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Carving out Space for Teens

No parents allowed at hotel lounges exclusively for teenagers.

Thursday, September 29, 2011
Alexandra Cooper
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For families traveling with teenagers, finding a hotel that suits everyone’s needs can be difficult.
That’s where having a teen lounge comes in handy.

The JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa’s Blur Teen Lounge debuted in April to grateful families, according to Director of Guest Experience Kelly Harris.

“We felt like as a resort we had things to do for the kids and for the adults but we didn’t have much for the teens,” Harris said. “So we wanted to make something really unique that caters just to teens.”

The idea behind the Blur Teen Lounge was to offer an environment of relaxed luxury where teens could separate themselves from their parents while still remaining on hotel property.

The concept matches what many families are looking for in a teen-friendly resort, said Lissa Poirot, who runs the website Family Vacation Critic. Her site helps families plan their vacations and get ideas from other parents.

“Teens are going to be pretty fickle and don’t always want to be with you,” Poirot said. “They don’t want to do something that they consider fuddy duddy.”

While family time is the main purpose for taking a vacation, parents should keep in mind that teens are at an age where they want to declare their independence and therefore need a space that is uniquely their own, Poirot said.

One of the key factors to Blur Teen Lounge is a feeling of exclusivity. Aside from one JW Marriott attendant, the room is exclusively meant for teen use, with parents only able to enter if accompanied by a teen.

The space also features the latest trends and technology. The lounge two Apple iPads, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and a movie area, a 46-inch LCD HDTV and a DVD library.

“We asked some associates that have teens or have asked the teens themselves what they would like to see in there,” Harris said. “The important part of the lounge is to keep up with teens every year and keep updating.”

As far as games go, Harris and his team frequently ask their teenage guests what types of video games (rated up to the teen-appropriate “T”) that they would want in the lounge. The answers include the recently released Madden NFL 12 football game to the increasingly-popular Kinect games for XBOX 360, which incorporate full-body movement.

“I’m sure that the XBOX and Playstation will eventually have to be replaced with the newest gaming system that’s out there,” Harris said. “And that’s definitely something that we will have to do.”

Harris said the decor also had to have a teen-friendly feel, but still in keeping with the hotel’s standards.

The hotel does not charge an extra fee for use of the teen lounge, but teens do pay a $5 admission for “pop-tail hour.”

At the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona, The Hang Out has been a main attraction for families traveling with teenagers. The front desk team at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess estimated that, depending on the season, between 25 and 50 percent of guests are traveling with children, and 10 to 25 percent of those children are teenagers.

Valerie Lee, Director of Public Relations at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, said that one of the main goals of their teen lounge was to ensure the safety of their guests while letting teenagers relax and have a sense of independence.

“[Teens] like hanging out with their friends and cousins, and The Hang Out is a place they can do that and still feel like they’re on their own,” Lee said.

A focus group was conducted with teenagers to see what kind of activities teens liked to do on vacation to get a better idea of what sort of items should be included in the lounge.

The results across the board were the same: The lounges need to be modern and they need to have an air exclusivity.

Poirot of Family Vacation Critic agreed.

“Any parent has to remember what they felt like as a teen,” Poirot said. “A lounge creates a space where kids can hang out and walk away from their parents while their parents can still be assured that they’re okay.”

Alexandra Cooper
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division
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