Future Airport Hotels to be Redefined by Hilton Worldwide
T he thought of staying at a hotel property near an airport typically conjures images of mediocrity where two of the few advantages is convenience to the airport itself with a complimentary shuttle service if you happen to be an airline passenger — to the point where some travelers have no intention of staying at one again.
Hilton Worldwide is hoping to change that lackluster perception with the recent opening of its Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol hotel property, replacing descriptions such as boring, expensive, crowded and outdated with luxury, modern and innovative.
Future Airport Hotels to be Redefined by Hilton Worldwide
According to data from a study called Travel Trends: The Rise of the Airport Hotel, the majority of 5,506 global travelers use airport hotel properties for reasons of convenience — often for business and missed or inconvenient flights.
The majority of business travelers — between 56 percent and 88 percent — feel that there is a connection between their satisfaction with their hotel stay and their ability to perform their job well, according to the study.
While business travelers are away from home, 63 percent of them say that they still want the hotel properties at which they are staying to feel like it is their home, with amenities available which will help them to relax or otherwise enjoy their stay; and 61 percent of them say that they “always try to use hotel amenities like bars and spas as a way to relax when traveling for work.”
The study — which involved global travelers in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and China who are 18 years of age and older and have traveled for either business or leisure at least once in the past twelve months and have stayed at a full-service hotel property at least twice during that time — is a blue paper commissioned by Hilton Hotels & Resorts and conducted by Edelman Berland earlier this month in order to understand perceptions around airport hotel properties and gauge interest in concepts for the next generation of them.
Negative Perception of Airport Hotel Properties Needs to Shift
Hotel properties at airports are commonly used for business; meaning that the negative perception of them needs to change.
“Since 1959, when Hilton Hotels & Resorts opened its first airport hotel in San Francisco, and 15 days later its second airport hotel in New Orleans, we have been a leader in this category”, said Shawn McAteer — who is the vice president of global brand management and full service brands at Hilton Worldwide — in citing Hilton as a pioneer in the airport hotel category.
The Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol hotel property has 433 rooms — including 12 suites with a separate living room and extensive work area and 96 executive rooms that allow guests access to the executive lounge — and is an example of what Hilton Worldwide hopes will become the new standard of hotel properties located at or near airports; providing updated amenities, unique food and beverage offerings, inspiring design and wellness options.
Shown in the photograph at the top of this article, the hotel property has a distinct cubic design which features a 42-metre high glazed roof; a new lobby concept which brings together — in a single open-plan area — unique ‘islands’ that serve as multi-functional spaces which include a reception area, lounge and bar; and “a wide range of bespoke pieces” for the hotel created by Spanish artist Israel Páez — such as story-telling tile walls in the open kitchens and a series of headboards for the guest rooms representing the Dutch landscape. The property is the largest conference hotel near Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with 23 flexible meeting spaces — including a ballroom with a capacity of up to 640 delegates — offering state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment.
You can “gaze at stars within the atrium” in the lobby and cocktail bar as you choose from one of the largest selections of gins and jenevers in the Netherlands. One restaurant on premises features three live cooking stations and offers authentic grill and Asian dishes inspired by its Dutch heritage — made with fresh ingredients sourced from local suppliers and farmers. The Vine Room serves as a private, intimate event space which can seat up to 20 guests. The eforea spa is the foundation of the global spa concept of Hilton Worldwide; and a fitness center open 24 hours per day is available.
New Concept Changes Negative Perceptions?
After viewing images of hotel properties at airports for the future in comparison to what is currently available, the attitudes of travelers who participated in the aforementioned study changed dramatically.
In the United States, 72 percent of those travelers surveyed reportedly shifted their viewpoint from boring to modern; and 71 percent to luxurious. Meanwhile, 74 percent of those travelers surveyed who were unlikely to stay at an airport hotel properties said they are “now likely.”
One of the conclusions of the aforementioned study is that “given that nearly seven out of 10 travelers would only consider staying at airport hotels for missed or inconvenient flights, there is a large majority of travelers to be won over with new concepts, enhanced amenities and a better overall understanding of what next-gen airport hotels have to offer.”
What About Room Rates and Other Expenses?
I had not found any part of the aforementioned study which addresses room rates or redemptions of Hilton HHonors points for reward stays.
Despite the claim that room rates can be as low as 149 euros — I did find a few in July — the lowest starting room rate commonly found at this time for one night at the Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol hotel property is 165 euros; but starting rates were frequently higher at various room rates depending on the day of the reservation to a minimum of 269 euros on a number of days.
At this time with the current exchange rate, the range for starting room rates varies from approximately $165.00 to $300.00 per night — not a wallet-buster; but not exactly inexpensive either.
Also of note is that if you have a vehicle, it will cost you an additional 38 euros to park it yourself at the Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol hotel property.
Rates at the eforea spa range from 35 euros for a traditional back massage to 95 euros for either a collagen quartz lift facial or an exotic lime and ginger salt scrub with a custom massage.
Over the years, I have personally stayed at many airport hotel properties operated by Hilton Worldwide in such metropolitan areas as Atlanta, Rome, Kansas City, Copenhagen, Philadelphia, Sydney, Chicago, Dublin, New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Boston, and London at Gatwick Airport. My experiences ranged from not memorable in Kansas City and Philadelphia — neither of which are part of the portfolio of Hilton Worldwide hotel properties anymore — to exceptional experiences in Copenhagen and London.
When it comes to the Hilton brand itself, it is no secret amongst members of the Hilton HHonors frequent guest loyalty program that hotel properties located outside of the United States typically offer a superior experience to those located within the United States — and this includes hotel properties located at or near airports. There are indeed exceptions to that generalization — Hilton Bracknell in the United Kingdom is one undesirable hotel property which comes to mind; but it is also quite inexpensive at which to stay.
I have not stayed at the Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol hotel property yet, as it had just recently opened, so I cannot comment on it personally at this time — nor do I have plans to stay at that hotel property in the foreseeable future. If those plans change, I will write an article reviewing my experience.
Improving the concept of the airport hotel property is a goal which should be considered; but a caveat which comes to my mind is what will that eventually mean for room rates. In addition to convenience to the airport and a complimentary shuttle service – usually, anyway — an attractive aspect of a hotel property located at or near an airport is the room rate, as it is typically significantly lower than the room rates of comparable hotel properties which are more centrally located. The redemption of the amount of Hilton HHonors frequent guest loyalty program points could also potentially be affected: would the amount of points needed for reward stays increase with hotel properties located near airports which sport the newer concept?
I am reminded of how the room rates of Hampton Inn hotel properties have generally increased when the level of standards was raised throughout the brand. Yes, staying at Hampton Inn hotel properties are significantly more comfortable; but for some guests, they are now priced beyond aspects of the market they were originally intended to serve.
A similar fate could occur with hotel properties located near airports which are operated under the Hilton brand; but then that perhaps could pave the way further for other brands operated by Hilton Worldwide — such as Hilton Garden Inn and DoubleTree as two examples — to offer room rates at lower costs while simultaneously providing Hilton Worldwide with an opportunity to grow by offering several concepts of hotel properties at airports worldwide; and that is not necessarily a negative aspect of the new concept…
…but what remains to be seen is whether or not the introduction of the new concept of airport hotel properties will be a win-win scenario for both Hilton Worldwide and its guests.
All photographs of the Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schipol hotel property used with permission by Hilton Worldwide.