BRANDING BRIEFS

Best Western International

Recent additions to the membership chain include the 40-room Best Western Tropic Inn in Robstown, TX; the 43-unit Best Western Vineyard Inn & Suites in Penn Yan, NY; the 651-room Best Western Lakeside in Kissimmee, FL; the new-construction, 53-room Best Western Executive Inn in Jacksonville, TX; and the 58-unit Best Western Knoxville Suites in Knoxville, TX.

Other properties joining the organization include the 45-room Best Western Lodge at River's Edge in Orofino, ID; the 45-room Best Western Deer Park Inn in Craig, CO; the 60-unit Best Western Penwater Inn and Suites in Pentwater, MI; the 97-room Best Western Windsor Inn in North Miami, FL; and the 152-room Best Western Kenwood Inn and Conference Center in Cincinnati.

Choice Hotels International

The Maryland-based franchisor signed 276 new license agreements in the first half of 2005, a 19-percent increase over the first six months of ‘04 and the strongest first-half system growth since the company went public in 1996. More than a third of the new contracts were for new-construction projects.

New Comfort-branded properties include a Comfort Suites in Richmond Hill, GA; a new-build Comfort Suites in Independence, MO; a 95-room Comfort Inn & Suites in Goshen, NY; and an 80-room Comfort Inn in Easton, PA.

Tecton Hospitality was chosen to manage the Clarion Hotel & Suites in downtown Miami. The property will undergo a $1-million renovation.

Recent additions to the Choice system include the Clarion Collection Inn at Mendenhall (PA); a 100-room Quality Inn in Dundee, FL; and a 50-unit Econo Lodge in Dumas, AR.

Four Seasons Hotels

Saudi Prince al-Waleed's Kingdom Hotels, along with several partners, will develop a 265-room Four Seasons Hotel in the Yorkville district of Toronto. The property, which opens in 2009, will be part of a $325-million mixed-use development that will include Four Seasons-branded condominium residences and high-end retail.

GuestHouse International

Franchisee Michael Kahn opened a 116-room GuestHouse Inn & Suites in Mission Hills, CA.

Hilton Hotels

In conjunction with GE Commercial Finance, Franchise Finance, Hilton launched a three-year program that awards developers who finance and build new Hilton Family properties. Loan amounts up to $10 million will earn a developer one million Hilton HHonors points; loan amounts of more than $10 million earn two million points.

The Hampton brand opened nine new-construction properties in July. The additions include six Hampton Inns and three Hampton Inn & Suites properties. Largest to open is the 97-unit Hampton Inn & Suites in Red Bluff, CA.

The first Homewood Suites by Hilton in the New York metropolitan area opened in Edgewater, NJ on Aug. 1. HMB Management owns and operates the 122-unit property.

Hyatt Hotels

Following a multi-million-dollar renovation of guest-rooms and public spaces, the Hyatt Regency Kauai (HI) Resort was rebranded as the Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa.

InterContinental Hotels Group

Columbia Property, Inc. opened the 282-room Crowne Plaza Richmond (VA) West in late July. The property is the 11th Crowne Plaza to open in North America this year. The owners will complete a $1-million renovation of the property by the end of the year. Columbia Sussex manages the hotel.

Indiana-based Focus Hospitality Services opened a 96-room Holiday Inn Express in the Village West development in Kansas City, KS. The property is near a Hampton Inn that Focus opened in 2003.

Lone Oak Hospitality broke ground last month on a new Holiday Inn in Denton, TX. Hospitality Management Corp. will manage the 153-room property, which opens next summer.

The third Hotel Indigo will open in October in uptown Houston. Driftwood Hospitality owns and manages the 140-room property.

Marriott International

Colgate Development will build a 150-room Ritz-Carlton at the Bank of America Corporate Center in downtown Charlotte. The $60-million project, which opens in 2008, will be the first Ritz in North Carolina.

The 331-room Marriott New Orleans at the Convention Center opened in early July. High Cotton Ventures owns and Marriott manages the boutique-style property, which is a conversion from a former warehouse building.

A public-private partnership will build a Residence Inn by Marriott on the shores of Lake Muskoka in Gravenhurst, ON. The 104-unit property will open in 2008.

Palace Resorts

Two new Palace Resorts properties opened recently in Mexico. The 348-room all-inclusive Vallarta Palace opened in July. The property, formerly known as the Sierra Nuevo Vallarta, is Palace's first resort on the west coast of Mexico. In August, the company opened Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun.

Small Luxury Hotels

The upscale membership group recently added five new properties in its Americas region: The Goodstone Inn & Estate in Middleburg, VA; Inn of Five Graces in Santa Fe, NM; Marina Inn at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach, SC; Chateau Sacacomie in Ontario; and Sivory resort in Punta Cana.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Construction is scheduled to start this month on a $112-million expansion of the Sheraton Seattle Hotel & Towers. The project includes a new 25-story tower with 415 guestrooms as well as renovation and expansion of the property's meeting space. The project will be complete in two years.

US Franchise Systems

Groundbreakings for two new Microtel Inn & Suites were held in July: Nur Hospitality is building a 68-room property in Tracy, CA, while Ontarinns, Inc. is developing the first Microtel in Canada, a 64-room property in Parry Sound, ON.

Value Place

Four Kansas companies signed separate agreements to build 86 Value Plaza properties in the Midwest and South. Blue Water will own and manage one hotel in Topeka, KS; New River will own and manage 30 properties in Las Vegas, Lincoln, NE, Norfolk, VA and Richmond, VA; SunRidge will own and manage 24 properties in Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee; and Vineyard will build 24 hotels in Omaha and in four Texas cities.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

Highland Hospitality Corp. selected Crestline Hotels & Resorts to manage the Wyndham Palm Springs (CA). Highland recently purchased the 410-room property adjacent to the Palm Springs Convention Center.

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