IKEA To Launch Budget Hotel Chain In Europe

Meatballs for room service? That might be a bit of a stretch, but Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA is launching into the accommodations business, collaborating with Marriott to create a budget-friendly hotel chain in Europe.

The hotels – which will be called “Moxy” – promise to offer contemporary stylish design at an affordable price, though the rooms will not feature furnishings from IKEA. So forget placing your travel guidebooks on a Billy system.

IKEA and Marriott are targeting locations across Europe, but the first one will be in Italy, near Milan’s Malpensa. Rooms will be priced at €60 to €80 a night. The ultimate goal is to expand the Moxy chain to include 150 hotels with between 25,000 and 30,000 rooms. Hey, it’s better than living in an IKEA.

In true IKEA style, many of the rooms will be prefabricated offsite and then assembled much like IKEA furniture. Fortunately though, you can leave your stash of never-to-be-used-again IKEA tools at home.

[Photo Credit: Håkan Dahlström]

Best Hotels For Business Travelers

An annual hotel chain survey from the magazine Business Travel News shows that new brands are making waves among business travelers, with some new names beating out industry stalwarts.
Some changes might be attributed to a change in the scoring system this year (from a six- to five-point scale) and a new criterion consistency.

In the luxury tier, St. Regis/Luxury Collection, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, won top marks for business, achieving high marks for physical appearance, hotel staff, sales staff, business centers, business and in-room amenities and price/value comparison. They narrowly beat out Ritz-Carlton. Former industry winner Four Seasons dropped to fifth place, behind Waldorf=Astoria and Mandarin Oriental.

Even in a tough economy, “luxury hotels have rebounded powerfully,” wrote author Michael Baker in the September 10 issue of Business Travel News, even reaching pre-recession levels.

James Vanderslice, Hilton‘s global head of luxury and lifestyle brands, explained why in the article.
“Our travel partners have realized there’s actually efficiency to having a meeting or event at a luxury hotel because of the facilities and services we provide.”

“Upper Upscale” businesses also showed growth, with the W hotels brand edging out JW Marriott by one one-hundredth of a point. Upscale travelers preferred Embassy Suites, which beat out Doubletree hotels, also by just one one-hundredth of a point. Embassy Suites were viewed as the most consistent and best value, while Doubletree won for physical appearance.

Will this change where you stay as a business traveler?

Business travelers on the brink of scoring free internet access

Having to pay for internet access in hotels is nothing more than moronic. If the revenue is such a big deal, hotels should just slap the $9.99 — or whatever it is — onto the room rate and tell us they’re giving it away for nothing. But, nothing’s worse than spending $250 a night and having to pay another fee to connect to the web, which you’re going to have to do even if you’re on vacation, let alone traveling for business.

The slump in the travel business is giving business travelers more negotiating leverage, which they are using to score free access to the web. The need to put heads in beds, and business travelers still command the big budgets. Back in my corporate travel days, I’d spend $1,000 or more simply on the room … every week. Most leisure travelers don’t come near that on an annual basis — and my spend was modest compared to executives with the approval to satisfy more discriminating tastes.

So, you’d think hotels would want to keep business travelers happy, right? And since internet access is what’s most important to this group of hotel buyersSome upscale hotels, like the new Andaz chain from Hyatt, are rolling internet access into their rates, while major chains such as Hilton, Marriott and Starwood are giving in to business traveler demands but not changing their policies (to avoid setting a precedent they’ll be stuck with when the market recovers).

For the hotel business, giving up the internet money isn’t easy. The industry is at its 20-year low point, with revenue per available room-night (RevPAR) off 17 percent last year. The top properties suffered RevPAR declines of 24 percent. So, when Toni Hinterstoisser, general manager of the Andaz Wall Street, calls internet access charges “an easy way to make money,” it’s clear that the fee is a hard one to give up. Easy money is the best kind when the travel market is in the tank.

AmericInn markets quiet rooms

What do you look for in a hotel room? Soft sheets, a balcony, a decent rate?

AmericInn, a fast-growing mid-range chain based in Minnesota, is betting you’re also looking for quiet. The company began advertising a new sleeping amenity called SoundGuard at its 213 hotels. SoundGard is a construction material — instead of using wood-frame construction, the company uses masonry blocks filled with “sound-deadening foam,” plus thicker-than-usual drywall.

The result? A better night’s sleep, or so they’re hoping. Other hotels have made attempts to silence noise from traffic, pipes, and that loving couple next door by implementing double-paned windows, “quiet floors” for daytime sleepers, and softer heating and cooling systems.

As a patron of the never-quiet youth hostels, I find that earplugs are a much cheaper way to get a quiet night’s rest.

[via NY Times]