Hotels set aside floors for women

NANCY TREJOS
Last updated 13:48 10/12/2013

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Book a room on the 11th floor of the Hamilton Crowne Plaza here, and you'll get special bath salts and body products, a magnifying mirror, nail polish, nail files and a curling iron.

In other words, you'll get pretty much anything you need to pamper yourself.

They're not exactly the types of amenities that men would go for, but that's the point.

The Hamilton Crowne Plaza is one of a small, but growing number of hotels offering floors dedicated to female travellers.

These hotels are particularly trying to appeal to female business travellers, who are moving up the career ladder and hitting the road more often.

"Women are more influenced by their surroundings, and therefore, the ways in which hotels can accommodate them become important," says Judi Brownell, professor of organizational communication at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.

"My research identified three things that are important to women business travellers and that influence their decision regarding where to stay: safety; empowerment; and pampering."

Hotels are responding by setting aside floors with special key access and amenities that women typically prefer.

The Naumi Hotel in Singapore has dedicated the third floor, which has nine rooms, to female travellers. Guests have to use a special access card to get in. Amenities include hair straighteners, sanitary products and yoga mats.

The Dukes London has 15 "Duchess Rooms" with smaller slippers, glossy lifestyle magazines, fresh flowers and a female staff member to handle room service and housekeeping requests. There's also a quiet corner table in each room for those women who'd rather dine in rather than go out alone.

The amenities at Dukes come at no additional charge. The rooms have been so popular that 30% of the hotel's guests are women and many are return customers, says General Manager Debrah Dhugga.

Dhugga says she came up with the idea last year because she "saw a need for high-end accommodations specifically designed to pamper solo female travellers."

In Vancouver, the Georgian Court Hotel has the women's only Orchid Floor with free amenities such as flatirons, curling irons, yoga mats, hangers padded with satin for delicate clothing, skirt hangers and ladies-only emergency kits with nylons and sanitary products.

The hotel started out with 18 rooms dedicated to female travellers. Demand was so high, that Orchid Floor amenities are now offered in 30 additional rooms, says Susan Leung, the hotel's sales manager.

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"The comfort of knowing you will not need to pack your flatiron, curling iron, yoga mat, etc. or be bumping into a male counterpart in your pyjamas while picking up your newspaper or getting ice is priceless" she says.

The Crowne Plaza Bloomington in Minneapolis also has a Women's Floor with additional security features and amenities.

The hotel saw a need, given that females now make up 47% of the guest population at Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts, says Gina LaBarre, vice president of brand management for Crowne Plaza.

"Those hotels are stepping up to make sure they're providing those guests with what they need to be productive," LaBarre says.

USA TODAY Road Warrior Stephanie Dickey, a vice president of sales who lives in Richmond, Texas, says she appreciates the extra amenities when she stays in rooms dedicated to female travellers at various hotels in the world.

"I loved it," she says. "I felt special and pampered."

Jennifer Welch, a flight attendant based in Hawaii and California, says she likes the idea of not having to pack a curling iron or yoga mat.

"I would welcome the amenities being offered, especially in light of the fact that they would make packing for trips and getting through airport security more efficient," she says.

But not every female likes the idea of floors dedicated to one gender.

"It is an interesting concept, but I think more of a gimmick, and somewhat insulting," says Elizabeth Toedt, a retired Navy commander in Olympia, Wash., who is now a captain flying private jets. "Women have struggled many years for equal treatment, and a 'convent type' hotel floor is a step backward."

LaBarre sees it as a step forward for business travellers.

"It's not about discriminating against men," she says. "It's about how do we enhance the experience of our female business travellers?"

- MCT

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