As families are making their summer getaway plans, the nation’s hotels and motels, still suffering from the recession-related decline in business travel, are trying to get a piece of the vacation action. As USA Today reports, they are rolling out the red carpet for leisure travelers.
So what’s new? Herewith are five enticements being proffered by hotels hoping you and your loved ones decide to spend a few days with them this summer:
1. Free food. Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn and Suites offer guests a free breakfast buffets. Embassy Suites goes one further, with chefs cooking up fresh made-to-order omelets. As for dinner, check out Homewood Suites where you can dine on Asian salad with shrimp, rotisserie chicken and a do-it yourself salad bar.
2. Free Wii. Want to enjoy the evening complimentary wine reception but the rug rats have other ideas? Kimpton Hotels is providing Wii stations at its cocktail hour, loaded with Dance, Dance Revolution.
3. Loot. Marriott hotels will be gifting each family with children’s activity books and silicon bracelets decorated with popular Nickelodeon stars when they check in. Want more? For $20, they’ll toss in a backpack and Sponge Bob pillowcases. This is in addition to the Marriott resorts weekend getaways featuring SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and opportunities to get slimed.
5. Late checkout. Want one last dip in the hotel pool? Ask and you shall receive. Many hotels and motels will extend your check out time if you request it. It has become such a popular perk, Kimpton is making 2 p.m. its formal room vacate time on weekends.
That’s all well and good, but what do parents want from hotels? We don’t need to guess. More than a few parents took to USA Today’s comment board to say what they would like to see. Their wish list:
1. Connecting rooms. Mom and dad would like a little privacy, and would rather not smoosh the entire family into one room.
2. Segregation. Business travelers are tired of hearing children run the halls screaming. Families are tired of feeling guilty when their kids behave like kids. The solution: separate floors dedicated to each group of travelers.
3. Teenagers are kids too. Stop charging the full adult rate for children over the age of 12. Financially strapped families are likely to reward you for your kindness with their business.
4. The pool. More floaties and other water toys would be a great add, parents say. Travellers not accompanied by children say they would love a childfree hour in the water. Since we at Babble realize that might not be feasible for many hotels and motels, here’s a suggested compromise: a dedicated lap lane in the pool for use by adults only.
5. More freebies. Never mind the free branded toys. Offer complimentary access to the room fridge and snack bar. Those $5 bags of peanuts kids take when their parents backs are turned add up fast.