The modern hotel concept sprang up in Europe around 1768. Before hotels, travellers pitted-in at coaching inns which tended to the needs of the traveller and their livestock.
Travel was considerably less common due to restriction of time and distance prior to the proliferation of the railway system. However, with advances in travel came the need for short-term lodging.
To say we’ve advanced past seeking a place to lay our heads, however, is an understatement.
There are really only two generalized types of hotels: full and limited service.
Full-service hotels have food services like a restaurant, bar or both on-site. Limited service is, well, limited to neither.
Typically amenities such as pools, business centres and fitness facilities are found only in full-service operators. Some limited service providers, however, are finding they now have to offer more to guests in order to stay competitive.
Hotel visitors demand tech
As a kid, there was always some luxury to watching TV from your hotel-room bed. And if you were lucky, maybe even a cable channel or two you didn’t have at home!
Once TVs were readily available, so came pay-per-view choices tied to your hotel room billing.
The technological demands of the weary traveller have only increased.
Rooms have switched from literal keys to card passes, much to my mother’s chagrin in the art of the tap and enter.
I recall thinking many years ago that in-room ethernet hookup was a snazzy feature. We’ve now rocketed past that.
The Trivago commercials are currently making fun of hotels that continue to advertise free Wi-Fi. Surely you can’t charge people for that, and as if you wouldn’t have it!
Feed me: Your room plus breakfast
The continental breakfast is a perk that has taken on a very different interpretation in hospitality.
Previously encompassing coffee, juice, maybe some fresh fruit or muffins, many hotels have moved to a nearly full breakfast buffet.
I stayed at the Travelodge in Regina this past weekend and was astonished at its breakfast offerings: multiple cereal choices, fresh fruit cups, yogurt, and bakery items accompanied a full, warm breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages and pancakes.
It appeared most guests were taking advantage of the free (included in your room cost) breakfast.
The Travelodge, it seems, made an economical decision to close its on-site restaurant for use exclusively by the breakfast crowd instead.
Soaked in fun at the pool
Very few full-service hotels are built anymore without a pool. Brands that are interested in attracting family traffic to increase occupancy and average daily rates are especially shelling out on water features for guests young and old.
We booked at the Regina Travelodge specifically for the Soaked waterpark. I think it’s safe to say my nieces and nephews would give the value-add feature their water-wrinkled thumbs up.
Two speedy waterslides dominate the refurbished pool area, gently shooting you into exit chutes instead of the whirlpool death traps of my youth.
There is a generous hot tub and separated swimming pool as well. Nestled in the heart of the pool area is a lit-up spray pad with massive rainfall structure that changed patterns.
Definitely not your average hotel pool.
Overall it seemed like good bang for our buck on a sold-out, Roughriders game night in Regina for $160 taxes in.
When travelling without my extended family entourage, I’d likely opt for a hotel with a good location over provided amenities.
As well, I’m a points follower and have spent years trying to weigh brand rewards versus actual value.
It definitely comes down to what I’m going to get for what I actually need, and it seems each hotel has its own unique pitch these days.