Hotels can be a mixed blessing. There’s certainly something nice about a place that you can go and have somebody else make the bed and clean up after you. On the other hand, anyone who has ever tried to stuff a family of four into a 200-square foot room knows that it comes with a certain amount of frustrations, as well.
But what if there were a way around the space constraints without paying an outrageous sum to do so? Twenty years ago, you had Embassy Suites and, well, almost nothing else. Now, though, there are better options: Extended stay properties.
Extended Stay Properties
There are a number of hotel brands that fit into this category, and they all have similar attributes. The rooms are either large studios, or one or two-bedroom suites. They’re not fancy, but they’ve got all the basics including, in some, a small kitchen. The hotels also usually have washing machines in the building, as well as a gym and/or pool. During the week, breakfast and dinner are usually provided in a common dining area.
Extended stay properties were created for business travelers who would stay in the same location for several days. Over time, however, they became popular with leisure travelers, who appreciated the amenities but did not need high-end touches. The hotels were inexpensive to run, since they were generally suburban and operators didn’t need to pay city rents.
As the category grew, large players like Marriott and Hilton began to get involved. Extended stay properties offered a particularly attractive proposition. Independent hotel owners would actually build the properties, and they would pay franchise and management fees to the parents, so Marriott, Hilton and other corporations would receive a steady stream of payments without being responsible for the real estate. The companies soon realized that their growth opportunities would be greater if they could move into the cities, so they encouraged franchisees to urbanize. Costs in the center of the city were still dear, so they chose the B-locations instead of the As. Of course, cities change over time, and these properties often find themselves in a more desirable neighborhood over time.
Now, there are few areas without an ES property, and leisure travelers benefit. For half the cost of a standard Hilton or Marriott, you’ll have twice the amount of space. Some properties don’t offer daily housekeeping or extras such as a full-service restaurant, and their staffing levels tend to be lighter, but they more than make up for it with the price. They tend to run high occupancies, meaning that they make their money on occupancy, rather than pricing.
You may not have heard names like “Residence Inn” or “Homewood Suites,” but they should become part of your vocabulary if you are a frequent traveler. And, best of all, you’ll receive points in your hotel program of choice.
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