Redefining and rethinking the airport hotel

Skift grip

The stigma behind airport hotels is changing and with it comes a greater number of “destination travellers” versus displaced travellers.

Carley Thornel

It’s far from a return to business as usual for airport hotels congested by a nadir in business travel, especially as the corporate world rethinks its work-from-home strategies. .

Hotels in airport markets will return to 2019 levels for occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room – the industry’s key performance metric – by 2024. A return to the new normal in this sector will likely be slow, predicts Kannan Sankaran, a senior director at CBRE Hotels Advisory.

But the shift could ultimately lead to a reimagined experience for travelers who will benefit from new and under-construction properties featuring sexy rooftop bars, pools, art galleries and fitness studios that could make Dwayne “The Rock swoon.” “Johnson.

And as for that vending machine “dinner” for guests who check in at midnight? Imagine artisanal cuisine, offered at any time of the day.

“As Hyatt’s recovery continues to be fueled by demand for leisure travel and growing [of those] customers are traveling again, we look forward to expanding into other airport markets,” said Asad Ahmed, senior vice president of commercial services for Hyatt’s Americas division..

This strategy is primarily focused on the Hyatt Place and Hyatt House brands. You won’t find a business center on the latter’s homepage, which offers “apartment-style spaces” with full-size fridges, outdoor common areas with fire pits and grills, and craft cocktail bars. .

Eliminate the stigma

All of this leads to eliminating the stigma of an airport hotel, said Larry Jones, director of sales and marketing for Westdrift Manhattan Beach, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

The property’s nine-hole par-three golf course, outdoor pool with cabanas, in-room massage options, and free Solé beach cruisers are all just a 15-minute drive from Los Angeles International Airport.

Rising delayed departures and arrivals at LAX and canceled flights due to U.S. weather and staffing shortages have all contributed to increased interest in bookings due to disruptions, Jones said. But so does a better pace. LAX is a popular airport for layovers that are part of longer international flights.

“Nowadays what we see is that time is precious and limited, people live and work differently,” Jones said. “So if you can have a cool, elevated experience right next to the airport where you already are, why not do that too?”

Jones expects to attract more travelers through Westdrift’s partnership with TA Connections for relocated travelers and through a multi-billion dollar modernization project at LAX that is expected to last through 2023. There are numerous renovations and expansions at major U.S. airports, all of which have faced pandemic-related delays — but all are likely to increase demand for airport hotel inventory.

Denver International Airport — where the Jeppesen Great Hall Terminal three-phase capital improvement project is slated for completion in 2028 — has gotten a head start in the airport hotel reinvention game. An attached Westin, Marriott’s fitness and wellness-focused brand, opened in 2015 and connects directly to Jeppesen.

Being on-site or offering an airport shuttle are key elements in defining an airport hotel, said Jason Nuell, senior vice president of upscale brands for Marriott International. But Westdrift’s Jones argues that today’s travelers are more looking for an oasis, excluding last-minute disruptions.

Either way, Westin’s mountain views, soundproof windows, comfy bedding, and farm-to-table cuisine at the Grill & Vine defy all expectations of drastic changes after the Golden Age. air travel.

According to Jones, that’s when the airport hotel trope of “$39 a night with no frills, scratchy sheets and the sound of jets taking off” soared to the forefront of the general connotation of this type of hotel stay.

Developers in recent years have moved to eliminate this image from the mind of the modern traveler.

At New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, the Golden Age has come alive onsite in the form of the TWA Hotel, providing a nostalgic experience that feels like stepping back in time to Kennedy’s Camelot.

Melbourne Florida’s Hyatt Place Airport, due to open later this year, features a rooftop bar and outdoor pool and will serve as the gateway to Melbourne Orlando International Airport for TUI Airways flights serving the British travelers mainly to nearby theme parks. It is the first on-site hotel at Melbourne Airport and will meet growing needs based on “positive month-to-month air service trends,” Ahmed said.

Hoteliers hope the resumption of travel will bring a new perception of airport hotels that have a reputation for being easy overnight layovers for airline crews and stranded travellers.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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