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Hotels aim to become go-to for business women with female-oriented amenities
WASHINGTON (CBS News) -- The latest trend in the hotel industry is catering to business women. But for some, the perks bring a different kind of reservation.
Women are the fastest-growing segment of business travelers in the country, and that has hotels paying attention. They're offering new programs designed by and for women to get their business.
Inside the Four Seasons in Washington, it doesn't take long to figure out that one room is a lot more than standard.
Dirk Burghartz, general manager at the Four Seasons, showing a room, said, "We've added Cosmopolitan, Women's Health and Glamour."
They also share a soothing, scented eye mask with guests.
Burghartz said the hotel will officially roll out a pilot program right after the New Year. They're calling it "Gal on the Go," and it targets women traveling for work, a group that now makes up nearly half of all business travelers -- 48 percent in 2012.
"We think that is a very valuable and important market to us and we want to cater to that market specifically," Burghartz said.
If you're part of that market, at no additional cost, you get a room that's meant to make traveling easier.
Burghartz said, "It really started here in the bathroom."
The rooms now feature a professional hair dryer, a flat iron and name-brand hair products.
But it's not just happening at the Four Seasons. At the XV Beacon in Boston, women get an "Oh No" kit that includes make-up remover cloths and earring backs.
In Atlanta, the Hyatt Regency consulted businesswomen and now offers a low-cal menu, and some hotels are taking the extra step of reserving an entire floor just for women, such as at the Hamilton Crowne Plaza in Washington, which has key access. The concept grew out of the idea that women wanted to feel safer on the road. But within the industry, there is debate over how much is too much.
Cary Broussard, a former hotel executive who now teaches in New York University's Hospitality Program, warns against stereotyping and marginalizing women.
"Some hoteliers are on the bandwagon to put more things in the room because they think women want a pink this or that, and men want, I don't know, chicken wings," Broussard said. "But let's look at it, as women are really smart and they can see though things."
At the Four Seasons, they say that's why the testing phase, with feedback from women, is so important. Burghartz said, "Every time you talk about doing something gender-specific, you always walk a line of could it be misinterpreted as being discriminatory or offensive. What you see here today is (from when) they said, 'This is great. We love it. It makes sense. It makes my life a whole lot easier'."
CBS News' Jan Crawford added the items for women can be changed, and if men would like the amenities the women have, they just need to ask.
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