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Posted by on Dec 10, 2009 in *Hot*, TripClips, TripTips |

Airport napping rooms let you sleep your layover away

By Roger Yu, USA TODAY
Tiny airport sleeping rooms — similar to the cubicles that Asian travelers use to catch a snooze in between flights — have arrived in America.

Atlanta, the world’s largest airport, opened five Minute Suites this month where tired passengers can doze for $30 an hour. The rooms — 7 feet by 8 feet, or about the size of two office cubicles put together — are equipped with a daybed sofa, pillows (with disposable covers), fresh blankets, a small desk, Internet access and a flat-screen 32-inch monitor with DirecTV and flight information. They have systems to mask noise.

San Francisco International plans to follow suit. It’s hired a California company to design 14 rooms of about 90 square feet for its international terminal. The rooms will have similar amenities.

“We view amenities and services as the new frontier,” says Cheryl Nashir, associate deputy director at San Francisco International.

It’s a frontier long settled in Asia and parts of Europe. Tiny nap rooms bundled with shower, spa and other freshen-up services have been available for international travelers for years.

They haven’t caught on in the USA until now because layovers are shorter and Americans view airports as a point of transit to hurry through.

For more than just sleeping

Now, U.S. airports think they’ll work because domestic travelers are in airports longer because of tightened security, delays and missed connections. Airports already have responded by adding retail and food shops to generate more non-aviation revenue and are starting to consider even more services for lingering travelers, including the mini-rooms. “We’ve learned from food and retail and how to do that really well,” Nashir says of trying to serve travelers better. “I found that, in my trips, the airport portion of my trip is the part I liked the least. We thought this (sleeping rooms) was worth a try.”

The rooms are designed to attract more than just those who want a nap. They’re meant to appeal to travelers who don’t have a membership at an airline club, parents with cranky children, businessmen and women wishing to get a head start on a presentation, and sports fans who want to watch a game.

What they don’t have are toilets and showers. Customers will have to use nearby public restrooms. Business traveler Randy Jones, a consultant in Marietta, Ga., who flies through Atlanta, loves the idea of having a place to sleep at airports. “The United States is finally catching up with the rest of the world,” he says. “The price is a little steep, though. I personally wouldn’t pay $30 per hour.”

They could be a tough sell to other fast-moving U.S. travelers, too.

Frequent traveler Kyle Bischoff, a field systems administrator from Chattanooga, Tenn., isn’t sold on the service’s appeal.

“My layovers aren’t really that bad, maybe two hours max, in which case I wouldn’t use this,” he says. “Flights are often late arriving at (Atlanta), and they start boarding the next flight 30 minutes before takeoff.”

Providing services to sleep-deprived travelers have been tried in North America. Vancouver International has tried MetroNaps’ sleeping pods — basically, a chaise with a large egg-shape cover — but discontinued them because of lack of demand. The Westin at Detroit Metro charges $99 for five hours. The two Hyatt hotels at Dallas/Fort Worth also offer discounted rates for short stays.

British-based Yotel modernized the mini-hotel concept in 2006 when it introduced its pod-hotels at London Gatwick with a modern, sleek design and tech-heavy amenities, such as iPod docking stations, HDTVs and adjustable mood lighting. Yotel, which sells rooms in four-hour blocks for about $50, has since opened two other locations at London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol.

Some companies see the U.S. market as now ready for similar rooms. Among them:

Minute Suites. Its rooms at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta’s B Concourse have drawn 160 customers in the first two weeks, exceeding expectations, says Daniel Solomon of Minute Suites. Customers who stay beyond the first hour pay $7.50 for each additional 15 minutes.

Solomon says Atlanta wants to possibly add more at its E Concourse, and the company has had discussions with Philadelphia, Denver, New York JFK and Dallas/Fort Worth.

Unique Retreat. The company won the San Francisco International contract in October and is designing rooms that will open next year at the airport’s International Terminal Boarding Area G. Its 14 rooms will have curved walls and no corners, “which gives you a sense of more space,” say Ron Baltruzak of the company based in Irvine, Calif. Each room will be equipped with a day bed, desk, a 32-inch TV and Wi-Fi. The company will offer movie rentals and business center services.

Edo Traveler Suites. A Canadian company is launching next year and seeks to develop rooms at Canadian and U.S. airports, says spokeswoman Thamarah Mathurin. Edo plans rooms that also would have a private toilet and shower.

Article reprinted in its entirety from USA Today. Original Article link :




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