Gilchrist & Soames just doesn’t cut it anymore. We’ve watched with delight the hotel industry’s dogged game of oneupsmanship in the toiletries department. “French-milled soap” and no-name shampoo were long ago replaced by tiny, shimmering, conspicuously branded bottles from Bulgari (Ritz-Carlton), Remede (St. Regis), and even Acqua di Parma (although for those, you’ll have to go to Milan’s Principe di Savoia). In yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, Valli Herman examined the trend, leading with the Hotel Bel-Air’s exclusive U.S. deal with “Halcyon blue, a relatively unknown Australian luxury brand of bath and body products that feature essential oils” and a Pasadena hotel’s recent launch of “Ajne Rare & Precious, a custom-blended fragrance previously available in Los Angeles only in gift baskets destined for Oscar nominees.” Herman also points out that, “The W Hotels’ partnership with Bliss Spas has helped to make bestsellers of Bliss beauty products.” But of course that was more than a mere partnership. W’s parent company, Starwood, purchased Bliss from LVMH in 2004 for $25 million, so it smells more like a synergy.
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