The Rush for Hotel Suites and Connecting Rooms Is On | Kanebridge News
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The Rush for Hotel Suites and Connecting Rooms Is On

Families more used to renting homes on vacation now want a more communal experience during hotel stays

By ALLISON POHLE
Fri, Jun 16, 2023 8:23amGrey Clock 4 min

The most in-demand hotel room for travelLers right now is the room right next to theirs.

Hotel and resort managers say requests for connecting rooms and suites have increased recently as multigenerational families and large groups of friends gather. Continued flexibility from hybrid work and travelLers bringing family members along on business trips have also contributed, hotel managers say.

Some hotels have reported a more than 20% increase in demand for these types of rooms.

The jump means more competition for connecting rooms, which families already struggle to book due to outdated room-assignment technology and limited supply. Some hotels are adding the ability to connect more rooms. Others are adding suites or upselling larger rooms with living space to groups.

“It amazes me every time I book a hotel that we can send people to space but can’t figure out connecting rooms,” says Lindsay Bowling, a full-time mom from Danville, Calif., who has traveled internationally with her husband, mom and kids, ages 8, 6 and 1.

Bowling, 40, says the family used to stay in Airbnbs, but says she needs more predictable lodging these days. She has run into booking issues where hotel rooms are adjoining, meaning next to each other, but not connecting.

Now, she watches travelLers’ YouTube videos to see what rooms look like. She also started using a travel agent who has helped book guaranteed connecting rooms. Sometimes she ponies up for a villa or a suite.

“You end up paying at least three times the amount to get something that works for families,” she says.

Family-style hotels

Vacation rentals and timeshares have long been popular options for families. These options got a boost earlier in the pandemic as people looked to spend more time in a destination. Families also booked more short-term rental stays to allow grandparents, parents and kids to stay under one roof. Short-term rentals remain popular this summer, too.

Some traveLlers are bringing those preferences to hotels, and asking for more than the so-called suite that’s an open space between a bedroom and a foldout couch.

At most hotels, connecting rooms aren’t a guarantee. Hotels have a limited number, and room-booking technology doesn’t always present connecting rooms to guests who search for them. Last-minute issues with rooms, such as broken toilets, can also jettison plans for connecting rooms.

Guests are staying longer at resort properties, which means connecting rooms might not open up simultaneously, says Cate Farmer, senior vice president of hotels and resorts at the hospitality company Margaritaville. Options are more scarce on weekends, she says.

In the two years since launching its confirmed connecting rooms program, Hilton says the average monthly booking rates for connecting rooms increased by about 10% year-over-year. Hyatt says it is beta testing a feature that lets people book guaranteed connecting rooms.

“Before two years ago, connecting room doors were mostly about having an annoying neighbour that you don’t know that’s too loud,” says Kyle Killion, founder of Suiteness, a travel company that helps people book suites and connecting hotel rooms. “What’s nice about booking the connectors is that the person on the other side can be annoying, but they’re probably your family.”

At the five-star Alila Napa Valley in California, children under 18 aren’t permitted. But requests for connecting rooms have increased by 23% since last year as parents travel with adult family members and loved ones, general manager Heidi Miersemann says.

The 68-room hotel plans to add at least one more set of connecting rooms to meet demand, she says.

Connecting rooms in a renovation isn’t as easy as it sounds, says Warren Feldman, chief executive officer of Nehmer, a hospitality design and architecture firm. Hotels must consider factors like rewiring before knocking a new space in a wall.

Pair of king rooms

Nicole Rathsam is a 40-year-old executive for an insurance company from San Diego. She recently booked connecting rooms at the Wynn Encore in Las Vegas. She was in town for an event, and her husband and three kids tagged along.

Rathsam says the only option was for two connecting king rooms—less than ideal for her, but better than having five people crammed into one room.

A Wynn spokeswoman says that, if asked, the hotel could have accommodated connecting rooms with different bed sizes.

To get a suite at some of the other high-end properties would cost more than $2,000 a night—more than four times the rate for connecting rooms. If hotels can figure out a better apartment-style experience for families, “they’re going to have a big edge,” Rathsam says.

Hotel prices have remained high this summer, especially in Europe. In Paris, prices are 50% above 2019 levels, Sébastien Bazin, chairman and chief executive officer of the hospitality company Accor, said at a recent lodging conference.

But a certain subset of travellers aren’t looking at the price. “They are saying ‘Give me your best suite,’” he said, adding that the company doesn’t have enough suites to meet demand.

Suite bookings at Marriott properties have risen 10% from 2022 to 2023, a spokeswoman says. About 31% of Marriott hotels in development are all-suite properties, says Eric Jacobs, senior vice president for select brands.

Designers are putting more of an emphasis on creating separate workspaces in rooms, including through junior suites, which Feldman of Nehmer says can be used for both business and leisure travellers.

During the holidays, travellers requested more connecting suites than the newly opened Tower hotel at the Boca Raton resort could accommodate. Rates start at $799 for a one-bedroom suite with a living room this summer. The top six floors offer the option to connect one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, which President Daniel Hostettler says he thought would suffice.

This summer, the hotel is renovating 15 other floors so that the entire building can accommodate connecting suites.



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The United Arab Emirates is improving its electric vehicle infrastructure with a new government-owned EV charging network.

Wed, May 22, 2024 2 min

The UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MoEI) alongside Etihad Water and Electricity (Etihad WE) have collaborated to form UAEV, a new joint venture aimed at strengthening the electric vehicle (EV) charging framework throughout the UAE. This venture is the first EV charging network entirely owned by the government, aimed at broadening access to EV charging facilities across the country.

The project seeks to revolutionize the UAE’s transport sector by enabling broader adoption of EVs via a robust and widespread charging infrastructure. This initiative is expected to strengthen communities, generate employment, and promote eco-friendly transportation options.

Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said: “UAEV embodies the power of partnership between government and industry, and aims to provide vital electric vehicle infrastructure to boost adoption of EVs, energize communities, and unleash the economic potential of the UAE.

“We hope that this partnership will further accelerate the transition to cleaner transportation and significantly reduce emissions from the transportation sector, thereby helping to bring our Net Zero 2050 Strategy within reach.”

Sharif Al Olama, who has been appointed Chairman of UAEV, said: “In 2023, we saw a rise in EV adoption in the UAE. By expanding our EV infrastructure, we ensure the country is equipped to support those who have already purchased an EV and make the prospect of switching to EV attractive.

“Together, MoEI and Etihad WE form a powerful force that can help future-proof the UAE and achieve the twin objectives of economic growth and climate action, which underpin UAEV.”

The UAEV is also a perfect platform for Etihad WE, the largest employer in the Northern Emirates and a company with a customer base of over 2 million households, to use its core competency and enhance its product offering.

Yousif Ahmed Al Ali, CEO of Etihad Water and Electricity and Board Member of UAEV, explained: “It is part of a deliberate strategy to diversify our operations, using the knowledge and experience acquired from our role as long-standing pioneers in the energy sector, to explore new products, services, projects, and investments which will benefit our customers.

“UAEV charging infrastructure will contribute to the modernization of the UAE’s transport network, help energize communities by creating new jobs, and empower our customers to make more sustainable choices.”

 

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