by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | May 01, 2015
At a posh resort in Singapore, guests enjoy tropical garden views, a landscaped pool area, glamorous bar scene, high-end eateries, and plentiful meeting space. Interestingly, this award-winning hotel is not on the island nation's scenic coastline; it's at the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.

In fact, the property was named the Best Airport Hotel in the 2015 World Airport Awards, bestowed in March by London-based air-transit advisory group SkyTrax. It was the third straight year the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport made the top 10, in a field that's become increasingly competitive.

While no U.S. properties made it into the top airport hotel rankings, Hilton Worldwide snagged the No. 3 and No. 7 standings for its Munich and Frankfurt properties, respectively. It was a huge win for the McLean, Va.-based chain, whose founder Conrad Hilton pioneered the concept back in 1959 with the Hilton San Francisco Airport.

"That concept has since transformed from what were once low-rise properties predominantly focused on one-night stays, to destinations with a large number of guest rooms and facilities for meetings, special events and product launches," says Rob Palleschi, global head of full-service brands for Hilton Worldwide, which today has 367 airport hotels, 291 of them in the United States.

But Hilton isn't the only hotel company competing for the attention of today's discriminating yet time-pressed business traveler. Other global brands, including Sofitel, Westin, Hyatt and Sheraton, also have entered this niche market space, many of them opening stylish airport properties that can go toe-to-toe with nearly any luxury resort. A number of these hotels aren't just near airports but actually inside or attached to terminals.

"We live in an age of convenience, and having hotels on the airport site is a great way of improving the travel experience for passengers," says Angela Gittens, director general of Washington, D.C.-based Airports Council International-North America, an industry association that represents the owners and governing bodies of commercial airports in North America. "Airports are now attracting four- and five-star hotels, as they evolve into being much more than simply places where planes land and take off."