Orlando International Airport

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.

Wacky carpet exchange between Portland and Orlando airports

On  Thursday, March 16, Alaska Airlines kicked off flights between Orlando and Portland.

To mark the day – and with a nod to PDX carpet that became a national celebrity – Portland International Airport and Orlando International Airport did a carpet exchange.

Here’s how it went down on Twitter.

New, old-fashioned arcade at Orlando Int’l Airport

With theme park-like phot ops, a fun fountain, a giant aquarium, art and plenty of shops and restaurants Orlando International Airport is already quite fun.

With the addition of the 2,000 square-foot old-fashioned Power Play Arcade, the fun meter now goes higher.

The arcade is part of the redevelopment of a larger area that now also includes a Skechers footwear shop, a branch of XpresSpa, Natalie’s Candy Jar, a Tumi travel gear store, Desigual, Guess, Timeless Travel (watches) and Naturally Inspired – selling “an eco-friendly line of hand-crafted wares.”

(Photo courtesy Westfield)

Travel Tidbits from PHL and Orlando Airports

Blackpool Suitcase

Happy Friday!  Here are some travel tidbits from StuckatTheAirport.com:

PHL MAKEOVER 1

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and America Airlines are embarking on a “transformative” $30 million makeover for the 15 gates in Terminal B, with hospitality group OTG coming in with eight new, chef-driven dining venues, thousands of iPads (for ordering food and browsing the web), plenty of power ports and upgraded shops.

Timeline: 18-24 months, with teaser dining venues opening along the way.

SFO Deco radio

Orlando International Airport has added a radio station to its list of amenities, offering travel updates, community news and entertainment.

The CBS-affiliated, digital radio station will broadcast around-the-clock in central Florida on HD radios at 105.1HD, stream on the airport’s website and be available through the airport’s mobile app and the radio.com app.

Souvenir Sunday at Orlando International Airport

Orlando International Airport is full of special treats for shoppers who, like me, are always on the lookout for inexpensive, somewhat offbeat, small treasures.

In addition to the treats from the airport’s Kennedy Space Center Gift Shop I featured yesterday on Snack Saturday, during my recent visit at MCO I found these two Hello Kitty items in the Sanrio store.

The orange Hello Kitty key chain fulfills the “something-related-to-a-trip-to-Florida” category and the tissues are just cute and useful.

MCO HELLO KITTY CHAINMCO Hello Kitty tissures

And, of course, any time spent at Orlando International Airport offers a chance to look around at the airport’s eclectic art collection, which includes work by Jacob Lawrence and this “double-take” sculpture called “The Traveler” by Duane Hanson.

MCO THE TRAVELER