In recent years, what once was an inconsequential niche among hotels in the United States, has reportedly become the fastest growing segment in the hotel industry, occupied by some of the major hotel players. Generally, this sector is referred to as extended stay hotels, and, indeed, the largest of these chains goes by the name, Extended Stay America. It operates over 680 facilities throughout the United States and Canada.
A facet of this phenomenon is the opportunity spawned by rapid expansion and migration of businesses to sprawling office parks in suburban locales. As of this writing, there are some thirty chains and approximately 250,000 extended stay hotel rooms in North America. That’s growing at roughly 5% annually. It’s not uncommon for businesses considering a move to take into account the presence of one or more of these facilities at or near its prospective new location.
Extended stay hotels have arisen to cater primarily to the requirements of business travelers who spend a week to say, a month, away from home. They are ideal, as well, for people (families) who are relocating and vendors or professional people in town for several days to work with a client.
What distinguishes extended stay hotels from traditional hotels is that they offer greater living space, sometimes with two bedrooms. Typically, they will have a separate workspace, along with a completely equipped kitchen, including a refrigerator, microwave oven, sink and occasionally a stove and dishwasher. Laundry and dry cleaning facilities are provided on the premises and many have convenience stores and grocery shopping. Obviously, there will be cable TV and usually a DVD player. A number are even pet friendly.
In support of business travelers, there are in-room, high speed internet connections (often wi-fi), meeting rooms, faxes, copy machines and other business equipment.
Extended Stay America, the largest player, is not allied with any of the major hotel chains. The latter, however have jumped on the bandwagon in a big way.
Basically, extended stay hotels fall within three levels of accommodations, upscale, mid-range and economy. The upscale category, by and large, has been occupied by a few of the majors — Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton and Intercontinental. Marriott, by a considerable margin, outnumbers the competition with Marriott Residence Inns. Hilton operates Homewood Suites, Hyatt offers Summerfield Suites, acquired from Wyndham, and Intercontinental weighs in with Staybridge Suites.
Among mid-range extended stay hotels, you’ll again find Marriott, operating TownPlace Suites, Intercontinental under Candlewood Suites and Hyatt with Hawthorn Suites.
The big hotel chains appear to be bypassing the economy niche. Extended Stay America dominates this segment and there are several recognizable chains such as InTown Suites, Suburban and Crossland.
If your tastes run to the more lavish, you probably can do no better than Marriott’s bi-level penthouse suites with fireplaces at its Residence Inns. Hmm… Just like home! The point is that there appears to be a growing demand for more well appointed, longer term lodging.
Should your predilections not be quite so lofty, one of the features you or your business will appreciate is that room rates are generally more modest than traditional hotels. Bear in mind, though, that just as with conventional lodging, there is often a clear connection between price and quality. All offer weekly rates representing discounts.
If you’re planning to be away from home for a week or more, why not book one of the extended stay hotels? Shouldn’t you feel at home?