Everyone wants a piece of the Big Apple. Red Roof Inn, tired of being left out of New York City's lodging scene, recently opened its first hotel in the city—the Lord & Moris Times Square Hotel—with two more expected to open later this year under its soft brand, the Red Collection.
According to Phil Hugh, chief development officer at Red Roof Inn, his company’s New York debut was remarkably smooth. After launching the boutique-focused Red Collection at its annual brand conference in 2017, Red Roof would eventually sign its first hotel in the Collection a year later with the St. Clair Hotel—Magnificent Mile in Chicago, which opened 2018. According to Hugh, this deal attracted interest to the Red Collection across the country.
It wasn’t long until a deal in New York came along.
“We were strategic in our decision to open a Red Collection hotel in Chicago. After our opening in Chicago it only took about 90 days to sign a deal in Manhattan and the two properties in Brooklyn,” Hugh said.
Grass is Greener
Red Roof partnered with Real Hospitality Group to refit the existing Lord & Moris Times Square—located on 305 West 39th St.—and finish development on both the Lord & Moris Brooklyn and the Artel Brooklyn. The deals behind these two Brooklyn hotels have yet to be finalized, but both properties are expected to open later this year.
Hugh said Red Roof was attracted to the Times Square hotel because of its design and location, as well as its ownership, Real Hospitality, which has nearly 50 hotels in the city in its portfolio. Befitting a boutique hotel, the Lord & Moris Times Square Hotel stands out. The property’s lawn-green aesthetic is front and center, evident in the faux grass and hedges lining the property’s entrance and lobby. The hotel further stands out with its inclusion of bunk beds in some guestroom configurations.
“The Red Collection is all about being unique. We are not coming in with a set of brand standards. We launched the Red Collection to get into center cities and resort markets, and to do that you have to have great entrepreneurs put their signature on it,” Hugh said. “This is not a stuffy hotel.”
Hugh said his company is open to new construction to expand the brand in the near future, but for now is sticking to a conversion model.
While the Lord & Moris technically is a boutique hotel, Hugh said it will retain some of the amenities and standards expected from other Red Roof hotels. Specifically, the property will offer the fast Wi-Fi the Red Roof brand is known for, and will be keyed into the company’s RediCard loyalty program.
“The Wi-Fi amenity is more important than breakfast now, so the verified Wi-Fi we demand in our Red Roof Plus properties will be a signature theme in Red Collection properties as well,” Hugh said.
One thing that does not concern Hugh is the current state of room supply in New York. He said that while more rooms are coming online at a rapid pace, most of them are in the luxury and upscale categories.
“The challenge in Manhattan is that occupancy and rates are very high, so many hotels are running their business alone and don’t need a brand,” Hugh said. “Things won’t always be so rosy and robust in New York, so some owners are looking to partner with a brand that will be there for the good and bad times.”
This sentiment is true in many markets across the U.S., and Hugh said the Red Collection already is expanding its interest to include them. He offered that any metropolitan area could be host to a Red Collection hotel, before clarifying that the company isn’t done with New York yet. Now that Red Roof is in, it wants more real estate in the city.
“Now that [the brand] launched, the energy behind it is phenomenal,” Hugh said. “When we launched the Red Collection, it was not to compete with our other brands. We are looking at very targeted locations … and we haven’t defined a goal such as striving for ‘x number of properties.’ We are not driven by a stock price to determine our success.”