Oyster Q&A

Easily one of the most beautiful hotels in the United States — if not the entire world — the Post Ranch Inn offers a romantic, intimate stay amid the gorgeous natural surrounding of Big Sur. An eco-sensitivity is palpable throughout the property, particularly in the rooms and at the award-winning spa. The treatment menu is exhaustive (in a good way, of course), aiming to help guests relax and get in touch with both the surrounding nature and, more importantly, themselves.

Shaman Jon Rasmussen at the Post Ranch Inn. Photo Credit: Gabriel Skvor.

To aid this rediscovery, the hotel offers a variety of shamanistic services — including illumination, soul retrieval, divination, and fire and drum ceremonies — from Jon Rasmussen. A full-time shaman, adviser, and author, Rasmussen has had very active dreams and out-of-body experiences, as well as several near-death experiences at an early age, which catalyzed his interests in spiritual teachings. He spoke with us recently about his life’s work and how the Post Ranch Inn plays into his practice. Check out our full interview with him after the jump »  Read More »

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April Yvonne; Photo Courtesy of Laurie Bracewell

The luxury Capella hotel brand, with properties in Los Cabos and Singapore, has landed in the nation’s capital. Capella DC‘s doors officially open in April, and the hotel is sure to exude the same elegance and glamour that the brand is known for. But this Capella will have something that the others do not — it’s own resident stylist. Yep, you read that correctly. Like some of our other favorite hotels with over-the-top (but truly awesome) services, the Capella hotel caters to it’s guests every need — even their fashion needs. Stylist April Yvonne, creator of MyDCStyle.com, will serve as the hotel’s resident stylist, assisting guests with shopping and styling during their visits. In the past, we’ve sat down with a nightlife concierge, a genealogy butler — even a pet psychic. So we couldn’t wait to have our very first chat with a resident stylist — not to mention the only one that we know of — and get all the scoop on what’s hot and what’s not. From packing tips to what puts D.C. on the fashion map, April answers all of our questions. Check out the interview after the jump!

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Some hotels go above and beyond to satisfy their guests’ every need. At a few of our favorite hotels, we’ve encountered everything from a Genealogy Butler in Ireland to a Nightlife Concierge in Miami. While some may label these services over-the-top, we can’t help but be a little excited about this new trend in all-out pampering.  After all, the sommeliers, concierges, butlers, and psychics (yes, psychics!) of the hospitality world have some interesting insights for us once we tracked them down and got the skinny on just what goes on behind closed doors.

Dr. Pepper Schwartz

We recently sat down with Dr. Pepper Schwartz, the Romance Concierge at the Salish Lodge and Spa in Snoqualmie Valley. Located about 45 minutes outside of Seattle overlooking a gorgeous waterfall, the Salish is among the most romantic spots in the Pacific Northwest. It is only fitting, then, that the hotel goes the extra mile in catering to couples — especially with Valentine’s Day less than a month away! (Incidentally, the Salish is ready and waiting for the rush of couples — check out their “Month of Love” specials here.)

Dr. Pepper, a native of Snoqualmie Valley, has a PhD in Sociology from Yale University and is currently a professor at Washington University. Her work has been featured on The Today Show, Oprah, Good Morning America, and NPR. Dr. Pepper is also the Love and Relationship Expert for AARP and the Chief Relationship Expert for Perfectmatch.com, as well as the author of 17 books on romance and relationships. Thoroughly impressed? We are!

Perfect Places for Passion and Romance at Any Age, Dr. Pepper’s upcoming book (which features the Salish), will serve as a guide to the most romantic travel destinations across the globe. For her insights into romancing your special someone on vacation, read our full interview after the jump »

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As the Four Seasons' resident nightlife concierge, Ankur Lakhani knows all the hottest spots on any given night*

Many hotels grant guests unique stays, but a select few go a step further by offering over-the-top services. While some are bit excessive — even for our tastes — others provide distinct experiences for their individual guests’ needs that can make a vacation that much more memorable.

For those visiting Miami, it’s all about the party scene. Miami boasts one of the liveliest nightlife scenes in the country, and many top hotels in the area provide exclusive services for connecting guests to all the hottest places to see and be seen. But the Four Seasons Miami goes above and beyond, with an on-site nightlife expert who works around the clock to get his guests access to nearly any hotspot in the area, be it an event, party, or venue.

His work doesn’t stop there, however. Ankur Lakhani can keep the party going well into the night, thanks to his long list of contacts and his commitment to giving guests the VIP treatment. While most hotels can help guests find tickets or tables around town, Lakhani gets you behind the velvet rope and into the after party. Lakhani knows why people come to Miami and stops at nothing to try to deliver a true “Magic City” experience. Check out our Q&A with Lakhani after the jump!

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Unique amenities and personalized services are becoming increasingly in-demand at luxury hotels. Some might label these services over-the-top — and some of them are — but many of the butlers, sommeliers, and experts of the hotel world are performing real and important services for guests. And we here at Oyster want to hear their stories — especially if they include exciting and heartwarming tales from Ireland’s rich past! Descendants of the Emerald Isle are scattered far and wide around the globe, yet many often find themselves returning home to discover their roots. And giving them a helping hand is Helen Kelly, the Genealogy Butler at The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel. A professional genealogist, Kelly has been aiding the Irish in their quest for their ancestral history since the 1980s, and has worked with The Shelbourne since 1995 as, quite literally, the only Genealogy Butler in the world.

The Shelbourne's Genealogy Butler, Helen Kelly, "empowers" guests to track down their ancestors.*

The Shelbourne Dublin itself is a historic icon located on St. Stephen’s Green. Built in 1824, the property has witnessed major historical events firsthand (the Irish Constitution was signed here in 1922) and has hosted plenty of famous guests (including Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Princess Grace Kelly, Bill Clinton, and Bono).

Hotel guests, who perhaps get inspired by their storied surroundings, can make an appointment with Kelly to review whatever information they have on their ancestors. She will then be able to offer guidance on how to best track down more information in a city where the mass of historical documents and institutions is daunting. Over a one-hour consultation — which costs 100 Euro — guests will receive a full assessment from Kelly on their ancestral history, as well as an overview of the history, culture, and landscape of Ireland.

To read more about Kelly’s work as Genealogy Butler, check out our interview after the jump.

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Before "Here Comes the Bride" comes the proposal.

There’s nothing we love more than discovering exclusive services at our favorite hotels. (Why, yes! Foofers and I would love a pawlm reading from your in-house pet psychic!) Though some of these services may be a tad over-the-top, others provide truly unique experiences for their guests — that can be helpful, too! One of our favorite one-of-a-kind guest services comes by way of the Proposal Planner at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver — and she’s not there for your business meeting. As the only  hotel “Engagement Concierge” in Canada, and possibly the world, Kristie Kent is a dream-come-true for any hopeful-grooms needing some help with popping the question.

We recently sat down with Kent, officially called the Fairmont’s Special Event, Wedding, and Proposal Planner, to talk everything engagement and wedding-related. Since taking on the prestigious position, Kent has worked alongside her clients to create completely unique experiences by customizing the hotel’s proposal packages. Options start at just $200, but can go up to $11,000-plus with options such as the “Rock Star” package, which includes a chauffeur-driven BMW, a jeweler visit with a personal shopper, and a candlelit dinner on the rooftop terrace of the Owner’s Suites (a.k.a. the “Rock Star Suite”). The hotel also offers a la carte options for proposals, with romantic amenities such as horse-drawn carriages, private sunset cruises, spa treatments, and more. Check out our interview after the jump. Read More »

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Nowadays, more and more hotels are offering unique services to cater to their guests’ every whim. From surf butlers to in-house tattoo artists to pet psychics, the list of luxe hotel amenities is expanding rapidly (and, many would argue, getting more ridiculous over-the-top every day). Some of these may be gimmicks — seriously, The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, tanning butlers? — but other services are more than just asterisks on amenities lists. Dedicated to their craft and eager to educate others on their field, professionals from a variety of industries have been called on by some our favorite hotels to share their expertise— and we want to hear their stories. Our Q&A series provides an inside look at some of the most fun and, oft-times surprising, services hotels offer. (Check out our first installment, with the Affinia’s pet psychic, here.)

Tea Master Robert Rex-Waller will brew you a perfect cup of tea at the Park Hyatt Washington.

We recently interviewed Robert Rex-Waller, the resident tea expert at the Park Hyatt Washington. Tea experts, also known as tea masters or sommeliers, are growing in demand at luxury hotels around the globe. Brewing a perfect cuppa isn’t as simple as Lipton would have you believe, and that’s where experts such as Rex-Waller step in.

The Tea Cellar at the Park Hyatt Washington features over 50 rare and limited-production, single-estate teas from remote regions of China, Japan, Sri Lanka, and the Himalayas — and Rex-Waller is happy to help guests discover new, unique flavors during their visits, whether they order a calming pot of chamomile tea or a $300 pot of exclusive Pu-erh tea. Check out our interview with the tea expert after the jump. Read More »

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Pet psychic Catherine Ferguson at home with one of her cats.

Pet psychic Catherine Ferguson at home with one of her cats.

Hotels are offering some pretty creative services these days to attract guests’ attention, from surf butlers to in-house tattoo artists to pet psychics. Many of these offerings may be gimmicks, but we couldn’t help but wonder — what do these specialty jobs actually involve? We wanted to hear from the tanning butlers and soap concierges of the world in their own words, so we decided to launch a Q&A series to get the inside scoop.

To kick off the series, we interviewed Catherine Ferguson Ph.D., the pet psychic patronized by the New York City Affinia hotels. For Affinia, a pet psychic service may be a shtick to prove its pet-friendliness (though its Jet Set Pets program should be lauded for its many amenities geared toward four-legged friends). But our interview showed us that those who believe in Dr. Ferguson’s abilities seem to get real insight and comfort from her pet communications. Below, find out what a pet psychic really does — from talking to pets in spirit form to chatting with kimono dragons (who, by the by, don’t have a whole lot to say.) Read More »

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