20 SEP 2018: Remember those simpler times when you could say, “I’m staying at the Marriott” and people would know that you were, well, staying at the Marriott? If you were staying at the Hilton you were staying at the Hilton. But that was then…

Nowadays you can be staying at the Double Tree by Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Hampton Inn by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, Conrad Hotels by Hilton and Tru by Hilton.

Not to be outdone, Hyatt has the Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Centric, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt Zilara, Hyatt Ziva, Hyatt Residence Club and lest I forget, it still has The Hyatt.

Last week found me standing on the sidewalk outside YYZ’s Terminal 1, patiently (okay … perhaps somewhat impatiently) waiting for my ‘Navette d’Hôtel’ (aka hotel shuttle bus). Over the course of the 15 minutes or so that I stood there, I was listening to what the folks around me were asking hotel bus drivers, and that made me realize the extent of the confusion this explosion of sub brands has caused with the travelling public.

In rapid succession, the Westin by Marriott bus driver was asked by three different people if he was also going to the Airport Marriott, the Courtyard by Marriott or The Fairfield Inn and Suites (by Marriott): Almost certainly resisting the urge to say “What part of ‘Westin’ don’t you understand?” he politely answered them all with variations on, “No: That bus should be along any time now.”

Then there was the guy who asked a bemused driver if he was going to the Hilton Courtyard Garden Inn – an understandable mash up perhaps, except for the fact that the signage on the bus said Holiday Inn.

He was not alone; plenty of others seemed equally confused by it all. Why for instance, when the sign on the bus plainly stated ‘Sandman Signature Hotel’ did a middle-aged woman see fit to ask the driver, “Are you going to the Best Western?” She didn’t specify whether that would be the plain old generic ‘Best Western’ or one of its ‘Plus’ or ‘Premier’ incarnations. Did she perhaps think the driver had somehow forgotten to put a Best Western sign on his bus? All very odd!

The first hotel sub-brand I remember noticing was ‘Holiday Inn Express.’ I recall wondering what the hell they were possibly thinking – at least that’s the polite version. How does one ‘express’ a hotel stay? There are of course certain hostelries in red-light areas that have always been willing to rent by the hour – so I have been told – however with a brand like Holiday Inn, the Express part always struck me as a bit of a non sequitur.

Adding to the confusion in Muddy York is hotel re-brandings. For instance when the Donald’s name fell from grace, what was once the Trump Hotel was hastily re-designated as The Adelaide. But all’s well that ends well and in a few months time it will finally find its true self as The St. Regis.

So next time I arrive at YYZ, I am sorely tempted to ask a driver if he’s going to the Hilton by Hilton. But that would probably be way too confusing.

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David Tait

David Tait's insight and irrepressible humour give us an insider's take on the airlines and the industry in general. He doesn't pull his punches, and readers find his columns thoughtful, informative, amusing and infuriating – regardless, David's views on our industry are always original. 

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