Santa is in the house.
At least it may feel that way for travelers staying at some hotels this Christmas. From hosting private shopping events to delivering actual gifts, hotels and resorts are helping take some of the stress out of holiday shopping.
“Hotels are trying to figure out ways to simplify people’s lives while differentiating themselves from the competition,” said Glenn Haussman, editor-in-chief of HotelInteractive.com. “They’re saying, ‘We’ll take care of some of that holiday worry you’re feeling.’ ”
Consider some of this season’s more distinctive deals:
The Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel: Stores across the country are out of stock on this year’s hot kids’ gift — the Let’s Rock Elmo and Leapfrog LeapPad tablets — but this hotel on New York’s Upper East Side has them. Through December 31, guests booking the Santa’s Shopper package will receive the Let's Rock Elmo or LeapPad of their choice and other special amenities upon arrival. Nightly rates start at $780.
AKA Rittenhouse Square: On Monday, Dec. 19, this extended-stay hotel in Philadelphia will host a private shopping experience in conjunction with Kiehl’s, the maker of skin- and hair-care products. Guests can enjoy complimentary cocktails and appetizers, browse products that can be delivered to their suites and receive $20 in credit for purchases of $65 or more. Nightly rates start at $195.
The Peabody Orlando: During the hotel’s second annual “Stop In & Shop” event (Dec. 20–23), the hotel spa will create and wrap gift kits and baskets designed to help men find appropriate last-minute gifts for their significant others. Kits are $10 and up; nightly rates start at $150.
For The Peabody, the Stop In & Shop event continues a tradition of going above and beyond to ensure guests enjoy the holidays. Last year, for example, after a family staying at the hotel missed their flight home, the father expressed his dismay that his children wouldn’t get their presents on Christmas morning.
To prevent that, the hotel staff helped the guest track down gifts, wrapped and placed them under the large decorated tree in the lobby and invited the family to come down and open them at midnight on Christmas Eve.
“They got to celebrate Christmas under the tree,” said Marshall Kelberman, director of rooms, “and it was nice for us to be part of their family like that.”
Not surprisingly, The Carlyle’s LeapPad project took a bit more advance planning. According to managing director Erich Steinbock, the hotel attracts many guests who are visiting family in the area and, as a result, is well-integrated into the neighborhood.
“We talked with some of the mothers and fathers in the neighborhood in October and asked them what they thought the hot toys would be this year and what they thought the stores would run out of,” he told msnbc.com. With the two LeapPads topping the list, the hotel bought a dozen of each.
“It’s wonderful for parents or grandparents coming to visit family to know they already have the toy and don’t have to be stressed out about it,” said Steinbock. “The stores are so crowded now that if someone doesn’t enjoy that atmosphere, this is a great way out.”
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Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.