How Many Baby Cribs Should A Hotel Have?

Filed Under: Hotels, Kids
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My wife and I have been bringing our kids along on our worldly adventures from just about the moment they were born. In fact, given the ages of our kids — currently 6, 5, and 1.5 — we’ve pretty much had a baby crib in our hotel since we became parents. As soon as one kid moves out of it, another shows up.

We brought our own pack-and-play along on our first few trips. But then we realized that we had enough to schlep, so we started to just borrow one from the hotel. That’s what we’ve done for years now and it usually works out fine.

That said, we know that we’re really never guaranteed to get a crib. Each hotel has a finite supply of them, so it’s going to come down to how many other families need one at the same time. I usually figure that between traveling during the off-season and having elite status, the odds of getting one are probably in our favor.

But it does make me wonder, how many cribs should a hotel have?

A typical pack-and-play crib available at many hotels

How many cribs should a hotel have?

I like math and statistics, so determining the optimal number of cribs a hotel should have is an interesting question. Logically, the only way to insure that everyone who wants a crib can get one is to have one available for every room. (And hope that no one shows up with twins I guess!)

But that’s obviously going to be cost prohibitive, not to mention a storage nightmare.

So maybe you would look at historical crib analytics for similar properties. Then you could predict the nightly peak demand for cribs and plan accordingly. If you have 100 rooms, and on one night in July you had 10 rooms requesting cribs — the most of any night during the year — then perhaps you should choose to have 10 or so cribs available to cover the worst case. Or perhaps you plan for a worst case + 1 to allow yourself some margin in case one of them breaks, or you get a sudden influx of families one night.

I also wonder what the crib demand is like at luxury versus limited service properties. I would expect that a Park Hyatt might only expect a worst case in which 2% of their guests request a crib. On the other hand, the last thing a Park Hyatt wants to do is tell a guest they can’t meet their every need, so maybe they actually stock double the cribs that they expect to ever need?

At the other end of the spectrum, I would think that limited service properties like Hyatt Place and Hyatt House would have lots of families staying with them. If you’ve ever been to a weekend breakfast at one of these places, it can feel like being at a Chuck-E-Cheese birthday party. So maybe they expect a worst case where 5% of their rooms need cribs.

And that leads me to a recent stay on our cross country road trip.

A giant euro-style baby bed from our room in Ghent

No cribs at the Hyatt Place Des Moines Jones Creek

We were stopping for the night just outside of Des Moines, and I was feeling fortunate to have found a Hyatt to help me maintain my Globalist status for next year. I booked the reservation, and even remembered to check the crib request box.

Crib request on the Hyatt website

When we arrived at the hotel, I asked at the counter if they had seen my request for a crib and if it was already in the room. He mumbled something, that I think meant no. But then he said said he’d go look for one.

That didn’t surprise me at all because, in my experience, the front desk staff often doesn’t know where the cribs are kept — housekeeping will stash them in the laundry area, the stairwell, the elevator shaft, etc. Sometimes they even need to call someone else or bumble around until they uncover one. But at least at Hyatt Places, I think we’ve always gotten a crib when we needed one. This hotel didn’t seem at all busy, so I figured he’d find one eventually.

Except he didn’t. And he couldn’t even bother to tell me.

As I was bringing in the last of our bags, I stopped by the front desk to ask if he had found one. He said no, and that he had called his manager who said they didn’t have any. I was perplexed.

“You mean, this entire property doesn’t have any cribs?” That’s right.

“Or do you mean they are all in use tonight?” No, we don’t have any.

This was the first time I think I had ever heard of a hotel that didn’t have any cribs.

Property management blames Hyatt corporate

I was hoping to speak to someone else in the morning, but the same guy was working as the night before. I have no idea what kind of shifts he was pulling, but he was there at 9 PM the night before, and 8 AM in the morning.

So having already spoken to him the night before — and knowing it wasn’t his fault anyway — I asked for the manager on duty. Sure enough, the general manager of the property walked out, looking as though he’d rather be doing anything else other than interacting with a guest.

I explained the issue and he confirmed that the Hyatt Place Des Moines Jones Creek has zero cribs, despite having been open for about six months.

He was completely unapologetic and blamed corporate for mandating a crib type that was illegal in the state of Iowa. He said he wasn’t going to break a state law to satisfy a franchise agreement.

I wonder if he could violate a franchise agreement to satisfy his guests….

No cribs at the Hyatt Place Des Moines Jones Creek

Bottom line

I don’t claim to know the optimal number of cribs that each hotel should have on hand to satisfy most of their guests most of the time. But I can be pretty damn sure that if a property has no cribs, no one will get one.

So perhaps we can safely say that a property should have at least one crib.

Which is one more than the Hyatt Place Des Moines Jones Creek has.

Have you ever requested a crib but not been able to secure one?

  1. With two kids who will be turning 4 and 2 next month all of our hotel stays over the last four years have provided us with cribs (or cots as us Brits call them).
    Sometimes when you book, the hotel asks for the children’s ages so when you say under two, they assume you need a crib. Sometime on arrival they are there, sometimes you ask and they come later.

    Luckily there has never been an instance where we have not been provided one. My question would be, where would the infant sleep if the hotel did not provide any?! If its two adults and one baby they have to sleep in the bed with you? Or if you have two kids and one is on the sofa bed, where does the younger one go?!

  2. I used to work at a Hilton Garden Inn that had 125 rooms. We had five cribs. It was sufficient given the business type atmosphere. We also had two play pens.

    Once we ran out of cots (we had eight) based on what guests had entered into the system – we needed twelve – it was a sports team that was trying to cram four people in every room. But we knew in advance (well, that morning… so we had a few hours to get it figured out) and got a truck to bring some in from another hotel just for that weekend. That was really weird, but it showed that we knew what we were doing… and that was providing a superior guest satisfaction!

  3. So the manager’s logic is that it would violate state law to use the brand-standard crib so they don’t have that crib. Fine, makes perfect sense.

    But failing to offer cribs at all sounds like the kind of thing that would also be against brand standard. So surely if you’re going to violate the standard one way or another, offering a legal crib is the obvious choice. Anyway every hotel probably has a few nitpicky brand standard violations without real consequence.

  4. You seriously wanted him in to break state law over a crib? Have you never heard of a pack-n-play? Seriously people!

  5. Paul — Appreciate you sharing your experience of how other chains and properties do it. And providing some numbers of what the ratios might look like, even at a business – type property. Thank you.

  6. I find it very difficult to believe that the brand standard crib is illegal in Iowa for one. Secondly the guy was obviously aware of the problem and clearly had nothing to address it. He could have pushed back on Hyatt telling them he needs a brand approved legal crib. He could at least have trained his staff on what to do when a customer requests a crib. Instead he clearly decided the right answer in a customer service business was to do nothing, stick his head in the sand, and put on his best surely face when called out on the carpet over the issue.

  7. It is likely that the General Manager was either 1) lying to you or was 2) misinformed. It is extremely unlikely that Iowa has a different crib standard than any other state in the US – especially as there is a federal standard for cribs in the US. If there is a federal standard, a state standard is pre-empted by the federal standard. It’s possible that the Hyatt brand standard hadn’t been updated when the federal standard was updated and was not legal anywhere in the US, of course, but I doubt that. You might want to reach out to Hyatt to find out what was going on.

  8. Travis, maybe it would be an interesting idea to call his bluff: if what the manager says is true, all other Hyatts in Iowa either don’t have cribs or have cribs that are against Hyatt policy. Maybe do some calling around to see what the crib situation is.

  9. I can imagine complaining to corporate if a hotel didn’t have ANY cribs. I cannot imagine any customer complaining to corporate about the TYPE of cribs. Seriously, how difficult would it have been for them to buy whatever cribs pass muster under the laws of Iowa? (PS I have a difficult time believing that a national chain would mandate a crib that isn’t legal in all states)

  10. What about charging for a crib? I was once (almost) charged $35 p/n for crib at The Delano in Vegas. I couldn’t believe it. The operator agreed to waive the fee. Phew!

  11. I call it bull to have an overly burdensome state regulation in Iowa instead of California, New York, or Washington.

  12. As the father of twin toddlers….. who despite calling ahead and reservation notes, always arrived at the hotel closer to midnight than 4 pm….having two “working” /(I.e not broken) cribs waiting for us to just setup and turn in was often the most stressful part of the trip. Front desk staff often seemed clueless of what to do when there was only one in the room, or when one of the two pack and plays was missing a leg/support, as who to ask for another set after the “regular” housekeeping staff has departed. The Aramark hotels in get national parks were the worst of all 🙁 0 for 3

  13. Tip for those with kids. Do Airbnb. It’s cheaper than. Hotels, and I have had 100% success rate with cribs/ pack-n-play. That’s for about 35 Airbnbs in the last couple years.

    I always look for family friendly tagged places and email in advance every time.

  14. So, the issue is that the type of crib mandated by Corporate violates state law. Provision of a different design of crib will be a violation of the agreement with Corporate. How in heck is this the hotels fault? Fault lies with Corporate.
    When I open my hotel, I will proudly offer no cribs. If people wish to knock out progeny, the progeny can share their parents beds. “NO CRIBS FOR YOU!”

  15. If any of you believe the bull that general manager said…then I have a road to nowhere to sell you or perhaps you’d like the brooklyn bridge.

    They screwed up and didn’t want to admit a mistake…not rocket science.

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