Brands, owners and designers embrace dual-branding approach

The new-build Arlington Capital View hotel complex at Potomac Yards in Arlington, Va., includes a Renaissance Hotel and a Residence Inn, both Marriott-branded products.

 

Phoenix – The panel discussion “Dual-Brand Hotels” at last month’s Lodging Conference here cast a spotlight on just how significantly this development model has begun to change the lodging landscape, principally in the U.S., but increasingly in international markets ranging from Frankfurt, Germany, to Bursa, Turkey.

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“Over the past seven or eight years we’ve seen more hotel companies experimenting with the concept, pairing two of their distinct but compatible brands in one building. For developers, there’s the appeal of being able to attract two different target guests—say, the transient business or leisure guest and the extended-stay guest—in a single project. Plus there are all kinds of potential cost savings on the operations side,” said moderator Stephanie Ricca, editor-in-chief of Hotel Management, in introducing the panel.

“Starting out, most have been new builds with one brand at the base of the building and the second brand on top, though there have been exceptions,” said Craig Mance, SVP of North America development for Hilton Worldwide, citing the Homewood Suites by Hilton and Hampton Inn in Silver Spring, Md., an adaptive re-use of a 1960s-era office building, as an example.

Aside from a consensus as to which particular brands make the best sense to include, all parties have to agree, going in, on which amenities will be shared. “It can be a complicated negotiation because each brand tends to want its brand standards to prevail. But you still only need one fitness center, for example, or one swimming pool, meeting room or guest laundry,” said Cara Shimkus Hall, principal in GH2 Hospitality Architects, whose firm has worked on a number of dual-brand projects.

This mixed-use hotel, conference and retail development in Charleston, S.C., will include a dual-branded Hyatt House hotel and Hyatt Place hotel. The Hyatt House will have 112 keys and the Hyatt Place will have 200. Cooper Carry is the architect for the project.

 

KEEP 'EM SEPARATED

However, three areas tend to be untouchable design-wise. “The brands tend to insist on separate entrances, separate signage and separate front desks for check-in and check-out,” said Bob Neal, principal of Cooper Carry, an architecture and design firm also active in the field.

Another possible area of contention is the number of keys to be allotted to each brand. “It’s here that careful market analysis really pays off because you’ll want as clear a picture as you can get of what the demand picture really is for each brand,” said Shane Platt, regional VP for Choice Hotels International. Choice has a number of dual-brand projects in the works, mostly in tertiary markets, where in many instances a transient hotel brand like Sleep Inn is paired with an extended-stay MainStay Suites.

SHARED SAVINGS

Operations-wise, owners can save in a variety of ways. Some projects have one general manager overseeing both brands. One sales team can be charged with selling both brands. Other staff members, including front-desk staff, can also be cross-trained, cutting down on labor costs. One maintenance team and one security team will suffice. “Meanwhile, being trained to sell or manage two property types can definitely be beneficial career-wise,” said Mance.

Developer White Lodging broke new ground on two fronts when it opened a multi-brand project in downtown Chicago in June.

First, the 19-story, 664-key project is comprised of three brands, not two, coining the term “three pack,” as opposed to “two pack.”

Second, the brands aren’t all part of a single hotel company. Rather, each brand represents a different company and the brands are all roughly in the same select-service industry category, targeting the same transient business or leisure traveler. Aloft is part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, while Hyatt Hotels Corp. has Hyatt Place and Fairfield Inn & Suites is part of Marriott International.

“Unlike dual-brand projects we’ve been involved in where the brands are a Hyatt Place paired with extended-stay Hyatt House, there’s much less emphasis on sharing services or amenities,” Jim Chu, SVP of Hyatt’s franchise owner relations group, said.

While most of the multi-brand developments in the U.S. involve select-service and extended-stay brands, a few projects have involved upscale or upper-upscale brands paired with luxury brands. Two notable examples, both in Orlando, are Marriott’s Grande Lakes development, pairing a JW Marriott with a Ritz-Carlton (also part of Marriott) and Hilton’s more recent Bonnet Creek project, pairing a full-service Hilton with a Waldorf Astoria (also part of Hilton Worldwide).

With land more available and each including a full complement of resort amenities, the developers pioneered a different type of dual-brand footprint. Rather than a single tower with one brand sitting on top of the other, in Orlando each brand has its own tower with its own entrance. Between them sit the shared amenities.

Similarly in Europe, developers have mixed full- and select-service brands in dual-brand projects.

Looking to the future, more “variations on a multi-brand theme” are likely. One panel participant wouldn’t mention the brands involved or the location, but described a project under consideration that would entail the conversion of an existing full-service hotel.

“As part of the conversion, it would become two separate brands,” he said. “Standard guestrooms on each floor would belong to one brand, suites on each floor to the other.”

Hilton Frankfurt Airport developers have mixed full-service and select-service brands in this dual-brand project.

 

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