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Hotels - Motel or Hotel | What is the Difference? And How Can It Save You Money?
Motels - A Practical and Frugal Alternative to Hotels
An often overlooked and undervalued item when traveling is a "motel".
I know motel is not a common word today, but it should be!
In this age of new found American austerity and patriotism, the motels across the United States offer a great value and supports local small business owners.
Glitzy advertising has guided us to the expensive lodging product of hotels and major hotel chains. The benefits are consistency and economics for the road warriors. Yet, there is an unspoken hero in this marketplace, the local motel. Often owned and operated locally, often with no advertising budget other than their location. This is a great option for the frugal and savvy traveler - a great option for both the business traveler and the vacationer.
What is the difference between a hotel and motel? Let's start at the beginning, motels were created just after the motor car and greater access to the motorways. Today, as Americans, we use the terms automobile rather than the term motor car and highways rather than motorways. Likewise, we have forgotten this old fashion American treasurer of a "motel". Journey with me as we explore the history complete with vintage postcards of motels to jog the memory.
Motels are a practical and frugal alternative to hotels.
Hotels Offer Luxuries - Motel Offer Convenience
Motel's sole duty is convenience. Hotels purpose is simple - the guest's experience. Hotels encourage their guests to stay. Luxury hotels often offer concierge services to assist in organizing and arranging various activities from spa services to golf, to tennis, and theater and dining. Hotels commonly offer fitness centers, whirlpool baths, indoor swimming pools, restaurants, room service, cable television, Internet connectivity, and the list goes on. Hotel parking lots are often separate, often multiple levels to conserve urban space. Convenience is not a factor for the hotel because the level of service is different and bellboys, valets and baggage handlers are commonplace. Motels, on the hand, are self-service for your luggage and no availability for room service expect for the local pizza via the phone book.
Aerial View of Motel
Distinguishing Features of a Motel
Motels were built for the ease of access for the motor car. Often the structures would be U-shaped or square. The buildings would surround a parking lot creating a type of courtyard for the compound. All doors to the units would face the parking lot to allow quick access literally a few feet away. The theory was the ease of travel and loading and unloading luggage.
Motels Have An Eye for the Motor Car
The novelty of the car cannot be understated at this time. A motor coach or car was an expensive purchase that a family would be proud of and would want close to the motel room. The parking of the car right outside allowed the guests to literally look out their window to see their personal vehicle.
Benefits of the Motels
Motels are physically and logistically designed for the convenience of the motor car. Often located on a major thoroughfare or highway. Motels are a great value for the basic overnight accommodations and perhaps an occasion dip in the outside swimming pool. A motel is idea for a stay that entails simply a great night's sleep at a reasonable fare.
A few independent motels may feature individual cabins and balance the price and convenience with a picturesque setting in the woods or pine trees.
Etymology and Evolutions of the Words Motel and Hotel
A motel is a word derived from a portmanteau (a blending of two terms together into one new word). The motel was an answer to the consumer's need as the United State's highway system developed and traveling long distances became more feasible and therefore more frequent. Logistically located on main highway and architecturally designed for the quick, convenience of parking the car and unloading the various suitcases.
Hotel Guest Amenities
"Hotel guest amenities are provided by the hospitality industry to enhance and provide more convenience to customers. Guest amenities can be complementary or offered for a fee. Hotel guest amenities can include everything from in-room entertainment / communication facilities, grooming / bathing accessories to laundry and dry cleaning services."
Motel - Created for the Overnight Motorist
A motel was created specifically for overnight "motorists". Designed to have the motor vehicle front and center and ease of access to a room for the night. In the United States, we still have Motel 6 and Super8 motels along with a plethora of private, family-owned operations. Motels gained popularity in the 1960s when the motor car was the rage.
The common term in this vintage era, as fellow baby boomers can attest was a motel. The profitability of the motels was noted and large chains called hotels entered the market with massive advertising campaigns and a whole new venue of stay - a motel with hospitality. Hotels are best known for the amenities, gift shops and restaurants that they offer - an entire vacation package often all under one roof.
Motel Term Deemed Passe - Times Change - Terms Change
Sadly with the advent of high powered advertising and hotel chains, the term "motel" has been deemed "passe" or out of fashion. Furthermore, the use of a motor car or motor coach or even motorway is not heard frequently in the United States. While my GPS lady says motorway, I have never before hear this term.
As times change, so too our terms needed to change. To respond to new consumer sentiment, in 2000, the American Hotel-Motel Association removed the term "motel" from its name. The association that represents this industry is now called the "American Hotel and Lodging Association".
The term "lodging" was chosen to cover a variety of different style guest rooms and experiences including luxury and boutique hotels, suites, inns, budget, and extended stay."
Vintage Photos of Motels
Travel back in time and reminiscence with me on the innovation of the motel. From the very first motel - in Santa Barbara, California (leave it to the state of California to spearhead innovation) to several other scenic sites. Note the architecture and the proximity to the motor cars. The motel offers the comfort of a quiet overnight stay, safe for your motor coach and you and your family with convenience access to the highways and convenience access for luggage.
Motels Then - Motel 6 Vintage Post Cards
Motels Now - Super 8 Delavan, Wisconsin
Motels Then and Now
Just as times have changed and terms have changed, so too, the motel has kept pace with consumer demands.
Many motels now offer indoor swimming pools and spas, wireless Internet connections and video game rooms. A perfect example is the Super 8 Motel at the Chicago-O'Hare Airport in Illinois. Fitness rooms typically remain absent from the motel. The price is generally the least expensive of all accommodations in the area.
True to its history, motels remain dedicated to convenience. For a good night's rest, convenient access at an affordable fare, the motels in the United States offer a great rate and a great service to the weary traveler.
Next time you are considering an overnight stay, look beyond the hotels, check out the motels in the area, the prices and the convenience might be a pleasant surprise.
Motels Now - Super8 Motel Madison, Wisconsin
Super 8 Motel - Chicago-O'Hare Airport, Illinois
Motel Websites of Note
- About Motel.com 1-877-77MOTEL (1-877-776-6835)
This means that Motel.com / Travelogistics is not owned by nor have we signed exclusive agreements with any of the travel consolidators or major lodging chains or lodging mega corporations. However, we work directly with many of them to get access to
- Motel 6 1-800-4-MOTEL6 (1-800-466-8356) or en espaol (Spanish): 1-877-467-7224
Founded in 1962 in Santa Barbara, California, Motel 6 is synonymous with a great travel value. The first Motel 6 in Santa Barbara still leaves the light on today, but a lot has changed for the motel chain that pioneered the first real economy motel d
- Super8.com 1.800.800.8000 Espaol: 1-877-202-8812
Rest Easy with Super 8: You can Rest Easy when making a reservation on Super8.com. Get our Guaranteed Best Rate or we will match the lower rate PLUS give you an additional 10% discount when you book your reservation on our website.
Women on Their Way
- WOMEN ON THEIR WAY
Women on Their Way is the hospitality industry's longest-running branded program entirely dedicated to female travelers. Since the program's launch in 1995, Wyndham has supported women travelers as they've emerged from a niche market to a formidable
Motels - A Practical and Frugal Alternative to Hotels
Motels Now Offer More!
Motels have changed throughout the ages and now offer more to the traveler. Still fulfilling a basic service and need with the goal of convenience, the motels in America offer a great travel value that is often over looked when making travel plans.
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© 2010 Ken Kline