Resort day passes offer travelers luxury on a budget

“It’s a great way to escape and feel like you’re at a five-star hotel but you can’t afford to stay there,” Bowler said.

Day passes at hotels and resorts give guests access to amenities without the cost of reserving rooms. Bowler said she booked daybeds and poolside services and even got a pass that assigned a room where her husband could work from his laptop.

Hotels and third-party partners are making day passes more readily available to bridge the gap between consumers willing to travel and luxury prices.

According to CoStar, a global provider of real estate data, analytics and news, a typical luxury hotel room in the U.S. cost about $400 per night between Jan. 1 and April 6. These rates are about 1% higher than the same period a year ago.

According to luxury travel company Virtuoso, luxury hotel room rates in July are expected to be 85% higher than the same month in 2019, before the Covid pandemic.

“People are starting to think about their travel budgets again,” said Hayley Berg, chief economist at travel site Hopper. “They’re prioritizing vacation spending over consumer goods.”

one of survey Held in July 2023 booking.comMore than 60% of respondents said their cost of living would determine their travel plans in 2024, while just over half said they might have to pay for accommodation upgrades.

According to Booking.com’s press release about the survey, most U.S. travelers said they would be willing to pay for a day pass to use a five-star hotel’s amenities without having to stay there. The survey included nearly 28,000 adults from 33 countries who said they planned to travel in the next 12-24 months.

Berg said consumers who reintroduced travel after Covid restrictions were lifted fueled a trend of “revenge travel,” boosting demand for luxury accommodations. Now, he said, that trend is “pretty much over” and many travelers are working with a reduced budget.

Berg said day passes “give people what they want” and provide a different revenue stream for hotels.

“Hotels can increase revenue by offering the same amenities they already have,” he said.

One of these hotels is Virgin Hotels New York City, located in Manhattan’s Koreatown neighborhood. On May 8, the hotel opened its rooftop pool for the second time, with day guests also having the option to use the facility.

Surrounded by black and white lounge chairs, this blue-tiled pool offers guests views of the Empire State Building and the city skyline.

Customers can reserve a pool lounge chair or upgrade to a cabana and invite up to four others. The cabanas include complimentary services and refreshments such as wine and fruit. Day-pass users at the Pool Club can also get their own personal server, depending on their selection. A day pass for the Pool Club starts at $130.

“Everyone needs a little respite,” said Sarah Patton, the hotel’s head of partnerships and programming.

In May 2023 the hotel partnered with ResortPass, a site that offers day-passes to luxury hotels, resorts and spas, often at a discounted rate.

Launched in 2016, ResortPass has a 95% share of the day-guest market, according to the company, and has partnered with more than 1,300 luxury hotels, including the Waldorf-Astoria, JW Marriott and Fontainebleau.

The company said the day-guest platform has served over 3 million users and offers day passes for as low as $25 in over 250 cities.

“What we’re really able to do is enable people to travel in a more local way, without having to go out anywhere,” said ResortPass CEO Michael Wolf. “I think it complements, and potentially replaces, other types of travel.”

The company said the average ResortPass customer buys full-day access at a cost of about $165. Wolf said customers who buy day passes through ResortPass often spend more on poolside or other hotel amenities than guests who stay overnight.

“Our guests spend an average of over $250 on the property premises, and often considerably more,” he said.

Wolf said ResortPass is currently working on a membership-like program for customers who frequently use day passes, which is expected to be announced in late 2024.

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