We have asked Katie Lara, NYC-based luxury travel blogger of the same name Katie Lara to share hers thoughts with us about hotels and Amberlair. Just like us, Katie is a #BohoLover, which means a Boutique Hotel lover!
How do you choose a hotel when you travel?
When choosing a hotel, the first thing I do is check with my fellow travel bloggers. I find professional-quality photos and honest opinions on blogs. I’ve found some of my favorite spots this way. Unlike websites that often feature advertisers/partners without making it clear, blogs are very forthcoming in what they have received so I feel like I can trust them. I also peruse online to check out other people’s photos and reviews on sites like Trip Advisor. But really, most of my trust is put into recommendations from bloggers as well as friends and family whose opinions I trust.
If you had to choose 3, which were the most special hotels you have ever stayed at?
The service at Singita Lebombo at Kruger National Park in South Africa was like nothing I have ever experienced before. Personalized menus based on your preferences, a private butler, and endless gourmet food and drink. After our safari rides each evening there were drawn bubble baths complete with South African bubbly and rose petals. The romance factor here could not have been higher.
At the Nam Hai in Hoi An, Vietnam they actually tend to each blade of grass by hand to make sure that the landscaping is absolutely perfect. Rooms have stunning views of the water, outdoor showers, state-of-the-art technology and at turn down each night they surround the room with candles (strategically, I assure you, it’s not a fire hazard). And the spa here is incredible. I had a four-handed massage that was truly heavenly.
The Four Seasons in Koh Samui, Thailand was everything you would expect from a Four Seasons resort – and then some! We had our own private pool overlooking the bay. The views were like nothing I have ever seen before. You could order room service to your room and dine privately on your balcony so you never had to leave the comfort of your own privacy.
If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?
- Pre-stay emails: You can increase guests satisfaction ten-fold by simply asking people what they want. The mere effort of doing so makes them happy too, so it’s truly win-win.
- Welcome cocktails!
- State-of-the-art technology: High-powered hairdryers and light-up magnifying makeup mirrors are something I really appreciate. Also, having plenty of plugs that are easily accessible (plug inside the safe for laptop charging please!) are also a must, and if it is an international destination, I would make sure to have adapters in each room for guests’ convenience.
I would also be sure to bring in the local culture as much as possible into the hotel in menus, decor and anywhere else you can imagine. As a guest, I love learning as much as possible about traditions and incorporating this into the stay makes it that much more special.
Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…
- Bubble baths at Singita and Royal Malewane.
- Indoor fireplace at the Stein Ericksen Lodge in Park City, Utah. When we returned from dinner, we had a trail of rose petals covering the floor all the way to a cozy fire at the foot of our bed.
- An organic perfume blending class at the Four Seasons Lanai.
- A cooking class we did at the Four Seasons Chiang Mai. It was an entire day, we visited the market with an expert guide who took us on a tasting adventure, then we learned how to cook a feast, which we then enjoyed overlooking the property’s working rice paddies.
Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.
I hope to never see another bedbug as long as I live! I won’t name where, because after diligent research I believe it was an isolated incident but I don’t think anything compared to the horror of discovering those. Even the thought makes my skin crawl.
I think that covers my 1, 2, and 3!
How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?
I love the Amberlair concept. Such an innovative way to bring the travel community together. I can’t wait to see where the first location will be!
Where are you off to next?
My next trip will be for my birthday! I’m heading to Cincinatti, Ohio. It’s a big up-and-coming foodie destination and since I love nothing more than eating, I can’t wait. The South and West Open will also be there, so I’ll be checking that out too. I love tennis! Though there won’t be much playing for me. I’ll be in the VIP tent so there will be more champagne than tennis, but is there any better way to enjoy any sport?
Katie Lara is is an award-winning travel blogger of her Alter Ego Katie Lara. Katie is also the New York Travel Correspondent for Forbes, an accomplished travel video host for sites like About.com and a regular contributor for U.S. News and World Report, The Huffington Post and Fodor’s.
Katie Lara has been jetting around the world her entire life trying to take in everything that life has to offer. She scours the globe looking for the best places to eat, stay and play – and makes sure they’re the best for her loyal followers. Keep up with Katie’s adventures on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.