One common feature of larger, multi-day cigar events is promotion of hotel properties, often called “host hotels,” where attendees are encouraged to stay. Host hotels run the gamut as far as pricing is concerned. There’s also a broad range of how well integrated and coordinated host hotels are into the other aspects of the cigar event programming, too. However, you must decide whether you should stay at a particular host hotel. That decision often depends the value the host hotel offers, your budget, and your objectives during the trip.
Why you Should Stay at the Cigar Event Host Hotel
When done well, staying in a host hotel can be a wonderful compliment to your cigar experience. Depending on the deal, the price for your room may be comparable to or more reasonable than similar rooms in the area. Besides that, the hotel may serve as a kind of “home base” for event things:
- Event check-in
- On-site registration
- A departure for shuttles to remote event locations
- An event representative to answer questions and welcome attendees
The host hotel may also play host to similar, smaller organized mini events, like “Coffee & Cigars” in the morning. It also might offer an unorganized, impromptu destination for the “after party” in the wee hours of the morning! You also can informally run into, visit with, and meet other cigar smoking attendees while on the property. If your host hotel is going to be highly integrated with the activities of the larger event, you might justify staying there even if the rate is significantly higher than other alternatives.
Why you Shouldn’t Stay at the Cigar Event Host Hotel
Simply put, why you shouldn’t stay at a host hotel follows the opposite of why you should. If the price is substantially higher than other acceptable alternatives and there is little to no coordination with the overall event, you’re less likely to buckle down and open your wallet for a room. A property that doesn’t know what group you were with does little to impress. You could have stayed at another property a mile down the road without it making any difference in your experience. If that’s the case, then it probably makes no sense to stay at the host hotel either, even if you have a group booking code.
Is the Cigar Event Group Rate a Good Deal?
Group hotel rates for cigar events work no different from any other group rate for lodging. Whether it represents a good deal depends on several factors.
- Supply and demand for rooms in the area during that time period
- How good of a deal your event promoter negotiates
- How much of the group savings is passed to you
- How much of the savings is retained by the event promoter
It is a perfectly legal and normal practice in group travel to offer free rooms or a commission to the event organizer. The more freebies the organizer requires gives the hotel property less room to work with in offering paying cigar event customers competitive rates. While you won’t easily be able to see what your promoter negotiated, you can check an online travel site or your favorite hotel chain’s website and compare properties, amenities and perks. You will probably find a cheaper alternative at a budget establishment. That said, if you don’t need all the fancy amenities of a high-end property, that’s okay, too. That leaves you with more money for cigars at the event!
Find Your Cigar Venues on a Map
It’s a good practice to use a map and identify the general area where the events you are planning to attend will be located. You might even preview drive times. Cigar event venues at multi-day events are increasingly becoming more spread out. Don’t automatically assume the host hotel was specially selected for its overall proximity to the events. Often, it is simply where the promoter got the best deal.
Look around and do your own homework first. You might find something more proximate to your events on your own. This is where perks like shuttles from a host hotel to remote events may tip the scale in favor of the host hotel. Checking a map should also help inform your decision on whether you’ll need a car during your stay, too. Multiple, long taxi or ride share bills can add up fast. Remember, many hotels charge for parking in large city centers with fees that can easily set you back by $50 or more per night. It’s also worth clarifying whether the group rate at the host hotel offers complimentary or reduced fee parking.
Why Stay Somewhere Else, Regardless of Price
Many veteran event attendees prefer to stay away from the hustle and bustle of host hotels — even great host hotels. They know they are looking at six to 12 hours of organized cigar smoking events a day and they just want a little “me time” during the rest of the day. Veteran attendees prefer moving quickly around the hotel lobby without stopping to chat with fellow attendees. You also might combine your passion for cigars with something else on your trip. Depending on the location, you might visit the beach or another tourist attraction. If that’s the case, staying away from the host hotel makes the most logistical sense.
Host Hotels, a Final Word
Ultimately, do what makes the most sense for you, period. Unless you know the host hotel is extremely well coordinated with the overall cigar event, it’s worth doing your homework to compare other options. If things are close, particularly if you’re a first time attendee, lean in to the host hotel. At a minimum, it might be a good way to make new friends.
*Editors note: This is geared towards able-bodied, experienced travelers within the domestic United States. It is advised to rely more heavily on event-organized lodging and ground transportation when traveling abroad or in remote areas.
Photo Credit: Cigar Life Guy