Have you ever read the story of Eloise at the Plaza and fantasized about the idea of living—and working remotely—in a hotel? Think about it: built-in housekeeping, room service, amenities like pools and a gym and a spa, not to mention a full staff at your beck and call.
Last year, Kingsmill Resort—set on 2,900 verdant acres along the James River in Williamsburg, Virginia—created an Extended Stay program that lets you move into a one- to three-bedroom condo starting at a mere $3,000 a month. That’s less than the cost of an average apartment in Manhattan (and many other parts of the United States). Even Eloise would be impressed with all the perks in the program: unlimited golf on 36 holes of championship courses, regular housekeeping, business services like an on-staff notary, access to a full-service marina and gourmet restaurants. And did we mention the multiple swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), hot tubs, a gym, tennis courts and a massive spa?
In fall 2021, Kathy Masters and her husband, John, decided to move back to the States after living in Europe for 12 years. They set their sights on Williamsburg, Virginia. “It’s an active area, the weather’s good and there’s a great quality of life,” says Kathy. While their house was being built, the couple took advantage of Kingsmill Resort’s new Extended Stay program and moved in full-time. The experience exceeded their expectations. “There’s a feeling that you’re always on vacation,” says Kathy. “You’re watching people coming and going and you see the anticipation as they unpack the car. You know that people are there to have a good time. All that excitement and buzz rubs off.”
The couple also appreciated having Kingsmill’s vast inventory of amenities at their fingertips. “There’s a health club within walking distance, plus running trails—which feels very safe for a woman like me, running by herself,” says Kathy. “Then there’s the laidback lifestyle and the views of the water. It’s very appealing”
Kingsmill’s new Extended Stay program is part of a larger trend that has taken hold over the last couple of years, as remote workers have realized that they can play out their travel dreams and pursue a digital nomad lifestyle—anywhere. “The demand has been much bigger than we had anticipated,” says Landon Stulen, director of marketing at Kingsmill Resort.
According to vacation rental company Hostaway, trips longer than 28 days have increased 106% since 2019. Since 2020, the site HomeExchange has had a 133% increase in people doing extended-stay trips. Hilton has seen a 30% increase in stays of seven nights or longer since 2019. And Marriott has seen a massive increase in demand for residence-style amenities like the ones at Kingsmill. “The extended stay segment has been extremely resilient over the past few years and guest and owner demand continues to grow,” Noah Silverman, Global Development Officer, U.S. & Canada, Marriott International told the site HospitalityTech.
Indeed, extended-stay hotels—which used to be a niche product used for corporate travel—are so popular that the Wall Street Journal called them ATMs that print money for investors.
Part of the impetus: “Travel to a hotel or resort in a warm and exotic overseas location or an exciting city center as a base for remote, flexible working has boomed over the past two years with those who did it seeing it as way to claw back valuable work and leisure time by not having to do the household chores,” according to a recent white paper from Crowne Plaza.
Leisure-focused hotels are tweaking their offerings to appeal to this new traveler. Miami’s Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel recently launched a new W-F-H (“Work From Hotel”) package that includes office supplies and unlimited coffee. The hotel also overhauled its poolside cabanas so that guests can turn them into a personal office for the day. Element Hotels has a “Studio Commons” that connects four private bedrooms with a shared kitchen and living room area to create a home rental.
Cape Resorts, a leading regional hospitality investment and management company that owns and operates several properties in Cape May, New Jersey and Sag Harbor, New York offers guests the option to book and rent a hotel room or cottage or suite for a month or longer to come and go as they please.
For its U.S. and Caribbean properties, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has all-encompassing Extended Stay packages that provide the opportunity to move your home base to another city to working remotely.
It’s also possible to have a temporary office space along the Venetian canals, in the heart of Mallorca or within the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cusco. Responding to this recent demand, the luxury travel planner Embark partnered with Belmond to launch Embark Longer Abroad. Travelers can make Italy, Spain or Peru their home-away-from-home with a month-long getaway and will receive unlimited laundry, 20% off all food and beverage, a dedicated concierge for the duration of the stay and more.
Hospitality companies are also encouraging guests to stay longer with discounts and perks. Hyatt has a new Work From Hyatt program that includes longer-stay discounts, free pool cabanas, free rounds of golf and more. HG offers its rewards members a lower Stay Longer & Save rate when they book three or more nights at domestic hotels. Luxury home rental company Onefinestay offers extended-stay discounts—like 25% off a booking longer than 90 days.
Then there’s the option of just moving in for good. Martinhal—a family-owned brand that’s already known for its long-stay-friendly resorts across Portugal—has launched Martinhal Residences, with 160 luxury residences for sale in Lisbon’s new Park of Nations neighborhood.
Indeed, though the pandemic might be waning, the trend of living in hotels doesn’t seem to be going away. One of the best—but not necessarily glamorous—perks of living in a hotel that most anyone can relate to? “You can pick up the phone and say, ‘There’s a problem with the toilet and someone is there right away to service it,” Kathy Masters says with a laugh.