Going The Extra Mile

Hotels

Best Budget Hotel Chain: Budgetel Inns

Budgetel has won our praise before. This time around, we recognize it for its attention to budget-conscious business travelers. Budgetel just invested $2.5 million to equip 10 percent of its rooms chainwide with BusinessFirst amenities--the first economy hotel chain to do so. BusinessFirst rooms come with in-room office conveniences typically offered only by higher-priced hotel chains, such as extra-large desks with ergonomic chairs, task lighting, speakerphones with modem hookups, trays of free office supplies such as Post-it notes and pens, and free copying services and incoming faxes. Other room features include king-sized beds, recliners, in-room coffee makers, 25-inch color televisions with remote, and free local calls. You'll even find a free continental breakfast hanging on your room door each morning!

Known for their commitment to safety, Budgetel locations feature interior corridors, which are more secure than exterior ones. Guests can enter the hotel via side doors and only with a room key. All doors except the front one to the lobby remain locked at all times.

Amazingly, rates for Budgetel's BusinessFirst rooms run just $50 or less on average, which is only slightly above Budgetel's regular rate. There are 135 Budgetels in 28 states (most east of the Mississippi). Ask for a BusinessFirst room when making your reservation or when you check in.

For reservations, call (800) 4-BUDGET or visit Budgetel's Web site at (http://www.budgetel.com).

Best Moderately Priced Hotel Chain: Courtyard By Marriott

If you are looking for a consistently good value, it's hard to miss the near-ubiquitous Courtyard by Marriott chain. Since 1983, the chain has grown to 300 hotels in the United States and 10 in Great Britain.

Courtyard hotels resemble residential apartment complexes in their landscaping and architecture. Most rooms overlook a central, landscaped courtyard with a pool and socializing area. There are also a few high-rise Courtyard properties in some urban areas.

Courtyard offers king-sized beds in 70 percent of all guest rooms, large work areas with ergonomic chairs, phones with modem hookups, and a separate eating area with free coffee and tea. Soon, all rooms will offer phones with two lines and voice mail. Most locations have a swimming pool, a minigym and an indoor whirlpool, plus a lobby restaurant offering a daily breakfast buffet.

With the giant buying power of a worldwide chain, Courtyard can pass along a consistently competitive rate in almost every location--about $60 to $90 per night.

For reservations, call (800) 321-2211 or visit Marriott's Web site at (http://www.marriott/courtyard.com).

Best Luxury Hotel Chain: Four Seasons/ Regent Hotels

When an entrepreneur has "made it" and feels he or she deserves a little pampering on the road, Four Seasons/ Regent Hotels, the world's largest luxury hotel chain, is there to fit the bill. Now that the center of the universe seems tilted toward Asia, these predominantly Pacific Rim hotels are located in cities where entrepreneurs will most likely find themselves in coming years. Four Seasons/Regent consistently earns more prestigious awards than any other hotel company, firmly establishing its two brands, Four Seasons and Regent, as standards for top-quality service and location.

Regent Hotels started as a single Hong Kong location in 1972 and quickly grew to be one of the best hotels in Asia. Over the next two decades, the Regent name and reputation spread throughout Asia. In 1992, Regent was purchased by Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels (winner of Entrepreneur's Business Travel Award for best luxury hotel chain in 1993).

The Four Seasons/Regent chain now operates 37 hotels and resorts, from the business-traveler leaders such as the Regent Hong Kong or Four Seasons New York to exotic spalike getaways in Nevis, West Indies, or Bali, Indonesia.

Visit Four Seasons/Regent's Web site at (http://www.fshr.com), or for reservations, call (800) 332-3442.

Best Hotel Value, New York City: The Gotham Hospitality Group

Gotham Hospitality started offering value-conscious business travelers a trendy alternative when it rescued the timeworn Hotel Wales on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Since then, entrepreneur Bernard Goldberg has added four more previously blighted structures to his chain of business-traveler-friendly hotels.

With each addition to the group--from The Franklin (also on the Upper East Side) to The Shoreham and The Mansfield, both off Fifth Avenue, and most recently, The Roger Williams on lower Madison Avenue--Gotham Hospitality has become better known among the value-conscious. But don't think good value means shabby. This group of small hotels creates a highbrow mind-set, thanks to public spaces featuring museum-quality furniture, original art, and complimentary breakfasts and late-night desserts.

Rates run from about $100 at The Roger Williams up to $250 for suites at The Shoreham. Best of all, there are no extra charges--no minibars to tempt you and no room service (however, all the hotels have popular restaurants). Instead, you'll get complimentary fresh flowers, Neutrogena bath products, and occasional live music performances in the lobby.

To get the best rate at a Gotham Hospitality property, book through hotel consolidator Quikbook at (800) 789-9887.

Best Hotel Value, Los Angeles: Summit Bel-Air & Summit Rodeo Drive

Location is key with business travelers visiting the sprawling Los Angeles area. Unfortunately, the most centrally located hotels in town are also the most expensive. Good news: Hidden among the plush hostelries of Beverly Hills and West Los Angeles are two casually elegant bargains, the Summit Bel-Air and the Summit Rodeo Drive.

Whichever hotel you choose, the facilities of both are at your disposal, including award-winning restaurants, heated pools, and two-line phones with voice mail and modem hookups. They also offer facilities for small meetings. If you stay at the Summit Rodeo, you get free transportation to the Summit Bel-Air to enjoy its garden atmosphere and tennis or spa treatments. Surprisingly, rates at both hotels are in the $150 range--a true bargain for a convenient and elegant Beverly Hills address. (Limo service is available to and from Los Angeles International Airport for $68 round trip, including tip.)

For reservations, call (800) HOTEL-411.

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This article was originally published in the June 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Going The Extra Mile.

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