Hotel review – Summerfield Suites by Hyatt

In line with our regular reviews of budget friendly hotels, our travels took us to a Hyatt Summerfield Suites. This chain joined the Hyatt brand in 2005, and currently has 34 different properties throughout the country.

Summerfield Suites are extended stay hotels – so rooms come with the kind of amenities you need on stays of more than a couple of nights. Of course, this does not exclude them from people looking for a short term stay.

Check-in was extremely efficient and came accompanied with freshly baked cookies – something all hotels should consider. Within a few minutes I was on my way to the room.

The chain offers several types of room – studio, one bedroom and two bedroom. I had booked a one bedroom, and at just $63 this was probably the best hotel bargain I’ve encountered all year.

The room had obviously been renovated in the past 12 months and was outfitted with a decent flat panel TV (with line inputs on the side for your iPod). The sitting area/sofa bed was quite comfortable, and a very nice corner to sit and watch some TV.

The desk comes with a comfortable office chair, cordless phone and Ethernet cable. The hotel offered wired and wireless Internet (both free) as well as in-room printing to the business center. Internet speeds on the weekend were around 2 mbit/s, but those will probably drop during the busier week.

The bedroom has all the small touches you’d expect from a hotel room – its own AC unit, an alarm clock with line-input and surprisingly decent bedding. For me, a good bed and reliable climate control are all I need to be happy – but I could have done with a flat panel in the bedroom, sadly this property had left the bedrooms with old tube TV’s with lousy reception.

No surprises in the bathroom – but they did provide the nice massaging soap bars I’d encountered at the Hyatt Place properties.

The well equipped kitchen is perfect for a TV-dinner, or a more adventurous cooks. A dishwasher means you also don’t need to worry about making too much of a mess. The hotel also provides a grocery shopping service, and will pick up anything you need and place the items in your kitchen/fridge for you to prepare your own meal when you get back to your room at the end of the day.

The (free) breakfast was also one of the better I’ve come across – the assortment included eggs, French toast, sausages, a variety of fruits, cereal and yogurt and fresh baked cinnamon rolls.

On a busy Saturday morning, the line took some time to pass through, but the staff did their best to keep all stations fresh and full.

A decent pool, sauna and fitness center provide a great way to end the day or to to keep your kids entertained – the hot tub was a huge hit.

Final thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, Summerfield Suites are a fantastic bargain – prices will of course vary from location to location, but in most cities, you’ll be able to find weekend rates around $75 (lower with a AAA membership) – and when you consider that you get a large room, pool access and free breakfast, you’ll understand why I’m so impressed.

With prices like this, you don’t even need a reason to visit a hotel – I find a trip to a local hotel to be a perfect way to get away from it all. Best of all, if you enroll in the Hyatt Gold passport program, you can get one free night for every two nights you spend at a Hyatt property. You do the math – two nights at a $75 hotel, and you can treat yourself to a free night at a luxury property that normally goes for $300 a night.

Click here to learn more about this chain, or to find locations near you.

Hyatt “Big Welcome Back” reminder – plus your chance to win 2 free nights at any Hyatt!

Last month, we mentioned the latest promotion from Hyatt – stay twice, and earn a free night at any Hyatt (or 5000 bonus points).

Consider this a polite reminder about this promotion, because with a little bit of work, you’ll be able to earn yourself a couple of free nights at one of the 340 properties within the Hyatt chain.

The free nights can be earned through stays at any property – which means you can book two reservations at a hotel for as little as $50/night, and earn a free night at a $450/night resort. Me? I’ve already stated planning a couple of stays in the coming weeks, as part of a grand plan for some luxury summer pampering. To take advantage of the promotion, you’ll need a Hyatt Gold Passport account, and have that account enrolled in the promotion.

Now, if I managed to get you in the mood for a weekend away, how about a chance at winning two nights at any Hyatt hotel?

Gadling has two of these two night prizes to give away, and all you need to do is pick your favorite hotel amenity. It could be the spa, the pool, or as simple as the minibar. Pick something fun, and leave it as a comment below.

The rules:

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below describing your favorite hotel amenity.
  • The comment must be left before Friday May 14th 2010 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter the giveaway only once. Multiple entries will be deleted by our vicious multiple comment deleting robots.
  • Two Prize Winners will be randomly selected to receive two free stays at any Hyatt property.
  • A Hyatt Gold Passport account (sign up here, free) is required for the free stays. (If you are selected as a winner, your account will be credited with points, and you may exchange those points for your stay. There are no blackouts or other restrictions).
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • The total value of each two-night stay prize is approximately $400
  • Click here for the complete official rules of this giveaway.

Hyatt Place review – Everything the business traveler looks for in a hotel

As part of our ongoing coverage of new hotel chains, we paid a visit to a local Hyatt Place. Hyatt Place hotels are designed primarily for the business traveler, but the properties offer plenty of amenities that make them an excellent choice for families.

The experience begins in the lobby – right after entering, frequent guests can check in using a computer kiosk. The kiosk allows guests to retrieve their reservation using their credit card or Hyatt Gold Passport card. The advantage of the kiosk is that guests can be on their way to their room in under a minute – all without having to make a stop at the front desk.

All Hyatt Place rooms are outfitted with 42″ flat panel televisions, the Hyatt Plug Panel multimedia interface, free WiFi and free breakfast. To me, those amenities are the most important thing I look for in any business hotel.

The lobby is spacious, while still offering plenty of corners for a bit of privacy. In the lobby area, you’ll off course find the front desk, but also plenty of seating and the cafe/bar.

The “Gallery” features a full bar service, coffee, tea, snacks and made to order meals. On the menu are the kind of things you’d expect from a hotel restaurant – salads, burgers, pizza and a variety of finger foods. In the morning, the Gallery serves made to order breakfast items, which are sold in addition to the free continental breakfast. The morning menu consists of waffles, omelets, french toast, sausage burritos and a scrambled egg/smoked bacon dish.

Prices at the Gallery are quite reasonable – all dishes are under $10, with many starting at just $4. During the hotel happy hour, guests can order a free pizza with the purchase of six beers or a bottle of wine. Snacks and drinks from the Gallery are available 24/7, which is perfect if you have an insanely early morning flight and need a bite to eat.

The bedroom is well designed – right after entering is a large seating area (with sofa bed), rolling ottoman, a desk and a small sink/fridge corner. To the right of the desk is the nifty Hyatt Plug Panel.

The Plug Panel offers instant access to a variety of inputs – as well as 2 fused power outlets (conveniently located next to the desk). Buttons on the panel allow you to switch to that input without having to fiddle with the remote. Channels on the TV are in HD, taking full advantage of the large screen.

The cozy seating corner isn’t a bad place to hang out – thanks to the swiveling TV you can either lie down in bed to watch something, or relax in this corner.

The bedroom is nothing special – but the bed did feel comfortable with decent linens. Each side of the bed has its own light, and the left side features an easy to program Timex alarm clock (with clear instructions).

The bathroom and closet are also your bog standard hotel offering, though the massaging bath soaps are a nice touch.

All in all, Hyatt Place properties offer exactly what a business traveler needs – a quick check-in, free WiFi, access to drinks and snacks and a free breakfast. The refreshed lobby and well designed rooms elevate the hotel way beyond “no frills”.

There are currently 152 Hyatt Place properties, weekend rates start as low as $62, making them a perfect value for money, especially with free breakfast. Weekday rates are often as low as $90, which is a surprisingly good deal.

Families traveling with kids will appreciate the sofa bed in all rooms, free access to the pool (at most properties) and the free breakfast.

Best of all, all stays at Hyatt Properties are currently eligible for their “Big Welcome Back” promotion where you’ll earn a free stay after just two stays.

This review took place at the Hyatt Place in Schaumburg, IL. This property is only 15 minutes from O’Hare airport, and right across the road from Woodfield Mall and the Legoland Discovery Center.

To learn even more about Hyatt Place hotels or to reserve a room, click here.

Stay tuned to Gadling next week, where you’ll have a chance at winning a free stay at a Hyatt Place hotel, along with some other goodies!

Hotels chains – picking the right one and how to become a loyal guest

Welcome to the Gadling hotel month! There is no better time of the year to learn more about hotels, how to pick the right hotel and how to become loyal to one chain. In today’s article, I’m going to teach you as much as I can about picking the right brand and how to become (and stay) loyal to one chain. Before we continue, let me explain something really simple about the hotels:

The world is made up of 3 different kinds of hotels:

  • Chain hotels that are part of a large hotel group
  • Chain hotels with just one brand
  • Stand alone hotels, B&B’s and any other property not part of a group

We’ll start with chain hotels that are part of a large hotel group – you’ll find some of their logo’s printed above. These are the leaders of the hotel world (sure, I may have missed a couple), but the bottom line is that a handful of companies own and/or operate a huge amount of the hotels in the world. There are some pretty big advantages to each sort of hotel operation, and when you pick the right one, you’ll increase your chance of having an enjoyable stay.
Chain hotels that are part of a large hotel group

Chain hotels are the ones you are most likely to come across when searching for a hotel. Chain hotels are the Starwoods and Hyatts of the world. These chains have been around for years, and the largest of them operate as many as 3000 properties.

Of course, none of these companies own every single one of their locations, but they do provide marketing, booking systems and branding for anyone who meets their standards and would prefer owning a branded hotel over just another “hotel”.

The most important reason to pick a hotel that is part of a large chain is simple – consistency. Granted, a Hyatt in Spain may not look exactly the same as a US Hyatt, but the hotel will be held to the same standards as its US counterpart. Picking a consistent hotel is great if you want to feel a little more at home. There is something oddly comforting about driving through a weird city, then arriving at your favorite hotel brand. Outside may look, smell and sound different, but inside the hotel, its all vaguely familiar and reassuring.

The largest multi-brand hotel chains in the world are:

  • Starwood – operates the Sheraton, W Hotels, Aloft, Four Points, Le Meridien, Westin, Element and Luxury Collection properties
  • Hilton – operates the Hilton, Conrad, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites, and Waldorf Astoria properties
  • Hyatt – operates the Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Park Hyatt, Hyatt Resorts, Andaz, Hyatt Place, Hyatt Summerfield Suites and Hyatt Vacation Club properties.
  • Marriott – operates the Marriott Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels, Courtyard, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites, SpringHill Suite and Marriott Vacation Club properties
  • Choice Hotels International – operates the Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban, Econolodge and Rodeway Inn properties
  • Wyndham Worldwide – operates the Wyndham hotels, Ramada, Days Inn, Super 8, Wingate, Baymont Inn, Microtel, Hawthorn Suites, Howard Johnson, Travelodge and Knights Inn properties
  • Intercontinental Hotel Group – operates the Intercontinental hotels, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites properties
  • Carlson – operates the Radisson, Park Plaza, Country Inns and Suites and Park Inn properties
  • Kimpton hotels – operates the Hotel Palomar, Hotel Monaco hotels as well as a variety of Kimpton boutique properties

These chains offer something in almost every price range – take for example the hotels that are part of the Intercontinental Hotel Group. This chain can offer you a $300/night room in their Intercontinental hotel, or a $59/night room at a Candlewood Suites. The hotel you pick will depend on the level of comfort you want, the amenities you desire and of course, your budget. Whichever way you go, this one hotel chain will have 7 different hotel brands to pick from, often with up to 30 or 40 properties within a 50 mile radius.

Hotel brands offer more variation than just price and comfort. The hot trend in the hotel world is offering lifestyle hotels. Most chains have opened, or are working on opening at least one brand of hotels focusing on a younger, hipper guest.

Starwood has been quite successful in this segment with their Aloft hotels. This spinoff from their (equally successful) W brand offers rooms in a modern environment – you won’t find the old worn carpet at these destinations. A similar brand is being developed by Starwood with a focus on extended stays – their Element hotels are a spin-off from the Westin brand, and offer rooms with a focus on healthy living. 6 Element hotels are already open, with another 20 opening in the coming years.

A good example of another new hotel brand is the Cambria Suites concept which we reviewed here on Gadling. This hotel clearly shows how a hotel operator designed a new brand, and built a fantastic hotel around it.

A great benefit of a chain with multiple brands is the ability to earn and redeem points within the chain. If you are a frequent guest at an affordable Hilton property, you can save up all those points, and redeem them for some free nights at a Conrad. Turning cheap stays into free stays at a really expensive property is a fantastic perk.

Here are the pros and cons of picking a large hotel chain with multiple brands:


  • Consistency amongst brands
  • Ability to earn points/free stays within the various brands
  • Easy booking system for multiple brands on a single booking site


  • Consistency tends to become boring for frequent guests
  • Prices are often higher than local unbranded options

Chain hotels with just one brand

Single brand hotel chains are owned and/or operated by just one company. Instead of offering multiple brands, they focus on one famous name, and all hotels adhere to that name and the standards set by the brand.

Best Western is a good example of this – they operate over 4000 different hotels, in 80 countries. Unlike the chain hotels mentioned previously, Best Western does this under just one name (technically they also offer several upscale properties called Best Western Premier).

The largest / most popular single-brand hotel chains in the world are:

  • Best Western
  • La Quinta Inns and Suites
  • Four Seasons
  • Mandarin Oriental

Here are the pros and cons of picking a large hotel chain with multiple brands:


  • Large number of properties
  • Ability to earn points/free stays within the brand
  • Amenities and services are usually very consistent from hotel to hotel


  • Often large differences in quality between various properties
  • Despite similar amenities and services, prices can fluctuate greatly between locations

Stand alone hotels, B&B and any other property not part of a group

The third and final segment of the hotel industry is the stand alone hotel. These hotels usually operate just one or two hotels under their name, and are not part of a chain or other “mother brand”. These properties vary from a 2 bedroom B&B to a 1500 monstrosity in a busy downtown area.

Stand alone hotels can often be a much more enjoyable place to stay as you don’t have to deal with corporate rules. That said – smaller chains don’t have the support and technology often found within larger chain hotels. Investments in new technology are not as common, especially in the booking and reservation systems.

Here are the pros and cons of picking a single hotel or a very small chain:


  • Hotels often offer a more comforting environment, without the busy branding of a large chain
  • Properties can often be more personal for frequent guests


  • Frequent guest programs are only available at one property making it harder to earn points/free stays
  • Booking systems are often primitive or hotels do not participate in large third-party booking engines like Expedia or

Picking the right hotel is not too hard – if you just need a hotel for your yearly trip, your most important factor is going to be availability, amenities and budget. A vacation hotel won’t be better or worse for you if it is part of a larger chain. If you are a more regular traveler, then it really does start to pay to pay attention to your brand loyalty.

With generous bonus awards and perhaps an affinity credit card, you could be on your way to a free stay after just 4 or 5 nights. I recommend signing up for every program you can, and trying to avoid staying at a hotel without being part of the frequent guest program. Even if you never stay with them again, adding your membership number to your reservation will save you the hassle of having to request the points after your stay.

If you are traveling for work, be sure to pick a hotel chain committed to offering the services and amenities you need – don’t settle for a chain that has the balls to charge for Internet access.

If you start to stay at a chain on any regular basis, you’ll slowly start to see the rewards of that loyalty. Besides the obvious stay bonus, you may be eligible for a room on a “preferred floor”, and you may even get access to the hotel lounge. To burst your bubble and dreams of the hotel penthouse – a real valued guest is someone who’ll stay with the hotel chain over 75 nights a year.

That entry level silver or gold card is going to be generally useless. Before you move all your dollars to one chain, do the math and check whether it is going to be worth aiming for the top tier. If you only have 10 nights planned all year, the platinum or diamond tier is going to be way out of your reach.

Once you do hit a high(er) tier, it may be time to shop around for a new chain. When I traveled for work, I was top tier with 3 hotel chains, but when one of them screwed up (badly), I decided to see whether brand X was interested in my business. As it turns out, they were, and a quick fax of my statement with hotel brand Y got my status “comped”, as well as some other perks that made it worth my while to switch my business.

Bottom line is that you should pick a hotel that makes you feel welcomed – if you don’t like the vibe of a specific hotel brand or chain, find something that fits your style. With so many new hotel concepts, it isn’t too hard to find the style that fits you best. You no longer have to settle for a boring room with a flower pattern comforter and a loud window mounted AC unit.

Help Hyatt pick their “Big Welcome” winner and send someone on an unforgettable trip

Last month we wrote about a huge contest organized by Hyatt – their “Big Welcome” promotion is going to award a lucky winner with a year of unlimited hotel stays, and enough frequent flier miles to travel around the world.

The date to enter their contest has passed, and 20 semi-finalists have been selected.

I spent some time looking at the selected entries, and they made me sad – because every single one of them had more talent and imagination I have. Which of course means I would never have been able to come close to being a winner.

If you have a spare moment, head on over to the semi-finalists lineup, and check out some of the creations. Then cast your vote for the most creative entry.

Your vote could bring one lucky winner closer to a year on the road courtesy of the Hyatt Gold Passport program.