The B.A.T. (Bay Area Traveler) has moved! See www.travelskills.com

April 2, 2009

CAN YOU AFFORD A HALF MOON BAY BOONDOGGLE?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 12:54 am

I can’t hear the words “Half Moon Bay” and not think about the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay there with its sunset bagpipes and those dramatic fires overlooking the golf links and the swells of the big green Pacific. It’s one of my favorite Ritz-Carltons anywhere in the world. (Current rates start at $304 per night, which includes the mandatory $25 “resort fee.” Parking is $45. Internet access is free. There are 14,000 sq feet of meeting space)ritz_carlton_half_moon_bay1

But the resort has been a poster child for the impact of the “AIG effect” on business travel. According to the New York Times and other sources, the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay has suffered 32 event cancellations worth $2 million in the last four months.  Staff hours have been reduced by as much as 25%. Ouch!

But there’s another side to this story. The only other hotel on the public golf course down there is the Best Western Half Moon Bay Lodge. (Disclosure: I write a blog for Best Western at www.youmustbetrippin.com)

Current rates for a king room start at $139. A deluxe king with a fireplace and balcony overlooking the golf course goes for $169 per night. There is no resort fee and no charge for parking. Breakfast and high speed Internet are included. There’s meeting space for up to 65 people.

bwhalfmoonbaySounds like a pretty good deal to me and I was curious to find out how business at the stepsister hotel was doing. The answer? Not so bad. I talked to hotel marketing manager Lori Keller who said that while group bookings and meetings are down everywhere, “we are seeing companies that would never have considered booking a meeting at a Best Western now contacting us.”

“While we have had two state government meetings cancel for 2009… we have had no corporate meeting cancellations,” she adds.

A side-by-side comparison is really not prudent here because we are really looking at apples to oranges. BUT…. I’m wondering what BAT readers think about the current trend of “trading down” from posh resorts that appear excessive to more moderate spots.

In the current tough economic climate, do you expect to get more invitations to more moderately priced boondoggles? Would you rather go to a meeting at a place like the Best Western Half Moon Bay Lodge than no meeting at all?

Please be sure and leave your comments below…

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10 Comments »

  1. Wow! Who would of known there was another hotel over there. It wouldn’t hurt the Ritz to ease up on some of there fees in this economy. I’m surprisd the Best Western HMB is as nice as it is. I wouldn’t of even thought about that hotel as an option. Good to know!!

    Comment by Barkley Dean — April 2, 2009 @ 3:55 pm | Reply

  2. I wouldn’t mind checking out the Best Western HMB’s business meeting facilities. Half Moon Bay is beautiful and the city has lots of nice dining options. I checked Best Western’s website and they are savvy enough to list them, along with other local attractions. The Ritz pretty much counts on the customer staying/dining/golfing on their property only and not enjoying the rest of the coast. I would think that the Ritz would be offering better deals in this economy, especially if they start to getting competition from Best Western.

    Comment by Karyn Finn — April 2, 2009 @ 6:22 pm | Reply

  3. The Best Western looks like a lovely property. With the poor economy, it is a great value! Will be staying there on my next visit to Half Moon Bay.

    Comment by Clare Tarushka — April 2, 2009 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

  4. WOW, I’m surprised to see how nice this Best Western is, changes my outlook on that hotel. The Ritz actually has a run for its money in this market. I’d rather save the money on the hotel room and spend it on a nice dinner or on more golf.
    (Submitted via email to chris)

    Comment by anonymous — April 2, 2009 @ 6:37 pm | Reply

  5. I’m sure the Pacific Ocean looks just as nice from a $139 room as a $300 one. Maybe even better since you can afford some bubbly and food with the bucks you save. There’s no doubt the Ritz is beautiful and great for special occasions but it doesn’t make sense to put off enjoying Half Moon Bay more often because of pricey rooms or ending a beautiful weekend with sticker shock. Give Best West a try for some guilt-free indulgence!

    Comment by Mike C — April 2, 2009 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

  6. Great tip….thanks!
    I’ve never heard of the Best Western Half Moon Bay and I’m really gald toknow about another option for business and personal hotel stays. While I’ve been to the Ritz (and it is fabulous…especially if you’re there on business) I wouldn’t feel prudent spending that kind of money in these times.
    I would definitly rather have an offiste at the Best Western than none at all….and this looks like a nice spot.
    Thanks!
    Pam

    Comment by Pam — April 2, 2009 @ 7:42 pm | Reply

  7. I must first disclose that I am the Lori that Chris quoted in the blog. If anyone is interested in seeing more of the Half Moon Bay Lodge, please visit http://www.halfmoonbaylodge.com. There’s a photo gallery and a lot more information about the hotel there.

    Comment by Lori — April 2, 2009 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

  8. Chris – First, I’m glad you’re now covering Bay Area travel. I’ve been a long-time fan of “The Ticket” newsletter you write for Atlanta travelers, and still read it even though I now live in SF.

    Thanks for the heads-up on Best Western in Half Moon Bay. Like your other commentors, I didn’t even know it was there, but will definitely check it out now. As for the Ritz, I do love the property, and am glad to see them reducing room prices a bit. But still charging $45 for parking? That fee alone makes me not want to stay there! (Their drink charges are also ridiculous – we recently went for the day and spent $40 there for just a margarita and a beer.) The Ritz and also the Four Seasons need to realize that both their business and leisure guests are really going to start questioning the insane “hotel charges” on top of the room rate. E.g. I just returned from the Four Seasons Punta Mita/Mexico – fantastic hotel, but they tacked on a 30% fee per night to the room charge. (They also changed their peso prices daily to keep up with the rapidly fluctuating exchange rate – we never knew what we were paying, but that’s a whole different issue.) Point is, I won’t be going back to Four Seasons anytime soon, and am unlikely to stay at the Ritz, as well, in this economy. Instead, I will definitely start looking into more moderately priced options like Best Western.

    While we’re on the Half Moon Bay topic, I’d like to give a BIG plug for one of my favorite restaurants in all of No. Cal – the delightful, moderately priced Pasta Moon on Main St. The place is so cozy, the food is so tasty, and the service is unbelievably friendly yet professional – it’s worth the drive from SF, even if you’re not staying the night.

    Comment by John K — April 2, 2009 @ 11:55 pm | Reply

  9. Thank you Congress… the HMB Ritz has always been a rough sell… with Monterey/Carmel down the road, newer and more accessible bay area resorts… and a foggy or overcast assumption for HMB. But to see something like that… 32 cancel @ $2M in 4 months? That is insane. I feel very bad for my property level friends in the industry. This isn’t a good time.

    Also, thanks for your transparency and forthrightness about writing for a BW blog. There is a presupposition in the US that Best Western is “less than”… frankly it is simply difficult to create consistency in the largest hotel chain in the world. Abroad they are regarded incredibly well, and along our coast we have some fantastic BW properties.

    Thanks for the post… this is astonishing. Be well!

    @hhotelconsult

    Comment by @hhotelconsult — April 3, 2009 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

  10. Good point on the Best Western HMB as an option. But then again 32 cancels for a total of $2M is major damages, especially for the employees. To keep the occupancy at higher levels, I suggest that luxury hotels such as the Ritz HMB realize that it’s not just the rate that matters but parking, meals, and drinks. as well. Maybe a fancy designed 20% coupon – call it the Recession Buster (applicable towards meals and drinks in the hotel’s main bar and restaurant – is now appropriate for these luxury havens. We just managed a meeting at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons hotel. Although we got a dynamite rate, the banquet food and beverage charges were out of site.

    Comment by Biruta McShane — April 7, 2009 @ 8:13 pm | Reply


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