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The Hottest Hotel Chain Trends for 2016

Expect innovative designs, tech-savvy amenities and healthy dining options from major brands this year.

U.S. News & World Report

The Hottest Hotel Chain Trends for 2016

Luxury hotel bedroom

From high-tech services to inventive kids programs, there are some notable changes coming to brand-backed hotels in 2016.(Getty Images)

When making your 2016 travel plans, look for hotels with high-tech amenities, innovative designs and other upgrades to improve the quality of your stay. This year, savvy smartphone apps will allow you to remotely check in on your mobile device and a robot might even greet you in the lobby. From cutting-edge tech- and wellness-focused amenities to innovative family programs and charging stations for electric cars, here are the latest hospitality trends coming to a hotel near you.

Forward-Thinking Amenities

Hotels have inventive, tech-savvy amenities in the works to give consumers more control and customization over their stay. Starwood Hotels & Resorts, for example, is testing a variety of inventive amenities, including smart floor tiles that light a path from the bed to the bathroom or from the elevator to guestrooms. Plus, Starwood is rolling out smart mirrors where guests can read headlines, check weather or monitor scores while getting ready for the day and giving guests the ability to program their in-room lighting, music and coffee maker all from a smartphone.

At the Crowne Plaza San Jose-Silicon Valley, a knock at your door could be from Dash, the hotel's delivery robot. This three-foot-tall robot delivers snacks, toothbrushes and other amenities and can independently navigate between floors, even calling the hotel elevator using Wi-Fi. The Hilton McLean Tysons Corner also has their own robot, Ava. Hotel staff can dial into the robot remotely to interact with guests in real time.

Many hotels are also adding new tech-forward services, like a mobile check-in and room remote app that can be synced with guest smartphones. Hilton HHonors members, for instance, can check-in and select their room online, requiring only a brief stop at the front desk upon arrival. "Our HHonors app is the 'remote control' to their travel experience, putting guests in control to personalize their experience," says Jim Holthouser, executive vice president for global brands for Hilton Worldwide. Both Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Starwood are also rolling out keyless-entry mobile apps. And their smartphone apps grant access to fitness centers and pool areas.

Meanwhile, The Peninsula Chicago and The Peninsula Beverly Hills will place touch-screen tablets operating in 11 different languages in each room of its room. The tablets let guests control the room temperature and television, and enable guests to order room service and even car service.

Progressive Designs

Several hotel brands are taking a fresh look at their designs, targeting millennial travelers and families with new perks and amenities. Holiday Inn, for example, is debuting an entirely new guestroom design in 2016 to offer guests increased flexibility and a more comfortable, homey environment. There will be a nook area for hanging items and charging devices as well as a trundle-type bed that serves as a sofa during the day and turns into two twin beds at night. Similarly, Le Méridien Indianapolis, which opened in late 2014, debuted rooms with two king-size beds, which have been a big hit with guests.

Noise reduction is another hot topic to assist guests in maximizing comfort and getting a better night's sleep. Holiday Inn Express recently introduced an updated room design to reduce noise, including a headboard made from materials to decrease noise transfer between rooms, mounted media towers to reduce vibration to adjacent rooms and an acoustic door, which creates two separate areas in the room. Hilton currently offers three noise-cancelling rooms equipped with speakers emitting a controllable level of white noise at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner and is determining if they should expand the program.

Hotel groups are also turning lobbies into more communal areas where guests can be together but work separately if desired, a growing demand among millennial visitors. The new Conrad Chicago, which will debut in 2016, features nooks where people can interact in its lobby area to encourage a welcoming setting for guests to mix and mingle. And many brands, including Sheraton Hotels, are placing an emphasis on the lobby bar scene to make their lobbies a more desirable spot to gather and socialize with small bites paired with the hotel's list of fine wines and local craft beers.

Health-Conscious Options

The InterContinental Hotels Group's newest brand, EVEN Hotels, which debuted in 2014 and will open three new properties in 2016, is focused entirely on wellness-minded travelers. A foam roller, yoga mat, yoga block and core exercise ball are included in every room along with access to on-demand fitness videos. EVEN's flexible room also features mobile-friendly amenities and standing desks.

Meanwhile, at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, you can check into rooms focused around a specific exercise. In the spin room, for example, you'll have access to a spin bike, balance ball, elastic bands and weights, and in the cardio room, guests will find a cardio machine along with the ball, bands and weights.

Perks for Social-Savvy Travelers

Several hotel chains are targeting social media users by loaning guests selfie sticks. At Kimpton Hotels, for instance, guests can now borrow a selfie stick to capture pictures of themselves at their destination. Also jumping on the selfie trend is InterContinental Toronto Centre, which is offering the sticks on loan to guests.

New Charging Stations

To cater to the growing number of guests driving electric vehicles, Hilton Worldwide is adding charging stations to 100 of its hotels by the end of 2016. "To enable these drivers to enjoy their time on property and not worry about where and when to go to charge their vehicle, we announced a major electric vehicle (EV) charging station expansion," Holthouser says.

And Marriott features more than 170 charging stations in place around the world, and several Hyatt properties as well as independent hotels, such as Hotel del Coronado outside San Diego and the Carmel Mission Inn in Carmel, California, also offer charging stations for guests.

Heightened Luxury

Starwood Hotels & Resorts is putting an increased focus on luxury by rewarding and distinguishing some of its top Sheraton hotels with a Sheraton Grand designation. These hotels stand apart for their enticing destinations, distinguished designs and service excellence. While several properties have already been named, including the Sheraton Grand Chicago, a hundred hotels will be added to the list by 2017. The effort is part of Sheraton's 10-point plan for 2020 to become a global brand of choice.

Family-Friendly Outposts

Westin Hotels & Resorts and Le Méridien are putting a new twist on traditional kids clubs in 2016 with programs that promote education, cultural immersion, outdoor play and curiosity. In addition to revamped kids programming, they've added some fun new amenities. Westin will provide kids with a travel journal, while Le Méridien will give younger visitors a LEGO toy.

"The Le Méridien Family programme is an extension of what our adult guests experience at our hotels around the world, brought to life through the eyes of our smaller creative and curious-minded travelers who will find a space designed to give them the chance to express their creativity in unexpected ways while also learning about the local destination," says Brian Povinelli, senior vice president and global brand leader for both Le Méridien and Westin. The new kid-focused programs are in place at several properties and will be rolling out to 300 hotels and resorts this year.

 

Corrected on Feb. 1, 2016: A previous version of this story highlighted an expired Kimpton promotion.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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