We have asked Damon Banks, media consultant, freelance writer and editor of the Luxe Gateways Magazine, to share his thoughts with us about his love for hotels, and Amberlair, of course. And before you ask, a #BohoLover is a Boutique Hotel lover… just like us!
How do you choose a hotel when you travel?
I’m a big fan of personal recommendations from industry friends. A big factor for me is the level of personal service received, and I never plan to visit a resort, hotel or inn that has a reputation of treating guests as numbers. With today’s competitive market, this is important for a lot of guests; and whether it be a large resort, or boutique hotel, it’s not that difficult to provide guests with a personalized and professional travel experience.
If you had to choose 3, which were the most special (boutique) hotels you have ever stayed at?
Wow, this is a difficult question to answer. I can fortunately say that of my many stays with boutique hotels, I’ve had many more amazing stays than I have unfavorable experiences. That being said, three of my many favorites would include (in no particular order):
The Kimberly in New York City
The Dylan Hotel in Dublin, Ireland
The Sonnenalp in Vail, Colorado
What made them so special?
In all of these cases, it’s service. Beyond just being there when a problem arises, each of these go above and beyond to provide a level of service from beginning to end, which is often rare in the hospitality world today. Even with these three examples being a larger-sized boutique hotel, regardless of you checking-out, dropping in for breakfast, or in the elevator, they acknowledge you (usually by name), ask what they can do to enhance your stay, and in general, take the time to check-in on your during the stay to offer their services, make suggestions, etc. Note, they do this without being annoying, but just enough to make you aware of their presence should you need anything at all during the stay.
If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?
This list is long, but outside of amazingly talented and trained staff at every position, the list is still difficult to narrow down to three:
- A true Concierge to work closely with guests before and during their stay to create priceless travel memories
- Don’t cut corners with linens and beds – having guests who choose to stay with you deserve to have these items being the highest quality available to make their stay special
- Quality television setup — while I agree that watching television is not a priority when traveling, when guest do want to watch television, it’s important to have an easy setup that is similar to a home setup with all the channel options, international options and an easy to navigate guide
Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…
It always seems to revert back to the theme of “service” for me. I would be lying if I did not admit that having welcome amenities is very much appreciated, and tends to “set the tone” of the stay in many instances. In my case, my social profile is fairly public when it comes to my travel habits via social media, and I’ve had a few hotels over the years who took notice of my likes/dislikes before tailoring a welcome amenity that was customized for me — little things like fresh fruit, cheese, red wine (not white) and items associated with some of my favorite things (golf, theater, spa, etc.) were included with a personalized note.
Overall, Club Levels are always a nice added benefit, when they are done correctly. Of course, I’ve experience Club Levels in some of the “best” hotels in the world that were a huge disappointment, but in most cases, it’s just nice to have a place to enjoy breakfast, stop in for a snack throughout the day, or escape for some computer or quality book time in a quiet place.
Otherwise, little things that are common at many hotels today make for an extra special overall experience — such as shoe cleaning service overnight, turn-down service and available workout clothing and shoes when you happen to forget to pack everything.
Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.
The short answer to this would be: bad service; overpriced food in the associated restaurants that was mediocre, at best; and finally, dirty room/bathroom.
How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?
Within an industry that is constantly changing as fast, and as often, as the hospitality industry, it’s refreshing to see a unique and forward-thinking concept such as Amberlair. I look forward to being a part of this endeavor, and supporting the team who thought “outside-of-the-box” to develop this travel alternative.
Where are you off to next?
My immediate plans have me grounded for a few more weeks while my team and I focus on getting LuxeGetaways’ new website and the spring issue of the magazine finalized and out to the public. However, the spring and summer will surely include some quality time in the Caribbean and Europe.
With a dynamic fifteen-year history of working alongside a diverse collection of magazine and media clients, Damon has provided his media consulting and freelance writing services (copywriter & editorial contributor/editor) to clients around the world. With travel being at the core of much of this work, his other passions of hotels, golf, theater, wellness, spas, fashion and more often become incorporated into these international assignments and personal travel adventures.
As an award-winning and highly published editorial contributor, his work has been seen in a number of global travel and lifestyle print publications, as well as many in-room hotel magazines, in-flight magazines, digital publications and news outlets (Signature Travel, BESPOKE for St. Regis, SkyLife, LOEWS, Upscale Living, MONTAGE, World Spa & Travel, Sea Island Life, etc.). His collaborations with a variety of publications and ongoing international writing assignments has afforded Damon the opportunity to work with a very diverse and amazing collection of clients.
Today, Damon is primarily focused on the launch of Luxe Getaways Magazine, while working with a dynamic team of award-winning writers, editors, designers and publishers. As editor, Damon is thrilled to bring LuxeGetaways to the industry, which highlights the “high-low” approach to travel, by featuring luxury and value-driven travel options so readers can plan their travels with a combination of splurges and value to not only travel well, but travel smart.