Extended stay hotels service mobile society

Extended stay hotels service mobile society

Hedbor, Eloise Roberts

There was a time when a residence hotel was populated with transient construction crews rubbing shoulders with fellows who were rather down on their luck.

But today’s “extended stay” hotels are aimed at an entirely different clientele. Gone are the work boots clunking through the lobby. Today the hotel manager may be hosting daily receptions so that guests can relax and perhaps do a little networking. Extended stay hotel facilities – ranging from the Inn at Essex to Smart Suites in South Burlington to the Best Western Inn and Suites in Rutland – are catering primarily to the business traveler.

There is no hard and fast definition of “extended stay,” but generally it means from a week to a month or more. The accommodations for extended stay include not larger rooms, but complete kitchens, separate living and sleeping areas, and many other features to make guests feet right at home.

In this area, most of the extended stay clients are business people, and most of the tabs are picked up by businesses. The publicly posted “nightly” rates range from about $65 to $130 or more, but corporate rates can be significantly less, making this a relatively reasonable proposition. Even some leisure travelers who are staying a week or longer find this an affordable alternative to an ordinary hotel.

The level of service varies among properties. Some provide daily maid service while others have the maid come in only once or twice a week. In some cases, especially those properties that cater to relocating families, pets are permitted, perhaps with an extra charge. Children are often registered in the local school, and the school bus is a common sight.

Some of the guests are here on temporary assignment – ranging from a few weeks to a few months – for companies like IBM, or for a hospital – getting instruction or being an instructor. Some work for consulting firms. They may be based in Boston or Chicago – or San Francisco, but their jobs may have them working on location for months at a time, helping a company with strategic redevelopment.

The extremely tight rental and housing market may also be giving an extra boost to the extended stay hotel. Employees relocating to Vermont may have a very difficult time finding a place to live. The extended stay hotel can help fill the gap while a family looks for an adequate place to rent or buy. In some cases, people even use these facilities while they are having a home built.

And in most cases, today’s extended stay hotels do offer all the comforts of home. In fact, said Kathe Lopez, general manager of the Best Western Inn and Suites in Rutland, the key to success in the extended stay market is making guests feel at home.

But you also have to have accommodations that make guests feel like they really have a home away from home. Lopez said her Best Western has 56 one and two bedroom suites in seven separate buildings. Each includes a living room, dining room and fully equipped kitchen. There is a heated seasonal outdoor pool, basketball and tennis courts and soon to be added, a playground for children.

The Inn at Essex has recently added 30 extended stay suites ranging in size from studios of 400 square feet to twobedroom, 1,000-square-foot units, said. Linda Seville, director of marketing. All feature fully equipped kitchens, televisions in both living room and bedroom, desks

kitchens with multiple data ports so guests can stay connected. A

special touch here – every suite has a Vermont-made Hearthstone gas

fireplace and Vermont crafted quilts. Some of the units even include

extras like wine racks and whirlpools.

The Inn at Essex extended stay facilities opened in May 1999 and have been very well received,” Seville said. Not only have they attracted the anticipated business traveler, but leisure travelers, including members of wedding parties, have found it an attractive alternative to a hotel room.

The biggest player in the extended stay market is Marriott. This international hotel chain first got into the extended stay business with the Residence Inn chain. In Vermont the Williston Residence Inn was probably the first property built specifically for the long-term stay of the businessperson. The choices there range from studios to two bedroom, two level suites. They feature fireplaces and separate dining areas, as well as complete kitchens, desks with data ports and voice mail service. The extras include daily complimentary hot breakfast, an evening hospitality hour and a weekly barbecue.

Another Marriott offering is the Town Place Suites, also in Williston. Opened in April 1999 it has 95 units ranging from studios to two bedroom units, all with full kitchens, it caters primarily to families, especially people relocating.

Another of the newer extended stay properties in Vermont is Hawthorn Suites on Dorset Street in South Burlington, which opened in July 1998 with 79 units, and has just added 25 more units. In addition to the usual features, the Hawthorn, which focuses on the upscale market, provides a buffet hot breakfast for guests and offers grocery – shopping service “just bring your list to us,” said Kimberly Richards. The manager even hosts evening receptions with wine, beer and snacks.

But the comfortable and spacious accommodations that don’t look like a cookie cutter hotel are just part of what extended stay guests want. It also takes a staff that makes guests feel welcome. “If you don’t have the right people behind the desk and cleaning the rooms, it’s not going to work,” said Lopez.

“Personalized service” is crucial, agreed Seville. “We try to make people feel like they are coming home.”

“They are away from home, so you try to give them a feeling of home,” said Lopez who was sharing a game of monopoly in the lobby with a couple of youngsters staying there while their parents look for a home in the Rutland area. She keeps pictures of families that have stayed with her, those pictures send the same message. “You have to offer superior customer service and you have to have heart.”

Copyright Boutin-McQuiston, Inc. Oct 01, 2000

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