Road warriors of the world, relax.
If you’ve been looking for lodging that delivers more bang for fewer bucks, you may be in luck. Thanks to the development of several new hotel chains, travelers are increasingly enjoying high-tech amenities and cutting-edge style without spending $200 or more a night.
The concepts vary, but the idea is to offer lodging geared to today’s more mobile, tech-savvy traveler. From Starbucks-like lobbies with free Wi-Fi to guestrooms with personal-media plug-ins, these new additions encourage guests to bring their lifestyle with them wherever they go. You won’t find a spa or valet parking, but at around $150 per night, you can enjoy the road a little more these days at any of the following:
The vibe: Pier 1 meets Wolfgang Puck. Located near the Boise airport, the first Cambria Suites opened in mid-April. As a brand-new concept from Choice Hotels, the soon-to-be chain is designed to be hip (but not too hip), health-oriented (but not in your face about it) and a home away from home for tech-savvy travelers.
The digs: Each 400-square-foot suite features a sleeping area, separate living area and spa-inspired bathroom, along with two flat-panel LCD TVs, CD/DVD player and MP3 jack. Other amenities include a refrigerator, microwave and complimentary high-speed wired and wireless Internet access.
The social scene: The hotel’s two-story lobby features several sitting areas, a 52-inch flat-screen TV and a café-like dining area. Black-clad baristas offer Wolfgang Puck coffee drinks, Numi organic teas and a full complement of beers, wines and liquors. Guests can grab freshly made convenience items or sit down and order drinks, appetizers or a variety of light dinner items. Other amenities include an indoor pool, spa tub and well-equipped fitness room.
The nitty-gritty: 50 hotels currently in development with upcoming openings set for Green Bay, Wis. (August), Appleton, Wis. (September) and Akron, Ohio (November). Hotels at the Mall of America and Savannah (Ga.) airport are projected to open in December. Rates start at $149 per night. Reservations: www.cambriasuites.com/, (877) 424-6423.
The vibe: Multi-tasking amid the 24/7 lifestyle. With a free-flowing layout and cross-trained employees, Hyatt Place eschews the old-school rules of traditional hotels. The front desk and café share a long, curving counter; employees are trained in multiple departments; and guests can check in, order food or hit the gym 24 hours a day.
The digs: 510-square-foot suites offer a sleeping area with Hyatt’s Grand Bed and a large living area with an eight-foot sectional sleeper-sofa. The 42-inch high-definition TV is viewable from either one and features a plug-in panel for portable media and laptops. High-speed wired and wireless Internet access are complimentary.
The social scene: Stepping into The Gallery, aka the lobby, guests can check themselves in via a self-service kiosk or request assistance from one of the Gallery Hosts on hand. A small bar/café offers wine, coffee drinks and made-to-order food items — just swipe your key card and it’s automatically billed to your room. A TV den, indoor pool and exercise room are also on site.
The nitty-gritty: Currently, there are 19 Hyatt Places — most are converted AmeriSuites — with another 100 on tap by the end of 2007. Average rates are $125–$160 per night. Reservations: www.hyatt.com/, (800) 591-1234.
The vibe: Urban renewal with beach-house chic. The most boutique-oriented of the new chains, Hotel Indigo is designed to provide an oasis in the city. Hardwood floors, painted furniture and bold color schemes dominate the decor, which is updated regularly to echo the changing seasons. Add a few well-dressed guests and you’ve got a Coastal Living photo spread come to life.
The digs: Like the hotels themselves, guestrooms vary by property, but all offer TVs, coffeemakers and bathrooms with Aveda toiletries. Complimentary Internet access is provided via either high-speed wired or wireless network.
The social scene: Bold decor aside, public spaces are more inviting than intense. Guests can eat breakfast and dinner in the Golden Bean restaurant, enjoy a cocktail in the fashionable Phi Bar or curl up with their laptop (free Wi-Fi) and Starbucks in one of the lobby’s oversized chairs. All properties have business centers and fitness centers, many have pools, and pets receive a warm welcome.
The nitty-gritty: Currently, there are eight Indigos, ranging from Atlanta to Ottawa and Scottsdale to Sarasota. Soon-to-debut properties include Latham, Mass. (June), Buffalo/Amherst, N.Y. (July), Knoxville, Tenn. (September) and Boston/Newton, Mass. (October). Rates start at $150 per night. Reservations: www.hotelindigo.com/, (866) 2 INDIGO (866 246-3446).
Meanwhile, several other new hotel brands are on the horizon:
: Loft-style living for business travelers. Expected debut: Plano, Texas (December).
: Loft-style lodging “carrying the DNA of W.” Four properties expected to open first quarter 2008.
: Extended-stay accommodations with large kitchens, modular work spaces, and Westin Heavenly Bed bedding. Expected debut: Lexington, Mass. (first quarter 2008).