Hotel Week Boston is now three years old and, like many a toddler, it’s finding its feet and growing ever sturdier. This annual citywide February promotion, which this year runs from Feb. 14 to Feb. 21, includes around 20 prominent hotels, all offering room rate discounts, and throwing in goodies to sweeten the deal.
Hotel Week Boston began around the time of the staycation boom and deliberately coincides with the February school break, giving Massachusetts residents the opportunity take advantage of the deal and explore Boston, or see it from another neighborhood perspective.
It seems like a simple idea along the lines of restaurant week. But filling beds rather than tables during what is traditionally a quiet period took a local hotel industry veteran to get it going.
“It’s been done in New York for a few years by a PR agency, but it included just their clients. I thought it was a good idea, though, and I was shocked when I found there was nothing like it in Boston,” says Elizabeth Stefan, who spent eight years as the e-marketing manager for The Charles Hotel in Cambridge.
The setup is different to New York, which runs in early January with set room prices of $100, $200, or $300 per night. Hotel Week Boston has straight discounts of at least 25 percent, many offering 30 percent. Most participating hotels offer freebies such as a bottle of wine or breakfast.
“Doing it this way gives properties more freedom, and they can create their own packages,” says Stefan. “Hotel Commonwealth, for instance, has a $50 breakfast credit at Eastern Standard. Personally, that’s one of my favorite restaurants in the city, so I’d be very happy if I were a guest.”
Still, it hasn’t been easy, says Stefan.
“The first year, the response was very positive, with 20 hotels on board. Last year, it dropped to 15 due to our record snowfall in February. Hotels were digging out, and that was enough for them to deal with,” she said. “But this year the hotels are all happy to band together and be a part of this.”
Many of last year’s hotels have returned, including the Boston Harbor Hotel, the Revere Hotel, the Liberty Hotel, the W Boston, and the Colonnade Hotel. “We’ve participated since its inception,” says Christopher Lynn, the Colonnade’s director of sales and marketing.
“We liked that Elizabeth was someone with a hotel background and knew the industry. It’s a great concept. It is a typically slow period,” he says of the mid-February slot, “so this is a perfect time to offer a great deal. This year we have a special rate of 30 percent off our available rate, overnight parking, which is usually $46, and 15 percent off all meals in our restaurant, Brasserie Jo.”
New additions this year include the Park Plaza, Copley Square Hotel, Royal Sonesta, the Sheraton Commander, and Sheraton Boston.
“This is the first real year for us getting involved,” says Barry Anderson, the Park Plaza’s marketing director. “We thought about it last year and wanted to do it, but we were deeply involved in our renovations, so it was not a good time for us when our room inventory was low. This year, we’re happily throwing our hat in the ring.”
Anderson said Park Plaza is offering a 30 percent discount on its best available room rate. “And we’re giving 20 percent off any meal in our Off The Common restaurant. On top of that, we’re giving people the chance to sleep in, or do some extra exploring. Instead of an 11 a.m. checkout, there’s an extra late 5 p.m. for weekdays and 3 p.m. at weekends.”
“It’s great for guests, great for us,” said Lynn of the Colonnade. “We see it as a win-win.”