Take off your coat and stay awhile, in residential hotels

December 22, 1996|By Barbara Shea | Barbara Shea,NEWSDAY

The whole idea of a roadside hotel used to be temporary lodging -- a night's stay here and there. Fast-forward to the '90s, when harried travelers want every place where they spend three minutes to feel like home, right down to a kitchen.

Enter the extended-stay hotel, with facilities and prices tailored for stays of a week or more. This residential-style housing is the fastest growing segment of the lodging industry.

Rates run from about $130 to more than $1,000 a week. Lower rates usually are for a studio, and, typically, the longer you stay, the bigger the price break.

Until this year, most major chains' long-stay offshoots -- such as Marriott's Residence Inns -- have been in the $70-and-up range. But much of the new building is going on at the no-frills end.

Marriott will open its first budget-priced TownePlace in February, with rates of $45 to $60 daily for studios to two-bedroom suites. Doubletree's Candlewood Hotels and Summerfield's Sierra Suites will be in the same ballpark. Studio-PLUS, with about two dozen properties, starts as low as $35.

But the budget leader seems to be Extended Stay America. At the start of 1996 it had two properties; now it has 36 in 16 states coast to coast. Next year, the company expects to open another 60 -- with weekly rates starting at $189.

How can these chains do it? By not offering many -- if any -- usually standard hotel amenities such as restaurant, room service or sports facilities. Some are staffed only limited hours, except for someone who's available in emergencies. But they're usually near busy shopping areas.

Extended Stay America's rooms are furnished with a queen-size bed, recliner, table and two chairs, color TV, phone with voice mail and computer data port. There's a bathroom and a kitchen with refrigerator, two-burner cooktop, microwave oven, coffee maker, utensils and tableware. Each hotel also has vending machines and a laundry facility. Guests are provided with weekly housekeeping service and twice-weekly towel service, but extra linens are available upon request.

Pub Date: 12/22/96

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