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Stressed remote workers turn to renting hotel rooms

Remote workers are turning to renting hotel rooms to escape the stress of the home office during the pandemic. Hotels, needing revenue, are rolling out perks.
Chicago Cityscapes And City Views
Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel's balconies in Chicago.Raymond Boyd / Getty Images file

In an effort to reverse pandemic-induced revenue losses reaching back to April, hotels in the U.S. and beyond are rolling out perk-laden packages for guests who would rather work remotely from a quiet hotel room than from the guest room or den at home.

“I have essentially been unable to escape my family for 5 straight months,” said Sommer Cronck, a real estate managing broker in Bellingham, WA. working at home with a husband, two dogs, and four kids. “I love them dearly, but I’d love to book a hotel room to get away for a day.”

Cronck is far from alone with that craving. And it is fueling the new trend.

The fast-growing list of properties offering “work from hotel” options includes the Thompson Nashville, Sacramento’s Kimpton Sawyer Hotel, The James New York – NoMad and dozens of others.

Heavily discounted rates and extra perks are appealing, of course, “but having a quiet workspace for the day can be the main draw for workers used to months of sharing space with a spouse, partner or family,” said Catherine Keywan, an interior designer with the Bergmeyer architectural firm. “The privacy of an enclosed room, as well as private restroom, is ideal for workers with pandemic anxiety regarding sharing space,” she added.

On the hotel side, day-use guests can generate much needed revenue, but they also represent a desirable market for hoteliers because “theses guests place limited demands on hotel staff and maintenance. And many hotel executives believe this is a good approach to long term account loyalty,” said hotel lodging consultant Bjorn Hanson

The Ritz-Carlton Denver now has a “Your Space” package that includes upgraded Wi-Fi, valet parking, business services and $20 in-room dining credit. (Rates start at $159; call to book). Guests have access to a room for an eight-hour workday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The program “provides the perfect solution for the reality of today,” said Janie Dim, the Los Angeles-based Vice-President of Growth for private aviation company, Wheels Up. Dim has family to stay with in Denver but booked a “Your Space” room to meet with local clients in town.

“With many offices closed due to the virus, it was helpful to have a fully functioning, clean and safe space to work so we could have a socially distant in-person meeting while on the road,” said Dim.

In Chicago, the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel has a “Blu Workspace” package available Mondays through Thursdays and bookable through December 29, 2020. Guests have access to their room from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at rates that start at $99. The Kimpton Hotel Allegro has a "Business without Baggage" day rate for a room that includes a computer monitor with laptop connectors. Bonus perks include a lunchbox filled with snacks and water, a hotel notebook, coffee mug keepsake, face covering and hand sanitizer. (Weekday rates start at $89; call to book).

The Ben, a boutique waterfront property in West Palm Beach, FL that opened in February 2020, just as the pandemic was arriving, offers “Professional Distancing” day use rooms from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for $125. That is up to 40 percent off the regular rate and includes a balcony room, parking, Wi-Fi, discount on food beverage in the hotel restaurant and a complimentary evening cocktail at the bar

Mandarin Oriental has “Working from M.O.” day-use packages with Wi-Fi, dining credits and fitness center access. The “Work with Us, Stay with Us” day use-package at Nobu Hotel Palo Alto comes with a Bento Box lunch, a caddy stocked with office supplies, printing services, a sanitizing kit and a bottled cocktail to take home at the end of the day.

Since June, Hotel Figueroa in downtown Los Angeles has been checking in guests for the Fig Works Perks program. In addition to day use of a room, guest extras include boxed water, parking, unlimited B&W copy machine privileges and access to the pool deck and fitness room. (Rates start at $129/day. For an extra $20 guests can stay overnight).

“Most Work Perk guests live near the hotel and are looking for a quiet, safe place with very fast Wi-Fi and comfortable air-conditioning, ” said Connie Wang, the hotel’s managing director, “They want a calming and relaxing atmosphere, away from the distractions of working at home.”

Will “Work from Hotel” replace “Work from Home” and become the new normal?

Molly Fergus, general manager of the TripSavvy travel site, considers “Work from Hotel” programs “a genius move” for both struggling hotels and remote workers seeking a change of scenery, but doubts many employers will get reimbursed for these costs by their employers.

And while offering a nice getaway, “I’m skeptical that work from hotels packages will be something remote workers will or can afford to use on a regular basis,” said Sunkee Lee, Assistant Professor of Organizational Theory and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business.

“It would be smarter for people to invest in a better home, with a better home office space, or faster internet,” he said.