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Entries in Hotels (16)

Saturday
Apr272013

Hotels Go to Extremes to Give Guests a Good Night's Sleep 

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After years of focusing on every amenity under the sun – from gemstone spa treatments to panda-themed rooms to underwater hotel restaurants – the travel industry is getting back to basics.

The latest craze? Giving customers a good night's sleep.

At the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek in Colorado, the hotel recently brought on a Sleep Ambassador to train employees on the art of a restful night's sleep. The hotel offers a Sound Sleep TV Channel with music composed by a sleep expert, oxygen canisters to adjust to the altitude and slumber massages.

In Berlin, the Swisshotel uses light therapy, aroma therapy, nutritional supplements and a sound pillow as part of its deep sleep package.

Even airlines are getting in on the trend. Starting this summer, Delta Airlines will provide Westin Hotels' famous Heavenly Bedding in BusinessElite cabins. Now if only we could figure out a way to sleep in coach.

Sixty percent of adults report having difficulty sleeping almost every night, according to the National Sleep Foundation and hotels. Now places where you actually pay money to sleep have finally taken notice.

But the pioneer in taking sleep seriously is the Benjamin Hotel in New York City. The midtown hotel has had a sleep program in place since it opened 12 years ago. There's a sleep concierge, a 12-choice pillow menu and even a sleep guarantee -- yes that's a free night if you don't get your usual Zzzzs -- are offered.

"We noticed they travel with their own pillows, so instead we decided to bring the pillows to the guests," said Anya Orlanska, sleep concierge at the Benjamin.

Guests can choose their pillow type when they make their reservation or when they arrive at the hotel. Orlanska said guests are welcome to try all 12 pillows if they like, or pick the one most like the one they have at home.

Orlanska said there's more to a good night's sleep than a pillow. "We come to your room, put the shades down, put the temperature up so it's nice and warm, spray the room with lavender, leave you an eye mask, liquid on pressure points, advise you to have massage, either here or if you're more comfortable in the spa. We would talk about a midnight snack as well, if you'd like something to eat."

Midnight snack? Oh yes. In the form of peanut butter and jelly, a turkey sandwich or a warm glass of milk.


But what about people who aren't traveling to one of these sleep-conscious hotels, or aren't traveling at all?

Some of these techniques can be practiced at home.

"Here at the Benjamin, we call the guest an hour before they go to sleep and remind them to shut down their electronic devices," she said. "We recommend people do it at home as well. Shut the television, shut the computer. Put you phones in another room, this way if you wake up in the middle of the night you're not tempted to reach out for phone and check messages."

So if you’re reading this article before bed, maybe it’s time to hit that off switch.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan292013

World’s Worst Cities for Hotels

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Bad news for London travelers: Not only are London hotels expensive, they’re also reportedly among the world’s worst.

At least, that’s according to data from Trivago, a price-comparison hotel search site based in Germany and recently acquired by Expedia.

The “Online Hotel Reputation Index” is based on 34 million travel reviews from 140 different sites (including such names as Expedia, Priceline and Hotels.com).  Only hotels with a minimum of 60 reviews were considered, and a city needed to have at least 135 hotels to be included.

London came in last among the 100 cities ranked, and Dresden, Germany, came in first.  In second, came Hanoi, Vietnam.  And in the third spot, an American city: Portland, Ore.

Other cities that didn’t fare well: Los Angeles, which came in at 91 of 100, and Paris, which came in at 97 out of 100.

Here are the 10 best cities (1 – 10) for hotels, according to Trivago:

  • Dresden, Germany
  • Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Tokyo
  • Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Gdansk, Poland
  • Chicago
  • Seattle
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Budapest, Hungary

And the 10 worst cities (91 – 100) for hotels:

  • Los Angeles
  • Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Panama City, Panama
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Amsterdam
  • Paris
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • London

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov292012

FTC Warns Hotels over Resort Fees, Says They May Be 'Deceptive'

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Trade Commission issued a warning to 22 hotel operators that they may be breaking the law by misrepresenting the cost of a hotel stay by hiding mandatory surcharges, including "resort fees."

The FTC said it reviewed a number of hotel reservation sites but did not identify which companies it warned.  It found that some hotels exclude what are commonly referred to as resort fees from the quoted reservation price, for amenities like newspapers, exercise facilities or Internet access.  These fees can be as high as $30 a night or more.

The Palace Station Courtyard in Las Vegas has a resort fee of $14.99 per night, which increased one traveler's hotel bill by more than 50 percent, USA Today reported.

The hotels were warned that the FTC may take action to enforce and seek redress for any violations of the FTC Act.

Betsy Lordan, spokeswoman for the FTC, said this was the first time the agency has publicly stated its position that it is deceptive for the hotels not to include mandatory fees as part of the total price they quote.

Lordan said it did not reveal the names of the 22 hotel operators to give them an opportunity to come into compliance voluntarily before naming them publicly.

"Consumers are entitled to know in advance the total cost of their hotel stays," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz in a statement.  "So-called 'drip pricing' charges, sometimes portrayed as 'convenience' or 'service' fees, are anything but convenient, and businesses that hide them are doing a huge disservice to American consumers."

The FTC has previously warned about "drip pricing," described as a technique in which firms advertise part of a product's price and reveal other charges when the customer completes the transaction.  One common complaint involves mandatory fees that hotels sometimes list nearby but separate from the quoted price on their websites, the commission said.  

Sometimes a quoted price is accompanied by an asterisk that leads to another part of the hotel's website.  Other websites fail to identify applicable resort fees and instead inform consumers that other undefined fees may apply.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep132012

"Fifty Shades of Grey" Most Likely to Be Left at Hotels, Survey Finds

Aaron Davidson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Hotels may be creating packages around the novel Fifty Shades of Grey to attract visitors, but turns out visitors are leaving their copies behind when they check out of hotels.  Could they be worried about being seen with the book and want to ditch it as soon as they’re done reading?

Maybe.  More than any other book, Fifty Shades of Grey was left behind at Travelodge U.K. properties, according to the hotel chain’s annual survey of books left behind.  But more likely, the book is just so immensely popular that there are more copies making their way into hotel rooms in the first place.

According to Travelodge, 7,000 copies of E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey were left behind.  That’s nearly one-third of the total 21,786 books left behind in 36,500 Travelodge hotel rooms.

The other two books in the trilogy -- Fifty Shades Freed and Fifty Shades Darker -- also made the top 10 of books left behind.  Stieg Larsson’s trilogy that began with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is also very popular with travelers.

What else was left behind in the last year?  An elderly couple left behind not one, but a bag full of Karma Sutra books.  Hotels in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Liverpool reported the most e-readers left behind. And a CEO who is a regular guest left his collection of comic books.

Here are the rest of the top 10 books left behind in the Travelodge U.K. survey:

2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
3. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest, by Stieg Larsson
4. Fifty Shades Freed, by E.L. James
5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
6. The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson
7. Fifty Shades Darker, by E.L. James
8. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
9. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
10. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep122012

Hotel Rates Drop in 20 European Destinations

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Travelers know that fall is one of the best times to visit Europe: It's cheaper than summer, less crowded than summer and still-great weather for sightseeing.

But some experts say this fall in particular is ripe for deals in Europe.  It may in fact be the best time for Americans to visit Europe in years.

Hotel prices across the continent are down -- in some places, close to 40 percent compared to last fall.  Pierre-Etienne Chartier, vice president of the Hotwire Group, said this fall's hotel rates are the lowest in years.

According to Hotwire booking data, 20 of Europe's most popular destinations have had a drop in hotel rates compared to last year, three-quarters of those in the double-digits.  Cities like Prague, Geneva and Budapest are up to 37 percent less expensive this year than last.

Popular European cities like Berlin, Paris, Barcelona and Rome are seeing their lowest hotel prices on Hotwire in more than five years.  Average room rates in Prague, Budapest, Glasgow, Seville, Lisbon, Dublin, Valencia and Athens are all under $100 per night.

Chartier said the drop in prices could be, at least in part, attributed to the summer games.  It wasn't just London that created more hotel rooms.  Nearby European cities, anticipating an influx of travelers pre- and post-Olympics did the same -- to the tune of 11,000 rooms.  Those travelers didn't materialize and now the hotels are hoping to fill rooms through discounting.

Another reason for the price slashing is the European debt crisis. Locals, said Chartier, are being "more frugal with their money and discretionary spending."  With fewer Europeans traveling domestically, more hotel rooms are sitting empty, prompting hoteliers to discount room rates on travel booking sites.

For the past few years, Americans, Chartier said, have been in recovery mode and were starting to increase their spending. "Now," he said, "that trend is reversing."

But for Americans who do want to travel to Europe, "It's been a while since the opportunities were this good," Chartier said.

Airfare too, is showing signs of softness.  Hotwire said airfare to Europe is about level with last year, though a few destinations are cheaper.  Berlin, Dublin, Helsinki and Valencia are all cheaper to fly to this fall than last.

Travelocity air booking data showed that overall, airfare from the U.S. to Western Europe is virtually unchanged from last fall. Travelers can expect to pay about $1,060 round-trip, including taxes. Airfare is about 20 percent less now than it was during the summer months.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep072012

Most Expensive Hotels in the World Revealed

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- So, Sardinia anyone? If you’re a high-end traveler, Sardinia is where it’s at for ultra-expensive hotels. That’s according to Luxury-Hotels.com, a luxury-hotel booking site that ranked the world’s priciest hotels. Turns out Sardinia, Italy, is home to five of the top 11.

Nations notably absent from the list of the world’s most expensive hotels: France, England, the United States and the entire Caribbean.

The world’s most expensive hotel, according to the website, is Le Dune, Forte Village Resort in Sardinia, with an average rate this summer of $2,539 per night for a standard double room.

It’s located in Santa Margherita di Pula, a seaside resort along Sardinia’s southern coast. Le Dune was significantly more expensive than the runners-up, the Royal Mansour in Marrakech, Morocco, and the Hotel Pitrizza in Sardinia’s Porto Cervo. There, average rooms are going for $2,060 and $2,041 per night, respectively, this summer. Only hotels with a minimum of 20 rooms were considered.

The rankings are based on the hotel’s average rates for a standard double room, June to August 2012. The dollar figures reflect the minimum amount a visitor had to spend to stay at a particular hotel.

Sardinia is a Mediterranean island accessed by air and ferry. July and August are the high season, which is likely some of the driving force behind the exceptionally high hotel rates. Consider visiting in May or September for lower prices, fewer crowds and still-lovely weather.

[See the full list here.]

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug152012

IKEA to Open Budget Hotels

PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- IKEA, the Swedish budget furniture retailer, plans to open 100 hotels across Europe for cost-conscious travelers.

The first hotel is expected to open in Germany. The location is to be announced in the coming weeks.

Few other details are available, but the Financial Times reported the hotels will not use the IKEA name or be run by Inter IKEA, the company that owns IKEA. Instead, IKEA will collaborate with an established hotel operator.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug092012

New Fees: Are Cruise Lines and Hotels Taking Cues from Charge-Happy Airlines?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Carnival Cruise Line is testing out a new fee, one that would, among other things, allow priority seating at dinner.

Sound familiar? It should. While it may seem the airlines have cornered the market on fees, they may have a little competition from hotels and at least one cruise line.

Carnival's $49.95 Faster to the Fun fee is being tested on two ships starting later this month -- the Imagination and the Liberty. The program is an industry first, according to cruise experts.

"We've never seen anything like this," said Dan Askin, senior editor at CruiseCritic.com. "There are a couple tangentially related fee-for-perks programs, but they focus on late debarkation."

The charge is per cabin, regardless of the number of passengers. It includes the aforementioned priority dinner seating, plus early embarkation and choice of debarkation time, cabin availability and access to the ships' guest services desk during the cruise.

"If the trials are successful, it wouldn't surprise me to see others experimenting with similar programs," said Dan Askin, senior editor at CruiseCritic.com. "Lines have shown time and again their penchant for sharing ideas."

Opinion on the site's popular message boards is mixed. Many wonder how Carnival will execute the plan and how it will impact tendering (how you board or leave the ship if it's too big to dock), embarkation and guest services for the rest of the passengers. Others seem to think it's much ado about nothing and will have no impact on the vast majority of cruisers' experiences.

The cruise line has not disclosed how many packages it will sell, possibly a key component, Askin said, in the impact on cruisers who choose not to pay the fee.

Hotels, on the other hand, have charged resort fees for ages, but those, while not included in the base price of your stay, are not optional. But there are small signs that change is in the air.

EasyHotel, a London-based budget hotel chain with 12 properties across Europe and the United Arab Emirates, offers no-frills hotel rooms where travelers can opt to pay extra for everything from a remote control to early arrival to room cleaning to bag storage.

Starwood, which owns such brands as W, St Regis, Westin and Sheraton, gives a discount for every day a person opts out of maid service. The Make a Green Choice program gives guests a $5 voucher for food and beverage or 500 Starwood Preferred Guest points for every night they decline housekeeping services.

While Starwood's discount plan seems to be dipping a toe into the pool of hotel fees, the question is whether travelers will actually pay for them. Travelocity's 2012 Traveler Confidence Report found that travelers are highly unlikely to pay for services like cleaning, towels, concierge service or personal check in.

If hotels and cruise lines are indeed trying to mimic the airlines, it's a no-brainer from a financial perspective: The airlines raked in $22.6 billion in fees in 2011, according to a study by IdeaWorks, an airline ancillary revenue consultant, and Amadeus, a transaction processor for the travel industry.

But at what expense? "Public opinion of the airlines is at an all-time low. People feel completely nickeled and dimed, and many are limiting the times they fly or are foregoing flying all together," said Anne Banas, executive editor of Smarter Travel.

But, she points out, flying is sometimes necessary, and there are far fewer airlines to pick from than there are hotels and cruise lines. "Hotels and cruise lines potentially run a greater risk of losing business since customers have more choice. In other words, there are many more cruise lines and hotels to pick from than there are airlines. If a given hotel charges fees, consumers can more easily give their dollars to another down the street."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

Hotels with Highest, Lowest Guest Satisfaction

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The hotel industry continues to regain its footing from the economic downturn, and hotels may be taking a cue from the airlines: Charge more, provide less. That seems to be taking a toll on guest satisfaction, according to a study from J.D. Power and Associates of nearly 62,000 American and Canadian hotel guests between August 2011 and May 2012.

The study, now in its 16th year, examines guest satisfaction across luxury, upper upscale, upscale, mid-scale full service, mid-scale limited service, economy/budget and extended stay hotels.  Within each segment: reservations, check-in/check-out, guest room, food and beverage, hotel services, hotel facilities, and costs and fees are considered.

Overall guest satisfaction has declined since 2011. Satisfaction with check-in/check-out, food and beverage, hotel services and hotel facilities are at new lows since 2006. Satisfaction with guest rooms has also declined significantly.

“As the industry continues to recover and rates increase, hoteliers need to get back to the fundamentals and improve the overall guest experience,” said Stuart Greif, vice president and general manager of the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power and Associates.  “Charging guests more and providing less is not a winning combination from a guest satisfaction perspective, much less a winning business strategy.  In short, hoteliers are falling further behind and need to catch up.”

It seems the staff might be the key to hotel success, at least as success relates to customer happiness.  Satisfaction is significantly higher among guests with a high opinion of hotel staff.  It’s also good for business. These guests are more likely to use various hotel services, such as eating at a hotel restaurant.

Internet and WiFi access also play a big part in guest satisfaction. Hotels that charge for access have a lower satisfaction rate than properties that have free access or include it in the room rate.

It turns out that how a person books their hotel stay may also be related to their satisfaction.  The study found that guests who book their hotel stay with online travel agencies (Orbitz, Expedia and competitors) tend to be less satisfied with their stay then those who book directly with the hotel website or over the phone.  These travelers tend to be more price-sensitive, have lower levels of satisfaction with their stay, are less loyal to hotel brands and tend to report more problems.

Hotel brands that ranked highest in guest satisfaction in their respective segments:

  • Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton (for a third consecutive year)
  • Upper Upscale: Omni Hotels & Resorts
  • Upscale: Hilton Garden Inn and SpringHill Suites (in a tie)
  • Mid-Scale Full Service: Holiday Inn (for a second consecutive year)
  • Mid-Scale Limited Service: Drury Hotels (for a seventh consecutive year)
  • Economy/Budget: Jameson Inn
  • Extended Stay: Homewood Suites (for a third consecutive year)

Hotels that came in below average in satisfaction:

  • Loews Hotels (Luxury segment)
  • Grand Hyatt / Park Hyatt Hotels (Luxury segment)
  • Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts (Luxury segment)
  • DoubleTree by Hilton (Upper Upscale)
  • Sheraton Hotels and Resorts (Upper Upscale)
  • Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts (Upscale)
  • Delta Hotels & Resorts (Upscale)
  • Four Points by Sheraton (Upscale)
  • Radisson (Upscale)
  • Clarion (Mid Scale Full Service)
  • Quality (Mid Scale Full Service)
  • Ramada Inn / Plaza (Mid Scale Full Service)
  • Howard Johnson Hotels / Plaza (Mid Scale Full Service)
  • AmericInn (Mid Scale Limited Service)
  • Sleep Inn (Mid Scale Limited Service)
  • Baymont Inn & Suites (Mid Scale Limited Service)
  • Comfort Inn (Mid Scale Limited Service)
  • Ramada Limited (Mid Scale Limited Service)
  • Americas Best Value Inn (Economy / Budget)
  • Rodeway Inn (Economy / Budget)
  • Knights Inn (Economy / Budget)
  • Homestead Studio Suites Hotel (Extended Stay)
  • Extended Stay America (Extended Stay)

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul022012

Hotels Cash In on "Fifty Shades" Craze

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When a new craze sweeps the nation, you can bet the travel industry will try to figure out a way to cash in.

The Fifty Shades of Grey novel, which ABC News reports earns author E.L. James nearly $200,000 per day, has spawned a trio of hotel packages ready for your inner Anastasia Steele to book.

At Portland’s Heathman Hotel, where characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele have a few steamy moments, there are two add-on packages available. The “Inner Goddess Addition” costs just $40, but only includes a bottle of Pinot Gris.

However, the $2,750 “Charlie Tango No Limits” package includes far more:  Appetizers and white wine at the hotel restaurant for six people, a helicopter tour of the city, roses for the ladies in the party, dinner at the hotel and limo transfers.

Hints for non-fans: Steele is constantly talking with her inner goddess, Grey has a helicopter named “Charlie Tango,” and the couple drinks Pinot Gris.

Both packages are add-ons and room rates apply; no word about any restraints or other sexual accoutrements as explored in the bondage celebrating book.

In Seattle, where the majority of the book takes place, the Hotel Max offers the “Fifty Shades of Seattle” package which includes a two-night stay for two in an Artist King room on Hotel Max’s eighth floor, where the hallways are decorated with “The Making of a Date,” which according to the hotel is “a series of alluring, larger-than-life photos by Seattle photographer Amy Mullen that are sure to set the mood for love,” a 30-minute helicopter ride with Seattle Helitours and chauffeured luxury town car to take you there and back.

Fifty Shades of Seattle package rates begin at $1,669, plus tax and room assignments on the eighth floor are based on availability. The two-night package is available through Sept. 30, 2012 and must be booked at least seven days in advance. To book, call 866-986-8087 or visit hotelmaxseattle.com.

Three of the women-owned boutique Personality Hotels offer a ”Fifty Shades of Women” package that include accommodations in San Francisco’s Union Square at the Hotel Diva, Hotel Union Square or Kensington Park. The package comes with an intimacy kit, the details of which you can read about on the hotels’ website.

Rates start at $369 per night, excluding tax and based upon availability. For reservations, call 800.553.1900 or visit personalityhotels.com.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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