On the Road Again?
7/11/2012 | Hotel Ruminating
Don’t get me wrong I love air travel. That’s right, I said that. (Well, mostly I like racking up frequent flier miles.) But, there’s something about the nostalgia of the Great American Road Trip that is still appealing. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family that took their vacations by filling up the old car with six kids and two parents and headed off across the many interstate highways lining the country? Maybe it’s the memories of friends taking off on hot summer days to go “down the shore.” Who knows?
One thing that is certain is that many hotel companies have taken notice and we’re now seeing hotels pop up that are themed to those days of yore when getting there was still half the fun. The latest effort to recapture that nostalgia comes from Loews Hotels & Resorts and Universal Parks & Resorts. Recently, both announced a new hotel development at Universal Orlando called Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. This isn’t your typical theme park hotel. According to the announcement, it will evoke the driving vacations so many Americans grew up enjoying with their families.
Here’s a rendering of the proposed development:
Indeed, many hotel companies are recreating that experience. Some like Motel 6 are simply celebrating their heritage as roadside rests. As pointed out in our July cover story, Motel 6 is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a contest that rewards winners with one of three “Great American Road Trips” through important regions of the chain’s past, including the fabled Route 66 in the Southwest, the Pacific Highway in California, and the Southern Road from Texas to Florida.
When I recently discussed the plans with CEO Jim Amorosia he pointed out that Motel 6 was originally built for the weary highway travelers. In fact, homebuilders Paul Greene and William Becker were inspired to create a “no-frills” hotel chain following a month-long, cross-country road trip. Thus, one of the more prominent “road trip” hotels is still going strong and still celebrating it’s place as a part of Americana.
Speaking of Americana, Wyndham Hotel Group is poised to soon bring about a resurgence of Howard Johnson, the orange-roofed icon that is simply synonymous with the highway traveler.
It’s a good time to be building and promoting roadside hotels and the nostalgia of the family travel of yesteryear. It’s well known that the economy has changed the way many people travel these days, particularly leisure travelers. Airline hassles and fees have become a turnoff to many and family travel is rising. Family travel makes up nearly one-third of adult leisure travelers according to the U.S. Travel Association.
It’s often said that hospitality is a cyclical business, it seems that cycle just may be turning back the clock a little at the moment and road trippers are a demographic that hotels are welcoming with open arms.
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