When the Lodge at Spruce Peak, a Destination by Hyatt ski resort in Stowe, Vermont, rolled out a robust lineup of nighttime hiking experiences in 2020, it was largely in response to the pandemic, intended to offer guests a Covid-safe evening outdoor activity.
Fast-forward to now, and pandemic-related concerns are largely in the rearview mirror. The Lodge at Spruce Peak’s nighttime hikes, however, have proven more popular than ever, as a growing number of travelers seek out after-dark experiences that go beyond the norm.
“Prior to Covid, there wasn’t a ton of demand for nighttime, family-friendly activities,” said Anderson James, marketing and public relations manager for the property. “But so many of our guests come here to take full advantage of the outdoors. So offering activities for pre- or post-dinner lets guests normally might just be hanging out or watching a movie to get the kids outside, potentially learn something and create more memories.”
During colder seasons, the Lodge at Spruce Peak offers a 45-minute Full Moon Snowshoe Hike once a month, outfitting guests in snowshoes, poles and headlamps. Twilight snowshoe hikes and cross-country ski tours are offered several times a week. All of the property’s outdoor evening activities are led by guides from its tour operator partner, Spruce Peak Outfitters.
According to James, the nighttime programming appeals not only to the property’s core demographic of family travelers but also to couples. Each tour typically attracts somewhere between 10 to 20 guests.
“It’s just been so popular that we’ve kept it going,” said James, adding that The Lodge at Spruce Peak is expanding its nighttime outdoor offerings, such as a stargazing hike experience it piloted last summer.
Stargazing has emerged as one of the trendiest nocturnal pursuits in hospitality in recent years, with rural properties in particular leveraging their access to dark skies that offer optimal star-viewing conditions.
The Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Ariz., for example, reports heightened interest in its complimentary stargazing program, which debuted a few years ago. The outdoor stargazing sessions give guests the opportunity to get a closer look at the galaxy via telescope, under the guidance of an educator from the University of Arizona’s Mount Lemmon SkyCenter observatory.
“When we first launched, we offered it one day a week,” said Brandy White, director of sales and marketing at the Loews resort. “And now it’s become so popular that we’re doing it three nights a week.”
Prior to the pandemic, the property’s stargazing program primarily attracted corporate and association groups, whose organizers were looking to complement their events with unique programming. In more recent years, however, a larger share of leisure guests have opted to join the sessions, including families.
“It’s not just an ‘adult activity’ or ‘kid activity’ but something everyone can do together,” said White. “And it’s something that’s easy, educational and something that you’re not going to see at every resort.”
The Six Senses Residences & Spa Courchevel. Photo Credit: Six Senses
A late-night ‘bash’ on the slopes
Sometimes, nighttime experiences can grant guests a behind-the-scenes peek into after-hours hotel operations.
At the ski-oriented Six Senses Residences & Spa Courchevel in France, guests can ride along in a piste basher, or ski slope groomer, letting them experience “all the hard work that goes into preparing the ski pistes every night.”
Wellness, too, has expanded its reach into the evening. For example, at the two Four Seasons resorts in Bali — the Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran Bay and the Four Seasons Bali at Sayan — outdoor yoga classes are offered when there is a full moon.
According to Camilla Chiam, senior director of public relations and communications for the Four Seasons Bali resorts, Full Moon Yoga sessions draw inspiration from the significance of purnama, or a full moon, in Balinese-Hindu culture, with the lunar event celebrated as an especially “auspicious time.”
The Four Seasons Bali at Sayan offers a Night Spa Ritual, an evening wellness experience that takes place outdoors along the Ayung River. The ritual comprises a 90-minute Warm River Stone Massage, using steam-heated river stones, as well as a Crystal Healing Facial that includes a facial massage and the use of rose and sandalwood oils.
“The night spa experience has become increasingly popular, particularly among couples,” said Chiam, adding that the peaceful, open-air setting helps boost the romance factor.
Tour operators are also recognizing that for many travelers, nighttime excursions may hold more appeal than daytime activities, especially in markets where overtourism is a factor.
Canada-based ToursByLocals, for instance, touts a variety of after-dark tours, including experiences that promise “insider access to must-see spots that are less crowded and more magical at night.”
Among the company’s nighttime offerings is a private, three-and-a-half-hour walking tour in Rome. The Rome After-Dark Highlights Tour includes stops at a variety of city-center sites known for their crowds, including the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.
In the warmer months, nighttime also brings cooler temps.
“How to avoid the Roman summer heat?” asks the tour’s guide, Flaminia, in its description. “It is easy. Just have a walk by night.”