Booking a room in a brand new hotel can be a nerve-wracking experience – you're just not sure what you're going to get. Moreover, that brand new hotel might not even really be open yet. Often in the hotel world, prior to the grand opening, there is what's called a "soft opening." This refers to a period of time – weeks or months – when the hotel is not fully open but is renting rooms anyway. Soft openings are rarely announced, and sometimes not all of the facilities (such as the spa, the pool, or the restaurant) are up and running. The soft opening (and also sometimes the very early period after an official opening) is the time in which staff and management can work through the kinks before formally inviting the world inside. So should you take a chance and book a room in a brand new hotel? We say yes, definitely. Here's why...
Deals Are Common:
To compensate for any inconveniences a guest may face while a hotel is training its staff and getting its amenities up and running, properties usually offer reduced rates during the early or soft opening phases – and the savings can be substantial. And remember, a new hotel is an empty hotel. Property owners and staff are looking to develop a brand new, loyal following, and deals are a great way to encourage people to book.
Consider the brand new IBEROSTAR Playa Mita, the Spanish company's first property on Mexico's Riviera Nayarit, 25 miles north of Puerto Vallarta (pictured above). This five-star, all-inclusive resort is currently offering "early bird" rates of up to 30 percent off – and that's for its official opening, not a soft opening. So all facilities, including three pools, a theater, and a golf course will be ready to go when the resort starts welcoming guests at the end of the year. We did a search and found December rates starting at $200 per night, and April (low-season) rates for $157 a night – great rates for a new 5-star property. The only catch is that you have to book by September 30, 2013 for stays between December 24, 2013 and December 23, 2014, so make your decisions quickly!
In New York City, The Marlton, the hotly anticipated new project of hotelier Sean MacPherson, is in a quieter soft opening phase – and making few announcements until its October grand opening. The Marlton is currently offering nightly rates for as low as $175, (a bargain in New York City) but the hotel is still under construction and facilities such as the bar are not yet ready.
Service is Impeccable:
The first few days, weeks, even months of a new hotel is the time in which it tries its hardest to impress. Hotel management knows that this is the period in which the media, and anyone with a Twitter/Yelp/Tripadvisor/Wordpress account, will assessing its merits for the first time, so you can bet they are going to be as accommodating as possible.
The Party is Just Down the Hall:
Hotels love to throw big opening parties and, assuming that yours isn't in a soft opening phase, you may find yourself invited to one of the hottest parties in town simply by being a guest.
The Hotel is Squeaky Clean:
But really, isn't it nice knowing that you're the first to use the bathtub?