Consumer Reports' Hotel Survey; Uncomfortable Bed
Chief Culprits -
Days Inn, Econo Lodge, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Travelodge
YONKERS, N.Y., June 4, 2007 - The opulent Ritz-Carlton scored high in
overall satisfaction while Homewood Suites and SpringHill Suites proved
to also be excellent values, according to Consumer Reports' latest survey
that rates the best hotels for any budget.
In its latest report, Consumer Reports finds the hotel room market
is changing, and not necessarily for the better for those in search of
a great deal. With business and leisure travel on the rise, vacancies are
down and rates are up. Fewer empty rooms could possibly mean less big bargains
"When we last looked in 2004, hotel chains were only starting to offer
best rate guarantees. It was easier to find deeply discounted rooms then,
but now hotels are less willing to strike deals with travel sites that
sell rooms at fire-sale prices," said Tod Marks, Senior Editor at Consumer
Reports. "It's still wise to shop around, but you've got to work harder
to find a standout deal."
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). That's
right- guests will pay even if they don't play.
With fewer bargains available, it becomes more important that consumers
are satisfied with their stay. To help, Consumer Reports National Research
Center's 2006 Annual Questionnaire heard from almost 35,000 subscribers
who spent more than 139,000 nights at 48 hotel chains. Among the survey
The Best Hotels
The fanciest hotels doled out fewer freebies. Sixty percent of high-end
hotels charged for Internet connection, compared to 10 percent of budget
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.
More than 70 percent of readers 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.
Although readers were generally satisfied with their hotel stays, at least
33 percent encountered at least one problem. Some chains drew far more
complaints than others. Fifty-five percent of readers that stayed at Howard
Johnson had one or more problems, compared to 16 percent at Homewood Suites.
Among the five top complaints and the chief culprits overall: (In
Unattractive Decor: Days Inn, Econo Lodge, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Travelodge
Poor Room Lighting: Clarion, Days Inn, Econo Lodge, Howard Johnson, Travelodge
Excessive Phone Charges: Hilton, Omni, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Westin
Heating or A/C issues: Clarion, Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Red Roof
Uncomfortable Bed: Days Inn, Econo Lodge, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Travelodge
Consumer Reports rated hotels based on five categories: Fanciest, Luxury,
Upscale, Moderate, and Budget, as well as the typical nightly rate readers
paid. Per category, the highest-rated choices are:
Tips to Try to Save More Money
Fanciest: Price between $130 and $350. Simply the best according to readers,
the opulent Ritz-Carlton, which earned top marks for value, service, upkeep,
and low reported problems.
Luxury: Price between $89 and $218. Scores were consistently good with
slight differences separating the best from the pack. Among the best: Renaissance,
Embassy Suites, Westin, Marriott, Omni, and Hyatt. Upkeep and service scored
generally high for this group.
Upscale: Price between $70 and $235. CR readers found this group to provide
the best bang for the buck. Homewood Suites and SpringHill Suites were
among the best. Residence Inn by Marriott, an all-suite chain also scored
well. Walt Disney Resorts in Orlando and in California offered stellar
Moderate: Price between $58 and $100. Drury Inn/Suites, Hampton Inn and
Wingate Inn were top choices in this category. The Drury Inn and Wingate
Inn showed much better than average scores for value.
Budget: Priced between $40 and $85. Microtel was the star of the
budget bunch, scoring as well or better than more well-appointed chains.
It typically builds new hotels rather than converting older properties
from other brands.
With a little work, consumers may land a better rate. Among some tactics
the experts at Consumer Reports recommend:
Consumer Reports' best hotels report including complete ratings for all
48 hotel chains and more advice for finding a great rate can be found in
the July issue, available on newsstands June 5, 2007 or by visiting http://www.ConsumerReports.org.
Join a loyalty program: Frequent guests earn free nights, future discounts,
room upgrades and airline miles.
Be flexible: Bypassing a holiday, lengthening your stay, or switching arrival
or departure dates as little as one day, may give you far more negotiating
Book early, check later: When dealing with a hotel directly, the reservations
clerk might be willing to give you a good rate far ahead of time (to lock
in your business). Then call back 24 to 72 hours before you arrive.
If the rate has dropped you can usually rebook.
Speak up: Bargaining with a reservations clerk face-to-face was the most
If you call, ask for the lowest price. It may sound obvious, but you'll
make sure you're getting a good quote. The corporate rate is often the
lowest the clerk is authorized to offer. You don't have to be on
business to qualify.
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