Forget about those free shampoo bottles and chocolates on the pillow. Now more and more hotels are offering adrenaline-fueled amenities, such as the use of a Lexus LS 430 or a Mercedes E-Class sedan for the duration of a stay.
At its most basic level, a hotel is simply a place to eat, sleep and do some work. But a hotel experience can be much more than that. To appeal to both business and leisure travelers, a growing number of hotels are offering packages where guests can try hang-gliding, practice their fly-fishing casting techniques or have a personal shopper escort them around Milan`s boutiques.
Last year, the Ritz-Carlton—owned by Marriott International (nyse: MAR - news - people )—entered into an agreement with DaimlerChrysler`s (nyse: DCX - news - people ) Mercedes-Benz, in which guests are allowed use of a car for their stay. The Peninsula in Beverly Hills has a similar deal with Lexus. Are the cars “free”? Not any more than those welcome fruit baskets or complimentary bottles of wine are truly free. The price of the car is factored into the room rate. But, for some guests, the convenience and novelty of the experience is worth the price. From a business point of view, the appeal to both companies is obvious. Hotel guests are a captive audience, and a car sponsorship is a form of targeted advertising. Someone who can afford a $700-per-night suite at the Peninsula is a prime candidate to purchase a Lexus—and the guest gets to drive around something with a little more panache than a Ford Taurus.
Other hotels are adding fun packages that might appeal more to the leisure traveler. Several are offering “slumber party packages,” where guests can hole up in their rooms, rent silly movies and eat far too many gooey desserts. The popular TV show Sex and the City has inspired a package at Manhattan`s Muse hotel; guests are taken to some of the characters` favorite haunts. The Muse cannot, however, arrange an authentic Sarah Jessica Parker sighting.