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USA Today 

USA Today

Travel

 

August 1, 2011

 

Hotel Offers Visitors a Chance to Snooze Under the Moonlight

 

By Charisse Jones

 

The outdoor bedroom at AKA Central Park

 

Do you dream of sleeping under the stars? How about on a hotel balcony, in the middle of Manhattan?

Travelers can do that and more this summer as hotels offer experiences that make the most of the outdoors, from outside "bedrooms," to a camp-out on a back patio, to rooftop yoga ….

The outdoor packages come at a time when an increasing number of business travelers are pursuing "blended travel," tacking on vacation days, often with their spouses and kids, to work trips. A 2010 study by Hilton's Homewood Suites found that 67% of frequent corporate travelers sometimes blended work with vacations. Hotels have been wooing those guests with perks ranging from enhanced fitness facilities to sightseeing tours.

Among the outdoor offerings:

The AKA Central Park will give penthouse guests the chance to get a night's rest on a bed perched on a 900-square-foot wrap-around terrace. Wood-burning fireplaces and champagne are among the perks ….

Cure for cabin fever

AKA Central Park's outdoor sleeping experience was inspired in part by this year's tough winter.

"Recognizing the scarcity and demand for private outdoor space in New York City, especially after a really difficult winter, we wanted to share our penthouse with those seeking one-of-a-kind experiences," says Elana Friedman, vice president of marketing for AKA, a luxury extended-stay chain of hotels.

AKA Central Park's penthouse suites, which are available through mid-October, can be rented for $3,000 a night. Guests can sleep outside on Frette bedding and have cocktails by a fire with a choice of snacks that include chocolate-covered strawberries. Also available: telescopes and e-readers preloaded with stories to fit the moment, such as romantic poetry.

"The inquiries have been so diverse — from New York City dwellers looking for something completely different to international travelers looking to see New York City in a different way," Friedman says.

Although the program was not envisioned as an annual offering, Friedman says, "If we continue to have the interest … we'll absolutely have it come back."