For the Four Seasons, programs such as these are part of a larger vision. "The brand is very much a lifestyle brand. We see ourselves beyond just hospitality. This is just an extension of what we do. If you were to look at us in the digital world, we have Four Seasons' magazine online, where we talk about food, wine, fashion, art, watches, all the things that appeal to the segment," Gaulin says. "On taste.fourseasons.com, the entire site is focused on what we do in the area of food and beverage. You go there if you love food, you don't go there if you are a Four Seasons guest. And that really speaks to the unique perspective we have as a global company."
The Four Seasons is not alone in its attempt to reach out to customers in new ways -- and with wine -- to engage customers in conversations that go beyond a hotel sales pitch. Just this month, JW Marriott, the luxury portfolio of Marriott International ( MAR), launched a wine club. The offering includes a quarterly shipment of four single-serving wines along with tasting notes from a JW Marriott wine ambassador and suggested paired recipes from a hotel executive chef. Club members can choose two of the four wines they prefer and get a 750 ml bottle of each. "We talked to our guests about what they are most passionate about, and they are very passionate about culinary, culture and well-being," says Mitzy Gaskins, vice president and global brand manager for JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts. "And when we talk about culinary, wine is the biggest passion for them -- they have a sophistication about wine, and want to learn more." The wines for the program are supplied by Treasury Wine Estates ( TWE), the world's largest publicly listed wine-only company. But just as with Four Seasons, the JW Marriott wine club is part of a larger vision the hotel has for itself and its role in the lives of guests. In Marriott's case that role includes programs focused on well-being and culture as well as culinary offerings. "We want to make sure that when they come to JW they have an experience, versus just a comfortable bed and nice stay," Gaskins says. "We want them to take something away with them."