Almost every year, my girlfriends and I go to Telluride and stay at the Fairmont Heritage Place Franz Klammer Lodge. It’s one of my favorite resorts, because it has spacious, luxurious condos, with the guaranteed luxury amenities and service you would expect from a Fairmont.
As travelers increasingly seek out villas and private homes from a seemingly ever-growing lists of Internet sites, hotel companies are expanding into this world, using their service standards to compete.
Fairmont, for instance, is growing its network of Heritage Place properties, which are fractional or full ownership properties that can also be rented like hotel rooms.
One of their newest is El Corazon de Santa Fe, at what looks a residential apartment complex just five minutes from the capital city’s famed plaza.
For a market like Santa Fe, where people often come during the summer months for a week or more to enjoy the opera or one of the city’s famous art markets, private rentals are a popular option. But many luxury travelers know that without a well-known brand, you never know what you might get.
On a recent stay at El Corazon, we had a luxurious two-bedroom unit with a gourmet kitchen, large courtyard, master bedroom with fireplace and a grand bathroom with huge whirlpool tub, walk-in closet and dual vanities. The guest room had two queen beds and a separate bath. And there was a third full bath downstairs in case more guests wanted to used the pullout coach or an inflatable bed in the adjacent study.
Even more important for my gourmet-cooking friend, the kitchen was equipped with every tool and appliance one could possibly need. And if it wasn’t there, it could be instantly had. Problems? At this smaller property the desk isn’t manned 24 hours, but all guests are given the general manager's cell phone, meaning the top dog can be reached whenever, wherever.
Seeing the increasing opportunities in this space, Preferred Hotel groups also recently announced the creation of a villa rental service called Preferred Residences, which offers a worldwide collection of villas, bungalows and condominiums at the group’s luxury hotels and resorts.
Preferred says the its residences offer “membership-free vacation experiences that marry the flexibility, space and privacy of a luxury residence with the anticipatory service, bespoke amenities and quality assurance of a personalized, world-class independent hotel stay.”
From golf resorts to beach hotels and business-oriented accommodations in key cities, Preferred said it hand-picked the first 18 properties to participate in the program.
“Preferred Residences allows us to satisfy a growing demand from our guests who want access to the private residence experience but are also resistant to relinquishing the convenience of staying in a luxury hotel or having to subscribe to a membership-based service,” said Lindsey Ueberroth, president & CEO of Preferred Hotel Group.
Ueberroth added that Preferred Residences was a "resource that helps travelers book with confidence, knowing that their accommodations are backed by our brand’s 45-year guarantee of excellence in quality and service."
After all, one of the keys to luxury is service without surprises.