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Hotel Rates Have Gotten Really Expensive

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June 16, 2008 – Comments (9) | RELATED TICKERS: CHH , TM

I just got back from a driving vacation. (We took the Prius, it averaged 49.3 miles a gallon over 2900 miles.) Gas was expensive, but I knew that going in. Restaurant meals were higher, but not outrageously so. But the unpleasant surprise was room charges. We spent two nights at the wonderful old lodge in east Glacier Park, and that what was planned as the splurge turned out to be the bargain!

Over the years I've gotten in the habit of staying in the Comfort Inn when driving long distances. They are clean, comfortable and there is usually one where I want to spend the night. Plus the free breakfast helps cut down on restaurant charges when you just want a couple of cups of coffee and a donut and to get back on the road.

But they are now over $100 a night, and this seems pretty high for a shower, a bed and some coffee and donuts. The one in West Yellowstone wanted $179 a night, which was HIGHER than the wonderful old lodge in Glacier. (We went to the Three Bear inn a block over and even got a discount on breakfast at their coffee shop.)

Now I understand how things with a lot of fuel inputs are getting expensive right now, but I'm not seeing why hotel rates should have zoomed so much. I looked at the Comfort Inn parent company a few years ago and did not find it a compelling investment. I will have to do some digging to see why room charges have gotten so high. I want to see if this is falling to the bottom line, and if not, where it is going.

I date back to the era when Motel 6 charged six bucks a night. I understand that price levels have climbed, but rooms seem to have gone up much faster than inflation, even when you take hedonic improvement into account.

Chris - the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone is mighty nice, but the one in Glacier in my new favorite 

9 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 16, 2008 at 9:32 AM, abitare (31.66) wrote:

Welcome back. How did you like the Prius?

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#2) On June 16, 2008 at 9:47 AM, Gemini846 (49.69) wrote:

The better question is how did you fare nearly 3k miles crammed in a Prius?

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#3) On June 17, 2008 at 1:53 AM, kristm (99.75) wrote:

I still like CHH, I've had a real investment in them since 2002. They don't run the hotels, just charge franchise fees and run the brands and marketing. Not sure why their rates are changing - probably so they can raise the rates at Econolodge without overlapping other brands. If the bottom brand goes up the others have to do the same so they don't cannibalize each other. Did you check into Econolodge or Sleep Inn? I've never messed with Econo (since many of the properties came in before the buyout) but I've always had good experiences with Sleep Inn. If you've got a Choice Rewards card it's good there too...

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#4) On June 17, 2008 at 8:59 AM, chk999 (99.97) wrote:

kristm, we stayed at two Comfort Inns, and a Quality Inn (which is also a CHH marque). We didn't have computer access during the trip, or we might have done a little better on finding cheap but good lodging. We also stayed at a number of one off places that were ok and significantly cheaper. Mostly I was curious where the price increase is going, was it falling to the bottom line, or was it going out as an expense, and if so, where.

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#5) On June 18, 2008 at 1:03 PM, HatchingPlans (37.30) wrote:

if i had to guess... it probably has to do with the whole real estate market falling out, and them trying to make up for lost land value by gouging their customers...

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#6) On June 19, 2008 at 11:26 AM, Xmancan (20.01) wrote:

Do you know Priceline or Hotwire? That how I keep my personal trips affordable.

I have a blog about that, but I was not written in English. www.naimiang.com

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#7) On June 19, 2008 at 9:09 PM, helenhaynes59 (28.05) wrote:

as high as gas is, I only go where I need to and no place else.today, I stood outside my house to watch the rain fall. I really need a better life.

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#8) On June 20, 2008 at 11:44 AM, indicaskye (60.67) wrote:

This is what I do-

Go to www.expedia.com or a similar website and book hotel rooms online in advance as much as you can. You will save loads. One time I was in L.A. and an unexpected sidetrip into Annaheim came up for the following day. I didn't have a computer, so I called my sister and had her book a room for me in Annaheim on Expedia.com. It saved me $70.00  a night off the walk-in rate. Just an idea.

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#9) On June 27, 2008 at 2:54 PM, Montol (25.32) wrote:

The reason for hotel room rates skyrocketing are mostly based in the amount of tourism dollars coming in.  Actually its a bit counter-intuitive since it sort of puts the hotels in a vicious cycle of decreasing tourists, but hey, that's the tourism industry for you.  If less people are travelling due to high cost of gas, then they tend to get charged more for the same rate because the hotel still has fixed costs it has to meet.  On the other hand, if a hotel is packed to the brim every night, its surprising how cheap the walk-in rates get.

Whoever suggested booking in advance through Expedia is a smart cookie - Expedia almost always has rates lower then even the walk-in rates, and often come with the little extra value perks for things like on-site parking (up to $42/night in some of the larger hotels here).  Got to love volume discounts!  Actually, amusing side note here - once, while working the Front Desk of a hotel some years back, I had a guest ask me what the walk-in rate was (it was $159 that evening), he told me that was too high, took advantage of our free in-lobby WiFi internet access, came back to the desk minutes later with an Expedia reservation for $99 for the night.  Not too bad!  I think I ended up giving him a room upgrade because he made me laugh out loud.

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