Road Warrior

Airports find a new source of revenue: Attaching hotels to terminals

Key Points
  • Recently, Twin Cities officially cut the ribbon on a new four-star hotel at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).
  • A growing number of travel hubs gives flyers new accommodations that let them skip a hectic commute to a hotel, and go straight to a comfortable room with all the perks.
Minneapolis InterContinental Hotel 
Source: InterContinental MSP Airport Hotel

Recently, Twin Cities officially cut the ribbon on a new four-star hotel at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). It gives travelers new accommodations that let them skip a hectic commute to a hotel, and go straight to a comfortable bed with all the perks.

Designed with the corporate traveler in mind, the 12-story, 300 room InterContinental Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Hotel is connected to Terminal 1 via a sky bridge and has a spa, conference center and its own security checkpoint, offering quick access to the gates for those flying with just hand baggage.

"At-the-airport hotels are particularly convenient to the business traveler who stays only a few days – a demographic in abundance at MSP," said airport spokeswoman Melissa Scovronski,

MSP's hotel is a public-private partnership, and is just the latest example of airports recognizing that on-site hotels are a revenue generator that can give an airport a competitive edge, as well as travel convenience for flyers.

In the next few years, travelers can look forward to checking into on-site hotels at more airports—joining the growing number of major hubs already offering luxe-like accommodations. Some of these include Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (a Marriott), Boston Logan International Airport (a Hilton), Philadelphia International Airport (a Marriott), and Chicago O'Hare.

In 2015, Denver International Airport opened the doors to the 519-room Westin Denver International Airport hotel and conference center, on the plaza adjacent to the Jeppesen Terminal. In addition to on-site dining and an indoor pool and fitness area, the hotel has an extensive art collection and commuter rail access to the city.

At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport there are two hotels directly accessible from the terminals: A Hyatt Regency DFW at Terminal C and a Grand Hyatt DFW inside Terminal D. It has an outdoor rooftop pool overlooking the runways, multi-dining options and a Terminal Re-Entry program that gives guests access to the amenities inside the terminals.

Meanwhile, the Wayne County Airport Authority recently partnered with Starwood Hotels and Resorts to give the Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport Hotel , attached to the McNamara Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a $15 million makeover.

Miami International Airport hotel lobby. 
Source: Miami International Airport

In addition to conference rooms, day rates, and a fitness enter with a pool offering runway views (day passes $15), the hotel has a TSA security checkpoint adjacent to the lobby, and can arrange gate-passes into the terminal for guests.

Miami's airport has had an in-terminal hotel since 1959. The updated Miami International Airport Hotel now offers day rates, as well the first airport Air Margaritaville restaurant (on the lobby level) On the top floor sits the country's first Viena Brazilian restaurant.

"For a major international hub like MIA, with about 40 percent of our passengers connecting - and many of them with long layovers - an on-site hotel is an appealing customer amenity and significant revenue generator," said airport spokesman Greg Chin.

Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport.
Source: Orlando International Airport

At Orlando International Airport, the 25 year-old in-airport Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport is owned by the airport authority and operated by Hyatt.

"The hotel serves as an extension of the airport's goal to provide the best 'Orlando Experience' possible and is a wonderful amenity for all airport customers," said airport spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell. "It is also a significant driver of the airport's annual revenues."

Among a variety of perks offered guests staying in the Orlando airport hotel is luggage delivery service. "Just get off the plane, come to the front desk, provide your bag claim ticket and our bellmen will deliver the bags directly to your room," said Fennell.

TWA Flight Center Hotel at JFK Airport.
Photo: Max Touhey

Atlanta and San Francisco are also set to create airport-hotels of their own. A Grand Hyatt with 351 rooms, 15,000 square feet of meeting space and direct access to the AirTrain light rail system is scheduled to open in summer 2019 at San Francisco International Airport. In 2020, an InterContinental hotel is set to open at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

And Chicago's Department of Aviation hopes to both build a new hotel next to Terminal 5 and renovate and modernize the current O'Hare Hilton by 2023, while work is progressing on the much-anticipated TWA Hotel at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

When it opens in early 2019, Eero Saarinen's iconic 1962 TWA Flight Center will be transformed into a swank 505-room retro-modern hotel with 50,000 square-feet of art, meeting and event space. A 200,000 square-foot lobby that may lay claim to the title of the largest hotel lobby in the world; a rooftop observation deck with a pool and an aviation museum.

—Harriet Baskas is the author of seven books, including "Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can't or Won't Show You," and the Stuck at the Airport blog. Follow her on Twitter at @hbaskas. Follow Road Warrior at @CNBCtravel.