New “Amazon Destinations” service recommends local getaways/hotels for vacations near Seattle, Los Angeles and New York.
Amazon, the online retailer that sells almost anything, now wants to sell you close-to-home vacations. It’s a first major move into hotel bookings for the Seattle-based company.
Amazon Destinations was launched late Monday. It features destinations and hotels within a customer’s driving distance. It aims to let you plan, and book, your accommodations through Amazon.
Amazon is honing in on the local market, on short, drive-to getaways of one to three nights, which it says comprise more than 40 percent of U.S. domestic leisure trips. For now, Amazon is focusing on getaways around three U.S. metro areas: Seattle, Los Angeles and New York.
Amazon previously has offered hotel flash deals and discounted rates, but with Amazon Destinations (part of its Amazon Local brand) it is more fully entering the popular and lucrative online travel-booking market, which companies such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, Airbnb and Priceline have dominated.
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Around the Seattle area, Amazon Destinations highlights getaways to Portland; Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands; the Cascades (including Leavenworth); and the Washington and Oregon coasts.
Through the website, hoteliers can offer their rooms at their standard rates as well as packages and discount rates. A few hotels in each area are highlighted as Amazon-recommended hotels.
Hotels do not pay to be recommended, Amazon spokesman Tom Cook said Tuesday morning. “The hotels featured on the destinations pages are hand-picked by Amazon — hotels don’t pay for inclusion and don’t pay extra to be featured prominently. We hand pick the hotels based on property quality, customer-service levels, price, location, and more,” said Cook in an email.
However, travelers will find there’s only a small number of hotels listed so far. For instance, for getaways around Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands, only 13 hotels/inns are listed, including within Seattle.
It’s not yet clear when more U.S. destinations will be added. No international destinations are planned at this time, said Cook.