Here are some details on six hotel trends bubbling up in the industry right now, and how they affect your stay.
INCREASING FEES: Your hotel bill may include some unpleasant surprises. Not just the usual $20-a-day resort and amenity fee, which you pay whether or not you use the tennis courts and pool complex, but how about a required $12 housekeeping surcharge or a fee for storing your luggage in the lobby?
LOBBIES AS SOCIAL HUBS: Colorful seating, free Internet service and trendy cocktail and coffee bars are helping to turn once-sterile hotel lobbies into social hubs. Hanson says while baby boomers might see the lobby as a place to meet at 6 p.m. sharp before heading to a prearranged restaurant location, younger travelers may prefer to gather more informally in the lobby, hang out for a while, socialize and take their time choosing where they'll spend the evening. They might check email, go online using a cell phone or iPad to look for dining recommendations, or try whatever snacks or drinks are readily available from the lobby market or bar.
DISAPPEARING TUBS: Unless you're booking a suite, your next stay in a hotel room may not offer the luxury of a bath. Many newly built hotels are offering showers only. Marriott, for example, is "advising our newly built hotels to put showers in 75 percent of the rooms and bathtubs in 25 percent of the rooms," according to Marriott spokeswoman Laurie Goldstein. "Our research shows that business travelers prefer showers to baths but families like the flexibility of a bathtub as well as a shower."
PUMP DISPENSERS: The advent of pump dispensers in hotel bathrooms is good and bad news for those guests obsessed with the tiny bottles of shampoo and individually wrapped soaps that have been a beloved amenity for decades.
CHECKING IN ELECTRONICALLY: Who needs to wait on line at the front desk to check in? Some of Starwood's Aloft hotels are offering "Smart Check-In" to Starwood Preferred Guest program members. Members are sent a keycard with radio-frequency identification technology, and on the day of a planned stay, a text message is sent to the guest's mobile device with a room number. Upon arrival, the guest proceeds to that room, and the keycard will open the door.
LOCAVORE OPTIONS: The locavore and hyperlocal trend that has taken over the food world is fast becoming de rigueur in the hotel industry, particularly at high-end and boutique properties where chefs are growing their own herbs and even hosting their own beehives. The W in San Francisco in September had a local beekeeper, Jack Ip, install hives on a rooftop with a goal of eventually producing honey for use in the hotel menu.