Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Top Selling Point: Hotels That Lend Their Guests Bikes, Free of Charge

Photo by Gordon Gordon

I spent several hours at the Jane Hotel today, in New York City. Which makes me a really cool person, as it truly is a hipster's paradise. A very French cafe peddles croissants and glamor off the lobby. The bar area  is drop-dead gorgeous and delightfully louche with a gay 90's look, velvet couches, nude paintings and stuffed everything on the walls. Plus it has the best room rates in Manhattan, starting at $99 year round for a miniscule (50 square feet), but quite nice, single room.

But what really made me want to check in (which I didn't do, since I live in NYC) was the free bike rentals. Any guest who stays there can peddle off for the day, absolutely gratis. How nice is that. (They were good-looking rides, too.)

Of course, the Jane isn't the pioneer in bike loans. Its something many small B&B's have been doing for years. And recently a number of hotel chains have gotten into the act, too. These include:
  • The Fairmont Hotels: Bikes are available to guests across Canada and at the chain's US locations.
  • The Kimpton Hotels: Ask early in the day. I've found that these hotels usually keep less than 10 on hand and sometimes they all get snapped up.
  • The Ace Hotels: A small chain with properties in NY, Portland (OR), Seattle and Palm Springs. I know it offers bikes in Portland, and have heard that service will be coming soon to its other properties.
I also have to mention a kooky/wonderful new program at the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers, in Denmark, that's going to reward guests for generating electricity. It will have a fleet of energy-generating exercise bikes in the gym, hooked into the hotels power grid. According to the Guardian Newspaper, the hotel will be rewarding those exercisers who can 10 watt hours or more with a free meal. As the article notes, its surprisingly easy to get to that threshold: most cyclists should be able to rack up a free meal in just 10 minutes or less. The program is a test, but if its successful, 21 Crowne Plaza hotels in the UK may adopt the scheme as well.

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