Irving, Texas – Executives at La Quinta Inns & Suites are optimistic about brand growth following the company’s April IPO by the Blackstone Group. “We have a lot going on this year and we continue to innovate,” said Rajiv Trivedi, EVP and chief development officer for the brand.
Top on that list of innovations is the brand’s new design prototype, which has been in development for nearly two years, and released in June. The new prototype, called Del Sol, is based heavily on feedback from guests and developers, Trivedi said.
“It’s inspired by a lot of guest research,” added CMO Julie Cary. “We maximized some key, iconic brand elements, we made the exteriors more visible from the road and we have lots of clean lines and warm lighting.”
The lobby area now has expanded into a great room. “We have a business center, community tables and lots of outlets so groups can sit and work together; it’s viable and workable 24/7,” Trivedi said. “The breakfast area now is incorporated in so it can be used for seating throughout the day. It’s more streamlined and definitely more iconic.”
The new fitness center is almost double in size of the current Urban prototype and includes rubber flooring, a wall-mounted TV and water cooler, in addition to free weights and equipment. Pools can be outdoor or indoor.
The new prototype keeps back-of-house operations concentrated behind the front desk. With 100 guestrooms incorporated into the 56,000-square-foot prototype, Trivedi said the footprint “has the highest square footage of revenue-producing space.”
While guestroom count will depend on the market (and properties with fewer than 100 rooms most likely will stay on the Urban design prototype), Trivedi said, updates to all rooms will include more electrical outlets and better lighting. Suites will have two televisions and a sectional sleeper sofa. King room bathrooms will all have showers.
Trivedi said 14 projects were in the planning phase at press time for the new prototype and the company expects the first Del Sol-designed property to open by next summer.
It all dovetails with the company’s overall development goals, according to Trivedi. “We wanted to make sure that as the construction cycle commences and financing is more available, we have a new prototype ready,” he said. “As a company we are growing our fee-based business—I would call it an asset-neutral or asset-light approach moving forward.”
Twelve La Quinta hotels opened in the first quarter of this year and 186 hotels are in the pipeline. “That pipeline of franchised hotels will put us into 35 additional market tracts where we haven’t had a presence,” Cary said. And as for markets, Trivedi said the brand is seeing tremendous interest from developers for hotels in urban markets. “There’s a lot of positive momentum in place,” he said. “The profile of our franchisee has continued to enhance and evolve.”