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The Mature Traveler

Togetherness Pays Off at Hampton Hotels

July 05, 1987|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks.

Hampton Inn Hotels, a modest-size chain of modest-priced hotels, is the latest to pass along savings for mature travelers.

The Memphis-based chain, which claims 130 franchised hotels in 30 states (and 30 more within the next year), has started its "Lifestyle 50" program for those who are (naturally) age 50 and over.

This isn't your average discount program. Instead, it offers savings--a little or a lot--depending on how many persons use the room.

The Lifestyle 50 program entitles the mature traveler who signs up for the free program, plus up to three additional adults, to stay in one room and be charged the single rate for each night of the stay, providing no additional bedding is required.

All Have Double Beds

It should be noted that Hampton Inns rooms are furnished with two double beds, so there is no need to organize sleeping shifts or put up with wholesale cover swiping. Still, three or four adults to one room may not fit the life style of most mature travelers.

Mark Wells, Hampton's vice president of marketing, says otherwise.

"Our research shows that members who use our Lifestyle 50 program prefer it three to one over the usual 10% discount offered to senior citizens at other hotels," Wells says.

"We've only opened the program a few months and we already have 10,000 members. I think the rate of response to the program is clear evidence that senior citizens welcome the better value offered by the Hampton Inn plan."

Other savings come with the chain's regular rate structure. It claims "stylishly quality rooms at prices usually 20% to 40% below those of traditional full-service hotels in the same area."

No Fancy Lobbies

"We are not simply selling less-expensive rooms," Wells says. "Rather, we have created a specialized hotel without fancy lobbies, restaurants or large meeting facilities. We do provide free continental breakfasts, free TV, in-room movies and free local telephone calls."

Hampton Inn Hotels has automatically extended Lifestyle 50 memberships to those already belonging to the American Assn. of Retired Persons (AARP); all they need to do when checking in is show their membership cards.

Other mature travelers can join free by filling out an application at any Hampton Inn. Request the application by calling toll-free (800) HAMPTON, or by writing to Lifestyle 50, Hampton Inns Inc., 2701 Union Extd., Suite 300, Memphis, Tenn. 38112.

About 18 months ago I mentioned Golf Tours International, run by another guy named Bill Hughes, near San Francisco, and noted that most of those who signed up for his trips were mature travelers.

This year Hughes has started the Seniors Golf Assn., an organization dedicated to quality golf outings. If it's anything like his Golf Tours International, a highly regarded agency, it will be a quality venture.

"To keep quality in and maintain the standard of service and play we are aiming for, we are holding the membership to just 500," Hughes says. "And we already have half that now. Membership is open to those 50 years and over for $25 a year."

For that fee, members have a choice of at least four top golf outings a year, all in the Western states and most of them midweek, four-day outings with tournament play. There are separate divisions for men and women, using established handicaps and awards for several age brackets.

Four-Day Event Next

More than 200 members took part in the first Seniors Golf Assn. tournament last month at Rancho Bernardo. And just as many are already signed up for the second competition, a four-day event at Sunriver Lodge near Bend, Ore., set for Aug. 17-21. Others are in the planning stages for such top resorts as Palm Springs, Tucson, Sun Valley, Ida., and Mesa, Ariz.

Members may participate only in the golf tournaments and related activities (awards banquet, cocktail parties) or take advantage of top accommodations at substantial savings offered through the Seniors Golf Assn. Members provide their own transportation.

"We have a definite limit to the size of each tournament," Hughes says, "depending on the number of courses we use. We had three at Rancho Bernardo and will use two at Sunriver. We like to have plenty of breathing room on the courses and in the allied activities and amenities we offer."

For more information, write to the Seniors Golf Assn., P.O. Box 5, Diablo, Calif. 94528 or phone (415) 837-8469.

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