Drive American

Published on Thursday, June 7, 2007

Study shows problem for hotel bargain-seekers

The hotel room market is changing and not necessarily for the better for those in search of a great deal, says the latest Consumer Reports.

“With business and leisure travel on the rise, vacancies are down and rates are up. Fewer empty rooms could possibly mean less big bargains for consumers,” the report says.

Making matters worse, some hotels are tacking on fees for everything from maid service ($5 to $18 a day) to the "chance" to use a tennis court, hiking trail, golf course and other resort amenities ($12 and up).

In the same report, Ritz-Carlton scored high in overall satisfaction.

Homewood Suites and SpringHill Suites also proved to be “excellent values,” says the report that rates the best hotels for any budget.

Among survey findings from almost 35,000 subscribers to Consumer Reports:

  • The fanciest hotels are doling out fewer “freebies.” Sixty percent of high-end hotels charged for internet connections, compared to 10% of budget hotels.

  • ”Most budget hotels aren't a bargain; the least expensive generally scored the lowest. Their guests were more likely to report getting a poor night's sleep because of noise or a bad bed,” the report found.

  • More than 70% of those surveyed who haggled scored a rate reduction or a room upgrade, especially if they negotiated face-to-face. “While the safer choice would be to call ahead, survey respondents who arrived without reservations actually paid less than those who booked in advance,” it concluded.

  • Those in the survey were generally satisfied with their hotel stays, but at least one-third encountered at least one problem. Some chains drew far more complaints than others.

Report by David Wilkening

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