As an example, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide last month unveiled plans for a dual-brand select-service Aloft and extended-stay Element in the emerging Dallas sub-market of Love Field. Scheduled to open in late 2016, the project will comprise a 133-room Aloft and 91-room Element and be part of the new West Love mixed-use development, which includes residential and retail in addition to lodging.
But there are other instances where Starwood positions Element as an eco-friendly select-service brand that also targets long-term guests. In two recent dual-brand announcements, the company is breaking new ground by pairing Element with an upper-upscale brand in one instance and with a luxury brand in the other instance.
In both cases, developers feel the respective brands are strong enough individually to succeed in these new combinations. More to the point, as with dual-brand projects generally, they’re of the mind that the whole is worth more than the sum of the parts.
In June, Starwood unveiled plans for a dual-brand project in downtown Philadelphia that for the first time combines a luxury W Hotel with an Element. With a projected early-2018 opening, the project includes a 295-room W Hotel with a 460-room Element in a 51-story tower.
Meanwhile, in August Starwood released plans for a dual-brand 114-room Element in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that will be paired with a still-unnamed, 209-room upper-upscale independent hotel that will be part of the company’s recently announced Tribute Portfolio soft brand.
Granted, Marriott International successfully developed the dual-brand Grande Lakes Orlando, which combined two luxury brands—a J.W. Marriott and a Ritz-Carlton. But the J.W. focused primarily on the large group market, while the Ritz was more focused on the transient leisure segment. Likewise, also in Orlando, Hilton Worldwide has had a success with its dual-brand project in the Bonnet Creek submarket. The brands here were a luxury Waldorf Astoria, targeting transient leisure guests, and a full-service core Hilton, primarily targeting large groups.
But Starwood’s Philadelphia and Fort Lauderdale projects raise the stakes in terms of brand standards. Most dual-brand hotels can get by with one fitness center, one swimming pool, one business center, one restaurant (often a brand standard on the select-service side), one breakfast area (on the extended-stay side, where complimentary breakfast is an industry standard) and so on.
In Philadelphia, however, the project will offer such hip W Hotel-specific features as a Living Room lobby, lobby bar, full-service spa, VIP Room lounge, FIT gym and outdoor destination bar. The eco-friendly Element brand doesn’t require a spa and VIP Room, among other W Hotel features, though the Element will have its own lounge area, fitness center and branded meeting space. The project is owned by Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based Chestien Development and developed by Dallas-based Vine Street Matthews Development.
In Fort Lauderdale, not many details are yet known about the independent hotel that the developer, Philadelphia-based Wurzak Hotel Group, plans to affiliate with Tribute Portfolio. Nor is it clear whether one fitness center, lounge, meeting space and so on will suffice for both the independent Tribute Portfolio hotel and the Element. It’s one of the first times—if not the first—that a property belonging to a soft brand is being included in a dual-brand project.
Lodging Econometrics classifies select-service hotels as “upper midscale.” According to its second quarter data this year, upper-midscale has been the fastest growing of any lodging segment in the U.S. In fact, the segment’s construction pipeline for the period listed 1,549 projects, accounting for 14,270 rooms.
Of these, 459 (44,557 rooms) were under construction, work on 774 more projects (74, 662 rooms) was expected to get underway in the next 12 months, while 316 projects (31,945 rooms) were in the early planning phase of the pipeline.