Some suites are sweeter in equipment, space and layout

January 07, 1996|By NEWSDAY

When is a suite not a suite?

When it's simply a big room with a flimsy space divider across one end.

Some "all-suite" hotels don't even bother with the divider -- or offer particularly large spaces. To them, a suite is a studio apartment with a coffee maker and a sofa. Business travelers who need to entertain clients find an adequate office-like atmosphere -- as long as they fold up the couch when they get up in the morning.

Since the concept first appeared more than a decade ago, suites have had their ups and downs. Designed for the corporate set, they've been embraced by families as a home away from home. Most have some semblance of a kitchen -- a microwave, a sink and refrigerator. The ideal layout offers two baths (though perhaps only one with a tub/shower) -- and a separate bedroom.

If there's only one bath, it should be accessible by two doors, so whoever is using the living-room sofa -- won't have to troop through your bedroom to use it.

At resorts used to longer-term stays, amenities are as likely to run to VCRs and CD players as to fax machines and voice mail. In one-bedroom accommodations, you should also be able to count on two TVs -- so kids and adults won't have to choose between "Power Rangers" and "Geraldo."

Familiar-name chains such as Marriott, Radisson and Best Western have created subgroups devoted to all-suite properties. Other chains -- like Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites and Guest Quarters -- have become synonymous with this genre.

One-bedroom suites typically cost $25 to $50 more per day than a typical bedroom or so-called studio or "junior suite." Thus it's essential to quiz the management of properties you're considering to be sure you'll end up with top value for your dollar.

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