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Suite and Not So Suite Hotels
By Ed Perkins
When is a hotel "suite" accommodation not a suite?
Often, when it's in an "all-suite" hotel. Webster's Online Dictionary defines a "suite" as "a group of rooms occupied as a unit," and, to me, that means at least two separate rooms. But not to the hotel industry: In today's world of hype, as far as I can tell, the majority of accommodations in "all-suite" hotels actually consist of just one room. Often, it's bigger than a conventional room, with more living and working space, and more often than not minimal to full-kitchen facilities. And in such a "studio" or "junior" suite, the living/working areas may be somewhat separated from the sleeping area by a partial wall or some sort of separating furniture. But the two areas are neither noise- nor light private: If you really want noise and light isolation, you have to find a hotel with real 1- or 2-bedroom suites. Fortunately, there are some.
All of the major U.S. multi-tier hotel chains have at least two "all-suite" brands -- typically, one transient, for short-term guests, and one "extended stay," for travelers staying more than a day or two (Choice has four brands). Accommodations in transient all-suite hotels typically include conventional housekeeping services; some extended-stay brands may provide only weekly housekeeping. Here's a rundown of the current all-suite market.
-- Cambridge Suites: Studios; mini-kitchen; the up-market option.
-- Comfort Suites: Studios, no kitchen, "free" breakfast.
-- MainStay Suites: Extended stay; studios and 1-bedroom units; kitchens; "free" continental breakfast.
-- Suburban: Extended stay; studios, kitchen.
-- Homewood Suites: Extended stay; studios, 1- and 2-bedroom; kitchen; "free" breakfast.
-- Candlewood Suites: Studios, 1- and 2-bedroom; kitchen.
-- Staybridge Suites: Extended stay; studios, 1- and 2-bedroom; kitchen; "free" breakfast.
-- AmeriSuites: Studios; kitchen; "free" breakfast.
-- Summerfield Suites: 1- and 2-bedroom only; kitchen; "free" breakfast; with
-- SpringHill Suites: Studios; kitchen; "free" breakfast.
-- TownePlace Suites: Extended stay; studios, 1-bedroom, 2-bedrooms; kitchen; "free" breakfast.
-- Baymont Suites: Studios, 1-bedroom; "free" breakfast.
-- Hawthorn Suites: Studios, 1- and 2-badroom; kitchen; "free" breakfast. Hawthorn's newest design will feature only 1-bedroom suites.
These days, most of the listed chains offer what has become the "usual suspects" smorgasbord of amenities: Cable TV, WiFi, pool, parking, and such. And, in most, the living area includes a convertible sofa that can accommodate one or two adults and also generally doubles as a work area for business travelers, with a good-size desk and computer hookup. In one of the ongoing ironies of the hotel business, midmarket hotels, including the entire all-suite group, typically include more features at no extra cost than the high-priced groups. Except on a promotional package, you don't see the Ritz-Carlton or the Waldorf Astoria offering a "free" breakfast as part of the base room rate.
Many units of conventional hotel chains also include at least a few suites and rooms with some kitchen facilities. But the few real 1- and 2-bedroom suites tend to be considerably more expensive than regular rooms.
Suite hotels -- especially those on the down-market side -- typically tout their facilities for families. With use of the convertible sofa, even a studio can accommodate two adults and two kids, and studios with a sofa plus two queen beds can accommodate six in a pinch.
Overall, I'm a big fan of all-suite hotels, but I greatly prefer those that provide "true" suites with noise and light privacy between the living and sleeping areas. That way, if someone wants to go to bed early, someone else watching a late game or good movie won't keep others awake. All in all, all-suite hotels offer a pretty good "value proposition." Give one a try.
© Ed Perkins
Vacation Travel - Suite and Not So Suite Hotels