At a recent speaking engagement, I was asked "do you really spend 30 weeks traveling per year?" My answer was "yes." As you may know I love to travel, both to host "Beyond Your Backyard," make short form travel videos and for personal vacations. The weeks add up per year and I love it. I stay in a variety of accommodations but, primarily I stay in large chain hotels or resorts. I believe Airbnb has made staying in someone else's home "cool" and convenient for both the visitor and the owner. I also believe it is an excellent option for some travelers, especially seasoned globetrotters. But as you know, this is not a unique concept. Sometimes staying in a vacation rental is just more economical especially when vacationing with larger groups of people in your party.
But for the most part, I prefer staying in large properties for a myriad of key reasons. I do stay at other types of properties such as cute, little cozy inns, vacation rentals, and bed-and-breakfasts. But, a larger property (preferably part of a chain) is my preference. Here are a few other reasons why:
I like earning points with hotel loyalty programs or earning extra miles (or points) when booking with a hotel or airline credit card. The three programs I use the most are Marriott, Hilton and IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group). While I do use online travel companies (Expedia, Priceline, or Hotels.com) where I can read hotel reviews, I actually prefer to book directly with the property or chain. Sometimes by booking directly with larger properties, I can get a better deal booking unsold inventory. This is a major hotel tip: Hotels like to be full and fill every vacant room. A larger property is likely to sell that inventory at a discounted rate, rather than let the rooms go empty.
With larger properties, I have options when booking a room type that best suites my specific needs. King bed, two queens, a one bedroom suite, balcony, square footage bathtub, a gorgeous view, location relative to the elevators, stairs, and/or parking are also considerations.
Websites like Airbnb and HomeAway have really made it easy to communicate with the property owner or manager, but not all owners are as responsive as I might like. Keep in mind that each booking is a little different based on factors like key location, security codes, front gate codes, parking passes, parking locations, and local laws.
Transportation and Favorable Location
Larger properties are easy to get to (and return to) with different transportation options. They may have an airport shuttle for instance. Taxi drivers and Uber drivers don't always have to rely on GPS because they are aware of a larger property's location. And in some cases a larger property is located in a locations city-center.
I also prefer staying in commercial neighborhoods rather than a residential neighborhood. More restaurants, convenience stores and other businesses are more-likely to be closer when a hotel is situated in a commercial neighborhood (think downtown or a busy suburb).
Service and Amenities
Honestly, I'm pretty low maintenance when I'm traveling, but I like knowing (and sometimes) utilize the services and amenities of a lager property like a fitness center, swimming pool, sun deck, business center, lounge, bar, meeting rooms etc. Room service is sometimes helpful when I want a quick bite or breakfast in my room before I start my day. Valet parking is also sometimes a welcome addition to my hotel bill.
The check-in process is seamless with the use of a larger property's app. In some cases I can open my guest room door with my phone. I also can communicate (via the app) with my property in advance of my arrival with last-minute changes and/or requests. This way, the property is ready for my arrival, therefore making the process as smooth as possible.
And when something's just not right, larger properties are sometimes able to make a change quickly without hassle.
The Room Itself
One of the biggest reasons I stay in larger properties is the ability to control the temperature in my hotel room. A larger property is more-likely to have an HVAC system in good working order.
Cleanliness standards are also a big consideration for me. Large properties have cleaning protocols in place with oversight standards. They aren't always perfect, but at least they are in place.
I also think a little less about whether or some creepy homeowner's son has placed a hidden camera in the smoke detector in the bedroom. of course, this is an extreme circumstance, but it does happen.
Security of the grounds and physical structure(s) of major properties provides a little more peace of mind as well.
Again, these are just a few of the considerations I think about when I travel. I can't stress enough that i stay in all types of accommodation options, but hopefully this gives a little insight as to why I tend to gravitate towards large properties in just about every location I visit.
If you have hotel tips or thoughts to help other vacation thrill seekers, then please feel free to comment below.
Erik the Travel Guy is a respected travel industry expert and host of the Emmy-nominated, nationally syndicated PBS travel television series “Beyond Your Backyard.” He spends, on average, 25 weeks traveling around the world, hosting his show(s), making short-form travel videos and speaking at events and conferences. He lives in New York City and most enjoys spending time with his two daughters.
P.S. For more accommodation tips and stories explore:
Air B&Bs - A Cautionary Tale
Travelocity - A Quick Read
Discover the Basics of OTAs (Online Travel Landscapes)
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!