Forget the chocolate mint on the pillow. More hotels are sweetening guests' stays with unique services such as complimentary après-ski hot chocolate and s'mores by the hot tub — or for risqué romantics — chocolate body paint in the minibar. Not all extras are sweet, chocolate or decadent, but they are about a distinct experience.
"People want something that takes you out of the ordinary," says Amy Ziff, editor at large for Travelocity. Luxury hotels are leading the way in offering unique — and sometimes quirky — services. But the idea is beginning to spread to more moderate chains. Boutique chain Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group focuses on chic add-ons such as a pillow library, a pet psychic and a power hour during which vitamin-infused health drinks are served.
Some special services hotel guests are bound to remember:
•Clinton Hotel South Beach. This 88-room Art Deco hotel in South Beach, Fla., is where guests can find the Kama Sutra Lover's Paintbox — including three flavors of chocolate and a paintbrush — in the minibar. The price: $45.
The Fairmont. At the Fairmont Vancouver, located at the airport, the hotel's 575-cubic-foot fish freezer stores a guest's prize catch after a day of fishing. If requested, the hotel chef will cook it for dinner. Fish storage is gratis. Dinner costs $25 to $100 a person, depending on the menu.
For guests who want to bathe in luxury, the bath sommelier at the Fairmont Chicago offers a menu of gourmet-scented sudsing options. Among the choices are a soothing sugar bath with vanilla, mango and coconut extracts or an energizing soak with mint. A bath costs $60.
•The Four Seasons. At the San Diego property, surf concierge J.C. Hill fits guests with a wetsuit and board in preparation for a two-hour surfing lesson, followed by time to ride the waves.
At the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, guests at the pool who have had too much fun on the Strip the night before are offered cucumber slices for their eyes.
The Santa Barbara, Calif., property pitches tents in the rooms of guests with children 3 to 8.
The Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Whistler (British Columbia) properties are where just-off-the-slopes skiers are offered complimentary hot chocolate and s'mores by the outdoor heated pool and hot tub.
•Kimpton hotels. During the complimentary morning "power hour" in the lobby of Washington, D.C.'s Topaz Hotel, shots of flavored potions infused with vitamin B or ginseng are served daily.
As part of 5th Avenue Suites' pet-friendly program, the Portland, Ore., hotel brings in a pet psychic on the last Friday of each month. Readings are complimentary, or owners can set up a private, 10-minute visit for $30.
Guests at The Hotel Burnham in Chicago might want to check out the complimentary pillow library. Visitors can choose from a plethora of pillows, including one that reduces snoring or another filled with buckwheat to stimulate acupressure points.
•Litchfield Plantation. This golf and beach resort in Pawleys Island, S.C., offers custom-made scavenger hunts that are popular for wedding parties, family reunions and corporate retreats. The hunt includes clues with a theme relevant to the occasion.
•Mandarin Oriental New York. This opulent hotel teamed with diamond boutique Lockes Diamantaires to offer loaner jewels for brides getting married in the hotel. There are insurance fees and a contract has to be signed.
The Ritz-Carlton. On South Beach, Fla., a tanning butler strolls poolside from noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday with a range of complimentary sunscreens and a hand for those hard-to-reach shoulder areas.
For chillier times, the Boston hotel offers a fireplace butler who will tend a fire in one of the 43 suites, three guest rooms or two conference areas. Guests choose from a firewood menu that offers a quick-burning birch, a long-burning oak or a sweet-smelling maple.
At the Ritz in Lake Las Vegas, Night Sky Guides, who have undergone astronomer training, provide celestial tours of the desert sky for stargazers looking through hotel telescopes. Prices range from $15 a person for a one-hour telescope "tour" to a $95-a-person Stars & Cigars tour for five that includes cognac and cigars.
•Sanderling Resort. Near an Audubon sanctuary, this upscale hotel in the Outer Banks of North Carolina offers a complimentary bird-watching tour of Pine Island. During the fall and spring, birders are taken to a nearby hunt club to watch a tractor distribute feed and see hundreds of traveling birds swoop down for lunch.
•Ikal del Mar. This small, villa-style resort off of the Riviera Maya in Mexico offers a $150, 50-minute hammock massage in an open-air jungle spa. The massage starts on a traditional table, then moves to a hammock for a back rub by the masseuse's feet.