|Zagat's 2009 U.S. Hotels, Resorts & Spas Survey Finds More Options
Available for Cost-Conscious Travellers
Last update: 12:01 a.m. EST Nov. 12, 2008
NEW YORK, Nov 12, 2008 - And the Winners Are:
According to Zagat Survey, the economic downturn, accompanied by a decline
in business travel, may have an upside for leisure travelers: hotels are
responding by dropping rates, ramping up promotions and negotiating deals.
Zagat's 2009 U.S. Hotels, Resorts & Spas survey released today, also
shows great progress in the industry, with numerous major renovations and
newcomers entering the market.
New York City (Favorite Destination);
Palazzo Resort, Las Vegas (Top Newcomer);
Four Seasons (Top Chain);
Ritz-Carlton, Dallas (Top Large Hotel);
Twin Farms, VT (Top Small Hotel);
Best Value: Homewood Suites, Disney's Fort Wilderness, and Timberline Lodge;
Expedia and TripAdvisor (Best Websites)
"The travel industry is certainly affected by the economic crisis,"
said Tim Zagat, CEO of Zagat Survey. "But our survey shows that the hotels
and resorts that continue to provide quality at fair prices are reaping
rewards in the form of an extremely loyal consumer base."
The 2009 guide covers 1,001 hotels, resorts and spas nationwide based
on input from 14,049 frequent travelers and travel professionals, such
as meeting planners and travel agents. 76% of surveyors report booking
their travel online. More specifically: 82% book airline tickets, 74% book
room reservations, and 65% book car rentals. Only 33% of surveyors book
restaurant reservations online.
Decline in Business Travel: Travel for business purposes
declined with 30% of surveyors saying they are traveling less on business
and only 21% saying more. The main reasons for this change were company
travel policies (26%), personal economics (15%), economic uncertainty (12%)
and high airline prices (11%).
This month, Zagat also celebrates its 30th birthday with the launch of
zagat.com/celebrate, which offers a look back at the dramatic changes in
dining over the past 30 years. To commemorate this milestone, Zagat is
also teaming up with Action Against Hunger to lend a hand in tackling global
hunger. The 2009 Top U.S. Hotels, Resorts & Spas guide ($15.95) was
edited by Donna Marino Wilkins and is available at all major bookstores,
through Zagat.com or by calling 888-371-5440.
The Bad and the Good: The main complaint about the hotel industry
is poor service according to 48% of surveyors. This is followed by poor
room conditions (25%), and noisy fellow guests (15%). On the positive side,
respondents say they like in-room Wi-Fi (56%), in-lobby flight check-in
(29%), and eco-friendly practices (26%).
Green Talks: This year, the Zagat national average cost for a
room at these top hotels comes in at $396.92 compared to $361.01 just two
years ago. New York City is the most expensive venue ($593.98) with Las
Vegas at the other end of the spectrum ($252.38). While price is a major
consideration for travelers in choosing vacation lodging (35%), this year
almost as many people say they'd pay more to stay in an eco-friendly property
Winners: And the winners are:
New York City (surveyors' favorite destination);
Expedia and TripAdvisor (best websites);
Homewood Suites, Embassy Suites and DoubleTree (best value chains); and
Disney's Fort Wilderness in Orlando and Timberline Lodge in Oregon (best
value for large and small lodgings respectively).
No. 1 large hotel and resort respectively are the Ritz Carlton, Dallas
and the Four Seasons, Hualalai.
The survey's No. 1 Small Hotel is Vermont's Twin Farms and its Best Newcomer
is the Palazzo Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Economics 101: For several years hotels enjoyed a sellers' market,
with high prices and healthy occupancy rates. But that picture is changing
- which is good news for leisure travelers who might otherwise have opted
for "stay-cations." Already, resorts from Florida to Hawaii are offering
free-night deals, along with meal, spa or golf credits. According to Nina
Zagat, "we're now in a buyers' market. Never have we seen the scales tip
Tips for Budget Travel:
Ask and You Shall Receive: With the
demand for travel slowing down, smart consumers can negotiate for special
rates and deals, particularly at off-peak times.
Work the Web: The best bargains often
reside online via sites such as Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity, particularly
for last-minute lodging. Sign up for automatic e-mail updates.
Hide-and-Seek Costs: Special fees and
extra charges can run up your room charge. Ask in advance about such fees.
Never use the hotel phone, unless you like giving money away!
Manhattan Mania: New York City was ranked by our surveyors as the
top U.S. destination both for business (a 37% plurality) and for leisure
(16%). Following NYC, other top business destinations are San Francisco
(14%) and Chicago (12%), and leisure venues are Hawaii (15%) and San Francisco
Comeback Kids: A number of major renovations have come to fruition
this year: Maui's Ritz-Carlton Kapalua; D.C.'s St. Regis (home to a new
Alain Ducasse restaurant); Dallas' venerable Stoneleigh; Chicago's historic
Blackstone (now a Renaissance-brand hotel); the Marriott New Orleans; the
Vail Cascade Resort; and the Millennium Bostonian. Slated for imminent
reopening are Santa Monica's Shangri-La and D.C.'s Jefferson.
Going Green: The race to be green is in full swing, and travelers
have taken note with 26% listing green features among the top three best
hotel trends. Some 48% say they're more likely to stay in an eco-friendly
property, and 31% will pay more to do so. Answering travelers' call, Starwood
launched the new brand Element, an environmentally-conscious chain of hotels
that are mandated to pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Brand Boosters: Sixty-six percent of Zagat surveyors prefer to
stay at chains, which accounted for seven of the top ten resorts and nine
of the top ten hotels in this year's survey. And, 22% of leisure travelers
ranked brand as important: Once again, the Four Seasons tops the list,
claiming seven of the top twenty hotels and five of the top twenty resorts.
Not surprisingly, the Four Seasons was also voted the country's Top Chain.
Several other Marketing Associations also achieved top rankings. These
include Relais & Chateaux; Leading Hotels, and Luxury Collection.
About Zagat Survey, LLC
Known as the "burgundy bible," Zagat Survey is the world's most trusted
source for information about where to eat, drink, stay and play around
the globe, and as such has become a symbol of quality. Zagat Survey rates
and reviews airlines, restaurants, hotels, nightlife, movies, music, golf,
resorts, shopping, spas, and a range of other entertainment categories
in over 100 countries and has been lauded as the "most up-to-date, comprehensive
and reliable guides ever published" and as "a necessity second only to
a valid credit card." Zagat content is available in print, on the Web,
on the Palm and Windows Mobile operating systems, on BlackBerry, on mobile
phones, and on TV. For more information, visit ZAGAT.com.