Co-Branded Hilton Properties Open in Jacksonville
Hilton seems to be leading the market in dual-branded properties. Its latest, a Homewood Suites/Hilton Garden Inn combination in the Southbank neighborhood near downtown Jacksonville, FL, is an elegant example of how two hotels can operate as one yet serve distinct sets of guests with amenities, facilities and services each expects.
“In today’s tight credit market, the joint-build model provides developers and owners with a great option to build quality hotels while reducing costs,” says Bill Duncan, Hilton’s global head of the Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites brands. “Shared construction costs and zoning efforts enable developers to get hotels open faster. Plus, developers save on ongoing operational costs, such as housekeeping, laundry, meeting facilities, which helps increase overall profitability.”
The Jacksonville complex is Hilton’s third joint build to open this year and the first to feature horizontal distribution of rooms. The others in Baltimore and Silver Spring, MD feature vertically stacked rooms.
The $30-million, purpose-built Jacksonville Homewood/HGI property divides the two brands horizontally with a shared driveway/porte cochere, swimming pool, fitness center and some meeting facilities. A key-activated door separates the two properties, although management isn’t overly concerned if guests slip between the two properties.
“There are a lot of advantages by having two hotels side by side,” says Hank Fonde, senior vice president of development for Landcom Hospitality Management, developer and operator of the combined 221-room properties (98 suites in the Homewood and 123 rooms in the Hilton Garden Inn). “While the biggest cost savings are in the laundry and engineering functions, the dual property makes sense for other reasons. Between the two properties, we have a full kitchen and bar so we can service meetings, banquets and roomservice. In effect, we’re operating two fullservice hotels with the cost structures of select-service properties.”
While the properties share many facilities, the design strategies in developing the two hotels reflect their market segments. The Homewood Suites units have a homey feel that makes sense in a hotel with an average stay of 13 nights. In the Hilton Garden Inn, where the average stay is less than two nights, the look is more urban and contemporary. “It’s one box and one set of management, but the two hotels need to look different inside,” says Fonde. “It’s what our guests expect.”
Landcom, which has developed and operated more than 60 hotels, including a nearby Hampton, knew the Southbank area had unmet lodging. “We knew it was a great location to build a hotel, but we couldn’t decide whether to make it an extended-stay property or a transient hotel. So we made it both,” says Fonde. The neighborhood is quickly emerging as a trendy spot for restaurants, retail and residential. The hotel sits next to a city-owned parking structure that also is the terminus of a monorail system that takes commuters and tourists across the St. John River to downtown Jacksonville.
Additional dual-branded Hilton properties are on the drawing board in Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY. And while Duncan says the company has no specific targets of where or how many such projects it expects, most will probably combine one of Hilton’s two extended-stay brands with either a fullservice or select-service flagged hotel.
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