In a travel year unlike any other, with hotels and flights filling and rental cars in high demand, travel this holiday season may be poised to set records — which, according to two of Hilton’s most experienced concierge team members — is exactly why you should start planning your holiday travel right now.
Don Starr, concierge at The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Property, has been helping hotel guests make the most of their vacations for more than 25 years. In his opinion, the key to ensuring your family will have a great holiday vacation is to develop a wish list of what you each want to do and see most, and then identify the family’s top “must-dos” from that list. Next, get a jump on booking anything that will require a ticket or reservation, including dining, city tours, and transportation. Don’t forget to plan ahead for any flowers or gifts that may be needed as a holiday surprise.
“My big tip for holiday dining is research, research, research,” Starr said. “Because of limited options and dining hour changes during the holidays — and demand — early planning and flexibility are key. And don’t forget your holiday attire.”
If you’re traveling with extended family, Starr also suggests choosing a destination that offers something for everyone but to remember to plan some smaller outings, meals and activities that allow for some memorable alone time for your own family as well.
Jeffrey Morgan, who’s worked in hospitality for 30 years and is currently chief concierge at Conrad Washington DC, suggests taking that vacation planning a step further by selecting one-of-a-kind local restaurants, sights and offerings that are exclusive to their vacation destination — in fact, that’s a personal tip he uses when planning his own travel.
“I always plan to dine at a local chef’s restaurant,” Morgan said. “Then I plan something that allows me the opportunity to get a feel for the local history and culture, like going to Monticello, the Naval Academy, Gettysburg National Military Park or Glenstone Museum. I also like to plan one outdoor activity.”
Finally, once you’ve got your family’s itinerary locked in, Morgan recommends sharing it with the hotel’s concierge team before your arrival.
“Sharing their itinerary with the concierge allows them to enhance your trip and even more,” Morgan said. “A good concierge is always aware of what is current in the city, what new events are happening, the latest restaurants, newest museum exhibits. They may have better restaurants to suggest or could access better dining times. They can really help make your family’s vacation memorable.”