Airport Hotels Ticket to Successful Meetings, 2001

July 9, 2011 by Paris and John  
Filed under Sample Articles


by Paris Permenter and John Bigley

Location, location, location.

The common real estate axiom is no truer than when applied to airport hotels. This network of properties across North America, some located within airport terminals themselves and some within just a few miles of the facilities, offer meeting planners first-class convenience, business class technology, and, in many cases, coach class prices.


“I have used airport hotels numerous times,” notes Gary J. Rosenberg, CMP of Rosenberg and Risinger. The Culver City, Calif.-based meeting executive says, “Just because a hotel is near the airport does not mean one has to give up any of the amenities one usually expects from a hotel. Food is just as good as any other property. Service is equal and sometimes better because they have to try harder to overcome the stigma of meeting at an airport hotel.”

Amenities at airport hotels across the country are expanding to meet growing needs, whether those be for technological, food and beverage, or comfort demands. At the Miami International Airport Hotel (305.871.4100,, located within the airport terminal itself, attendees can leave conferences on the seventh floor to enjoy a running track, sauna, a rooftop heated swimming pool and racquetball courts. The Hyatt Regency DFW (800.233.1234, offers resort-like amenities including tennis, 36-hole golf course as well as a team building course. Nearby, the 365-room Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center (817.481.8444,, located 10 minutes from the DFW International Airport. The property, located on 40 acres by a private lake, includes indoor and outdoor swimming, tennis, racquetball, private trails, fishing, and nearby golf.

One of the most unique amenities offered by an airport hotel is found at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport (800.866.5577,, the first hotel in North America to offer an entire floor of hypoallergenic guestrooms. All rooms on the hotel’s 11th floor, 42 rooms in total, have been converted to hypoallergenic or low allergen content. ”

The airport has also opened what is called North America’s first on-site airport hotel spa. “By providing services and amenities that travelers do not expect to find at an airport hotel, we will undoubtedly change their perception about airport accommodation and exceed their expectations,” says Francis Parkinson, General Manager for The Fairmont Vancouver Airport. The spa offers fitness facilities as well as a variety of treatment options to relieve tired travelers including massage therapy, aromatherpy, and a line of treatments and products geared to conquering jet lag. The hotel was also the first in North America to introduce satellite lobbies in airport arrival halls.

The hotel also features an extensive art collection, a feature also seen at the new Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport (800.223.1234, 724.899.1234, The new property features over 60 pieces of art work on a theme of travel, flight, and movement. The art collection is just one hotel feature that aims to differentiate the property from the old stereotype of airport hotels. “Being a brand new hotel, one of the biggest benefits is the boutique style of the hotel. It’s very unique and very eclectic,” says Patrick Sorge, Director of Sales. “We’re dispelling the myth that airport hotels are a box where you stay, meet, then fly out.”

Sorge also notes a rising demand for high tech capacities at airport hotels. “We offer Cyber Cafés with portable cables to hook laptops,” explains Sorge. Cyber Café is a group of high boy-style tables that can be set up at 24 locations throughout the hotel such as in the hallways outside meeting rooms. The facilities offer DSL access. “We can also provide a laptop. Planners can reserve these cafes for their group members so on a break attendees can plug in and check email.”


For many planners, value constitutes a prime asset of the airport hotel. “The Hilton LAX has wonderful meeting space at a reasonable price,” says Gary J. Rosenberg, CMP. “One gets true value for their dollar. It is convenient for those flying into the meeting because of its close proximity and of course the fact that there is a free airport shuttle makes it attractive to groups’ attendees who are on a budget.”

Numerous LAX-area hotels are now in their second year of the Pacific Coast Hotels marketing partnership, designed to increase the exposure and awareness of the premium hotel properties located near the Los Angeles. According to Don Boyd, director of sales and marketing for the Sheraton Gateway Hotel and chairman of the Pacific Coast Hotels, Sales and Marketing Committee, the partnership has made it easy for meeting planners to provide their clients with a unique destination that provides cost-effectiveness, accessibility, entertainment and a variety of meetings and conference space. “Access is everything. It’s easy to fly to LAX from anywhere; flights are frequent and usually discounted,” said Boyd. “Once you’re here, our hotels are at the hub of Los Angeles.”

That location convenience also translates to savings. According to Cory Abke, director, Pacific Coast Hotels (PCH) sales for the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, “some of the finest hotels in Los Angeles are located within minutes of the airport, featuring excellent restaurants, all at attractive prices. It’s a very appealing package.”

Savings is seen in several aspects. “There’s the time and cost savings as well in terms of transportation,” says Sorge of the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport. ” We are directly connected to the airport so most attendees don’t have to factor in travel time to the airport. Also, a lot of our guests just rent a car for one day rather than renting a car for their entire stay.”


As more hotels are built longer distances from the major metropolitan areas, airport hotels have become an important option for the planner looking to emphasize the ease of access. Attendees can be swept from the flight to the hotel by the hotel shuttle service (and sometimes, by a simple walk). That transportation ease isn’t just easier on the meeting pocketbook; it’s also welcome by those who have just endured a lengthy flight.

“On the other hand, there is not much to do within walking distance and some people have an erroneous perception that the area might not be as safe as a downtown hotel, for example,” says Rosenberg. “To compensate for the lack of nearby activities, many airport hotels have a shuttle service to nearby shopping and entertainment centers.”

At on-site airport hotels, the convenience is even more apparent. Says the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport’s director of sales, “The direct connection [of the hotel to the airport] is wonderful because it also connects the visitor to a lot of conveniences such as shops and inexpensive dining.”

When it’s time to get down to business, airport hotels can deliver extensive facilities. Recently the Hilton Seattle Airport and Conference Center reopened following an extensive renovation and expansion project with 26 conference rooms and nearly 40,000 square feet of meeting space. The property is Seattle’s only accredited member of the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC). Facilities include the 11,000 square-foot Emerald Ballroom, which holds up to 1,200 people in a reception setting.


Following the September 11th attacks, heightened security measures meant an end to one former convenience offered by many airport hotels: off-site check-in. All passengers are now required to check in with their luggage at the airport.

Even before these changes, however, airport hotels didn’t meet the needs of every meeting group. Some groups demand more nearby nightlife options; others seek more of a resort atmosphere than that found at many airport properties.

And day meetings, once a popular options, are not always seen as economical at some airport properties. “The problem with these locations is that prices have increased and if you have a short term meeting you have difficulty finding space,” says P. Denise Klos, CMP. The president of Belle Mead, New Jersey-based Events Direct notes “this becomes doubly difficult if they really want heads in beds and yours is just a day long meeting.”

The selection of an airport hotel for a future meeting is an option that depends on numerous factors. With the right combination of location, amenities, and meeting purpose, however, you may find that airport hotels may be the ticket for success.


•The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel has added high-speed Internet access to each of its 392 guestrooms. The hotel also provides state of the art technology in its 14 meeting rooms including plasma screens, LCD projectors and videoconferencing capabilities. Call 800.866.5577 or see

•Hilton Seattle Airport and Conference Center has completed a $56 million expansion and renovation. The 15-month project included a complete refurbishment as well as the addition of new guest rooms. Today the hotel offers 396 guest rooms along with a conference center with 26 conference rooms. The nearly 40,000 square feet of meeting space includes high-speed Internet access, and videoconferencing capabilities. Call 800.HILTONS or

•The 115-room Hilton Garden Inn Daytona Beach Airport and the 111-room Hilton Garden Inn Jacksonville Airport have opened in Florida. Each property features two meeting rooms, a 24-hour complimentary business center, and high speed Internet access in guest rooms. Call 800.HILTONS or see

•The 1234-room Hilton Los Angeles Airport has added a new executive boardroom, completely renovated its chairman boardroom, and added a new meeting room. The second floor of the hotel is presently being redesigned and upgraded for meetings; the project will include the addition of a new ballroom and a marble staircase to the gardens available for outdoor functions. In 2002, a complete renovation of all guest rooms is scheduled. Call 310.410.4000 or see

•The 1010-room Los Angeles Airport Marriott is renovating the ballroom, guest rooms, and public areas. Call 310.337.8075.

•Acapulco’s Fairmont Acapulco Princess is adding a US$3 million full-service spa. The adjacent Fairmont Pierre Marques is undergoing a complete transformation, including guest rooms, public areas and meeting spaces. The US$7 million renovation will be completed in December. The ballroom will provide updated function space for up to 450 attendees. Call 800.441.1414 or see .

•The 804-room Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport has added 49 new suites. Call 310.642.1111 or see

•The 263-room Hilton Austin Airport has opened. Located in the what was once the officers’ headquarters of the former Bergstrom Air Force Base, the building has been transformed to include over 20,000 square feet of meeting space with 18 meeting rooms. The hotel also offers a 24-hour business center and guest rooms with high-speed Internet access. Call 800.HILTONS or see

•Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport opened a year ago with 18,600 square feet of meeting and banquet space including 16 meeting rooms. The 331-room hotel also includes a health club with indoor pool. Call 800.223.1234 or see

•The 199-room Austin Airport Marriott South has opened in Austin, Texas. The property offers 8,876 square feet of meeting space including a 5,280-square-foot ballroom and nine breakout rooms. The hotel also offers a business center. Call 800.228.9290 or see

•The 103-room Courtyard by Marriott has opened in West Palm Beach, Fla. The property includes two meeting rooms with 1,150 total square feet of meeting space for up to 75 attendees. Call 800.321.2211 or see

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