On your vacation, as in life, you only have 24 hours a day to extract the most pleasure possible. The first choice was a wise one, to stay in Miami Beach over the fall months. 21 days prior to your touching South Florida will be your most crucial decision: where to stay. With so many options between hotels, Airbnb, friends, hostels, etc, the brain filter can go into overload. So here is a solution to clarifying the confusion: avoid the condo hotels.
Initially, it seems harsh to pinpoint an avoidance strategy to condo hotels. However, there is a reason a hospitality website will not employ the marketing strategy “Stay at our condo hotel.” Marriott has gobbled, built, and increased their South Florida interest because of the condo hotel market being so prevalent and needed differentiation. Alternatives are a beautiful thing, especially in paradise.
The decision in securing a stay from a traditional hotel has one singular major advantage over the condo hotel: the traveler has a one-on-one relationship with their temporary landlord. The responsibility for almost every malady that can happen during the stay (with the exception of a third party valet service) is with the hotel management. The fifty shades of gray area, hotel style, is eliminated: if there is an issue, the hotel management has the solution.
Condo hotel issues can arise from the moment you drive up to the front of the property:
Parking: Sometimes the space is occupied even though the tenant is renting the unit.
Check-In: There is a miscommunication with the maintenance of the unit and the hotel needs to make alternative reservations.
Availability: Auntie Susie has made last minute flight changes and will need to stay beyond her check-out time. Is the hotel going to kick out Auntie Susie for a stranger?
Livability: Depending upon the hotel choice, some units do not follow the guidelines of the hotel association and have the fuschia sofa cover, VHS, and Atari game system. Did we mention the hotel marketing picture displayed the room a little more attractively?
The worst decision is to book a condo hotel on a third party site like Expedia. This increases the amount of hands in the cookie jar to six: two hands for the hotel, the condo owner/association, and the third party site. So, if the executive committee is laissez-faire, the complications can be many and decision making process time consuming. Especially on the weekend when the recent college graduate is the manager on duty.
Additionally, the third party booking starts the internal “where is the money at and who is getting what part of the pie?” question? With six hands looking for slices, there is not a lot to go around. If one portion of the relationship feels they are not getting an equal share, it reckons to slow down the process of customer satisfaction.
Airbnb also lists condo hotel units on their web engine, which can be better or worse, depending upon the situation. If the condo owner is vigilant and eager to assist, the handling of an issue would seem to better. However, if the owner is an absentee, the third party hotel site will get results faster.
Dealing with one point of contact makes life so much easier. Have you ever asked a question to the first respondent who didn’t know the answer? Of course, you always get the person that is really, really eager to help (??) and they go to find out the answer from someone else. And so on and so forth. Three hours later, the follow up question ends with the answer “Huh?” Now, imagine trusting your vacation experience to that possibility.
All the above information cancels out if you, the traveler, are unequivocally sure of two things: the budget insists that the choice is a condo hotel and/or there is no chance that anything will go wrong with your choice of accommodations. If you have to read that sentence more than once, stay away from the condo hotel and make those 24 hours a vacation day count.