BUSY TIME FOR LODGEWORKS

LodgeWorks wants AVIA to be more than just a name. The hotel and development company used a team of professional writers to create the title of its new boutique hotel collection. The word is meant to evoke feelings of discovery and appeal to those looking to embrace the finer things in life, says LodgeWorks Vice President of Marketing Cheryl Doll.

AVIA Savannah is set to debut in December and then locations in Long Beach and Napa, CA. will follow in spring 2009. All three sites broke ground last September, and AVIA The Woodlands, near Houston, TX, is scheduled to break ground this spring and open in fall 2009.

LodgeWorks President Tony Isaac says the company's experience will help with the challenges of building in opposite ends of the country simultaneously.

“We are very familiar with California, so that didn't present a risk,” he says. “We also have resources in the Southeast. If we had no experience in this business, it would be a little more challenging. Marketing and selling will be harder. We're going to have to reach out regionally to attract the leisure business.”

The new hotels will target the “more discerning, affluent customer who's not looking for cookie-cutter experiences,” Doll says.

LodgeWorks worked with local tastemakers in each market to develop the AVIA concept. In Savannah, the brick structure will have a historic feel and the café will serve grits. AVIA Napa will get its inspiration from wine country, with a refined rustic approach. AVIA Long Beach will have an open-air feel indoors and a rooftop pool.

“We wanted a sophisticated boutique setting with a strong personality, but also one that was authentic to the area,” Doll says.

Each location will have a bistro and café area where guests can enjoy European-inspired breakfasts with local ingredients. Evening cocktail parties with premium wine, beer and appetizers flavored with local ingredients will be offered daily.

“We're counting on the quality of the service — the real hospitality — and the quality of the room, the quality of the location,” Isaac says. “We're there to be the host when (guests are) visiting the city.”

In addition, LodgeWorks has launched Hotel Sierra, the refreshed extended-stay brand formerly known as Sierra Suites. Hotel Sierra Washington Dulles opened in October and another in Bellevue, WA is scheduled to open next month. Six existing Sierra Suites Hotels and two newly acquired hotels are scheduled to make the switch in the first quarter of this year.

“We're still suites, but we also have a lot of short-term travelers,” Doll says. “So we wanted to make sure our offering and experience from design to amenity provided the updated lifestyle our travelers were looking for.”

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