Top Hotel Chains for Business Travel
How does a hotel brand renowned for service and tradition remain relevant with business travelers who prioritize savvy design and digital tools as much as grand cru Darjeeling tea?
For Ritz-Carlton, it begins with a new design ethos that puts an emphasis on chic, modern aesthetics with a strong sense of place. Take, for example, the recently opened Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, which combines panoramic views of the Kamagawa river and Higashiyama mountains with a Meiji-style minimalism in the natural-wood interiors.
At the same time, new club floors in cities such as Tianjin, China, are offering apartment-like ambience and amenities (residential kitchens; TV rooms; reading salons) to help business travelers feel rooted while abroad.
These features helped Ritz-Carlton secure the No. 1 ranking among hotel brands in the Best in Business Travel survey conducted by Travel + Leisure and Fortune. Kimpton, lauded for its customer service, and Fairmont were also among the top-scoring brands.
Respondents generally noted that the cost and speed of Wi-Fi is one of the most frustrating parts of staying at a hotel, while late checkout and early check-in are some of the most valuable amenities a hotel can offer.
On the digital front, Ritz-Carlton has relaunched its app, which now handles mobile check-in/checkout as well as housekeeping and valet service requests at properties throughout the Americas.
The company is also testing ordering in-room and poolside dining via the app—an attractive option for today’s DIY-minded business traveler. —Greg Oates
No. 1 Ritz-Carlton
While steeped in tradition, the Ritz-Carlton hotel group has also embraced innovation. Its relaunched app enables mobile poolside ordering, mobile room service, and other customer service requests. And its 86 properties are part of the expansive Marriott Rewards program, meaning business travelers can now both earn and redeem Marriott points at a Ritz-Carlton. —Joe Yogerst
No. 2 The Luxury Collection
Starwood's top-shelf brand, the collection is about to expand with 15 new hotels and resorts in locations as diverse as Odessa, Ukraine; Milan; Nanjing, China; and Santa Fe. —Joe Yogerst
No. 3 Kimpton
Founded by the man (Bill Kimpton) who helped pioneer the boutique hotel concept, Kimpton continues to renovate funky old buildings into distinctive small hotels. The hotel chain is also notable for its loyalty program, which gives you benefits like free Wi-Fi just for signing up. Recently rebranded as Kimpton Karma, it is putting an emphasis on social media interaction. Is this the future loyalty program for the Millennials? —Joe Yogerst
No. 4 Waldorf Astoria
Part of the Hilton Worldwide family, the upscale Waldorf collection has launched new properties in Dubai, Amsterdam, Jerusalem, and Beijing this year. —Joe Yogerst
No. 5 Fairmont
Although named for the original Fairmont in San Francisco, the group is perhaps best known for its spectacular Canadian hotels like the Banff Springs and Château Frontenac. The hotel group is expanding rapidly, with a focus on serving business travelers bound for Asia and the Middle East. Upcoming properties include the Fairmont Jakarta in the Indonesian capital's Central Business District and the Fairmont Ajman, with a beachfront location also convenient to the Dubai and Sharjah airports. —Joe Yogerst
No. 6 Four Seasons
Four Seasons excels at both far-flung island resorts (Bora Bora, Bali) and business-friendly properties. Lately, its focus is on the latter; soon-to-open hotels include the Four Seasons Hotel Moscow near Red Square and Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff in Johannesburg, with a destination spa perfect for capping off a long day of meetings in the South African capital. —Joe Yogerst
No. 7 Grand Hyatt
Living up to its name, this luxury group is known for grand architectural statements—like the sprawling pool area at the Bahamas Baha Mar resort and the glass-wrapped lobby at the Grand Hyatt Dalian in China—both of them opening next year. —Joe Yogerst
No. 8 JW Marriott
As part of its luxury-lifestyle vibe, JWM hosts numerous fine-art events, from an Art Basel exhibit at the Marquis Miami and a Beatles photography show at London's Grosvenor House to a Christie’s auction at Atlanta’s Buckhead. —Joe Yogerst
No. 9 Omni
Dallas-based Omni has spent nearly a billion dollars since last year to purchase luxury golf resorts like La Costa in California, Barton Creek in Texas, and Homestead in Virginia. —Joe Yogerst
No. 10 InterContinental
Tapping into the expertise of its concierges and chefs, InterCon has developed free iPad destination guides and an electronic cookbook of favorite recipes from its hotel kitchens around the world. —Joe Yogerst