Hotels design 'business class' rooms

November 06, 1994|By Universal Press Syndicate

Forget fluffy bathrobes, organic hair conditioners and fresh-baked cookies.

A growing number of hotel chains are convinced that today's corporate road warriors want their lodgings to be an extension of the office rather than a home away from home. They're responding with "business class" rooms that include a new crop of amenities: computer modem ports, in-room fax machines and personal fax numbers, even staplers and paper clips.

Priced an average of $15 to $20 per night above regular corporate rates, the new business-class rooms are aimed less at high-echelon executives than at "worker bees" -- many of whom spend their on-the-road evenings catching up on paperwork or faxing memos to the head office. Hotels say the rooms' value-added, all-inclusive features -- including, in many cases, no access charges for local and credit card phone calls -- justify the additional cost.

"Times have changed, and today our guests tell us that what they need from a hotel stay are services that will allow them to be as productive on the road as they are in the office, 24 hours a day if necessary," says Darryl Hartley-Leonard, president of Hyatt Hotels.

Since last March, 80 of Hyatt's business-oriented North American properties have begun to offer business-plan rooms. Services include an in-room fax machine and coffee maker, large desk with computer hook-up, free continental breakfast and newspaper, 24 hour access to printers, copy machines and office supplies, and no telephone surcharges. The cost is $15 per day above the hotel's regular rates.

Hilton charges an additional $10 to $40 per night for its "BusinessSavers" rooms, introduced at 85 North American hotels this fall. Free local phone calls, one movie per stay and up to 10 outgoing domestic fax pages per stay are part of the package.

Radisson's "Business Class" rooms, meanwhile, throw in free access to both local and credit-card calls, continental or full breakfast and one movie per day, an in-room coffee maker, fax service and computer hook-up. The "Business Class" premium varies, but averages about $20 per night at the 165 Radisson properties that offer the rooms.

Other hotels are following suit: Clarion, Holiday Inn, and Westin are among the lodging chains that will be rolling out their own business-class product over the next several months.

Not all hoteliers are limiting their business-class amenities to certain rooms. Last July, Marriot Hotels, Resorts and Suites eliminated a 75-cent access fee on guest room credit card calls at more than 140 of its domestic hotels. The free credit card calls, along with free incoming fax service, morning coffee in the lobby, and several other services aimed at corporate travelers, are extended to all Marriott guests at no extra charge.

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