The Rush for Hotel Suites and Connecting Rooms Is On | Kanebridge News
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The Rush for Hotel Suites and Connecting Rooms Is On

Families more used to renting homes on vacation now want a more communal experience during hotel stays

Fri, Jun 16, 2023 8:23amGrey Clock 4 min

The most in-demand hotel room for travelLers right now is the room right next to theirs.

Hotel and resort managers say requests for connecting rooms and suites have increased recently as multigenerational families and large groups of friends gather. Continued flexibility from hybrid work and travelLers bringing family members along on business trips have also contributed, hotel managers say.

Some hotels have reported a more than 20% increase in demand for these types of rooms.

The jump means more competition for connecting rooms, which families already struggle to book due to outdated room-assignment technology and limited supply. Some hotels are adding the ability to connect more rooms. Others are adding suites or upselling larger rooms with living space to groups.

“It amazes me every time I book a hotel that we can send people to space but can’t figure out connecting rooms,” says Lindsay Bowling, a full-time mom from Danville, Calif., who has traveled internationally with her husband, mom and kids, ages 8, 6 and 1.

Bowling, 40, says the family used to stay in Airbnbs, but says she needs more predictable lodging these days. She has run into booking issues where hotel rooms are adjoining, meaning next to each other, but not connecting.

Now, she watches travelLers’ YouTube videos to see what rooms look like. She also started using a travel agent who has helped book guaranteed connecting rooms. Sometimes she ponies up for a villa or a suite.

“You end up paying at least three times the amount to get something that works for families,” she says.

Family-style hotels

Vacation rentals and timeshares have long been popular options for families. These options got a boost earlier in the pandemic as people looked to spend more time in a destination. Families also booked more short-term rental stays to allow grandparents, parents and kids to stay under one roof. Short-term rentals remain popular this summer, too.

Some traveLlers are bringing those preferences to hotels, and asking for more than the so-called suite that’s an open space between a bedroom and a foldout couch.

At most hotels, connecting rooms aren’t a guarantee. Hotels have a limited number, and room-booking technology doesn’t always present connecting rooms to guests who search for them. Last-minute issues with rooms, such as broken toilets, can also jettison plans for connecting rooms.

Guests are staying longer at resort properties, which means connecting rooms might not open up simultaneously, says Cate Farmer, senior vice president of hotels and resorts at the hospitality company Margaritaville. Options are more scarce on weekends, she says.

In the two years since launching its confirmed connecting rooms program, Hilton says the average monthly booking rates for connecting rooms increased by about 10% year-over-year. Hyatt says it is beta testing a feature that lets people book guaranteed connecting rooms.

“Before two years ago, connecting room doors were mostly about having an annoying neighbour that you don’t know that’s too loud,” says Kyle Killion, founder of Suiteness, a travel company that helps people book suites and connecting hotel rooms. “What’s nice about booking the connectors is that the person on the other side can be annoying, but they’re probably your family.”

At the five-star Alila Napa Valley in California, children under 18 aren’t permitted. But requests for connecting rooms have increased by 23% since last year as parents travel with adult family members and loved ones, general manager Heidi Miersemann says.

The 68-room hotel plans to add at least one more set of connecting rooms to meet demand, she says.

Connecting rooms in a renovation isn’t as easy as it sounds, says Warren Feldman, chief executive officer of Nehmer, a hospitality design and architecture firm. Hotels must consider factors like rewiring before knocking a new space in a wall.

Pair of king rooms

Nicole Rathsam is a 40-year-old executive for an insurance company from San Diego. She recently booked connecting rooms at the Wynn Encore in Las Vegas. She was in town for an event, and her husband and three kids tagged along.

Rathsam says the only option was for two connecting king rooms—less than ideal for her, but better than having five people crammed into one room.

A Wynn spokeswoman says that, if asked, the hotel could have accommodated connecting rooms with different bed sizes.

To get a suite at some of the other high-end properties would cost more than $2,000 a night—more than four times the rate for connecting rooms. If hotels can figure out a better apartment-style experience for families, “they’re going to have a big edge,” Rathsam says.

Hotel prices have remained high this summer, especially in Europe. In Paris, prices are 50% above 2019 levels, Sébastien Bazin, chairman and chief executive officer of the hospitality company Accor, said at a recent lodging conference.

But a certain subset of travellers aren’t looking at the price. “They are saying ‘Give me your best suite,’” he said, adding that the company doesn’t have enough suites to meet demand.

Suite bookings at Marriott properties have risen 10% from 2022 to 2023, a spokeswoman says. About 31% of Marriott hotels in development are all-suite properties, says Eric Jacobs, senior vice president for select brands.

Designers are putting more of an emphasis on creating separate workspaces in rooms, including through junior suites, which Feldman of Nehmer says can be used for both business and leisure travellers.

During the holidays, travellers requested more connecting suites than the newly opened Tower hotel at the Boca Raton resort could accommodate. Rates start at $799 for a one-bedroom suite with a living room this summer. The top six floors offer the option to connect one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, which President Daniel Hostettler says he thought would suffice.

This summer, the hotel is renovating 15 other floors so that the entire building can accommodate connecting suites.


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At the World Plogging Championship, contestants have lugged in tires, TVs and at least one Neapolitan coffee maker

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GENOA, Italy—Renato Zanelli crossed the finish line with a rusty iron hanging from his neck while pulling 140 pounds of trash on an improvised sled fashioned from a slab of plastic waste.

Zanelli, a retired IT specialist, flashed a tired smile, but he suspected his garbage haul wouldn’t be enough to defend his title as world champion of plogging—a sport that combines running with trash collecting.

A rival had just finished the race with a chair around his neck and dragging three tires, a television and four sacks of trash. Another crossed the line with muscles bulging, towing a large refrigerator. But the strongest challenger was Manuel Jesus Ortega Garcia, a Spanish plumber who arrived at the finish pulling a fridge, a dishwasher, a propane gas tank, a fire extinguisher and a host of other odds and ends.

“The competition is intense this year,” said Zanelli. Now 71, he used his fitness and knack for finding trash to compete against athletes half his age. “I’m here to help the environment, but I also want to win.”

Italy, a land of beauty, is also a land of uncollected trash. The country struggles with chronic littering, inefficient garbage collection in many cities, and illegal dumping in the countryside of everything from washing machines to construction waste. Rome has become an emblem of Italy’s inability to fix its trash problem.

So it was fitting that at the recent World Plogging Championship more than 70 athletes from 16 countries tested their talents in this northern Italian city. During the six hours of the race, contestants collect points by racking up miles and vertical distance, and by carrying as much trash across the finish line as they can. Trash gets scored based on its weight and environmental impact. Batteries and electronic equipment earn the most points.

A mobile app ensures runners stay within the race’s permitted area, approximately 12 square miles. Athletes have to pass through checkpoints in the rugged, hilly park. They are issued gloves and four plastic bags to fill with garbage, and are also allowed to carry up to three bulky finds, such as tires or TVs.

Genoa, a gritty industrial port city in the country’s mountainous northwest, has a trash problem that gets worse the further one gets away from its relatively clean historic core. The park that hosted the plogging championship has long been plagued by garbage big and small.

“It’s ironic to have the World Plogging Championship in a country that’s not always as clean as it could be. But maybe it will help bring awareness and things will improve,” said Francesco Carcioffo, chief executive of Acea Pinerolese Industriale, an energy and recycling company that’s been involved in sponsoring and organizing the race since its first edition in 2021. All three world championships so far have been held in Italy.

Events that combine running and trash-collecting go back to at least 2010. The sport gained traction about seven years ago when a Swede, Erik Ahlström, coined the name plogging, a mashup of plocka upp, Swedish for “pick up,” and jogging.

“If you don’t have a catchy name you might as well not exist,” said Roberto Cavallo, an Italian environmental consultant and longtime plogger, who is on the world championship organizing committee together with Ahlström.

Saturday’s event brought together a mix of wiry trail runners and environmental activists, some of whom looked less like elite athletes.

“We like plogging because it makes us feel a little less guilty about the way things are going with the environment,” said Elena Canuto, 29, as she warmed up before the start. She came in first in the women’s ranking two years ago. “This year I’m taking it a bit easier because I’m three months pregnant.”

Around two-thirds of the contestants were Italians. The rest came from other European countries, as well as Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Algeria, Ghana and Senegal.

“I hope to win so people in Senegal get enthusiastic about plogging,” said Issa Ba, a 30-year-old Senegalese-born factory worker who has lived in Italy for eight years.

“Three, two, one, go,” Cavallo shouted over a loudspeaker, and the athletes sprinted off in different directions. Some stopped 20 yards from the starting line to collect their first trash. Others took off to be the first to exploit richer pickings on wooded hilltops, where batteries and home appliances lay waiting.

As the hours went by, the athletes crisscrossed trails and roads, their bags became heavier. They tagged their bulky items and left them at roadsides for later collection. Contestants gathered at refreshment points, discussing what they had found as they fueled up on cookies and juice. Some contestants had brought their own reusable cups.

With 30 minutes left in the race, athletes were gathering so much trash that the organisers decided to tweak the rules: in addition to their four plastic bags, contestants could carry six bulky objects over the finish line rather than three.

“I know it’s like changing the rules halfway through a game of Monopoly, but I know I can rely on your comprehension,” Cavallo announced over the PA as the athletes braced for their final push to the finish line.

The rule change meant some contestants could almost double the weight of their trash, but others smelled a rat.

“That’s fantastic that people found so much stuff, but it’s not really fair to change the rules at the last minute,” said Paul Waye, a Dutch plogging evangelist who had passed up on some bulky trash because of the three-item rule.

Senegal will have to wait at least a year to have a plogging champion. Two hours after the end of Saturday’s race, Ba still hadn’t arrived at the finish line.

“My phone ran out of battery and I got lost,” Ba said later at the awards ceremony. “I’ll be back next year, but with a better phone.”

The race went better for Canuto. She used an abandoned shopping cart to wheel in her loot. It included a baby stroller, which the mother-to-be took as a good omen. Her total haul weighed a relatively modest 100 pounds, but was heavy on electronic equipment, which was enough for her to score her second triumph.

“I don’t know if I’ll be back next year to defend my title. The baby will be six or seven months old,” she said.

In the men’s ranking, Ortega, the Spanish plumber, brought in 310 pounds of waste, racked up more than 16 miles and climbed 7,300 feet to run away with the title.

Zanelli, the defending champion, didn’t make it onto the podium. He said he would take solace from the nearly new Neapolitan coffee maker he found during the first championship two years ago. “I’ll always have my victory and the coffee maker, which I polished and now display in my home,” he said.

Contestants collected more than 6,600 pounds of trash. The haul included fridges, bikes, dozens of tires, baby seats, mattresses, lead pipes, stoves, chairs, TVs, 1980s-era boomboxes with cassettes still inside, motorcycle helmets, electric fans, traffic cones, air rifles, a toilet and a soccer goal.

“This park hasn’t been this clean since the 15 century,” said Genoa’s ambassador for sport, Roberto Giordano.


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