Luxury classroom experiences are the latest high-end resort amenity, complete with private 'study cabanas,' catered lunches by world-class chefs, and on-hand tutors

Luxury classroom experiences are the latest high-end resort amenity, complete with private 'study cabanas,' catered lunches by world-class chefs, and on-hand tutors

December 17, 2020
  • Luxury hotels are partnering with professional educators and tutoring companies to offer remote learning support for their ultra-wealthy guests as part of a larger effort to boost sales.
  • Many resorts, like Montage Hotel & Resorts and Auberge Resorts Collection, have launched resort-based programs, pivoted their staff to childcare, and transformed ballrooms into COVID-19-safe classrooms. 
  • Another property, The Four Seasons Punta Mita in Mexico, offers "study cabanas," in-person tutoring from local educators, study buddies, "screen doctors," and complimentary IT support to their guests. 
  • These programs are increasing reservations and incentivizing guests to stay longer, the resort chains reported.
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To survive the COVID-19 pandemic, some luxury hotels catering to ultra-wealthy jetsetters are offering a new amenity: remote learning. Through partnerships with professional educators and tutoring companies, these high-brow hotels have created tailored packages aimed at helping parents get some real R&R by alleviating their Zoom education concerns. 

And they're paying off. The resorts are pivoting staffers to childcare, filling mid-week lulls with extended stays, and seeing a boost in sales through providing education as their latest luxury amenity.

Read more: Wealthy executives are ditching commercial travel for the 'country club' experience of private jets, and luxury destinations are pivoting to meet demand

A luxury classroom experience on premises

Over at Montage Los Cabos, the schedule begins at 8 a.m. with a study hall monitored by hotel staffers and lunch at 12:30 p.m. (No brown paper bags here — Montage offers students catered "school" lunches by world-class chefs.) Spanish lessons begin at 2 p.m. and electives in various subjects are offered in the afternoon to top off a well-rounded curriculum. 

The resorts reported that they've been able to avoid layoffs by shifting staffers to fit childcare needs and hiring local professional tutors to assist guests with particular subjects. The hotels are also using their ballrooms that have largely been deserted since the start of the pandemic as classrooms.

In partnership with leading test prep company The Princeton Review's, which employs professors as tutors, Montage Resorts offers more extensive virtual tutors for those who need afterschool homework help, which comes at no additional cost for students enrolled in Montage Academy. 

Read more: Some wealthy parents are eager to give their children multicultural experiences, from elaborate trips to nannies that speak multiple languages. During COVID-19, they've had to get creative.

Extended-stay education 

For guests who are looking for a home away from home, Auberge Resorts Collection's Remote with Auberge program is available across their global portfolio of five-star properties, including resorts in Los Cabos, Mexico, Aspen, Colorado, and Napa Valley and the recently opened Mauna Lani resort in Hawaii. 

The luxury properties offer guests who stay a minimum of seven nights structured education days through the Learn with Auberge program. Tutors are available through a partnership with Advantage Testing, a US-based tutoring service that specializes in remote academic tutoring by graduates from top universities. Virtual tutoring (rates begin at $195 for 50 minutes, up to $875 for 50 minutes depending on the student's needs) is available one on one or in a small group setting in the comfort of guests' private suites or outdoor locations. The program also abides by US safety measures and requires social distancing and the use of masks for in-person interactions. 

Available for extended stays only, Learn with Auberge incentivizes guests to stay longer, Sanjiv Hulugalle, vice president and general manager of the Mauna Lani resort, told Business Insider. 

"Remote with Mauna Lani has been extremely successful for our bungalow sales," Hulugalle said, adding that the bungalows start at $12,000 per night. "With the increase of the flexible work-from-home schedules, we are seeing a trend of 10- to 21-day bookings for these private homes within the resort." The majority of the guests are tourists on vacation, Hulugalle said, looking for a new way to work remotely.

Since its launch in the fall, the extended-stay initiative has helped properties fill a need for midweek business as it allows families to travel together and stay longer without worrying about their children's education. The program reported an increase in reservations as well as success pivoting to childcare and nanny offerings for younger guests. 

Similarly, the Four Seasons Punta Mita in Mexico launched a "Schoolcations" curriculum to make distance learning convenient for parents and their children staying at the property. The program kicked off when the five-star oceanfront property reopened in July as a way to utilize the teen's club, game room, and pool and beach activities in a safer and more guided environment. 

Parents can sign their children up for "study cabanas" — beach cabanas transformed into private workstations equipped with WiFi, headphones, snacks, and ocean views, available for $150 a day, by making reservations via the concierge team. The resort also offers in-person tutoring from professional local educators ($150 per hour, per person) who come onsite to help students with assignments and homework, study buddies — an extension of their nanny program — to sit in on virtual classes and help kids with school work ($60 per hour, per person), and complimentary IT support from the resort's dedicated tech team through a 24-hour hotline. 

What's more, "Screen doctors" are at guests' disposal to clean laptops and tablets and provide lap pads for those wanting to learn the periodic table poolside. The hotel also teaches Mexican culture classes with lessons on the indigenous Huichol people, art, folkloric dance, cooking, and Spanish language. 

Another luxury resort in Mexico, Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, partnered with TakeLessons, a US-based online tutoring company with instructors in over 300 subjects, to provide guests with virtual tutoring. 

Guests are able to arrange virtual meetings with TakeLessons educators, starting at $100 per session, to discuss their students' goals. The resort also offers dedicated Study Suites with WiFi, technical support, and, of course, sparkling ocean views.

"As a father myself, I know how challenging it is for parents to navigate remote learning," the hotel's general manager Fernando Flores told Business Insider. The goal is for guests to extend their stays without the worry of their kids falling behind in school.

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