How to maximize long-term hotel stays
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People who frequently travel often complain about small hotel rooms, hit-or-miss (and expensive) room service, and iffy Wi-Fi connection. So, why would someone want to stay in a hotel for an extended period?
In the eighth month of the global coronavirus crisis, many of the most seasoned mattress runners might avoid a hotel stay altogether. But plenty of people are checking in, even for long-term stays. If that’s you, here’s how you can maximize your next long-term hotel stay.
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Why would you do a long-term hotel stay?
Anyone who’s ever done a remodeling project knows how stressful it can be to live in a home undergoing renovations. Try taking work calls while a contractor is drilling in the room next to you — it’s not fun. And for some treatments, you may need to vacate the premises for an extended period of time. That means you may want to escape the noise, dust or chemicals and relocate someplace quieter while your own home is under renovation.
A long-term hotel stay may also be ideal if you find yourself temporarily displaced due to weather conditions — and might even be covered under your homeowner’s insurance. As a child, my family often hunkered down in hotels down South during hurricane season, and I know several people who decamp to hotels at the earliest sign of bad weather.
Business travel has plummeted due to the pandemic, but some employees still have to travel for work. My brother, Richard, was one of them. He recently completed a two-month stay at a Marriott hotel in Northern Virginia, where he stayed during a work trip. That trip earned him status with Marriott, which he’ll keep through February 2022.
While my brother wouldn’t consider himself a points-and-miles expert, I impressed upon him the need to make sure he linked his Marriott account number during the stay. That accomplished two things: picking up elite-qualifying nights during the stay and earning Bonvoy points for future travel.
My brother didn’t even have Marriott status before the trip — he was a regular Bonvoy member. He was surprised (and pleased) at checkout to learn that he’d become a Marriott Platinum Elite. We value Platinum status at nearly $2,700, and with his new status, he’s entitled to a slew of perks, including:
- Space-available upgrades to enhanced rooms when checking in, which includes suites
- A 50% point bonus
- Priority late checkout
- Complimentary enhanced internet
- A welcome gift
- An annual selection of choice benefits
He’s now planning an anniversary trip at a Ritz-Carlton property using the status (and points) he earned during his stay.
Extended-stay (working) vacations
With kids logging into Zoom University and many parents working remotely for the foreseeable future, people realize they don’t have to stay home. We’ve seen several hotels launch “work from anywhere” promotions, from Marriott offering three separate packages to Hyatt’s Work From Hyatt program and Hilton’s WorkSpaces by Hilton program.
In some cases, these programs have minimum-stay requirements longer than you might normally stay in a given property. And with inclusions like complimentary breakfast, food-and-beverage credits and activities for the kids, you may want to stay for a while.
Tips for handling a long-term stay
“My next trip, I will stay in an extended stay hotel — a Residence Inn by Marriott to be exact,” he said. “I recommend if you’re staying over a week, then you definitely need a couch and a kitchen.”
He said a kitchen or microwave is a must during his next stay, as there was no breakfast or coffee because of the pandemic. There was a restaurant at the hotel, but he said he hopped between restaurants, so he didn’t get tired of the food.
It can be tough to make a hotel feel like home, but he said he burned incense that reminded him of home, took walks to escape the room’s stuffiness and kept to his daily cleaning routine.
“I disinfected everything in my room, and I always bring shower shoes [when I travel]. I set a cleaning schedule for the maids but cleaned myself daily.”
What happens if you qualify for status mid-stay?
Another interesting facet of long-term stays involves status qualification, as a guest may reach a new, more-rewarding tier in the middle of the trip by virtue of the number of nights they’ve staying in a year.
I asked Marriott what members should do if they find themselves in this situation.
“A long-term-stay guest should request that the hotel do an interim bill,” a Marriott representative told TPG, “where they check them out and check them back in so that the stays process. This way, they should have their updated status and benefits. If they don’t do this, then it only kicks in when the stay is checked out.”
That means if you’re a Marriott Gold who happens to hit Platinum status during a long-term stay, you should head down to the front desk. That also means you’re going to want to book your stay directly through the hotel and not an OTA like Expedia, so you’re entitled to your elite benefits.
However, making a trip down to the front desk won’t work at all hotels. IHG, for instance, told me that the IHG Rewards Club elite status recognized during a member’s stay is the one the member has at check-in. That means if you reached, say, Spire Elite during an extended stay, that status would not apply until your next stay.
World of Hyatt also told me that its earning structure for stays is based on checkout.
“In the instance of a member hitting a higher tier status during a qualifying stay, that next tier status would only kick in upon checkout of the stay,” a rep told me.
As a result, a World of Hyatt member who qualifies for a higher tier of status won’t enjoy those perks until they complete the long-term stay and arrive for their next stay. This means you won’t receive in-hotel benefits of Globalist status, like access to Club lounges, complimentary full breakfast at hotels without lounges or waived resort fees on eligible paid rates. Instead, these benefits would apply during the next qualifying stay.
Also, keep in mind that Hyatt says that back-to-back stays in 24 hours will not count as a new stay; they will count as one stay.
All that said, if you do find yourself qualifying for status in the middle of a long-term stay, you may want to discuss your situation with a front desk agent or guest services manager on property. He/she may be willing to offer an exception to the published rules — especially with the low hotel occupancy from the coronavirus pandemic that continues today.
As we always say, it never hurts to ask.
There are plenty of reasons why someone may have to stay in a hotel long-term — from home improvements to work travel to needing a change of scenery.
It’s clear that Marriott Bonvoy has the most generous policy of the three hotel chains I spoke to, so if you’re set on reaping the benefits of a long-term stay during your stay, you may want to stay at a Marriott hotel.
Either way, it won’t hurt to ask the front desk if you can get your updated benefits during your stay, regardless of which hotel you choose.
Featured photo by Shutterstock
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