Surveying The Situation

As we get ready to head into the holiday season, there are a number of challenges facing the lodging industry recovery, not the least of which is rising gas prices impacting drive-to destinations, as well as continuing concerns about COVID variants. A pair of recent consumer surveys confirmed some of these challenges while offering somewhat differing results.

According to a new national survey commissioned by the AH&LA and conducted by Morning Consult of more than 2,000 consumers, a mere 29% of Americans are likely to travel for Thanksgiving and 33% are likely to travel for Christmas. While this represents an uptick from last year when those numbers were 21% and 24%, respectively, it’s still a disappointing figure.

In addition, 52% of Americans say they plan to take fewer trips and 53% plan to take shorter trips due to rising gas prices. Furthermore, leisure travelers are making several adjustments to their travel plans based on the current state of the pandemic, including only traveling within driving distance (58%), taking fewer trips (48%), and taking shorter trips (46%).

“While vaccines have helped travelers feel more comfortable, rising gas prices and continued concerns about the pandemic are making many Americans hesitant to travel during the holidays. Despite a slight expected uptick in holiday travel this year, hotels will continue to face economic fallout from the pandemic, underscoring the need for targeted federal relief, such as the Save Hotel Jobs Act, to support the industry and its workforce until travel fully returns,” stated American Hotel & Lodging Association President and CEO Chip Rogers.

Meanwhile, Motel 6 yesterday released its fourth annual holiday survey, revealing that nearly 70 percent of those planning to travel for the holidays this year will be doing road trips to reach their destination.

The poll also surveyed over 2,000 individuals and found that 82% believe it is important to spend time with loved ones, and between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the average traveler will be journeying a total of over 600 miles. Of those planning to travel this year, one in three (32%) stayed home last year.

The Motel 6 survey provided some other insights on travel sentiment noting that American holiday travelers are hopeful for a more peaceful experience this year, with nearly three-quarters (67%) of respondents anticipating their holiday trips to be more relaxing in 2021 after people had to change up their holiday plans last year.

Two-thirds of survey respondents plan to travel with their immediate family this holiday season, and nearly two in five (38%) will be bringing along their pets. In particular, they’re most excited to reconnect with their siblings (46%), parents (45%) and extended family (42%).

Finally, on a longer term basis while business travel recovery in 2021 proceeded at a slower pace than expected from a year ago, global business travel spending is expected to surge in 2022 with full recovery expected in 2024. This is according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), which last week released the results of its latest business travel index—the BTIOutlook.

The report provides a detailed analysis of business travel in 2021 with projections for 2022 and beyond, including post-COVID-19 recovery forecasts. The BTI Outlook is an annual study of business travel spending and growth covering 73 countries across 44 industries.

Forecasts and analysis highlights:

  • Global business travel activity has begun its rebound from the sharp downturn brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. After declining 53.8% in 2020 to $661 billion, global expenditures are expected to have rebounded 14% in 2021 to $754 billion. This was more slowly than forecasted in GBTA’s previous BTI Outlook report issued in February of this year.
  • Despite recovery setbacks in 2021, a year-over-year surge of 38% is expected in 2022 as recovery and pent-up demand kicks into a higher gear, bringing global business travel spending back to more than $1 trillion.
  • Recovery will continue into 2023, with global spending rising 23% year-over-year as even more international and group travel comes back online.
  • By 2024, global business travel is forecast to have made a full recovery, ending the year at $1.48 trillion or just above the 2019 pre-pandemic spend of $1.4 trillion.
  • In 2025, global business travel growth is forecast to slow to 4.3%–just below the 10-year average growth rate of 5.1% coming into 2020–ending the year at a forecasted $1.5 trillion.

Furthermore, according to the survey the global business travel recovery that began in late 2020 hit a fair number of bumps in 2021. Pandemic surges, variant introductions, uneven vaccination rates and mounting supply chain challenges all took their toll on previously forecast growth expectations.

North America led the recovery, the U.S. in particular, rebounding 27% in 2021. Business travel markets in Latin America, Middle East and Africa (MEA) and Asia-Pacific (APAC) all picked up 15% to 20% growth in 2021.

 

Dreamscape Companies Penetrates Charleston Market With Acquisition Of The Saint Hotel Charleston

NEW YORK–Dreamscape Companies, founded by real estate industry veteran Eric Birnbaum, today announces its acquisition of The Saint Hotel Charleston, a boutique hotel situated in the heart of the city’s historic French Quarter, centered in Downtown Charleston. The purchase of The Saint Hotel Charleston comes on the heels of several recent acquisitions in key regional markets and illustrates the company’s commitment to its target goal of $1 billion in acquisition over the next 24 months. This acquisition also signifies Dreamscape’s first point of entry into Charleston, a market that has continued to boom and expand in recent years as well as garner national attention.

 

Aimbridge Hospitality will oversee and manage operations at The Saint Hotel Charleston. With tourism resuming and Charleston’s popularity continuing to increase, Aimbridge, a leading global hospitality management company, is working together with the hotel’s staff to ensure a seamless and top-of-the-line opening experience.

“2021 has been a big year for Dreamscape and it continues with the acquisition of The Saint Hotel Charleston,” said Eric Birnbaum, Founder & CEO of Dreamscape Companies. “While we have penetrated several major regional markets in the past several months, Charleston is particularly significant as it is a deeply magnetic city that has continually flourished over the years. Tourism continues to thrive here, and we couldn’t be more excited to become a part of this beloved city as well as develop a presence in one of its most lively neighborhoods.”

“This transaction is another example of our ability to acquire off-market properties given our strong industry relationships” said Scott Broder, President of Dreamscape Hospitality. “Charleston is one of the top lodging markets in the country and we plan on being very active in the Charleston community.”

Perhaps the most well-known area in Charleston, the French Quarter has long been a favorite among locals and tourists alike for its charming streets, A-list restaurants, and pulsing energy. Located at 194 East Bay Street, The Saint Hotel Charleston is situated at the center of this historic district and its boutique design offers guests a unique combination of both romance and adventure. Visible on both Bay and Cumberland Streets, the 45-room establishment places guests within arms-reach of live music and Lowcountry fare with High Cotton, an award-winning restaurant, and Slightly North of Broad, a celebrated eatery, located just next door. The property will also feature a 1,350 square-foot penthouse suite inclusive of an outdoor terrace overlooking East Bay Street, which will be one of the most luxurious single guestroom offerings in the city.

In addition to incredible restaurants, guests at The Saint Hotel Charleston are also steps from an abundance of desirable shopping, impressive galleries and stunning parks, all of which make the French Quarter a mecca for experiential tourism. The hotel’s proximity to bustling Downtown, as well as the riverfront and Market and King Streets ensures the walkability of the location as well as a wealth of activities suitable for day and night. When venturing beyond The Saint Hotel Charleston’s prime location guests can enjoy other hallmarks of the Charleston peninsula, including its vibrant waterways and candy-colored facades dotting 90 miles of coastline.

Houston’s The Woodlands Resort To Become First Curio Collection By Hilton In Texas

THE WOODLANDS, TX – The Woodlands Resort, a landmark destination spanning an expanse of lush acreage in the heart of The Woodlands, a short drive from IAH airport and 30 miles north of downtown Houston, will soon become the first Curio Collection by Hilton branded resort in Texas. Along with its January 4, 2022 transition to the upper upscale portfolio, the 402-room, AAA Four Diamond property with 75,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event space – as well as an array of picturesque outdoor function areas – is slated for an extensive program of enhancements projected to begin in Q2 2022. A guest room model is anticipated for a spring unveiling. The entirety of the multi-million-dollar project is being carefully planned to minimize interruptions to the guest experience.

According to CoralTree Hospitality Group Vice President Scott Spann, who oversees The Woodlands Hotels group, also encompassing The Westin at The Woodlands and Embassy Suites by Hilton The Woodlands at Hughes Landing, “Through this exciting partnership with Hilton and Curio Collection, we look forward to expanding our audience and solidifying our spot as one of the top resorts in region and country. Additionally, we’re eager to continue the evolution of this outstanding legacy property with an array of improvements that will elevate the sense of place, functionality, comfort and desirability for corporate and social groups, weddings, plus business and leisure travelers.”

Among the key areas of capital focus are health and wellness, food and beverage and outdoor events, buoying exemplary existing amenities that range from two championship golf courses, bike and kayak fleet and Forest Oasis Lazy River & Waterpark to a world-class tennis center with 21 courts, recently debuted Back Table Kitchen & Bar and direct access to 200+ miles of trails.

The 10,000-square-foot spa will be the beneficiary of a top-to-bottom makeover, including repositioning the spa pool to create a true retreat. As a complement, the fitness facility will be expanded and modernized with state-of-the-art equipment. A new lobby bar with water views, gourmet grab-and-go and specialty market will join upgrades to existing restaurant and bar spaces. Overlooking Lake Harrison, the 3,000-square-foot Forest Deck will be transformed as truly distinctive alfresco venue for meetings, ceremonies and receptions. A curated art program will tie areas together with dynamic visual interest.

“We are thrilled to have The Woodlands Resort join our growing portfolio of over 100 unique hotels and resorts around the world,” said Jenna Hackett, global brand head, Curio Collection by Hilton. “We look forward to welcoming guests and Hilton Honors members to this premier Texas resort destination, which will offer a host of amenities, services and premium accommodations that are synonymous with the Curio Collection brand.”

Planned refreshes to branding and the property website will seek to better reflect what makes The Woodlands Resort and The Woodlands community ripe for discovery.

While feeling worlds away from life’s hustle and bustle, The Woodlands Resort is located just moments from the best of The Woodlands, one of the country’s fastest growing and most desirable small cities. Popular and polished attractions such as Market Street, the Waterway district, Hughes Landing and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 1,700-acre George Mitchell Nature Preserve, The Woodlands Children’s Museum and Riva Row Boat House are accessible within minutes

IHG’s Vignette Collection Is Now Available For U.S. Development

IHG Hotels & Resorts, one of the world’s leading hotel companies, has launched franchise sales in the United States for its newest brand – Vignette Collection – providing an opportunity for independent hotel owners in markets across the country. IHG unveiled the highly anticipated Luxury & Lifestyle collection brand in August, along with the first properties to join the collection in Australia and Thailand.

Vignette Collection is the latest offering in IHG’s Luxury & Lifestyle portfolio in recent years, which now includes more than 400 hotels and 100,000 rooms – the second largest portfolio in the industry globally. Vignette Collection builds on the heritage and reputation of brands such as InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, which marked its 75th anniversary this year, and IHG’s world class systems and capabilities, including dedicated resources and a luxury loyalty offering for guests and owners.

Julienne Smith, Senior Vice President, Development, Americas commented: “Vignette Collection gives owners and guests an inspiring new choice and, while each hotel in the collection will maintain its unique story and guest experience, guests will also enjoy the assurance of a consistent and high-quality experience backed by IHG. There is outstanding potential in the Americas region for this brand, specifically in urban and resort locations, with Vignette Collection offering high value and flexibility for hotel owners.”

IHG is inviting interested hotel owners and operators in the U.S. to learn more about Vignette Collection by attending a complimentary virtual development symposium on Tuesday, December 7. Register for the event here. Those interested can explore more branding opportunities with IHG by visiting https://development.ihg.com/.

Meet Vignette Collection™

Whether it’s a city haven, sun-kissed resort, or beyond, IHG’s Vignette Collection will provide one-of-a-kind stays, with each hotel serving up a distinct service style and character. Vignette Collection is the first and only collection brand from IHG, rounding out IHG’s luxury and lifestyle portfolio which also includes Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, Regent Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and Hotel Indigo.

Owners of independent hotels and small hotel portfolios are increasingly attracted to the opportunity to benefit from the scale, expertise, and investment of a global hotel brand leader, such as IHG. Those joining IHG’s Vignette Collection will gain access to our world class guest reservation system, Luxury & Lifestyle expertise, our powerful IHG Rewards loyalty program, and procurement efficiencies. All of this will come while each hotel can retain its distinctive identity.

Alongside significant owner benefits, Vignette Collection will meet the needs of travelers seeking exciting unique stay experiences, and provide a greater choice of outstanding destinations to earn and burn loyalty points. Nowhere is this more sought after than in Luxury & Lifestyle, where the desire for distinct experiences and unique service is permanent.

Seamless conversions of high-quality, unique independent luxury and lifestyle hotels and small portfolios will further fast-track IHG’s growth in a market worth more than $100 billion, and where more than 1.5 million rooms globally are currently independent.

Crestline To Manage The New Aloft Portland, ME

FAIRFAX, VA –Crestline Hotels & Resorts, LLC (“Crestline”) announced today that it has been selected to manage the 157-guestroom Aloft Portland, Maine hotel which is located along Portland’s downtown waterfront. The hotel also offers 327 square feet of meeting and function space.  

 

This marks the third hotel in Portland that Crestline has added to its management portfolio.  Last month Crestline added the 178-guestroom AC Hotel by Marriott Portland Downtown/Waterfront, and in 2020 the company assumed management of the Residence Inn Portland Downtown/Waterfront.  

 

More About the Aloft Portland 

The newly built Aloft Portland sits amid the urban sophistication of Portland’s working waterfront.  It is within walking distance to area attractions, eateries, art galleries and nightlife.  Guestrooms offer dynamic city and waterfront views in an open space design, plush platform beds, custom Aloft bath amenities by Bliss Spa and rainfall showerheads.  Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel and it’s easy to maintain your fitness routine at Re:charge, offering cardio and free weights.  Grab breakfast at Re:fuel and in the evening the casual lobby bar, WXYZ, is open for dinner featuring live acoustic performances and signature cocktails.  Gather within 327 square feet of meeting space for an intimate event or conference.  Bringing the entire family is easy with Arf: Animals are Fun and Camp Aloft programs.  

Marshall Hotels Announces $14 Million Conversion Of 259-Room Sheraton Hotel Airport And Conference Center Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Marshall Hotels & Resorts, a leading hotel management and services company that operates properties nationwide, today announced the $14 million conversion of the 259-room Sheraton Hotel Airport and Conference Center Grand Rapids.  The former Crowne Plaza Grand Rapids Airport & Conference Center will begin undergoing a complete transformation beginning December 2021.

Owned by HDDA Grand Rapids, LLC, the hotel’s renovation has been financed by Twain Financial Partners.  LittKP Group is acting as project manager, and Gensler is providing architectural services.

“Following the completion of the renovation currently scheduled for June 2022, the hotel will have undergone a complete reimaging, bringing it to ‘like-new’ status,” said Mike Marshall, president and CEO, Marshall Hotels & Resorts.  “The renovation will touch on myriad aspects of the hotel, from exterior signage and public spaces to guest rooms.  The process will be conducted in phases to create minimal guest interruptions, and we cannot wait to share Grand Rapids’ ‘newest’ hotel with area business and leisure travelers.”

The renovation will incorporate the recently announced new Sheraton concept by Marriott which reimagined the brand’s public spaces and guest rooms.  In addition to completely upgrading existing spaces to meet Sheraton standards, the hotel also will feature a new, soon-to-be-announced restaurant.  The hotel will feature 21,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, the new Sheraton Club Lounge for Sheraton Club level rooms, indoor/outdoor swimming pool and fitness area and 24-hour airport shuttle.