By Mark Chesnut
In many parts of North America, it’s the time of year when travelers may find themselves spending more time in the airport than they’d like, thanks to winter storms, flight delays and cancellations. But relief may be closer than you think, when you check into one of the new generation of airport hotels that help passengers relax, rejuvenate and even conduct business, often without stepping a foot outside the terminal building.
The Fairmont Vancouver Airport, which is part of the main terminal building, has been named the best airport hotel in North America for the second year in a row, in the 2012 World Airport Awards. The property, which is fully soundproofed, has a full spa and fitness center to help travelers feel good, while the 8,800 square feet of meeting space allows business travelers to plan efficient fly in/fly out face time.
Runners-up in the awards include the Grand Hyatt DFW, where a $13 million renovation last year has brought even more allure to the property. Integrated with the International Terminal D, the Grand Hyatt DFW is accessible by SkyLink or Terminal Link. A business center and 45 meeting rooms mean that business travelers can stay productive, while the rooftop pool and spa provide ample opportunities for relaxation. The hotel even has an on-site Epicurean Studio cooking school, allowing travelers to leave with tasty tips for creating their own indulgences back home.
Another award-winner is the Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which offers easy access to the Edward H. McNamara/World Gateway Terminal with its own private security entrance, as well as free 24-hour shuttle service to the North Terminal. A fitness center and 28 meeting rooms are among the offerings here.
Travelers looking for a bit of boutique chic near Los Angeles International Airport should consider the Custom Hotel, a Joie de Vivre boutique hotel that combines mod 1960s style with a convenient location. The property offers a free shuttle service to and from LAX daily, and features a bar and restaurant, two fitness centers, free Wi-Fi, wireless printing in the business center, on-site dry cleaning and pet-friendly accommodations.
Across the Atlantic, one of the best examples of an airport hotel designed to provide real travel relief is located in Italy. The Sheraton Milan Malpensa Airport has 22 meeting rooms and an indoor swimming pool, as well as a bar, restaurant and hair salon that are all open to the public. Day rates are available for five- and eight-hour visits, making the hotel an ideal option for travelers with long layovers or travel delays. After a few hours in a spa or hotel pool, you might just forget about that canceled flight.
Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyer.com, which focuses on travel to Latin America. He loves airports as well as hotel beds.