|By Hugo Martin, Los Angeles
TimesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 12, 2011--If you could redesign your hotel room, what would you include?
Red Roof Inn, one of the nation's largest budget hotel chains, launched a $90-million redesign effort this month for its nearly 350 hotels across the country based on the comments of thousands of guests in Texas, Georgia and Ohio.
The data were collected from email surveys taken over the last 12 to 18 months.
The top request by guests was for more electrical outlets in each room to power smartphones, e-readers and other mobile electronic devices. The chain said it will add a minimum of four extra outlets per room as part of the redesign project.
The second most requested change was to install flat-screen TVs. The hotel chain plans to put 32- and 37-inch flat-screen TVs in every hotel room nationwide by the end of 2012.
Other changes coming as a result of the guest survey are new wood-like flooring instead of carpeting, more powerful shower heads and more bathroom counter space.
"When someone is traveling, they want to feel at home, or better," Red Roof President Andrew Alexander said in a statement.
The Red Roof Miami Airport hotel will be the first to get the upgrade. The chain's 12 hotels in California should be redone by the end of 2014.
TSA's PreCheck program expected to grow fast
In the two months since the federal government began letting fliers who provide background information to zip through special airport security checkpoints, more than 120,000 passengers have taken advantage of the program.
Fliers who participate in the Transportation Security Administration's PreCheck program don't have to remove shoes, belts or coats at designated airport checkpoints. So far, the TSA has invited only some frequent fliers with Delta and American airlines to participate in PreCheck at airports in Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit and Miami.
The number of passengers using PreCheck is expected to grow quickly because TSA Administrator John Pistole announced last week that first-class and other "elite" passengers on United and Continental airlines will be allowed to participate in the program next year.
United and Continental are set to merge by March to create the nation's largest airline.
The program is also expected to expand to airports in Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Los Angeles early next year. The idea behind the program is to allow TSA agents to devote more resources to checking high-risk passengers and travelers the agency knows little about.
Sunny locales rank high for holiday destinations
Americans may be dreaming of a white Christmas, but warm, sunny destinations are among the most popular vacation spots for the Christmas holiday, according to statistics from the travel website Orbtiz.
The website's ranking of the top Christmas destinations found that seven of the 10 most popular Christmas vacation spots are warm climate cities -- Los Angeles; Cancun, Mexico; Phoenix; and the Florida cities of Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay.
The same trend holds for travel for the New Year's celebration, with a few changes in the top 10.
And if you're looking to save money on holiday travel, the Orbitz ranking found that Tampa Bay will have the lowest combination of airfares and hotel rates of the top 10 Christmas vacation spots and Orlando will have the best deals over the New Year's holiday.
The average airline ticket to Tampa Bay from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27 will be $423 and the average hotel rate will be $75 a night, according to Orbitz. In contrast, the most expensive of the top 10 Christmas destinations will be Cancun, with average airfares of $720 and daily hotel rates of $283.
Over the long New Year's weekend, the average airfare to Orlando will be $307, with average daily hotel rates of $94, according to Orbitz. Among the most expensive, Honolulu tops the list with average airfares of $726 and average daily hotel rates of $119.
(c)2011 the Los Angeles Times
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