All of those shiny new amenities you've seen at your hotel lately -- fitness equipment, flat-screen TVs and redesigned lobbies -- are part of a trend across the country.
Hotels are expected to spend $5 billion on improvements in 2012, a 33 percent increase over 2011, said Bjorn Hanson, a dean at New York University's Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management.
The spending still falls below the high mark of 2008, when the hotel business was booming and the industry spent $5.5 billion.
What are hotels spending all that money on? The added amenities include redesigned rooms, new bedding and beds, high-speed Internet access, flat-screen TVs, renovated restaurants and upgraded exercise rooms, Mr. Hanson said. Most of the spending has gone to renovate lobbies.
"If the lobby looks like it's recently been renovated, it projects on the rest of the hotel," Mr. Hanson said.
Hotel owners are spending more partly because they are enjoying higher occupancy rates and daily fares than in the past few years, he said.
Among the high-tech amenities that many pricey hotels have been adding in the past two years is the in-room iPad.
In many hotels, the tablet is loaded with software that lets guests tap the screen to order room service, call for a taxi or request a bill to check out. The Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills both offer in-room iPads.
A new study by the company that makes the software for iPads at 53 hotels across the country found that 82 percent of guests who had access to the tablets used them an average of 11 times per stay.
Of the guests who used the hotel iPads, 41 percent ordered room service, 21 percent requested a wake-up call and 7 percent called for a housekeeper, according to the study by Intelity.
"In-room tablets have quickly become the new mark of luxury service in hotels," said David Adelson, chief executive of the Orlando, Fla., company.travel