Area hotels in Prince William and Loudoun counties, often near high-technology companies such as America Online Inc., Xerox Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp., know the importance of being a comfortable home away from home. But that no longer just means a good bed and an iron. People want access to the Internet. They need their e-mail. Voice mail is imperative.
So hotels are complying, installing Internet phone lines and using their hookup capabilities as marketing tools.
Near the site of the new AOL data center in Prince William County, two hotels have recently popped up: the Manassas Fairfield Inn by Marriott, which opened in September, and the Manassas Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, which will have its grand opening this week.
And both are touting themselves as the perfect place for business travelers.
"I bet at least 50 percent of the folks that walk into these rooms have laptops," said Andrew Stephenson, general manager at the 80-room Fairfield Inn.
And although he said the clientele is varied, technology employees seem to make up the largest portion of customers. "We have a tremendous amount of technology in the Manassas area with Lockheed, IBM and AOL coming in."
Stephenson said that people generally assume that a Marriott-owned hotel will have computer hookups, and that most guests who call before they arrive ask specifically for them.
Eric Lund, senior vice president of sales and marketing with the Madison, Wis.-based Great Lakes Cos. Inc., the developers of both the Fairfield and the Country Inn & Suites, said data ports, voice mail, modems and several phone lines are a necessity in today's high-tech-centered world.
"We have found . . . that it certainly helps [to have technology-related amenities]. Our business travelers ask for it. We try to make sure we have the right number of phone lines so there aren't busy signals getting onto the Internet," Lund said. "That stuff changes so quickly, you have to be on top of it and have the latest technology."
When Jean O'Meara, customer relations manager with Xerox Document University in Leesburg, needs to find a place for visiting employees to stay when they come for training, she turns to her list of selected area hotels that are wired. O'Meara said one of the hotels that makes the Xerox list is the eight-month-old Sumner Suites in Sterling. The 135-suite hotel has rooms with a work desk, phone and data port, and the MRB--more room for business--suites, which have dual-line speakerphones with modem hookups. The hotel also has a conference room and audiovisual equipment for large meetings.
Even the quaint country inns of old are adding hookups for visitors, in-room phone lines and conference rooms.
"The inns have Internet connections out here," said Vicki Bendure with the Loudoun County Tourism Council. "Various people won't stay at B&Bs and inns because people need Internet hookups."
Debra Sandlin, general manager of the Days Inn at Potomac Mills, said the 176-room hotel in Woodbridge has had modem hookups in each room since it opened, in 1988.
Requests for Internet capabilities come every day, she said.
"I think it's a necessity now. With modern technology, everyone who travels--especially business travelers, but even families--need it. That is their way of communicating."
The Leesburg-based Lansdowne Resort, a 305-room resort and conference center, opened in 1990 and has dual phone lines, computer connection jacks and large work areas.
The conference center and resort can hold many business visitors in the Loudoun area, where technology companies are rampant.
Dianne Murphy, spokeswoman for Lansdowne, said in-room computer hookups are a necessity in the guest rooms.
"So many people are traveling these days and need to communicate with their offices. And companies . . . are giving their employees [computer] notebooks [to use on trips]," she said. "They can book a room here and know they have the freedom" to log on.
CAPTION: Sumner Suites has rooms with a work desk, phone and data port; some have dual-line speakerphones.