In the heyday of motels, it was common to see a flashing sign that promised, "color TV," or "air conditioning," and if the establishment was even slightly upscale "HBO." Today business travelers at finer hotels can expect Wi-Fi, spas, flat panel HDTV and in the most progressive establishments — bicycles.
For anyone who travels a lot, this can be quite the bonus, as bringing a bike along for a business trip is far from practical or affordable.
As many cities become bicycle friendly, these boutique hotels provide guests with a new way to explore the surrounding area. San Francisco's W Hotel, which is located just blocks from the Bay, provides durable Puma Disko city bikes for use by guests, along with helmets. The bikes feature Shimano SLX 9 speed drivetrains and V-brakes, both of which comes in handy in a city known as much for its hills as its cool fog.
The W's Puma Disko
"A focus on sustainability has become a part of modern living, and is expected by our hotel guests," says Michael Pace, general manager of the W. "W San Francisco is leading the way with green practices, which are infused into the hotel operations in everything we do.”
The W’s green efforts include both large-scale efforts, including recent Silver LEED-EB certification with the actual buildings, to smaller scale efforts through the Puma Urban Mobility Bike program.
"This offers guests an eco-friendly method of transportation for zipping about the city streets," said Pace.
The Puma bike program is actually part of a brand-wide initiative, which was first rolled out to W Hotels in 2008. It has been extremely popular in San Francisco as bikes are checked out and used by guests almost every day. According to the staff at the hotel, a popular activity for guests is to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge as well as to other nearby city attractions.
A growing trend
A similar program is also being offered in Portland, Oregon at the Doubletree Hotel. This summer the establishment installed 54 covered spots for bicycles in the garage for use by guests, as well as the city’s commuters.
The program is part of a unique partnership between the Lloyd Transportation Management Association (Lloyd TMA), a five-member project team from the 2010 Leadership Portland, and the Doubletree Hotel Portland. The spots are located in the hotel's parking facility, which is conveniently adjacent to the city's MAX light rail.
The Doubletree Portland provides 54 covered bike spots for commuters
The Doubletree also offers Electra Townie bikes for guests to use during their stay.
"We have five bikes that we loan out to guests for free," says Carlos Smith, director of operations at the Portland Doubletree.
In addition to the European style bikes guests are given a helmet to use as well as a lock, plus provided with a quick size up to make the ride more enjoyable.
"We [even] have a bellman help adjust the seat with the rider, and they can head out and see Portland," said Smith.
While the durable rides are often the bike de jour for many hotels, some establishments are going more upscale with the bicycles being offered.
Beginning earlier this year, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts introduced a partnership with German automaker BMW to provide a complimentary hotel bicycle service for guests. The program offers BMW’s Cruise bikes, as well as BMW Junior Cruise models for children. This program was introduced in the United States after success in other Fairmont establishments around the world.
"BMW's stylish Cruise Bikes have proven to be very popular at our hotels in Canada, so we are excited to extend this unique new service offering to our guests in the U.S.," said Brian Richardson, Fairmont’s vice president of brand marketing and communications. "This program allows us to work with a well-respected partner to reinforce Fairmont’s reputation of providing thoughtful services that make the travel experience more convenient, comfortable and memorable."
With these programs, guests have the opportunity to better their visit by taking in sights around town or even get in a little outdoor exercise on their business trips. And with the enjoyably bikes these hotels are offering, there’s little excuse for wasting the day in front of one of those fancy flat panel TVs.