From candy floss-making butlers to drives around Buckingham Palace in a classic Rolls-Royce, The Dorchester hotel in London goes out of its way to create magical stays for Generation Alpha. Jenny Southan reports
Did you know that by 2025, there will be almost 2 billion members of Generation Alpha (children born between 2010 and 2024)?
According to McCrindle, they will be the the largest generation in the history of the world. For travel companies, this means there is a huge imperative to start catering to this demographic in ever-more thoughtful and imaginative ways – after all, if the kids are happy, the parents will be happy – and this equates to bookings. At Globetrender, we call this trend “Alpha Influence”.
With this in mind, I was interested to see that The Dorchester hotel in London has been making a special effort to respond to the needs and demands of Gen Alpha by launching a five-star “Family Time” package, so I checked in with my wife and our young daughter to see what the experience was like.
(Please note that most of the images here are generic ones supplied by the hotel – not of our own family.)We had an initial consultation with the hotel who asked about our daughter’s likes and dislikes, her favourite movie, and what activities she’d like to try over the course of our weekend “staycation” (we live in London).
Options included a cooking class in the hotel kitchen; spending a day in the life of a prince or princess with a car ride to Buckingham palace in a classic Rolls Royce; or a picnic, treasure hunt, bike or horse ride in Hyde park. Also included in the package is a special children’s afternoon tea at the lobby-level Promenade at The Dorchester, featuring a milkshake topped with sprinkles, bitesize sandwiches, cakes, scones, cookies, crudites vegetables, and strawberries and cream.
This was on our list of experiences to try – although when we got there our daughter was so sleepy she ended up barefoot and falling asleep on the sofa after eating all the sweet things from her plate. The staff didn’t seem to mind though and returned to top up our champagne glasses while we enjoyed the remainder of our own delicious afternoon tea.Once in our expansive suite with views on to the park and enough space for ten kids to run around, a pair of butlers (Vaib and Maria) whizzed in to set up an afternoon movie for our daughter in the bedroom, where a teepee tent was waiting for her, along with a single bed and various age-appropriate toys and colouring books. There were also two helium balloons, which she loved, along with a mini robe and slippers.While Maria got the movie ready, Vaib entertained our daughter by making hand-spun blue candy floss and fresh popcorn (neither of which she had ever tasted before). There was also a trolley with more snacks – a combination of healthy and sugary treats including themed cupcakes with characters from Sing the movie printed on top (such a great idea), cookies and chocolate lolly pops.If anything it was all so exciting it was hard to know what to do first – there were cherries from the fruit bowl to be counted, hot chocolate to be sipped, balloons to be chased and beds to be bounced on – but soon we were settled in the bedroom watching the film.In the evening, parents can avail of the hotel’s babysitting service so they can go for dinner at one of the hotel’s restaurants, although we chose to have dinner in the suite instead. After first ordering our daughter some pasta for supper and putting her to bed, we then called room service for our own meal, which we enjoyed with a glass of wine in the living room (the suite featured a large dining table, which made it feel homely).
Those staying at The Dorchester also have special access to the spa at sister hotel 45 Park Lane opposite so in the morning we all went over the road to try it out. Children are able to use the 20-metre swimming pool 9am-11am and 3pm-5pm daily when accompanied by an adult.When we went on a Sunday morning after breakfast in the suite, there was no one else in the pool so we had the place to ourselves, which was very luxurious and peaceful. It felt like a really special thing to experience and our daughter loved the warm water. Upon check-out, the doormen helped us with the pushchair and waved us goodbye.
Despite having links with Brunei, the Dorchester Collection is supportive of the LGBTQ+ community and, as two mums, we felt incredibly welcomed by all the staff at the property.
Our daughter had a brilliant time and although the hotel is very formal (which meant we felt anxious about her not being on her best behaviour) no one made us feel bad when she took her shoes off and ran down the corridor barefoot, which was a relief. (That’s not to say they’d endorse Gen Alpha rampaging around the public areas, I’m sure.)
Overall the team was incredibly human, good humoured and kind – which is essential when catering to Gen Alpha and their parents/caregivers.It’s also worth noting that guests of The Dorchester’s “Family Time” package who book one luxury room get 50 per cent off a second room, while those who choose a suite get a second room free, which is a great deal for larger families.