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ON A BUDGET

Some Executive Lodgings Offer the Next Best Thing to Home for the Holidays

November 26, 2000|ARTHUR FROMMER

A hotel for the holidays? Banish the thought! In this tingly time of year, you'll want to be next to a warm stove, a freezer full of treats and a set of dishes and silverware festively adorning the table.

But suppose you're on the road at holiday time; where, then, can you find these homelike delights?

Answer: Oakwood International.

From now until Jan. 5, with no holiday blackout, the nationwide chain of furnished apartments (usually rented to corporate clients) charges $50 to $110 a night for a full-size, fully equipped unit, if you stay at least five nights.

At the lower end of the price range, Oakwood offers studio apartments in Cincinnati that sleep up to two for $50. One-bedrooms, which can house up to four if you use the pullout couch, are offered from $54 in Kansas City, Mo., and $62 in Charlotte, N.C.

The starting rate is $70 to $103 in Portland, Ore.; Phoenix; Seattle; Memphis, Tenn.; Cleveland; Salt Lake City; Richmond, Va.; Albuquerque; and Birmingham, Ala. (Two bedrooms will generally add about $10 a night.)

All apartments come with cable TV and VCR, kitchens and utensils, on-site laundry facilities, local telephone service and free parking.

For an additional $20 per stay (not per night), you can have your place made kid-friendly, with cartoon-character bedding and dishes, cribs, highchairs and even a Super Nintendo player.

Friends who have used them report that the apartments are generally clean and pleasant, though impersonal. The apartments are used primarily by business execs for minimum stays of 30 days. Because many of these execs have time off for the holidays, Oakwood is offering this deal to families to try to boost occupancy.

For more information you can go to the Oakwood Web site, http://www.oakwood.com, or to one designed just for traveling families, http://www.familyplacetostay.com. Or call Oakwood at (800) 259-6914.

Let's consider the alternative, which becomes far more pleasant--and highly economical--when you stay at a member of the Microtel chain. All Microtels are new constructions; the company doesn't just buy existing budget properties, slap on a new coat of paint and change the sign out front. Microtel offers fair-size rooms and a smattering of welcome amenities, such as queen-size beds and cable TV with a premium movie channel, for a price that will usually get you only the most basic accommodations elsewhere.

Microtel also prides itself on complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act's provisions for hotels.

From now until Feb. 28, Microtel offers an even greater bargain at more than half of its 200 properties, with its "Celebration Rates" of $42 nightly for a double room or suite, $32 for a single. But the special rates are available only if you book online at http://www.microtelinn.com. Microtel's phone number is (888) 771-7171.

Another alternative: AmeriSuites and Wellesley Inn & Suites, members of the Prime Hospitality company, will supply you with a home away from home on what seems to be advantageous terms for the holidays. For family trips, the Wellesley plan seems particularly helpful. It offers two rooms for $99--either two rooms for one night (so you'll have a place to stow the kids), or one room for two nights. Either way, each room prices out at $49.50 a night, as long as you buy in multiples of two. The package is valid until Dec. 30.

Wellesley rooms, which are usually targeted at extended-stay and business travelers, come standard with free buffet breakfast, in-room coffee makers and free local calls.

For a map of locations, which span 21 states, go to http://www.wellesleyinnandsuites.com and click on "Reservations and Information." Book by calling (800) 444-8888 and asking for the "Holiday Guest House" package.

AmeriSuites' package is similar. From Dec. 18 to Dec. 28, its rooms will rent for $49 to $79 (a few will go higher), including free buffet breakfast.

For a map of AmeriSuites locations--there are 132 in 32 states--go to http://www.amerisuites.com and click on "Reservations & Information." To book, call (800) 833-1516 and ask for the "Home for the Holidays" promotion.

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