For traveling families one of the more difficult tasks—one that can either make or break a vacation—is finding suitable hotel accommodations that even the most demanding of guests (think 7-year-old princess) will be pleased with.
Enter Omni Hotels & Resorts. This award-winning collection of 47 properties in the U.S., Mexico and Canada known for catering to upscale leisure and corporate travelers, has raised the bar for family travel with engaging programs for both young children and teens, as well as family-friendly suites at many of its hotels.
Teen Connection, for example, was unveiled this past summer to offer teen guests at select Omni Hotels & Resorts special suggestions for activities during their stay. Here’s the catch: the suggestions come from an official “Teen Concierge” from the Omni Teen Advisory Board, a teenager well versed on where to go and what to see in the particular city. The concierge knows places and sites that are well beyond the radar of adults.
According to Omni officials, Teen Connection is “more than a menu of activities for adolescents.” A vacationing youngster can “connect with the hotel’s teen concierge to learn about the hippest spots in town from someone within their age group who, as an insider, knows all the so-called tourist traps to avoid.” As a bonus, the “Teen Concierge” is available through social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter and may be accessed via e-mail and texting.
According to Caryn Kboudi, v.p. of corporate communications, the seeds for this innovative program were planted by David Strebel, the 18-year-old son of the general manager at Omni Berkshire Place in New York City, who incidentally is also a resident of the hotel.
Omni Berkshire Place’s Teen Connection microsite features Strebel skateboarding through Manhattan streets, stopping in parks, talking to buskers and eating street food while explaining his role “to give you a teen’s inside perspective on New York City.
“I’ve spent most of my teenage years here, so I just want to pass that knowledge on to traveling teens,” he says. “While on vacation, I understand that you and your parents’ interests are likely to differ. As a teen who has personally experienced this frustration, I am devoted to show you the ins and outs of New York City.”
During its first year of operation, Teen Connection’s success has led Omni to offer the program at the Omni Chicago Hotel, Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Omni Parker House in Boston, the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate and the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort in Florida, and the Omni Hilton Head Oceanside Resort in South Carolina.
According to Kboudi, “Parents often like to unplug and unwind when on vacation, but teens like to stay active and constantly connected via social means, so we designed the program with them in mind…Omni is committed to making teens feel important instead of stuck between kid-friendly and adult activities.”
But what about younger guests? Omni’s commitment to family travel is mirrored in programs offered to all its young guests and available at most of its properties. Camp Omni, the brand’s flagship summer package, is a program that, according to Kboudi, “provides unique experiences that combine nostalgia, entertainment and pure fun. It lends a sense of youthfulness and exploration to travel, and gets all members of the family involved in creating memories.” It’s a mishmash of summer camp-themed activities for younger guests such as treats including s’mores, a collapsible water bottle and a lanyard kit in a knapsack, as well as an adventure newsletter containing a scavenger hunt that rewards young guests with a merit badge, dessert and $10 Camp Omni gift cards to use in the gift shop or restaurant.
The program, offered through summers—the peak season for family travel—is expected to be renewed and improved every year, and provides a 15 percent discount on 2-night stays and complimentary breakfast for children under 12. Rates vary by property and date, but generally run from $189 to $349 per night.
The Omni Sensational Kids, meanwhile, offers kids a backpack containing a Discovery Map with 32 games, crayons, a hacky-sack and other kid-friendly “treasures,” as well as milk and cookies delivered to the guestroom on the first night.
Then there are the colorful, kid-friendly Kid’s Fantasy Suites, available at Boston, Mount Washington, San Francisco, and Texas properties and featuring kid bedding plus beanbag chairs, an art table, books, games and toys, as well as a connecting room for the parents.
Omni Hotels & Resorts has an agent-dedicated website that includes information on GDS and commissions; FAM rates; agent promotions; and information on the latest developments, as well as the option to sign up for “Omni eNews for Travel Agents.”