PLANO, Texas -- There might not be a front desk at Choice
Hotels' prototype MainStay Suites property here, but the computer
in the hotel's entranceway is very friendly.
The computer, known as the Mariner AutoHost, "speaks" English,
French or Spanish, and guests can navigate its system by touching
its screen or keyboard.
Although it cannot replicate the smile and greeting of a real
front desk clerk, the ATM-like contraption is awfully
A guest plugs in a credit card or types in a confirmation number
from his or her reservation, and the computer spits out a key card
along with a diagram of the hotel and directions to the guest's
Guests similarly type in a secured code number to check out and
receive a copy of their bill.
In addition, the computer can, on request, provide and print out
information on local attractions, transportation and restaurants as
well as such services as dry cleaners, acting as an automated
For those who have questions about the system or wish to make
future reservations, there is a phone next to the kiosk that
connects to a person at Choice Hotels' reservations center in
Guests who require a friendly, nonautomated face can visit the
office off the property's lobby area that is staffed during daytime
hours; an on-site manager is available by cellular at night.
At the office, guests can get help with check-in and checkout
and can take advantage of business services.
The futuristic Mariner is the trademark of the MainStay Suites
chain, a midpriced, extended-stay product that Choice hopes to grow
to 170 properties, all new constructions, by 2000.
The properties are being designed with low development costs and
staffing as well as efficient use of space in mind.
Choice has committed to building 20 MainStays to help make the
brand name a known commodity.
At the grand opening of the first MainStay here, Choice
president Donald Landry said franchisees are signing up, and there
already are 45 MainStays under development or in the pipeline.
The properties will offer 80 to 100 suites on two or three
levels at an average daily rate of $55 to $65.
The target market for the properties is those needing
accommodations for several nights, including travelers attending
corporate training programs, doing outsourced projects for
companies, relocating or receiving outpatient hospital
Customer acceptance has been good, with the MainStay here
experiencing occupancy of just under 60% its first month, well
above expectations, Landry said.
Choice used extensive consumer research in developing the
product, which in addition to the automated check-in/checkout kiosk
features such innovations as Donna's Guest Closet, a small,
second-floor room full of extra toiletries, towels, linens, pillows
and other supplies that is accessible around the clock to guests
Suites are offered in studio and one-bedroom units as well as
some two-bedroom units.
Kitchens are equipped with refrigerator/freezers, microwaves,
two-burner stoves, dishwashers and coffeemakers.
The suites also offer business amenities such as two-line
speaker phones, with voice mail and data ports, and adjustable desk
Choice said it plans to target areas that are close to corporate
facilities, office parks, hospitals and high-growth residential
areas for MainStay's future development.
Ten MainStays are slated to open next summer, including
properties in Brentwood, Tenn.; Cincinnati; Kansas City, Mo.;
Miami; Providence, R.I., and Louisville, Ky.
To book, call (800) 660-MAIN.