'Dallas' Doubletree makes news larger than J.R. Ewing It was host to the cast of the TV series "Dallas," and served as the set for much of the filming of the show. Like many of the characters on the show, however, the 302-room Doubletree Hotel Campbell Centre has undergone a $3.2 million facelift and reinvented itself as a boutique-style hotel.

Owned by Irving, Texas-based FelCor Lodging Trust, the hotel is located at North Central Expressway and Northwest Highway. Legend has it that the property was home to J.R. Ewing's "office" and even allowed Pamela Ewing (played by Victoria Principal) time to sunbathe between takes. But the hotel's true claim to fame is the helicopter view of the property featured in the show's opening credits.

Now 20 years old, the hotel has transformed its look with a more European style, as well as redesigned guestrooms and guest corridors. And the location of the hotel would still be prime for even the egos of "Dallas," with shops, entertainment and services all nearby.

Front desk checks out of Philadelphia MainStay Suites Silver Springs, Md.-based Choice Hotels International has opened a 78-unit MainStay Suites Hotel in Malvern, Pa., complete with a 24-hour kiosk that replaces the traditional front-desk check-in. Located at 8 East Swedesford Road,this is the first MainStay Suites in the Philadelphia area.

The Mariner Express Services Kiosk is an automated, 24-hour, self-service system that operates in French, Spanish and English and lets travelers check in and out in minutes. Upon entering the hotel, guests will not see a traditional front desk, but a residential atmosphere, the Mariner kiosk and a fully-staffed, daytime front office.

"We wanted to come up with something different," says Dorothy Dee, spokesperson for Choice Hotels International. "The kiosk is sort of the ATM of the hotel industry." Further, the kiosk also reduces operational costs because there is no longer a front desk.

The hotel also includes an indoor pool, a courtyard with barbecue grill, exercise room and valet service.

Over the river and through the woods to...a hotel?

It's that stressful time of year again. Time for shopping, crowded malls, and if reality mirrors research, an increase in hotel stays.

According to a survey done by Memphis, Tenn.-based Promus Hotel Corp., more people prefer to stay at a hotel vs. the homes of people they are visiting.

The company recently completed a national survey of 1,000 people and found that 42% of households would have a more satisfying holiday if their family and friends stayed in a hotel. A second study conducted for the hotel shows an upward trend in families traveling to visit family and friends and booking extended hotel stays of five-plus nights in November and December.

The study also indicates that, overall, hotel lodgers traveling to visit friends and family during November and December are increasing annually, rising three percentage points since 1994, reaching 16.4% of all hotel room nights sold during the 1998 holiday period.