Amazon is now in the hotel-booking business

This week, Amazon launched Amazon Destinations, which allows users to book hotels in the Pacific Northwest, Southern California and the Northeast. The site, which has the tagline “Hit the road: Book local getaways,” emphasizes vacation destinations that users can drive to. Destinations include Cannon Beach, Oregon, and the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs in southern California and the Pocono and Catskill mountains in the Northeast, reports the Huffington Post.

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.

“We created Amazon Destinations to solve a problem most travelers face: how to easily plan and book a local getaway trip,” Amazon spokesman Tom Cook told Bloomberg. “Travelers often have a hard time planning local getaways. It’s difficult to know where to go, the process is labor-intensive, and people often miss out on finding great places to stay.”

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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, Cook told the Seattle Times. “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."

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