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Starwood Capital’s InTown Suites launches Uptown Suites

 

Starwood Capital Group’s InTown Suites is seeking a higher-paying guest with the launch of its more upscale offshoot brand, Uptown Suites, according to the company’s chief executive.

The first location for the new brand is set to open this week in Concord, North Carolina—located near Charlotte—with plans for another to open in Smyrna, Tennessee. Ten more Uptown Suites openings are expected to follow soon and at least 29 properties should open by the end of 2019, according to CEO Jonathan Pertchik.

“The brand will be a ratcheting up of InTown Suites,” Pertchik said.

The average rate for an InTown Suites is about $250 a week where Uptown Suites will be at least $400, and Pertchik expects that number to rise based on early bookings.

“We realized that (InTown) could not have newly built properties at $250 a week, which was one reason to launch Uptown Suites,” he said.

Development characteristics
As with InTown Suites, all properties are company-owned and managed, though franchising has not been ruled out for the future. Each property will have approximately 130 rooms, fitness rooms and lobbies furnished with curved televisions and fireplaces that will be bigger than InTown Suites lobbies.

Pertchik said the brand is best for new builds, but there is one conversion so far of a Savannah Suites in Virginia with the possibility of another. InTown Suites will remain a conversion brand, built in large part on acquisitions of other extended-stay brands.

Location decisions are based on two factors, Pertchik said: forecast of job growth and forecast of population growth. Properties will be developed in smaller markets or small towns near large urban centers—like outside of Dallas in Frisco, Texas, which is seeing rapid growth.

“Walkability is a big driver for us,” Pertchik said. “In fact, the first two Uptown Suites are within 150 yards of a Starbucks.”

Operations and property features
While InTown Suites guests are often families, people facing adversity like loss of a home and construction and other blue-collar workers, Uptown Suites will target relocating families and vacationers—as well as white-collar and corporate travelers—but will also look to maintain core demand from construction workers.

“We’re extremely focused on guest expectations,” Pertchik said. “That’s why we have Uptown Treats in the lobby which sells frozen, chilled or dry goods.”

Unlike InTown Suites, the front desk at Uptown Suites properties will be staffed 24/7. The brand will also offer full kitchens with quartz countertops, extensive storage, Keurig coffee machines in the rooms, Wi-Fi at 300 megabits per second, and 43-inch smart HDTVs. Pertchik noted these amenities are key for meeting the promise of the brand’s tagline: “Connected. Convenient. Comfortable.”

“Everything makes for a very convenient stay,” he said.

Pertchik said there are no plans yet for a “grab and go” breakfast, but that is under discussion.

“We are trying to wring out all costs,” Pertchik said. “We want to be the price leaders in all these locations, even against older properties.”

Uptown Suites managers will be called property managers instead of general managers because “they are the face of the property,” Pertchik said.

“We want guests to know them and vice versa,” he said. “And we are hiring people with close ties to the community.”

The brand also does not use the word “hotel” because the product “is between a hotel and apartment,” Pertchik said.

Starwood Capital bought InTown Suites three-and-a-half years ago, and Pertchik said he joined the company a year after the acquisition. Since then most of the brand’s 188 properties have been renovated while the rest will be completed by 2018.



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