- Choice Hotels International during the next two years will debut its Cambria
Suites brand here in a move that the mostly midprice hotel company hopes will attract
more travel buyers to its foray into the upscale tier.
The first Cambria Suites
property opened five years ago and the brand since has grown to nearly 20 U.S.
locations. The major urban markets, however, largely are absent from the
portfolio. CEO Stephen Joyce aims to fill that gap.
"When I came over
to Choice—and Cambria Suites was one of the primary motivators for that—I saw a
young brand that could do great things," he said during a Dec. 6 press
event for the groundbreaking of three Cambria properties in the New York
metropolitan area. "At that point, the company was doing well and selling
lots of franchises, but the markets they were getting in were not the markets I
thought we should be in. For example, we pretty much own Wisconsin, and no
offense to anyone from Wisconsin, but when you start a brand, that's not
usually where you want to start."
Because Cambria is a
brand targeted to the business traveler, Joyce started talking to developers
about a bigger urban presence for the brand. The 2008 economic meltdown delayed
progress, but development now is back on track, he said.
Of the three Cambria
properties under construction in the New York area, the first, a property in
downtown White Plains, N.Y., is scheduled to open in summer 2013. Manhattan
properties in Times Square and Chelsea are due to follow in 2014.
Within about a year,
Joyce expects to have about 20 Cambria properties under construction across the
United States, with a continued boost from Choice's own capital investment.
unforeseen in the economy, we see it continuing to build like that," he
said. "We have the right developers and the right attention."
Cambria Suites senior
vice president Michael Murphy said the New York debut would help the brand "on
a national level" with key corporate accounts, since so many travel buyers
are based in the city. "We have to aggressively let those travel managers
in New York know about Cambria Suites, and in a very short 24 months, they'll
be able to come in and experience it," Murphy said.
Outside of Canada,
Mexico and the Caribbean, international expansion is not planned for Cambria
for at least the next three to five years while Choice focuses on domestic
markets, Joyce said. At the same time, Choice will be bolstering its other brands'
presence outside of the United States, particularly in Europe.
"We have a
technology platform, a reservation and property management system that's
massively distributed and cloud-based, and we internationalized that system
about a year ago," Joyce explained. "We're rolling out into various
properties and that technology gives us distribution channels that could be big
growth for our other brands."