When it comes to providing an intimate atmosphere for loved-up guests, it takes a skilled hotelier to create the mood, discovers Peter Hancock
From their earliest inception, hotels have provided the perfect facility for a little romantic indulgence away from home. In fact, many hoteliers have striven to create environments that are particularly suited to couples seeking a place where they can, let us say, concentrate on each other without embarrassment or intrusion; or what my parents' generation would have called "a dirty weekend".
Between them, our experts offered lots of good ideas, such as creating appropriate lighting that is neither starkly bright nor dangerously dim; respecting the privacy of guests who really do not want to be disturbed, either in their room or during an intimate conversation at dinner; providing candles for the bathroom; capacious showers; double treatment rooms in spas and much more.
A good deal of the talk was about recognising the purpose of a guest's visit and treating them accordingly - in other words, encouraging your staff to behave intuitively. I had expected some of the questions that came from our audience, but must admit I was not prepared for the contribution of one lady who asked about 'intimacy packs' which, we now understand, contain useful items for the more adventurous to try out in the bedroom. We were each presented with an example which, in my case, took a bit of explaining when unpacking my bags at home later that day.
The absence of small children or conference groups were seen as important, and it was noted that larger hotels can be just as romantic as smaller ones, so long as the building is divided in such a way as to allow plenty of quiet corners away from other people. Time and again the point was made that customers like getting things they cannot have at home, whether that be superb food or just an escape from the rest of the family.
I must confess the topic made it impossible to avoid a few double entendres along the way. For example, on learning that Chewton Glen places a tablet in every bedroom, it had to be explained that these are handheld computers used for discreetly ordering room service, rather than the little blue variety.
Peter Hancock is chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels