National Report – Vantage Hospitality Group has hit double digits. In brands, that is. This after the Coral Springs, Fla.-based hotel company’s announcement last month that it acquired America’s Best Franchising’s hotel brands: America’s Best Inns & Suites, Country Hearth Inns & Suites, Jameson Inn, Jameson Suites, Signature Inn and 3 Palms Hotels & Resorts. The brands are spread out among the upper-midscale, midscale and economy segments. Vantage will not be assuming ABF’s sublicense to the Budgetel brand, which now is being operated under new management.
The acquisition reportedly makes Vantage the eighth-largest hotel chain worldwide, which includes more than 1,000 properties under the Americas Best Value Inn, Canadas Best Value Inn, Value Inn Worldwide, Value Hotel Worldwide, Lexington Inn, Lexington Hotel and Lexington Legacy flags. ABF brands represent more than 225 hotels.
As Roger Bloss, founder, president and CEO of Vantage Hospitality, told it following the announcement, the genesis of the deal reaches back to the February departure of Doug Collins as CEO of ABF, his successor, Sterling Stoudenmire, and events at March’s AAHOA convention in Philadelphia.
“I’ve wanted that company ever since Mike Leven sold it,” Bloss said. “But back in the day, we didn’t have the financial wherewithal to do it. I regretted it. So, I approached Sterling, we talked about direction and alignment. We saw synergies working well.”
Bloss added that the deal is a “win-win,” the outcome exactly “where we wanted it to be: both parties are satisfied.”
“By combining brands under the Vantage umbrella, we will strengthen our synergies and continue to enhance our competitive advantage with a full line of brand segments that address the needs of both hotel owners and consumers. This will offer our members greater distribution, more marketing dollars and enhanced exposure and additional revenue-generating programs and resources,” Bloss said.
On selling to Vantage, a stolid Stoudenmire said, “After discussions, it was clear to find a strategic partner with scale, necessary to compete and win. And they had to be consistent with our owner-first philosophy.”
Vantage has a rather unique set-up, unlike most other hotel operators. A bottom-up, parliamentary process allows each hotel brand to follow the national directions of their franchise owners, who collectively vote on all major strategic actions taken by their individual brand.
After digesting the news, Vantage reported that it was flooded by calls from ABF franchisees, the majority of which expressed a favorable opinion of the transaction.
How exactly Vantage will roll ABF’s brands into the fold is still not settled, the full extent probably unknown until Vantage’s annual convention in December. Bloss admitted that it was a lot for ABF’s owners to take in, compounded by the fact that summer is a very busy time.
“We want to meet with the owners, our advisory boards and want input before settling in,” he said. “After Labor Day, we’ll start putting things together, then start the full integration at [our] conference.”
Bloss was also adamant during a call discussing the acquisition that it represented a long-term hold position of the brands.
While Bloss may have been unforthcoming on any immediate plans as it related to the acquisition, he did volunteer one compelling nugget that might come to fruition down the road. In regard to 3 Palms Hotels & Resorts, he had this to say.
“We have a soft brand in Lexington Legacy and we could booster it with 3 Palms. Put those two together. I don’t know if 3 Palms will be on par with the other Lexington Legacy [properties] or vice versa. But maybe they could merge together.”
There are currently 17 3 Palm Hotels open or under development in the U.S., Belize and India. There are three Lexington Legacy hotels: The Lions Gate Hotel & Conference Center, in Sacramento, Calif.; The D Las Vegas Casino Hotel; and the New Kuta Hotel, in Bali, Indonesia.
As for Stoudenmire, he will transition out of his current role once the deal is finalized. He will then just be involved with ABF’s non-hotel brands.