Modern schedules and last-minute getaways mean that people today travel outside of conventional schedules. Gone are the days when guests would always arrive to check in at a hotel or resort in the early afternoon. These days, couples, families, and business travelers might take off after work on a Friday only to be trying to check in at a hotel close to midnight… and be told that check-out is at noon the next day, meaning those travelers have pretty much paid double for their room since they only got use of it for 12 hours.
Additionally, deals on early morning or red-eye flights might place travelers squarely at their destination at 5, 6, or 7am, only to be told by traditional hotels that they can’t check in until 1 or 2pm.
Some hotels are catching on and becoming more flexible to travelers’ needs. We came across U Hotels & Resorts, a chain with outlets across Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and India that is doing just that — whenever a guest wants to check in, they simply check out 24 hours later.
So, if you arrive with friends at the swanky U Pattaya from Bangkok at 10pm on a Friday, you have your room until 10pm on Saturday.
It provides better value for guests, but also means less angry, tired arrivals being told to sit in the lobby, or by the pool until their room is ready.
The chain seems to be taking flexible, modern travelers’ needs to heart in some of their other policies as well. Every guest who arrives get breakfast whenever, wherever. They say on their website, “no matter what time you start your day, we serve you anywhere, whether in your room or at the restaurant.” Their “U Choose Program” lets guests choose pillows, soaps, and in-room tea selection before they arrive, which might lead to less frustrated calls to the front desk at 2am.
The free bike rentals and “locally inspired library” also sound like highly functional features.
Rooms range from a simple standard at about THB2,500 (US$75) at their Phuket location to THB25,000 (US$750) per night for this ultra-luxe beachfront glass private pool villa in Pattaya.
The hotels also supply a welcome drink, but it isn’t the unlovable cup of overly sweet herbal cold tea that most Southeast Asian hotels plop down beside a cold towel on arrival. This hotel chain’s welcome drink is one of whatever you want from the minibar on your first night.
Hello, cold beer on the balcony after check in and cheers to hotels that are changing to suit modern customers’ needs.