Road Warrior

Airports up ante with hotels, plus trimmings

Harriet Baskas, Special to CNBC
Atrium of the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport hotel
Source: Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport hotel

Like spas, chef-branded restaurants, cushy cocktail bars and upscale shops, on-site hotels are becoming a must-have amenity at airports, both domestic and international. Most of all, not just any type of hotel will do.

Bad weather and mechanical problems often leave travelers stranded at the airport, using their luggage and jackets as makeshift sleep accommodations. However, those days may be coming to a close amid a wave of travel hubs installing lodgings with top-of-the-line accommodations.

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In addition to meeting rooms and business centers, some airport hotels offer rooftop pools with runway views and expedited security checkpoint access to woo travelers needing—or wanting—to spend the night. In the coming years, New York City may join the ranks of places like Denver, Detroit, Orlando, Florida, and Dallas—all places where airports have become self-contained travel resorts.

An "option" to create a hotel is included in the $4 billion makeover New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last month for LaGuardia Airport. As part of that announcement, Cuomo also announced that the empty Eero Saarinen-designed TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport would be transformed into the $250 million TWA Flight Center Hotel.

That complex will contain 505 guest rooms, 40,000 square feet of conference and event space and a 10,000 square foot observation deck.

"Major airports around the world and the country have successful in-airport hotels," said Joe Sitt, founder and chairman of the airport advocacy group Global Gateway Alliance.

"So plans to bring hotels to the iconic TWA flight center at JFK, as well as LaGuardia, are both long overdue and vital to changing the reputations of these airports for the better," he said.