By Mark Chesnut
In years past, business trips inevitably meant lonely hours spent working in hotel rooms. But a new generation of hotel concepts—as well as non-hotel rentable work space—has brought fresh options to travelers who want to stay productive without being sequestered.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts is among the companies paying a lot of attention to the changing work patterns of today’s business traveler. Through consumer research, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts learned that a large percentage of road warriors prefer to conduct business outside of their hotel room, so in 2006 the brand launched Link@Sheraton, a social space for doing work that’s now located in every Sheraton lobby—it’s something like a 21st-century version of the old business center.
Westin Hotels & Resorts, meanwhile, calls its new workspace Project Hive, and furnishes it with media:scape by Steelcase technology, floor-to-ceiling white boards, office supplies and room for small meetings. Starwood’s Four Foints by Sheraton brand has also invested heavily in addressing the new demands of business travelers, with lobbies that offer free WiFi and an ambiance that’s as conducive to socializing and interacting as it is to sitting in front of a computer.
Individual properties have also made strides in providing business-friendly yet social environments for working. In Miami Beach, the Surfcomber, a Kimpton Hotel recently unveiled The Docking Station, a so-called “Travel Lounge” that provides free Wi-Fi, enhanced bandwidth and the opportunity to buy food and drink by texting from your cell phone.
Outside of hotels, other options include companies like LooseCubes, OpenDesks and LiquidSpace, which help connect business travelers with temporary work space.
If all else fails, of course, there is still Starbucks.
Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyer.com, which focuses on travel to Latin America. He’s always looking for the nearest outlet.