Photo by Heather Middleton
By Maria Jose Subiria
While the world's busiest airport offers an array of options for passengers looking to shop and dine, a new concessions operation at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is now offering passengers a place rest and relax.
Minute Suites, a temporary lodging facility adjacent to Gate B15, on Concourse B, features five soundproof seven-foot by eight-foot suites where passengers can sleep, surf the Internet, or watch their favorite program on TV. Minute Suites opened Nov. 23, and operates seven days a week, from 7 a.m., to 11 p.m.
"It was just ... it was an oasis," said 31-year-old Katie Clouse, a passenger from Virginia who recently missed a connecting flight and booked a brief stay. "It is the only place in the airport you could be completely by yourself, and have quiet."
According to airport officials, Hartsfield-Jackson is currently the only U.S. airport that offers temporary lodging.
"We are excited to be the first U.S. airport to provide this service to our passengers," said John Cugasi, director of the Concessions Division at Hartsfield-Jackson. "We are pleased to offer passengers high-quality, convenient services like Minute Suites. Minute Suites gives our passengers an affordable, private retreat within the terminal to nap, relax or work."
Daniel Solomon, a co-founder of Minute Suites, LLC, said passengers pay $30 to book a room for an hour. Each additional 15 minutes is $7.50.
"Our market research showed that 28 percent of passengers would be willing to pay $75 an hour for our service," said Solomon. "We are starting out with promotional pricing of $30 an hour."
According to Solomon, the suites are designed for relaxation, with earth-toned decor, soft lighting, a daybed sofa and a high-quality pillow. The rooms also include an alarm clock and a 32-inch Samsung LED HDTV that converts to a computer monitor with the touch of a remote control.
Passengers who have trouble sleeping can use several "Napware" audio programs available on the computer, said Solomon. Guests must use headphones when using a program.
For customers in need of a quiet space to work, the suites include a desk, Solomon explained. There are also portable laptop tables available, if a customer wants to surf the web from the daybed sofa. Laptop users can connect to the Internet using the airport's WiFi service, or use a direct ethernet connection. With an Internet connection, passengers can get updates on their flights through the airport's ATL-Track-a-Flight service.
"Minute Suites is a brand new concept in passenger services that fulfills an unmet need at the airport," Solomon said. "A private retreat to nap, relax or work, located right in the busy terminals."
In its first two weeks of operation, Solomon said, Minute Suites had 163 guests and inquiries from another 2,000 passengers, airline crew members and administrators.
"Our sales figures have exceeded our pro forma projections," Solomon said. "What's most exciting is the comment cards completed by our guests, which verify that our product and service is outstanding."
According to Solomon, he co-founded Minute Suites, LLC, with Amir Arbisser and Lisa Arbisser. The Arbissers, who are frequent travelers, saw capsule hotels while on a trip to the Far East and were drawn by the concept.
"Super-size me," Solomon said about how Minute Suites differs from temporary lodging at airports in other parts of the world. "I don't see Americans lining up to lie down in a capsule hotel. We are [a] big country and like our space. Our guests are quite comfortable in our suites, because of our design effects, which make the suite feel much larger, almost like your living room."
According to airport officials, the 700-square-foot facility was built with natural, recyclable materials. Solomon said that Minute Suites is committed to green construction and operational methods.
"Our LED [televisions] are very expensive, but consume 70 percent of the electricity that a standard HDTV does," he added.
Solomon said Minute Suites partnered with Business Traveler Services, Inc., to bring the operation to Hartsfield-Jackson because the airport store operator has a long history of introducing innovative concepts to the Concessions Division.
"We walked away from other airport opportunities to choose Hartsfield-Jackson as our first location because of their passenger traffic, their first-rate concessions management staff and Business Traveler Services, Inc., who have added value as our landlords at the airport," Solomon said. "The current location, in Concourse B at gate B15, features five suites with monthly passenger traffic of approximately 1.8 million, so it is a great place to start at the airport."
On the net:
Minute Suites: www.minutesuites.com