With study after study showing luxury travelers are increasingly on the hunt for exclusive new experiences, hotels, it seems, are in constant competition to come up with unique and often over-the-top packages that set them apart from the crowd.
From $2 million dollar teen birthday parties and half-million dollar inauguration celebrations to special Valentine's Day and wedding proposal packages that include things like private jet transportation and diamond shopping sprees, the packages are almost always assured of grabbing at least a headline or two.
After writing about a number of these over the years, we here at Travel Weekly have often wondered whether they really get booked or are just smart marketing to help luxury hotels rise to the top of the multitude of press releases and promotions that flood our inboxes daily.
The answer, according to a very short and informal poll, appears to be a little bit of both.
Mexico's Grand Velas Resorts on the Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit, for instance, last year rolled out a $2 million "billionaire's package" catering to pampered teens holding coming-of-age ceremonies, such as sweet 16 parties, quinceaneras and bar and bat mitzvahs.
The birthday bash for up to 300 people offers roundtrip transportation for 10 via private jet from anywhere in the U.S., Mexico or Canada; a three-night stay in one of the luxury resort's two-bedroom Presidential Suites with daily in-suite breakfast for the birthday boy or girl and up to 10 friends; 30 double suites; a fireworks show; and a concert from an artist like Maroon 5 or Pitbull. Other amenities include gift bags with Apple watches, a custom designer dress, exclusive access to the spa and activities like skydiving or flyboarding.
While that specific package has not yet been booked, Velas Resorts vice president Juan Vela Ruiz said there has been interest and that it along with the resorts' new Billionaire Wedding Package were created after the resort hosted $2 million bar mitzvahs and a recent $1 million-plus wedding.
"We developed these packages as we're seeing a market for them," he said. "We've had several over-million-dollar guest events in the past two years. In fact, we had a call from someone who was going to book the billionaire's package for teens with a concert by Maroon 5. The group wasn't free on the night he wanted the party; otherwise, he would have booked it. So the package offerings address a need plus merchandise the fact that we can develop and execute these over-the-top events."
In Las Vegas, Trump International Hotel said it hasn't yet had any takers but continues to offer its ultimate over-the-top proposal package, a $620,000, four-day weekend that includes private luxury jet transportation from anywhere in the U.S., a $500,000 custom diamond engagement ring from Bellusso Jewelers, a personalized dinner by executive chef Sydney Jones complete with a $7,000 bottle of Armand de Brignac Brut Gold Champagne and an onsite photographer to capture the main event inside a 3,000-square-foot penthouse full of rose petals, chocolate and Champagne.
On a smaller scale, the Oxford Hotel in Denver said that it did have a booking in 2015, but not this year, for its $8,000 Ultimate Valentine's Weekend, which included a two-night stay in the Presidential Suite, a bottle of Armand de Brignac Brut Gold Ace of Spades Champagne, a $5,000 shopping spree at John Atencio Jewelers, a couples massage, a special Valentine's dinner and breakfast in bed each morning.