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Hotels Aim to Help Guests Travel Lighter

Nora Walsh (The New York Times)

For many travelers, packing a suitcase is a stressful endeavor; packing light, a perpetual fantasy. To help guests ditch excess baggage, hotels are partnering with fashion companies to deliver Instagram-worthy outfits directly to their guest rooms.

Don’t Pack It: Rent It

In December, W Hotels teamed with subscription fashion service Rent the Runway to launch a closet concierge amenity at select hotels, including W Aspen, W South Beach, W Washington D.C. and W Hollywood. Upon booking, guests at these hotels gain access to Rent the Runway’s more than 15,000 women’s styles, as well as an edited selection of clothing and accessories based on each destination. For a one-time fee of $69, guests can rent four items for up to eight days; everything will be pressed and ready-to-wear upon arrival. When checking out, guests just return the rented items to the front desk.

“It’s great for single-use pieces like winter boots or going-out gear in Aspen that is heavy and bulky to pack, expensive to buy and something travelers won’t likely reuse at home,” said Anthony Ingham, global brand leader at W Hotels Worldwide. (W Aspen rooms start at $299.)

While the initial concept was geared toward a leisure traveler, the demand has been great among millennial professionals on corporate business trips.

“This type of guest rarely checks a bag and has the tendency to blend work and play,” Ingham said.

Fashion startup Trvl Porter offers a similar service. Stefanie Nissen, a former stylist and designer, founded the company in part to address clothing overconsumption with a more circular approach to fashion.

“Renting instead of buying lengthens the life cycle of clothing and helps reduce waste going to landfills,” she said.

Before a trip, Trvl Porter clients are asked to provide information their style preferences, destination and type of travel that a professional stylist uses to create a personalized look book. Customers then select two or more items ($65 each) from local and national brands for two-week rentals that are shipped directly to any hotel within the United States.

“We take the hassle out of planning outfits and packing with a personally styled solution,” Nissen said.

Trvl Porter recently launched a partnership with CitizenM hotels in New York City and Boston that offers guests 30 percent off clothing rental fees (rooms from $149).

Palm Beach, Florida-based Lady Jetset ships high-end rental clothing to travelers all over the world. Guests staying at the Shelborne South Beach (rooms from $299) enjoy same-day delivery (about $10), concierge unpacking and free return shipping. The fashion service offers a selection of designer-label cocktail dresses, cabana wear and ski wear, with styles that sell for $500 or more, available for rent for around $80 plus shipping fees.

“Our clients tell us a main reason they use our services is because of the ‘selfie effect,’ meaning they don’t want to be seen on social media wearing the same thing twice,” said Bethany Sharp, president and co-founder of Lady Jetset.

Don’t Pack It: Borrow It

Troutbeck Estate, a 250-acre retreat in New York’s Hudson Valley, launched a complimentary “borrow closet” for men, women and children in partnership with the classic British heritage brand Hunter. The closet is stocked with more than 50 outdoor staples from down vests and jackets to rain boots and backpacks stuffed with a field guide, binoculars, compass, first aid kit and picnic blanket (rooms from $240).

“Our guests love it and rely on it daily,” said Anthony Champalimaud, owner of Troutbeck Estate. “Whims strike without notice. If guests decide they want to stroll through a snowfall, they’re prepared.”

Travelers can also borrow sunglasses from eyewear company Morgenthal Frederics during their stay.

Wellness warriors staying at Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards in New York City have access to a range of perks designed to lighten their luggage load (rooms from $700). As part of the hotel’s partnership with the activewear brand Rhone, guests can borrow workout gear at the front desk. The amenity is an extension of the hotel’s “roombar” service that includes Rhone women’s and men’s wear available for purchase (prices from $88). Guests who are also Equinox members receive the extra perk of having their workout wear laundered for free during their visit.

In Chicago, The Gray’s “Forgot it? We’ve Got it” program allows guests to borrow Lululemon fitness apparel. Thirty shorts and shirts in a variety of men’s and women’s sizes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Lululemon’s Swiftly Tech Short Sleeve Crew is a favorite among female guests (rooms from $159).

“The program was launched to help travelers reduce the stress of cramming items into a carry-on,” said Bobby Gonzalez, director of concierge services at The Gray. “We believe that packing light shouldn’t come at the expense of guests’ comfort and daily routines.”

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