airport hotels

Skip the shuttle: choose a cool airport hotel

I’ve got a story this week in the CNBC Road Warrior section all about  airport hotels and some of the newest ones on the horizon. 

Here are the highlights of that story.

Skip the shuttle: At-the-airport hotels take flight

With the official ribbon-cutting this week for a new four-star hotel at Minneapolis-St. Paul International, travelers now have one more major domestic airport where it is possible to skip the hotel shuttle and go directly from a hectic day of flying to a comfortable night’s sleep in a fluffy bed.

The 12-story, 300 room InterContinental Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Hotel is connected to Terminal 1 via a sky bridge and has a spa, conference center and its own security checkpoint, offering quick access to the gates for those flying with just hand baggage.

MSP’s hotel is a public-private partnership (with Graves Hospitality) and is just the latest example of airports recognizing that in addition to offering convenience, having an on-site hotel is a revenue generator that can give an airport a competitive edge.

In 2015, Denver International Airport opened the doors to the 519-room Westin Denver International Airport hotel and conference center on the plaza adjacent to the Jeppesen Terminal. In addition to on-site dining and an indoor pool and fitness area, the hotel has an extensive art collection and commuter rail access to the city.

Courtesy Denver Westin International Airport

At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport there are two hotels directly accessible from the terminals: a Hyatt Regency DFW at Terminal C and a Grand Hyatt DFW inside Terminal D with an outdoor rooftop pool overlooking the runways, multi-dining options and a Terminal Re-Entry program that gives guests access to the amenities inside the terminals.’

The Wayne County Airport Authority recently partnered with Starwood Hotels and Resorts to give the Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport Hotel attached to the McNamara Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport a $15 million makeover.

The hotel has conference rooms, day rates and a fitness enter with a pool offering runway views (day passes $15), and a TSA security checkpoint adjacent to the lobby. Hotel staff can also arrange gate-passes into the terminal for guests.

Miami’s airport has had an in-terminal hotel since 1959. The Miami International Airport Hotel now sits pre-security in Concourse E and offers day rates as well the first airport Air Margaritaville restaurant (on the lobby level) and, on the top floor, the country’s first Viena Brazilian restaurant.

At Orlando International Airport, the 25 year-old in-airport Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport is owned by the airport authority and operated by Hyatt,

“The hotel serves as an extension of the airport’s goal to provide the best ‘Orlando Experience’ possible and is a wonderful amenity for all airport customers,” said airport spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell, “It is also a significant driver of the airport’s annual revenues.”

Among a variety of perks offered guests staying in the Orlando airport hotel is luggage delivery service. “Just get off the plane, come to the front desk, provide your bag claim ticket and our bellmen will deliver the bags directly to your room,” said Fennell.

Elsewhere in the U.S., travelers will find hotels inside or connected to several other airports, including Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (a Marriott), Boston Logan International Airport (a Hilton), Philadelphia International Airport (a Marriott), Hartford’s Bradley International Airport (a Sheraton) and Chicago O’Hare, which offers day $20 passes (with discounts for Hilton Honors members) to the indoor pool and extensive fitness center.

Airport hotels of future

In the next few years, travelers will be able to check into on-site hotels at more airports.

A Grand Hyatt with 351 rooms, 15,000 square feet of meeting space and direct access to the AirTrain light rail system is scheduled to open in summer 2019 at San Francisco International Airport.

An InterContinental hotel is set to open at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2020.

And the Chicago Department of Aviation hopes to both build a new hotel next to Terminal 5 and renovate and modernize the current O’Hare Hilton by 2023.

In the meantime, work is progressing on the much-anticipated TWA Hotel at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

When it opens in early 2019, Eero Saarinen’s iconic 1962 TWA Flight Center will be transformed into a swank 505-room retro-modern hotel with 50,000 square-feet of art, meeting and event space; a 200,000 square-foot lobby that may lay claim to the title of the largest hotel lobby in the world; and a rooftop observation deck with a pool and an aviation museum.

Have you stayed at an in-airport hotel- or choose these over near-the-airport hotels? Please share your comments and suggestions in the comment section below.

Harriet’s Hotel Stay: Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

As an airport aficionado, I’m a big fan of hotels that are right in or right at-the-airport. So, when heading to London recently for a business event taking place near Heathrow Airport, my first thought was to stay at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport (connected to Terminal 4) or the Sofitel London Heathrow (at Terminal 5).

I’ve stayed at both hotels in the past and adore the convenience, but no favorable rates could be found, so this trip I decided to give the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 a try.

Except for a bit of transportation inconvenience (more details below) I see why this hotel is especially popular with business travelers and why it gets so many repeat visitors.

The Welcome:  Arriving worn and weary well before official check-in time, I was expecting nothing more than a place to store my bags. Instead, check-in was a breeze, I was given helpful “what’s where” information, and I was in my room within 5 minutes.

The room:  I didn’t tour all room types, but my room had a super comfortable Hilton bed, complimentary Wi-Fi (no password hassles), a large flat screen TV, a speaker in the bathroom and both UK and International power plugs at the roomy desk.  There was even a cookie with the coffee and tea set-up.

Executive lounge privileges came with this room and I stopped by one morning for the complimentary breakfast and both evenings of my stay for the complimentary evening cocktails and canapes.

Hotel dining and amenities: In addition to a 24-hour fitness center, this hotel has a spa area with a don’t-forget-your-swimsuit hydrotherapy pool. For dining, there are two bars, a lobby coffee shop, and the Gallery Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This Hilton hotel also has a surprise hidden treasure: Mr. Todiwala’s Kitchen. Closed Sundays, I missed my chance to eat there, but now that I know its reputation and uniqueness (as a hotel restaurant, but also for London), I will make an extra effort to go back. Chef Cyrus Todiwala has an award-winning restaurant – Café Spice Namaste – in London proper and many of the signature dishes from that menu are offered at his popular restaurant at this Hilton, which draws locals and out-of-towners alike.

Getting there: Except for the hotels inside the airport, getting to any of the hotels near Heathrow can be confusing and time consuming. This is not one of the Heathrow-area hotels accessible by a free local bus, so an Uber or the Hoppa Bus (buy tickets in the terminal before you board to save a pound each way) is the best way to get back and forth from the airport. Call or email the hotel ahead of time for  instructions and study the Hoppa timetable so, like me, you don’t dawdle and miss the bus by two minutes on a cold night and have to hang around at the bus stop for an extra half hour.

(I received a discounted media rate for my stay the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5; opinions are my own.)

Stuck at CDG? YotelAir might be an option

Beside the great name, the Yotel concept is pretty clever: small, hip, ship-cabin inspired hotel rooms bookable for short stays at airports.

There are Yotels in London at both Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and one in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

There’s also non-airport Yotel in New York City and a few more in-city Yotels planned, including in Boston and Singapore.

I’ve stayed at the Heathrow Yotel when it first opened and more than once at the in-city Yotel in New York City.

With the November opening of a Yotel post-security at Charles de Gaulle airport – in the Terminal 2E transit lounge area known as ‘Instant Paris’ – Yotel has rebranded their airport properties as YotelAir (makes sense) and added some fresh new amenities.

In addition to the amenities inside the rooms -space-saving adjustable beds, bathrooms with monsoon rain showers, mood lighting, Wi-Fi and HD TVs, in the hotel’s public area there’s a vending wall for drinks, snacks and travel essentials and a lounge with complimentary hot drinks.

Rates: “Premium” cabins – for two- are currently  €75 ($80) for 4 hours or from €115 (about $122) for an overnight stay. Family cabins – for four – are €95 (about $101) for 4 hours or  €135 (about $145) for overnight.  For those who just need a pre-or-post flight ‘Wash and Go,’ there are Shower Cabins that rent for €15 ($16) for 45 minutes.

I’ll be visiting and, hopefully, staying at this new Yotel in early February, so will share a full report then.

 

 

How to find day rates at airport hotels

sleeping on airplanes

In working on a story for NBCNEWS.com about hotel booking sites trying to stand out by offering a twist – including Winston Club, which plans to match people up to share top hotel rooms – I discovered a good resource for travelers who find themselves stuck at the airport.

HotelsbyDay.com is a site that helps travelers find good rates for short stays at hotels during the day.

These aren’t the, ahem, one-hour or less kind of stays. The service offers stays of at least four hours in three-, four- and five-star hotels, enabling a traveler to rest and refresh before or after a long flight, get some work done in a quiet and comfortable space between meetings or, perhaps, for a family to have a “daycation” at a hotel with a pool, waterpark and spa.

The site has a search option for airport hotels and on that list you’ll find the Miami International Airport Hotel (located inside the terminal) – offered during my search for $55 for a four hour stay between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. – and the post-security Minute Suites – DFW, offered at $100 for a four hour block between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., $110 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and $120 between 3 a.m. and 7 p.m.

I called to check and compare walk-in rates as was told there is not a posted rate at the DFW Minute Suites for a 4 hour stay, but that, with taxes, a 3.5 hour stay would cost about $134 and a 5 hour stay, $148. So the HotelsbyDay rate does indeed offer some savings.

Yotel’s YobotSanta giving out gifts

yobotlarge

If you’ve ever spent a few hours at a Yotel in Heathrow, Gatwick or Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, then you know these short stay hotels with compact rooms are a blessing for those who need to nap and recharge after a long flight or be at the gate really, really early in the morning.

There’s an off-airport Yotel in New York City that still has compact rooms, but it operates more like a ‘regular’ hotel, with full day rates, a restaurant and a place in the lobby to store luggage.

But luggage storage is unusual in that there’s a giant robotic arm – called the Yobot – that puts luggage in a lobby vault and retrieves it when asked.

Yotel is turning the Yobot into YobotSanta this season: the Yobot may bring guests staying at the Yotel New York a gift from the vault before storing their luggage – and YobotSanta is also giving away gifts online.

You can choose a virtual YOBOT bin each day for a chance to win a range of travel surprises, such as round-trip travel certificates on JetBlue, two-night Yotel stays in New York and luggage and travel accessories from Flight 001.

Go play here