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Home Suite Home: Checking In to Condotels


Illustration for TIME by Susan Swan
By SHIRLEY BRADY

What would Elvis have thought? Visitors to New York City can now stay at a true "heartbreak hotel." The Envoy Club, a 57-unit property that opened in December, offers a Suddenly Single program designed for grieving guests after the big split. Check in after being chucked out and you'll receive a list of divorce lawyers and therapists, self-help tapes and books, and--upon request--a reading with a psychic. And the longer you stay, the less you pay. It's just the latest example of the efforts hoteliers are making to attract longer-term guests. Executives working away from home can likewise choose from a growing list of options for pleasant (and budget-trimming) extended stays.

Serviced apartments are increasingly popular among business travelers who need to stay in one place for a month or more--or as transitional housing for executives and their families moving to a new locale. In Asia, soft property markets have increased the availability of these units, which typically combine hotel-style amenities like housekeeping and room service with homey features like kitchens and laundry facilities.

Short-term rental apartments are a booming business in the United States, where more and more companies are insisting that employees take fewer but longer trips to single destinations. In the U.S., the number of travelers staying three nights or longer has more than doubled in the past decade. During this period, extended-stay visitors have seen their accommodation priced well below average daily room rates in the middle range ($71, vs. $78 last year), and equal to or only slightly higher than standard rates at the top end of the market.

Similar cost comparisons exist in Asia, says Robert Grealy, Asia-Pacific managing director of Oakwood, the largest serviced-apartment provider in the U.S. In Jakarta, where Oakwood plans to open a facility by the end of the year, serviced flats cost about the same as a local five-star hotel "while offering more space, amenities and privacy," Grealy says. Oakwood last year opened a 560-unit serviced-apartment block in Bangkok, and next month it plans to launch a twin-tower, 306-unit building in Manila.

Most of Oakwood's tenants in Asia stay four weeks or more, Grealy says. They pay between $973 and $1,567 a month at the Bangkok property, which also offers daily rates of $41 to $68 a unit. Oakwood's more luxurious units in Manila's Makati district will run from about $100 to $150 a day.

Asian cities are also home to scores of independently run serviced apartments. Foxtons Worldwide, based in London, represents owners of serviced apartments in 15 Asian cities. "Serviced flats are ideal for business travelers looking for great location, facilities and comfort," says Sarah Shelton, Foxtons' managing director. "We find our clients often come back with their families for vacations. Once you've stayed this way, you're hooked."

Not surprisingly, hotels are also offering serviced apartments to sweeten the deal for longer-term guests. Shangri-La, Marriott, Hilton, Swissôtel and Holiday Inn are among the chains offering serviced flats and long-term deals in Asia. These days, it pays to shop around, and make yourself at home.




Daily

July 12, 1999

Off The Shelf
How to nab first-class treatment on the cheap

Short Cuts
Bangkok's first International Festival of Dance and Music

Detour
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is situated between Tibet and heaven

Web Crawling
Interactive flair from two new museums

Main Feature
Executives working away from home can choose from a growing list of options for pleasant extended stays


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