Hotel reserves suites for women only

By Kenneth Kiesnoski

LONDON -- Who said it's a man's world? In the latest twist on niche marketing, the London Hilton on Park Lane became the first U.K. hotel to reserve a floor of suites for women only.

The testosterone-free block of executive suites on the 22nd floor, which opened March 24, was devised in response to requests from female guests for higher security and gender-appropriate services, said Fabio Gallo, director of business development at the 450-room, 55-suite property.

"Our percentage of female guests traveling alone has increased over the last few years, and often they have different needs," Gallo said.

Guest focus groups identified the security element as especially important, he added, although "there wasn't a problem specifically related to harassment at the Park Lane."

So, surveillance cameras were installed in corridors on the women's floor, and suite doors were outfitted with stronger locks and wider spyholes with 360-degree views.

Women's accommodations also boast new in-room amenities, including more powerful hairdryers, different toiletry items, larger mirrors with more light and new room-service menu selections -- delivered by female wait staff.

"In our experience, many women traveling by themselves prefer room service to eating in restaurants alone," Gallo said.

Despite all the precautions, Gallo said the Park Lane isn't engaged in gender discrimination, noting that men are permitted to accompany female guests to the women's floor.

Interest has surpassed initial expectations, he added, although "at the moment, London as a whole is not fully booked, so neither is the floor."

There is no surcharge for women-only rooms, and rack rates start at the standard executive suite price of about $410 per night; rates include access to the hotel's VIP lounge and fitness center.

That's about $125 more a night than standard rooms on mixed-gender floors.

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