The best hotels for business and leisure travelers

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Business travelers and leisure travelers each have different needs and desires when it comes time to choose the perfect hotel. Rugged conveniences and necessities typically are the desires of the road warriors while the perfect view, amenities and cost are the leisure traveler’s requirements.

There are some key strategies to making the most out of your lodging choices. Selecting the right chain is critical. And, making sure you take advantage of the benefits a travel credit card can provide.

Let’s take a very high-level look at each of the major hotel chains, and a few other options, to see which portfolios may best fit the leisure or business traveler.

Marriott

Marriott has a solid mix of resorts and practical properties making it a win in many cases for both the business and leisure traveler. You’re also likely to find a property within the combined Marriott/Starwood portfolio almost anywhere a business traveler may need to go. What makes Marriott a solid option for the road warrior are the elite benefits and tiers aimed at really rewarding those that give Marriott 50 nights or more a year (including co-branded card elite nights).

Lounge access, breakfast (Platinum elite and above), early and late check-ins and for the big spenders (typically courtesy of a business expense account) an Ambassador to liaison for all upcoming stays and needs. It takes a lot of nights in a Marriott to reap these benefits and that will be done by the business traveler.

For the leisure traveler with Marriott, there are certainly wonderful resorts around the world, but low tier status like Gold and Silver that are easily attainable provide little tangible added value to your stay. If going on award nights booked with Marriott points to big city or resort properties, you are still going to have to pay the pesky resort fee and things like parking and breakfast.

All TPG readers should certainly keep a stash of Bonvoy points in their loyalty portfolio, but for leisure travelers Marriott should probably not be your first option.

(Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton)
(Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton)

Hilton

Consider the following as key aspects to consider for Hilton Honors when deciding on business or leisure travel:

  • low level Gold elite status gets free breakfast and potentially executive lounge access if upgraded to an executive room
  • you can earn a plethora of Hilton points through co-branded cards, elite status bonuses and routine 2X and 3X promotions on paid stays
  • there are Hilton properties in almost every level of luxury (or non-luxury) you could want around the world
  • there are no resort fees on Hilton award nights

Hilton should be near the top of your preferences for both business and leisure travel. There are a lot of great Hilton resorts worldwide which yield free nights and breakfast as a meager Gold member. For business, you can travel to small and large town alike and find anything from a Hampton Inn to a flagship Hilton or Waldorf Astoria. Every stay and every Hilton Amex Aspire statement closing seems to replenish my points balance in a hurry.

With most other hotel chains, you’ll need to evaluate whether you’re better off holding their co-branded hotel credit card or a card that earns more flexible points. But, with Hilton the value of holding a co-branded American Express card is very clear. The Aspire card gives top tier Diamond status just for paying the annual fee, meaning it’s hard to turn down a Hilton stay with all those elite benefits.

Related: Comparing Hotel and General-Purpose Travel Credit Cards

(Photo courtesy of Waldorf Astoria)
(Photo courtesy of Waldorf Astoria)

Hyatt

Hyatt has arguably the most valuable hotel points as well as the best top tier hotel elite status, Globalist. The problem is the small footprint of Hyatt properties compared to any other major hotel chain. If you are a business traveler that repeatedly goes to the same destination with a full service Hyatt Regency, Grant Hyatt, Park Hyatt or Andaz, Hyatt is absolutely the right chain for you. The lounges are great, hotels modern and you get a standardized experience based on brand anywhere you go. Along the way, you’ll earn valuable points with every stay.

If your regular business destinations aren’t serviced by Hyatt, it would be hard to recommend beyond leisure travel. Leisure travelers with Globalist status can expect suite upgrades on almost 90% of their stays, which is huge for traveling families. Lounge access for breakfast and snacks is another valuable added perk. Free night certificates and plenty of points on each stay mean the avenue to your next free night is an easy one – assuming your next destination has a Hyatt.

(Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt Sydney)
(Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt Sydney)

Wyndham

You may not know that Wyndham is the largest hotel chain in the world with over 8,000 properties in over 65 countries. But the majority are value brand properties. If your business travel takes you to far flung places like York, Nebraska or Rawlings, Wyoming, Wyndham should be a strong consideration for your business travel. The partnership with Caesar’s Entertainment in Las Vegas can yield Wyndham Rewards Diamond members strong returns on your next trip to Sin City. Outside of staying at Wyndham properties as a requirement for business, it should not be the first choice for the road warrior.

For the leisure traveler, Wyndham was previously a far-too-often overlooked option for your next vacation destination. When award nights cost a flat 15,000 points worldwide, there was serious value to be had. Now prices are once again variable and while you can still find value, without a transfer partner or strong co-branded card earning Wyndham points can be a challenge.

There are certainly resort destinations in the Wyndham family you should take a look at for your next leisure trip, but only after exhausting Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt options.

(Photo courtesy of Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach)
(Photo courtesy of Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach)

Airbnb and Boutique Properties

We’ve run across several road warriors who got fed up with the traditional hotel stay and have found they preferred apartments, houses and rooms at their regular business destinations. It can help alleviate stress and feel like more of a home environment. You also run the risk of running into a few Airbnb or home rental games, so make sure you’re experienced on the platform or have a backup option.

Boutique properties are likely to be filled with the leisure traveler enjoying a quaint (or vibrant) stay. With Hyatt’s new Small Luxury Hotels partnership you may find yourself able to satisfy both the Hyatt and boutique options in one stay. If a traditional hotel isn’t fitting the bill for your next work or leisure trip, take a look outside of the box to see what your destination may have to offer. Just make sure the card you use to pay for these stays helps get you the most value possible.

Bottom Line

Whether for leisure or business, we usually run a simple check to see if the hotel we’re considering will fit our needs. For a business stay does it offer tangible benefits to make our stay more stress-free? If a leisure stay, can we easily acquire and use elite benefits to gain value and are we earning enough in return through the loyalty program and co-branded card spend? Whether you’re a road warrior or looking for the next great vacation, take a step back and consider the small things you need to make a hotel and its loyalty program work for you.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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