Yesterday I noted that I had never stayed in a La Quinta, but was willing to participate in their points program (for free points).
Eli emails to take issue with my giving the chain short shrift:
Actually, you’re missing out. When we had to cut costs last year, we decided to stick with La Quinta for almost all..travel for my center. And I don’t regret it. For business travel, in some ways, it’s BETTER than more upscale. For example, most rooms have six outlets right by the desk rather than the 1 or 2 you typically get at full service hotels. (I had to plug in my cell phone in the bathroom at the Waldorf Astoria.) In room standard amenities are almost an exact match for mid-priced business oriented hotels..plus a minifridge. Breakfast is also included. ..The big “disadvantage” such as it is: a fair number of properties…rooms have to be entered from the outside.
He also argues that suite upgrades are a regular occurrence, the idea of suites accessed via outside corridors sort of makes my head spin.
And here, I think, we have a conflict of visions.
Yesterday I was reading reviews of a hotel in South America that I plan to stay at, it has tremendous views, and of course rooms with premium views come at a price premium (about US$70). Plenty of commenters said “this is such a waste” because you’ll never be in your room, and you can see the view from outside or in the hotel’s common areas. Whereas to me, it’s a tremendous value, since you have limited time there, and what better than to wake up to one of the greatest views anywhere in the world? To have morning coffee out on the balcony with it? To each there own.
Which is also the point of the Skymiles debate that Brian Kelly and I will have at Frequent Traveler University, to lay bare the thinking processes that go into questions of value, he’ll speak up for Skymiles and explain why he feels it’s a really valuable program, I’ll point out those things that I find to be a huge shortcoming from my perspective, and depending on whether you think about these things more like Brian or are closer to my own thinking will determine how you come out — but more importantly, hopefully, you’ll see the angles that help you judge value in other programs.
Here, Eli likes outlets and free breakfast.
If you expense your breakfast you don’t care. Or if you’re like me and will get free breakfast from Hyatt or from Hilton (due to status) you don’t especially care either. And I really like breakfast, which means what I am eating for breakfast matters a great deal. It’s not just fuel.
As for outlets, one of my staple travel items is a Monster compact travel power strip, which gives me the extra outlets I need. Problem solved.
I want a reliable comfortable bed. Clean, thoroughly cleaned even. I want room service, the ability to order in after a long day or to get coffee delivered when I wake up way too early (and I’m usually not a fan of in-room coffee makers, plus I want real cream and not liquid that doesn’t require refrigeration).
So La Quinta doesn’t work for me. I don’t have personal experience, but the La Quinta idea doesn’t work for me.
The way I understand the value proposition was encapsulated in a story in Lamar Muse’s autobiography. He was the founding President of Southwest Airlines, and the founder of La Quinta was an original board member. Muse relays the story of how La Quinta got its name: the founder went looking for the cheapest furniture he could possibly buy, and it happened to be in a Southwestern motif. So he decided on a Spanish-sounding name. To match the cheap furniture.
Is it a reasonable budget option, recognizing tradeoffs? Probably. Though I’d probably still shoot for a full service chain approach, using a combination of discounts (e.g. Hilton MVP rate, Intercontinental friends and family, Priceline – recognizing that both Marriott and Hyatt honor elite benefits on priceline stays).
La Quinta works for some people, not so much for the way I like to travel, but I’ll still take the 300 free points.