Hotel Accommodations

Finding the right spot for your stay

The number one thing you need to know about selecting a hotel is that they all operate much like the airline industry - with a fixed number of rooms available on any given day, hotels determine their rates based on historical occupancy data and area events.

If you want to travel to Toronto, during Cannes or Sundance Film Festivals for example, expect high rates and sold out hotels. Traveling a week or two before or after, the same hotels can offer incredible savings. So, if you are flexible on when you want to travel, shifting your travel by a day or two can not only save you hundreds of dollars, you can also find the most ideal hotel for you.

It's important to ask prospective hotels when their busy times are and what is going on in the area. Availability will not only ensure you the best room in the hotel, but you have a better chance of receiving complimentary upgrades and added services.

Shopping online for hotel accommodations allows you to do your homework and gather all the information you need. Stick with the brand-name corporate websites for the best rates and services.

Understanding the difference between a full service hotel versus a limited service is key to selecting the hotel that is right for you. If guest service and amenities are important to you, then likely you want a full service hotel that offers the entire spectrum, from restaurants and room service to pools and shuttle services. This does not necessarily mean they are better, so even major chain hotels can vary from city to city. Make sure you find out if the hotels you're looking at have won any recent awards for quality and service.

Major hotels such as InterContinental Hotels, which include Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and many more brands, pride themselves on quality guest services. Their goal is to make you a happy guest so you'll return.

Hotels are in the business of hospitality and they are all beating down the doors to compete against one another to offer the best service. But all the amenities and features can't compete with the level of personal service you experience with the hotel staff once you're there. The best hotels invest millions of dollars in training programs for their employees and make it their mission to cultivate the best hotel staff.

While typically your search criteria are initially date and location, you may tend to overlook the quality of sleep you need. Prime location may lure you to a hotel, but once you're in the room and it's bedtime, suddenly those hard pillows and scratchy sheets, can make for a most unpleasant stay. These days, major hotel chains are investing in ensuring your comfort with better quality mattresses, sheeting, duvets, feather pillows and more. In selecting your hotel, take the time to find out when their last renovation was for their guest rooms. Many renovate common areas that look beautiful, while their guest rooms are less than appealing.

In a nutshell, get to know the hotel you plan to stay at. Ask questions. Are there construction projects or renovations happening at the moment? Make requests such as best views, quietest floors, inclusions, extended check-out times, and whether breakfast and parking are included (you may or may not want this, but often it is built into the rate). Remember, this is your home away from home, even if it is just for a night.

We all have individual needs and it is vitally important to understand not only what the hotel offers, but what your true needs are. If you fail to communicate your expectations, the hotel you choose may inadvertently fail to deliver. Try to rate your top criteria and pay attention to what makes you happy. It will make all the difference in what kind of stay you are going to have. Happy trails!

By Tiziana P. Fathers