By Mark Chesnut
Whether business took you to a Chicago hotel or Boston hotel, you may gotten an invitation when you checked into a hotel recently. Perhaps you’ve even sipped a cocktail at one of them. But are hotel manager receptions really worth it? For travelers looking for free refreshments and perhaps a bit of local insight, the answer just might be yes.
Long a staple at mid-priced properties, these events, which generally take place on a weekly or nightly basis, are more diverse than you might expect. Properties flying the flags of Clarion, Comfort Inn, Days Inn, Holiday Inn and Wyndham all offer some sort of manager’s reception, while those that cater to extended-stay travelers are often the most generous. Homewood Suites by Hilton, for example, serves a free light dinner and drinks from Monday through Thursday.
And Residence Inn tailors its events to the destination and clientele — at its Chicago Deerfield property, where guests include a large number of Indian consultants, the company hosts an India night once a month, complete with Indian food and Bollywood movies.
Some guests have learned to use manager receptions to get travel advice or even effect change. At the Helix, a stylish property in Washington, D.C., it’s not uncommon for the staff to share tips about dining, shopping and sightseeing as they serve spirits and snacks during their nightly wine hour. And at the Doubletree by Hilton San Juan in Puerto Rico, the new lobby work space and free laptops are the direct result of comments a guest made to the general manager during the hotel’s weekly invitation-only cocktail reception. It just might be worth grabbing a drink and chatting for a few minutes.
Mark Chesnut, Orbitz’s new business travel blogger, is the travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyerBlog.com, which focuses on travel to Latin America.