed into law captures this standard.”

Transparency Is the New Black

A hotel era of hidden fees may be ending, as we previewed it might in Skift’s Megatrends for 2024. Non-compliance with California’s legislation has a steep cost: $1,000 per infraction, plus potential additional damages and legal fees.

California’s move may also force some hotels to rethink their pricing strategies and potentially squeeze margins for those who relied heavily on hidden fees. Skift will watch the shake-out after July 1.

For now, most hotel owners seem to be embracing a level playing field.

“We’re all in agreement that it makes sense that guests should know up-front what they will be paying,” said Blake of AAHOA. “Everybody hates surprises.”

Major Hotel Groups Say They’re Ready

Major hotel chains, including Choice Hotels, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels, Marriott, MGM Resorts, Sonesta, and Wyndham have adjusted their pricing systems to comply with the new law. We asked if they felt ready for the July 1 deadline, and here’s what Skift heard back.

  • Marriott: “We are committed to providing customers with clear and transparent pricing and have long been focused on ensuring that any mandatory fees charged by hotels are clearly stated prior to booking,” a spokesperson said. “In May 2023, we updated the room rate display on Marriott.com and our app to include the mandatory fees in the initial display of price, leading the industry on this important issue. We also provide mandatory fee information to our distribution partners, improving the customer search experience broadly.”
  • Hilton: “We have implemented enhancements to Hilton’s websites and apps to ensure mandatory fees are displayed upfront,” a spokesperson said.
  • Hyatt: “The most prominent rate shown throughout the booking process on Hyatt channels for properties in the Americas currently includes both the room rate and any resort or destination fees implemented by hotels,” a spokesperson said. “Hyatt complies with all local consumer regulations and is working to display any additional mandatory fees (excluding government-imposed taxes or fees) by July 1, 2024.”
  • Wyndham: “Mandatory resort fees are not common in our economy and midscale core, but when they are charged, they are clearly and prominently displayed prior to completion of booking,” a spokesperson said. “We are committed to price transparency and ensuring compliance with all upcoming laws and regulations.”
  • Choice Hotels: “We’re committed to making sure that any resort or other automatic fees charged by hotels in the U.S. are disclosed through our booking channels. Consistent with guidance from the State Attorneys General, Choice discloses such fees, with the total room price displayed on our web pages throughout the booking journey. As a result, we are fully compliant ahead of the State of California’s new law, as well as the proposed FTC rule, should it become final.”

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“Marriott’s Tina Edmundson Discusses the Future of Luxury Travel: Hotels, Yachts, Chatbots, and Trends in Luxury Hospitality”

"Marriott's Tina Edmundson Discusses the Future of Luxury Travel: Hotels, Yachts, Chatbots, and Trends in Luxury Hospitality"

As the newly appointed President of Luxury at Marriott International, Edmundson reveals what’s next for the world’s largest hotel operator.

When it comes to C-Suite leadership in hospitality, Tina Edmundson is a name you need to know. Clocking more than 16 years at Marriott, she joined amid the company’s 2016 acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, making it the largest hotel company in the world. It now comprises 30 brands, and operates approximately 9,000 properties.

In a brick and mortar business, it’s hard to see how Marriott could get much bigger. That’s where luxury steps in. It’s seen as the ‘bright spot’ growth engine in hospitality, which puts Edmundson, promoted last year to become Marriott’s President of Luxury, squarely in the hot seat. She now oversees eight brands, including St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Bulgari Hotels, Edition, Luxury Collection, JW Marriott, and W Hotels.

Raised in Mumbai, India, Edmundson graduated with a finance degree from the University of Bombay, and then moved to the U.S. to pursue her MBA in hotel and restaurant administration at the University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton college. Having worked in hospitality all her life, she’s seen just about everything there is to see in the hotel business. In this interview, she shares her outlook for the future of luxury travel:


What are three major trends shaping your business?

It sounds cliché at this point, but the pandemic changed everything. People shifted their mindset around travel. Bucket lists became to-do lists. We’re not waiting, because we don’t know what the future holds.

With that, wellness travel has become so important. I’m not just talking about spas; I’m talking about holistic wellbeing — mind, body and soul. If they’re working and traveling, consumers want to blend both work and wellness. They want to make sure that from a nutrition, movement and meditation perspective that they have facilities, and we have hotels that do that quite well. We have a hotel in Cabo, for example, called the Ritz Carlton Zadún. They have this great experience where they provide ancient healing, spa rituals, and mindful practices. Guests can go there and get all of that, but also just be on the beach with their family.

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Sustainability is also critically important. So, the second major trend is what we call ethical escapes, where the customer is interested in sustainable practices. They want to do business with companies that give back to the environment and the community. Particularly Gen Z and millennials, they’re much more in-tune to that trend and it’s shaping their choices.

Do customers just say they want sustainability, or are they really spending money on it?

There are two parts to this. One is, the individual traveler is hard to pin down. Because they say things like: I want low flow showers, but they really don’t. They want a good shower. So that part is hard to track. What we are seeing, though, is clear demand from group customers. More often than not, I would say 80% of the time, that when a company is sourcing a group booking, it will ask for a report card on the sustainability practices of that hotel. So the hotels are incentivized to do it.

The third trend is experiential travel. Customers want more than just average F&B and a nice room; they’re looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences and events that are unavailable elsewhere. For instance, we do pop-ups with fashion brands. The W Verbier hotel had a Valentino pop-up over Christmas time, which was wonderful because Valentino got to showcase their spring line. The St Regis in Venice did a partnership with Ginori 1735 during the Venice Film Festival last year, and they took over the garden overlooking the Grand Canal. It was just stunning.

Are you seeing big moves into ultra-luxury?

Absolutely. We’re seeing a lot of interest, and it’s become a really important asset class from an investor perspective. It’s why we launched the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Our first vessel, Evrima, has been sailing for over a year. It’s effectively a Ritz Carlton at sea and it is all-inclusive. Our second yacht, Ilma, will set sail in September. The third will come on board in July 2025. Getting into the ultra luxury yachting space has been quite interesting for us, because 50% of the customers on our yacht are actually new to cruising.

Cruising is a big choice for Marriott; but this is not a mega cruise ship.

Right. At 149 keys, the most people you can have on the ship is 300. And it’s totally manageable, because the vessel is not dense at all. You can always find a quiet place to read a book and relax, or whatever. We’re super excited about that.

Another growth area is adventure travel, which is lodges and tented camps. These are the bucket list trips people are finally taking. We just opened our JW Marriott Masai Mara earlier this year, and we have several others signed as well.

Your partnership with Bulgari is another ultra-luxury move, no?

The partnership with Bulgari happened more than 20 years ago, before my time. But it’s been a wonderful venture; It’s their brand, their vision and design, but we manage the hotels. Bulgari is growing, which, to your point on ultra luxury, has become even more important. In that vein, we also have a brand called the Ritz Carlton Reserve, with seven open hotels in exotic, far flung places. The most recent one we opened is in Saudi Arabia, called Nujuma. The hotels tend to be on the smaller side; no more than 75 to 80 rooms or suites with extensive wellness facilities and a very high level of service.

Where in the world do you see the most promising growth opportunities?

In the luxury group, we have 513 open and operating luxury hotels, with 234 hotels in the pipeline. From a growth perspective, it’s an exciting time. We still see opportunity in primary markets, because each of our brands serve a different purpose for a traveler. (You go to W for a different reason than a Ritz Carlton.) But secondary markets have become quite interesting, like Charlotte, Savannah, Austin. It doesn’t always have to be New York and London and Tokyo. Because the customer is also visiting Kyoto and Nikko. We monitor demand and the developers are as well. If the secondary market can support those rates and that type of customer — then we should have product for that.

Is it growth for growth’s sake?

No. Well, we’re a growth company. We just are. But in luxury, it is not growth for growth’s sake. It is measured and considered and it has to match the brand that we’re putting forward. Otherwise, I think you’re going to disappoint the customer. We are quite customer-centric, making sure that we are growing in places our customer wants to be.

How do you modernize a traditional luxury hotel stay?

To me, number one is being thoughtful about design and architecture. So we have a list of approved designers and architects that we constantly vet to make sure that we are providing physical environments for our guests that are quite appealing.

The second is immersive programming. What is really interesting about where this particular hotel is located and how hotels actually help a guest culturally immerse in that locality? We’ve got tons of examples. In Edition hotels, we have directors of culture and entertainment who are completely connected to the locale, and are able to bring in lectures or local artists to enhance the guest experience. And then finally, it’s about simplifying the guest experience by removing friction through technology — whether it’s Mobile Key or allowing people to chat on the app. Because a lot of people don’t like to talk anymore!

So, it’s not VR headsets after all… Your Q1 earnings report states: “We are making great progress on the multi-year digital and technology transformation of our three major systems, reservations, property management and loyalty. Through this transformation, we expect to unlock new revenue opportunities.” My question is: Like what?

By actually being able to offer much more personalized service. Think about this: If I was driving into the hotel, and it’s eight o’clock at night. And the hotel sent me a text and said: I see you’re coming in late. Here’s our in-room dining menu. Is there something from the menu that you’d like? I’d probably buy it. Or, we have a Cabernet from Paso Robles that we know you like and it’s waiting for you. That’s delightful. Or, you’re here on vacation and I know that you love a deep tissue massage: we have these slots available. I mean, come on, I know you’re going to do it, Jennifer!

I’m so predictable! So, that is gathering data and creating a profile.

It’s creating the profile, but the technology should allow us to do it faster and with more precision. At the right time.

Your systems have to talk to each other.

Exactly. That’s part of the benefit of being a loyalty member, because we have your preferences, we know what you like.

I like my initials stitched on my pillow, Tina. How do you develop new tech?

We have multiple vendors. We don’t build it ourselves; we’re buying technology from others and customizing the portions that we need to customize in order to deliver the experience we want to deliver.

Many hotel apps have chatbots now, which are enhanced with artificial intelligence. Are you getting into that space?

We are looking at it right now, for sure.

Tech in the short-term rental space is helping platforms book more guests and smooth out operations. Is this something you’re worried about?

If you’re a good business person, you have to worry about everything. It is a very specific market. We have a product called Homes and Villas by Marriott Bonvoy; it hosts about 160,000 homes on a website where customers can earn and redeem their points.

So, you are in the short term rental space.

Yes, but we’re very specific. We don’t do couch surfing, and all of that. We are only in the premium and luxury space in short term rentals. The other product that we have is branded residential. Many of our luxury hotels have residences attached. When an owner buys a residence, many times they want to put their residence in a rental program. Customers can either rent a branded residential product that is attached to the hotel, or they can rent a ‘Home and Villa’ which is somebody’s home that they’ve put on our platform. [Approximately 20% of the Luxury Group by Marriott International’s business is branded residential real estate.]

Am I worried about it? No, but we watch the space closely. We think that there is a purpose for which that product is the right solution. We want to keep our customers within our ecosystem, and give them every experience in travel they need. We don’t want them to have a reason to leave us.

Everyone is looking for ways to have direct bookings on their brand’s sites. What are some cutting edge ways you can do that?

Digital marketing is the way forward, which includes social media. Social commerce is so critically important, because consumers are influenced when their friends are posting content that they engage with. That’s really the wave of the future. People are not looking at your paid advertising message and deciding to come to you. That’s more of an awareness builder. But when you think about lower funnel marketing, it’s more effective in luxury than it is for some of the other brands because we are not discount driven. That’s not what it’s about. What you’re trying to do is create desire for your brand that is prompting people to buy.

Speaking of that, you partnered with Taylor Swift for the Era’s tour. You’re part of the Swift Effect.

Absolutely! You can talk about the Swift effect. You can talk about White Lotus. What we’re seeing in media and entertainment is driving travel. People are traveling more now for concerts and sports games than they ever had before. I mean, talk about trends. It’s hard to name just three because there’s so many. And you’ve got to have your irons in all of those fires.

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“Travel Agencies and Hotels Now Offering Sensory Guides for Neurodivergent Travelers and Families”

"Travel Agencies and Hotels Now Offering Sensory Guides for Neurodivergent Travelers and Families"

The Atlantis in Dubai provides an extensive downloadable sensory guide for neurodivergent families. Christopher Pike/Bloomberg

On a family trip to Walt Disney Co.’s. Orlando theme parks, Nicole Thibault’s 2.5-year-old son began experiencing meltdowns-and not in the standard toddler sense. Everything he had previously loved became deeply distressing, from his favorite characters to familiar foods setting off tantrums that could stretch for more than 30 minutes. Something felt amiss, Thibault recalls of the weeks before her son was diagnosed with autism. Determined to continue showing her son the world-sans meltdowns-her next step was to solicit travel tips from experienced parents of neurodivergent kids. One after another, the responses poured in, variants on the same idea: “We don’t go anywhere. It’s just too hard.”

A decade later, Thibault has built her New York-based travel agency, Magical Storybook Travels into a thriving business that caters specifically to neurodivergent families. In pre-travel counseling sessions for her clients, she studies their daily routines and preferences before discussing potential destinations. Then she’ll offer detailed briefs for each suggested hotel, including video tours, floor plans and potential sensory triggers (such as possible fireworks displays in the vicinity or strong scents in the lobby) to set expectations on a very granular level.

In the United States, approximately 20% of the population (66 million people) experience a form of neurodivergence. These often-invisible conditions range from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder to dyslexia and Tourette’s syndrome.

Each diagnosis-and each individual-is unique, and so are their destabilizing triggers. A child who thrives in playgrounds may prove intolerant of mulched wood chips on the ground. Another may love the stimulation of big cities-until the raspy sound of a subway announcement rattles them. Some may subsist primarily on chicken nuggets, but only if they’re not deemed “too scratchy.” Add a decreased ability to communicate verbally in unfamiliar or stressful environments, and it’s easy to see how travel can amount to a series of land mines.

The concerns are so overwhelming that, according to a 2022 survey, 78% of families or individuals with autism forgo traveling entirely. The findings are from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, which trains education, health-care and corporate professionals on neurodivergent inclusivity. While that figure represents a drop from 87% in 2018, it’s still too large a number, the organization’s president Meredith Tekin said in an emailed statement.

But hotel brands are now wising up to the untapped economic opportunity of catering to this substantial segment and brushing up on how to extend a sensitive welcome. Up for grabs: tens of millions of prospective guests that currently stay home.

EDUCATION FIRST, THEN AMENITIES

The first step, and the bulk of what these hotels are doing now, is training. Certifications such as those offered by Ibcces help employees to anticipate neurodivergent needs and handle guest interactions sensitively. Rather than stop to stare at Thibault’s toddler in a tantrum-or worse, offer gratuitous advice-trained staff are prepared to respond to parental requests for help while encouraging bystanders to move along quietly.

The board’s conversation with hotels, said Tekin, is shifting. “I have noticed a change from organizations asking ‘why’ this is a need to asking ‘how’ to better welcome these guests,” she wrote.

Close to 200 travel and tourism companies have received Ibcces’ Certified Autism Center or Advanced CAC designations since the program’s inception in 2017. Recent examples include Atlantis Dubai, JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa and Legoland Korea Resorts. More are listed on the Autism Travel website alongside hotels that have adopted similar certifications from other organizations.

Some of these hotels have followed by offering smart amenities such as cue cards and fidget tools to help travelers work through stressful moments. At Karisma’s all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, guests can pre-fill an “autism passport” with details on sensitivity triggers, food preferences or calming strategies for the reservations team to share with hotel staff. In some cases, they can share the requests with airline and airport partners, too.

In recent months certification interest has grown to include multiproperty efforts from larger brands such as Hyatt Hotels Corp, Karisma Hotels & Resorts, Margaritaville Enterprises LLC resorts and Virgin Hotels Group Ltd. In late 2023 the latter announced it was partnering with Autism Double-Checked, an education and awareness organization catering to the travel industry. In an emailed statement, Chief Executive Officer James Bermingham of Virgin Hotels said the brand was committed “to foster a welcoming space where all guests, including those with neurodiverse needs, can feel truly at ease.”

All this comes with cost to hotels. While several accreditation organizations called the process inexpensive, none would disclose pricing.

“One of the things that holds people up is they can’t figure whether it’s the right thing to do, from the point of view of social inclusion, or whether it’s a commercial opportunity to open up to a bigger audience,” says Alan Day, co-founder and CEO at Autism Double-Checked. “In reality, it’s both.”

A DIVERSE SEGMENT WITH UNIQUE NEEDS

Rachel Lipson, the founder of Brooklyn Family Travelers and mother of two boys, one of whom has ADHD, describes travel planning as if it were a rigorous full-time job. Details she needs to know about hotels are rarely available online. Do the rooms connect? Is the pool open to children? Are there adults-only swim times to consider? How cold is the water? “A lot of my time is spent asking all these questions,” she explains.

Doing so is critical. Children with ADHD often need to expend lots of energy in the morning, Lipson has learned; a half-hour morning swim has opened the door to stress-free travel for her family. Also critical for her kids is being able to bounce from one activity to the next: bookstores, ice cream shops, museums and so forth. If one pursuit is a miss, she says, it’s easy to pivot to the next.

Travel adviser Thibault, meanwhile, says her son’s diet is very limited and that he has sensitivity to noise. The questions she asks of hotels before booking are entirely different than Lipson’s concerns.

Therein lies the issue for hotels: Neurodivergence is an especially wide spectrum. Few amenities work across the board.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Caitlin Meister, founding director of the neurodiversity-affirming education consultancy Greer Meister Group, says hotels have many ways to rise to the occasion. She says kids like Lipson’s, who are buoyed by a concentrated burst of sensory activity (“sensory seekers,” she calls them), are common; meeting their needs can be as simple as adding a trampoline, swing or climbing wall to kids clubs or play spaces. Similarly, a designated quiet space can offer great comfort to those with noise sensitivities.

Creating walk-through videos should be easy, given how many hotels have social media directors that create in-house video content. Filling these with details on sounds, sights, tactile textures and smells at every location can help families prepare for each aspect of their stay.

Take a client of Thibault’s, whose autistic son became fixated on what the toilets would be like on vacation. A room tour she found on YouTube proved a perfect solution, she recalls. Showing him what the bed, bathroom, sink, shower and toilet would look like-and how they were all laid out-made a tremendous difference. “It calmed him enough that he could think about the fun things that they were going to do,” she says, rather than continuing on a stress-fueled downward spiral.

Such content can extend to common spaces. “If you have multiple pools at your resort, and one has a smooth bottom and the other has a prickly textured surface, you might put that on a sensory guide,” says Meister.

TheAtlantis Dubai recently published one such guide that guests can download before their stay. It offers numeric ratings for the intensity of taste, touch, sound and smell in every area of its resorts, on a 1 to 5 scale.

Ultimately, the most important way to cater to neurodivergent travelers-and their stressed-out parents-might be a simple show of empathy.

On a recent trip, Lipson recalls, her kids were being wild and loud in the lobby of the Andaz Amsterdam. She felt mortified. But staff was quick to pick up on her stress.

“They said something like, ‘Make yourselves at home; this is their home, too,’” she recalls of the simple, effective interaction. “It gives me chills when I think about it.”


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“Enjoy Summer at These 5 Luxury Waterside Hotels: The Ultimate Waterfront Getaways with Exciting Activities”

"Enjoy Summer at These 5 Luxury Waterside Hotels: The Ultimate Waterfront Getaways with Exciting Activities"

Nothing says summer more than a waterfront getaway. And at these five properties you can make the most of the season, whether you want to splash in the ocean off the Maine coast, paddle board across a reservoir in upstate New York, kayak in a Rhode Island bay, or laze by a river on a South Carolina island. You can even skirt the crowds in Europe’s capitals by escaping to the mountains of Austria where a castle on a lake awaits.

The Catskills, N.Y.

The Chatwal Lodge

At this luxury escape in White Lake, N.Y., about a two-hour drive from Manhattan, immerse yourself in more than 100 acres along the Toronto Reservoir. Or better yet, get into the reservoir and go paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking and swimming. And because the Chatwal Lodge is set within the approximately 2,500-acre Chapin Estate, you can also fly-fish on private trout streams there.

On dry land, pretend you’re back in summer camp and try archery, birdhouse decorating, baking classes and yoga. Or visit the recreation center where you can play shuffleboard, duckpin bowling, ping pong, billiards and board games. At night, gather for stargazing and s’mores around a fire pit.

This year, the property added what it calls Treehouses, three accommodations perched about 15 feet above the ground amid oaks and maples, to its 11 existing suites and stand-alone stone cottage. Each treehouse, which can accommodate up to four guests, has a king-size bed on the first level, a loft with a Murphy bed, a living room with a wet bar, a covered balcony, and a deck with a fire pit.

Wandering the Chatwal Lodge, part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand, calls to mind the 19th-century Great Camps of the Adirondacks, and a number of rooms there have water views. All of the accommodations have private outdoor space. Seasonal farm-to-table meals can be enjoyed from your private terrace or patio, inside your room, or in the Lodge’s Rustic Grill. Prices for the Lodge, which include all meals (not alcohol) and certain activities, start at $900 a night; prices for the Treehouses start at $2,300 a night during the summer.

Johns Island, S.C.

The Dunlin, Auberge Resorts Collection

Beginning Aug. 1, check into this new 72 room-and-suite luxury property along the Kiawah River and you’ll have 20 miles of waterfront and nature trails to hike and bike. Water activities abound, including kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing classes, clam-harvesting workshops and a “water safari” that takes you on the river’s estuary where you might spot roseate spoonbills, great blue herons and sea turtles. When you’re not exploring the river, check out the spa, which uses honey, including aster honey from local apiaries, for treatments such as nectar-infused facials.

Even though you’re surrounded by nature, you’re just a 40-minute car ride to the buzzy bars and restaurants of downtown Charleston. But there are plenty of places to tuck into a meal just beyond your room, too. For lunch and cocktails make your way to the Cove, a 1950s beach-club-inspired restaurant at the riverfront pool. Order bites like wood-fire-grilled oysters, cocktails and whiskeys at the Willet Room bar, and savor Southern coastal cooking with seafood and river views at Linnette’s restaurant.

The Dunlin, named for a shorebird, has charming, cottage-inspired rooms that play off their sunny Lowcountry surroundings with wicker, linen, and white and mint-green hues by the interior designer Amanda Lindroth. Porches provide places to sip iced tea and gaze at the river. Opt for a suite and you’ll have more space, including a living room and a soaking tub from which you can enjoy views of the water. Prices from $749 a night.

Hof bei Salzburg, Austria

Rosewood Schloss Fuschl

On July 1, this 15th-century castle on Lake Fuschl in the Austrian Alps will reopen its doors after closing in 2022 and undergoing a gut renovation. What was once a hunting lodge and a summer residence of the Archbishop of Salzburg is now part of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, and it will have 98 rooms, including suites and stand-alone, lakefront chalets, as well as places to try regional cuisine, which emphasizes fish from local lakes, cheeses and wood-fired bread. A spa will include a heated infinity outdoor pool, an indoor pool and a fitness center. The big draw, of course, is the vast blue-green lake, and staying there means you can participate in activities like a fishing excursion that might wind up with you beside the water savoring a freshly smoked catch served on newspaper.

And while the tranquillity of the lake and the property’s walking trails may make you feel far from city life, Salzburg and its historic center, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is only a half-hour car ride away. If you’re willing to explore a little farther, the picturesque lakeside village of Hallstatt — part of the breathtaking Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut Alpine region, which is also on the UNESCO list — is about an hour’s drive from the resort.

Wherever you choose to spend the days, they’ll conclude in your elegant room where soothing hues are in keeping with the natural surroundings. Most of the rooms have full or partial views of the lake, and some have private outdoor space as well, including the lakefront chalets. Summer prices from €800 a night, or about $870.

Ogunquit, Maine

The Dunes on the Waterfront

On the southern coast of Maine, amid flowers and picket fences, the cottages at the Dunes are scattered across 12 acres of lawns near the Atlantic Ocean. Following a renovation, the property just opened with 21 whitewashed cottages with green shutters, ranging from one-to-three bedrooms, all with a private porch or patio, and a fireplace.

In the morning you can have coffee, baked goods and a newspaper delivered to your door. Later, take a five-minute walk to get fresh seafood at the Ogunquit Lobster Pound. The charming restaurants, bars, shops and sandy beaches of Ogunquit are also a stroll away, or you can hop on one of the hotel’s complementary bikes and ride into town. The hotel also has row boats for you to cross the river to the popular Ogunquit Beach.

Back at the Dunes, owned by Atlantic Hospitality, whose properties in Maine include the Claremont Hotel and the Lincoln Hotel, go fishing off the new dock, paddle boarding, kayaking, or join a waterfront yoga class. Take a dip in the heated swimming pool with views of the ocean, or while away an afternoon playing lawn games. Prices from $950 a night for a one-bedroom cottage.

Newport, R.I.

Newport Harbor Island Resort

Fresh off a $50 million renovation, this resort on the site of a former torpedo factory has 257 rooms and suites, and a 22-slip marina where you can take to the water on inflatable paddle boards and in kayaks. A new seasonal water taxi will whisk you from the marina to the shops and restaurants of downtown Newport.

Or stay put and feast on seafood at the resort. The restaurant 1639 has New England classics like clam chowder and lobster, which you can enjoy on its outdoor deck or indoors with views of the harbor. Head to the Pineapple Club for its pool, cabanas and restaurant, where a new menu includes lobster rolls, salads and flatbreads, and grown-ups can slip into a new adults-only seating area. For more sea-inspired dishes like blue crab toast and tarragon lobster, visit the Torpedo Bar & Lounge. And satisfy your sweet tooth at the Bakery, a new spot to grab coffee and baked goods on the go.

Previously known as Gurney’s Newport Resort and Marina, the resort is now owned by Pebblebrook Hotel Trust. The rooms, most with views of the water and many with balconies or patios, have new furniture and are decorated in calming earth tones. Go for a swim in the outdoor saltwater pool or, if the weather doesn’t cooperate, in the heated indoor pool. Stop into the spa for a massage or body treatment, work out in the fitness center, or feel the sea breeze in your hair as you take a ride on one of the complementary bicycles. Prices from $459 a night, varying by season.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024.

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“Spring into Summer: Explore New IHG Hotels & Resorts Openings for Your Summer Adventure”

"Spring into Summer: Explore New IHG Hotels & Resorts Openings for Your Summer Adventure"

Six Senses La Sagesse Grenada

With spring in full swing and summer fast approaching, IHG Hotels & Resorts is excited to unveil the latest additions to its growing portfolio – just in time to enjoy the warm weather. Book your next adventure through the mountain landscapes of the western states, relax during a beach getaway or try somewhere totally new and exciting.

Embrace “Cowboy Core” While Exploring the Wild West

EVEN Hotel Bozeman Yellowstone Intl Airport

Fans of the “Yellowstone” TV series will love checking into EVEN Hotel Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. This new, 120-guest room property includes many onsite amenities aimed at welcoming the wellness-minded traveler. The hotel features an indoor pool, healthy food options at EVEN Kitchen & Bar and a best-in-class Athletic Studio. Conveniently located near Montana State University, Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky Resort and the Bridger Bowl ski area, EVEN Hotel Bozeman International Airport is the perfect resting spot for the adventure of a lifetime.

Standing tall as Denver Tech Center’s first boutique property, Kimpton Claret Hotel, located in Belleview Station, will mark Kimpton’s third property in the Mile High City. The hotel’s new restaurant, Saverina, will become an instant favorite, serving quality drinks and Italian dishes made with farm-to-table ingredients. Kimpton Claret is also home to Halo Rooftop Bar and Lounge on the 19th story, offering stunning views of the Rocky Mountains with sightlines from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak.

Holiday Inn La Verkin – Zion Park

The new Holiday Inn La Verkin – Zion Park is located just 20 miles from Zion National Park, making it a convenient stop for hikers and road trippers exploring Utah, Nevada or Arizona. Just a five-minute drive from the hotel is Pah Tempe Hot Springs; a historic volcanic sulfur spring that sits on the edge of Virgin River. After a day of exploration, the property offers 117 modern rooms and features a restaurant, full bar and outdoor swimming pool, making it a relaxing and affordable stop for all.

Chill Beachside or Poolside This Summer

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort is a scenic 11-acre, beachfront property offering 152 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom villas, each with a patio and ocean views. Resort guests will enjoy direct beach access, a beachside activity lawn, multi-level pool with children’s splash pad and a sundeck. Some of its additional amenities include outdoor fire pits with lounge seating, poolside hot tubs, private cabanas, fitness center, indoor and outdoor dining, café and poolside bar. 

Tucked into a tropical hideaway on Grand Cayman, Hotel Indigo Grand Cayman is a 282-room hotel conveniently located near a bevy of famed Cayman Island attractions like the white sands of Seven Mile Beach, the stingray-filled waters of Stingray City and the high-fashion boutiques at Cayman Bay. In addition to local hot spots, the hotel features a stunning lounge pool, beach cabanas and several Caribbean restaurants that are sure to serve up Cayman Island sunshine year-round.   

The new Six Senses La Sagesse enjoys a pride-of-place setting between the ocean and a protected cove on the southern part of Grenada. Designed to reflect Caribbean village vibes, surrounded by nature, and bursting with bold colors and scents, the resort maintains a connection to Grenada’s “Spice Island” heritage. The resort provides 56 pool suites, which combine eco-credentials and comfort using natural, renewable and repurposed materials, such as nutmeg shells and cocoa skins in the walkways through the gardens.

Discover a New International City

Take a chance to visit Six Senses Kyoto in Japan, thought to be the cultural and historical heart of the country. Kyoto is famed for its Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces, traditional Japanese architecture, beautiful cherry blossoms, and mountains covered in centuries-old cedar trees surrounding the city. The hotel features 81 spacious guest rooms and suites – all designed in modern Japanese style and curated according to traditional Kyoto folklore.

Verno House Budapest, Vignette Collection

An urban oasis overlooking Liberty Square, Verno House Budapest, Vignette Collection presents a 50-room hotel built as a sanctuary from city life with a nurturing and natural environment, evoking ideals of 19th century Budapest. Guests can start their day with a walk or run through the city, on a custom route provided by the hotel to see Budapest’s iconic sites. Verno House’s Michelin-recommended restaurant and bar, Flava Kitchen & More, offers fresh ingredients from the world’s most popular gastronomic cultures and a lively atmosphere featuring live music.

Spread across over 13 acres of lush greenery along the Kosi Riverside, voco Jim Corbett is voco’s first property to open in India and is a perfect sanctuary of tranquility and serenity. Nestled in a dense forest, the hotel immerses guests in the natural beauty and wildlife of the Kumaon region. voco Jim Corbett features 70 modern, spacious rooms adorned with elegant décor where guests can enjoy all the ‘me time’ they desire.

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