Flying High

Best Hotels

Best Upscale Hotel Chain: Marriott Hotels & Resorts
Ubiquity and consistency are what make Marriott the leader of the pack when it comes to upscale lodging for value-driven business travelers. You will almost always find a centrally located Marriott Hotel in every major business destination in the world.

It's comforting to know a Marriott in Santiago, Chile, is going to feel very similar to a Marriott in San Francisco or St. Louis. At every hotel, you'll find the familiar full-service amenities like fitness centers, pools, business centers, meeting spaces and, more recently, high-speed Internet connections. And you can count on Marriott to offer all this at a price that won't break the budget.

Plus, you earn extras with Marriott Rewards, its popular frequent-stay program. There are 469 Marriott Hotels & Resorts locations worldwide-305 in the United States and another 164 abroad.

Best Midpriced Hotel Chain: Wingate Inns
In an era when nickel-and-diming hotel guests seems to be standard practice, Wingate Inns' all-inclusive price is a refreshing value. There are now more than 130 Wingate Inns across the country with an average rate of about $99, which includes high-speed Internet access (wireless and/or wired), breakfast, business-center access, meeting rooms, a gym with a whirlpool, a cordless in-room phone with free local calls and free long-distance access, and a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.

Better yet, every Wingate Inn has been built new from the ground up since the chain launched in 1996. Also, the chain participates in the TripRewards program, offering members 10 points per dollar spent on qualifying room rates, which can be redeemed for free nights or a wide variety of other rewards, like shopping and dining certificates, electronics, or theme park and movie tickets.

Best Budget Hotel Chain: Microtel Inns & Suites
Microtel has only been around for eight years, but based on the success of its value proposition (average rates run in the $49 range), it has grown to more than 250 properties in the United States and a handful of other countries. For the past two years, it has ranked as the number-one economy/budget chain in the well-known "North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study" conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.

Every Microtel is built new from the ground up and features interior corridors, a big desk, cable TV, plus complimentary morning coffee. By the end of 2004, there will also be free local and long-distance calling, and free wireless high-speed Internet access in every room. If you need more room, just ask for one of Microtel's suites; each comes with a microwave, a mini-refrigerator, a coffee maker and separate seating area. Frequent guests who are members of its MicroPass program get every 10th stay free. Also, depending on your company's travel patterns, Microtel offers its "Value Preferred Rate," a fixed corporate rate that's valid nationwide.

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This article was originally published in the April 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Flying High.

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