“Youth is wasted on the young.” That adage no longer applies, given how many — and how often — millennials are traveling the world in pursuit of authentic local food, drink, culture and outdoor adventures.
Hotels and resorts have taken note, investing to attract these bright, highly social travelers. Strategies include Instagram-worthy décor and architecture, public spaces to socialize, curated 24/7 music, trendy eats (local-organic, vegan, gourmet tacos, poke bowls, cold-pressed juices, pop-up dinners), inventive cocktails, pool parties and unique excursions arranged via custom apps and iPad-toting concierges.
Here’s a sampler of spots showing love for millennial travelers:
Serafina Beach Hotel, San Juan, Puerto Rico
On a random weeknight, guests and locals laugh on Serafina Beach Hotel’s ocean breeze-cooled patio sharing zesty small plates and fancifully garnished cocktails. The music, lively for a hotel restaurant, comes from the adjoining pool deck, where diners can dance as the pool glows purple, blue, green, yellow and pink. The chef asks diners for feedback and gives tips about surf breaks near Puerto Rico’s oceanfront Condado district, where he surfs and cooks.
Opened this spring — the island’s first new hotel to debut since Hurricane Maria last September — Serafina reflects a millennial spirit with its turquoise, sky-blue and white furnishings, custom-cut mirrors, paintings by local artists, indoor and balcony swings and eye-candy pendant lamps. Vivacious staffers use iPads to help guests book Experience the Island outings. Weekend pool parties are powered by guest DJs from, among other places, Manhattan and Miami. Mixologists from local and global clubs do bar-takeovers at on-site PiñaCo on Saturdays and Sundays. Locals mingle with visitors at the Chill-Out pool brunch.
“We created food and beverage concepts that appeal to the millennial market,” said general manager Pierre-Alex Maillard. The cuisine is Puerto Rico meets Italian. “We partnered with the creative team behind La Factoría, one of the island’s most popular bars, to create the cocktail program.” Uniforms? Yes: staffers wear sexy-slouchy Serafina tees.
The Cove at Atlantis, The Bahamas
In late 2017, Atlantis, Paradise Island Resort unveiled a revamp of The Cove art-directed by star-chitect Jeffrey Beers, textile-jewelry-tattoo designer Lulu DK and surfer-artist Jada McNeil. Guests can float on daybeds in the adults-only infinity pool while nibbling Sip Sip bar-bistro eats made with fresh ingredients from local farmers and fisherman. Thrill-seekers romp beneath built-in waterfalls, swoosh down slides on pyramids and tube at the adjoining seaside Mayan-themed Aquaventure water park, where admission is free for Cove guests. Rescued marine mammals reside on-property at Dolphin Cay sanctuary.
This Condé Nast Traveler 2018 Hot List property features sleek décor spiked with pop elements and sea-sky colors, a high-rise lounge, groovy tunes drifting from speakers embedded along palm-shaded paths, cabanas decorated with custom surfboards, and a soft-sand crescent beach that arcs into a mini peninsula. This open-air Sacred Space is studded with dancing figures made from scrap wood by local sculptor Antonius Roberts.
The Cove was rebooted using “curated partnerships with Bahamian artists, musicians, designers, chefs and farmers to let guests discover the Bahamian traditions,” said chief marketing officer Lauren Snyder. The Cove’s “Bahamas at Heart experience” appeals to millennials’ love of great food, surprises, connection to culture — and eco-consciousness through its foundation that helps preserve marine species and coral reefs.
Ladera Resort, St. Lucia
Couples speak so many languages at the summit of Gros Piton, a verdant volcanic spire edging the Caribbean Sea, that it resembles a millennial United Nations. Some stay close by at Ladera. Nestled on the beachside ridge between the two Piton Mountains, the resort's setting and design suggest why it pops up so often on Instagram.
Ladera’s tiered open-air dining and drinking space is packed with young couples and friends making toasts from sunrise to sunset. Its new Le Fleur bistro showcases pop-up chef events and a top-flight craft cocktail program. “Ladera has more types of produce growing right on property than any other resort on the island, and our chefs really make use of the bounty to whip up surprising, delicious dishes,” said vice president and general manager of sales and marketing Daly Mariatte.
Millennial-focused offerings include guided sunrise meditation overlooking the Pitons and immersive tours of drive-in volcano fields, Diamond Falls’ botanical and wild gardens, waterfalls, even an outdoor mud bath.
A shuttle whisks guests down to trendy Sugar Beach several times daily. Eco-conscious travelers appreciate Ladera’s natural air-conditioning: bi-level suites have ceiling vents and are open-faced on the sea-facing side. Each suite has a pool large enough for swimming on a private patio. Beds are draped with pretty netting. There are no TVs, but the Wi-Fi is strong — a must for posting FOMO-inducing pics.
Hotel Zeppelin, San Francisco
More hip than hippie, this urban retreat revived a century-old building in 2016 as a supercool playscape. The vibe: an upbeat update of the live-for-today 1960s countercultural zeitgeist — but with luxe showers.
The subterranean level enchants with hand-drawn comics on walls and ceiling, interactive artwork, Skee-Ball, shuffleboard and basketball hoops. Guestroom delights include lava lamps and vintage record players. Bold art brightens the lobby where guests become friends on pillowy seats by a massive restored fireplace and at communal tables where folks tap away on digital devices. Black lights reveal poetry by the bar.
The hotel’s Rambler restaurant serves craft coffee, cocktails and light bites. Smartphone addicts connect with the concierge via an easy app. This retro metro base camp is near Union Square on a heritage block bustling with cool bars. The hotel is designed to be “a launching pad for cultural exploration,” said sales and marketing director Aaron Feeney.
DogHouse, Columbus, Ohio
While in their early 20s, two home-brewers in Scotland dreamed up BrewDog small-batch craft beer. After mastering markets with their Punk IPA, they opened 12 pubs worldwide. Then they launched the world’s largest equity crowdfunding project — to build a beer-centric hotel. They chose Columbus, Ohio. Settled by German brewers, the city’s Ale Trail boasts 50-plus craft breweries.
Opened in August, DogHouse Columbus makes it respectable to sleep surrounded by alcohol. The scent of sour beer fermenting at the downstairs brewery will waft to 32 guest rooms, some of which allow dogs. The beer-based soaps are made locally by Glenn Avenue Soap Co. The coffee is Stauf’s, a Columbus favorite. DogTap’s food-cart-style menu includes cauliflower wings, superfood salads, Mexican street corn and big soft pretzels. After playing games at the lobby bar, pour a nightcap from your guest room tap — or grab a beer from the in-shower fridge.