The Wall Street Journal

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The most in-demand hotel room for travelers right now is the room right next to theirs.

Hotel and resort managers say requests for connecting rooms and suites have increased recently as multigenerational families and large groups of friends gather. Continued flexibility from hybrid work and travelers bringing family members along on business trips have also contributed, hotel managers say.

Some hotels have reported a more than 20% increase in demand for these types of rooms.

The jump means more competition for connecting rooms, which families already struggle to book due to outdated room-assignment technology and limited supply. Some hotels are adding the ability to connect more rooms. Others are adding suites or upselling larger rooms with living space to groups.

“It amazes me every time I book a hotel that we can send people to space but can’t figure out connecting rooms,” says Lindsay Bowling, a full-time mom from Danville, Calif., who has traveled internationally with her husband, mom and kids, ages 8, 6 and 1.

Bowling, 40, says the family used to stay in Airbnbs, but says she needs more predictable lodging these days. She has run into booking issues where hotel rooms are adjoining, meaning next to each other, but not connecting.

Now, she watches travelers’ YouTube videos to see what rooms look like. She also started using a travel agent who has helped book guaranteed connecting rooms. Sometimes she ponies up for a villa or a suite.

“You end up paying at least three times the amount to get something that works for families,” she says.

Family-style hotels

Vacation rentals and timeshares have long been popular options for families. These options got a boost earlier in the pandemic as people looked to spend more time in a destination. Families also booked more short-term rental stays to allow grandparents, parents and kids to stay under one roof. Short-term rentals remain popular this summer, too.

Some travelers are bringing those preferences to hotels, and asking for more than the so-called suite that’s an open space between a bedroom and a foldout couch.

At most hotels, connecting rooms aren’t a guarantee. Hotels have a limited number, and roombooking technology doesn’t always present connecting rooms to guests who search for them. Last-minute issues with rooms, such as broken toilets, can also jettison plans for connecting rooms.

Guests are staying longer at resort properties, which means connecting rooms might not open up simultaneously, says Cate Farmer, senior vice president of hotels and resorts at the hospitality company Margaritaville. Options are more scarce on weekends, she says.

In the two years since launching its confirmed connecting rooms program, Hilton says the average monthly booking rates for connecting rooms increased by about 10% year-overyear. Hyatt says it is beta testing a feature that lets people book guaranteed connecting rooms.

“Before two years ago, connecting room doors were mostly about having an annoying neighbor that you don’t know that’s too loud,” says Kyle Killion, founder of Suiteness, a travel company that helps people book suites and connecting hotel rooms. “What’s nice about booking the

connectors is that the person on the other side can be annoying, but they’re probably your family.”

Requests for connecting rooms have increased by 23% since last year at Alila Napa Valley in California. PHOTO:

At the five-star Alila Napa Valley in California, children under 18 aren’t permitted. But requests for connecting rooms have increased by 23% since last year as parents travel with adult family members and loved ones, general manager Heidi Miersemann says.

The 68-room hotel plans to add at least one more set of connecting rooms to meet demand, she says.

Connecting rooms in a renovation isn’t as easy as it sounds, says Warren Feldman, chief executive officer of Nehmer, a hospitality design and architecture firm. Hotels must consider factors like rewiring before knocking a new space in a wall.

Pair of king rooms


Nicole Rathsam is a 40-year-old executive for an insurance company from San Diego. She recently booked connecting rooms at the Wynn Encore in Las Vegas. She was in town for an event, and her husband and three kids tagged along.

Rathsam says the only option was for two connecting king rooms less than ideal for her, but better than having five people crammed into one room.

A Wynn spokeswoman says that, if asked, the hotel could have accommodated connecting rooms with different bed sizes.

To get a suite at some of the other high-end properties would cost more than $2,000 a night more than four times the rate for connecting rooms. If hotels can figure out a better apartmentstyle experience for families, “they’re going to have a big edge,” Rathsam says.

Hotel prices have remained high this summer, especially in Europe. In Paris, prices are 50% above 2019 levels, Sébastien Bazin, chairman and chief executive officer of the hospitality company Accor, said at a recent lodging conference.

But a certain subset of travelers aren’t looking at the price. “They are saying ‘Give me your best suite,’” he said, adding that the company doesn’t have enough suites to meet demand.

During the holidays, travelers requested more connecting suites than the Boca Raton Tower hotel could accommodate. PHOTO: THE BOCA RATON

During the holidays, travelers requested more connecting suites than the newly opened Tower hotel at the Boca Raton resort could accommodate. Rates start at $799 for a one-bedroom suite with a living room this summer. The top six floors offer the option to connect one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, which President Daniel Hostettler says he thought would suffice.

This summer, the hotel is renovating 15 other floors so that the entire building can accommodate connecting suites.

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