Cambria Suites Clicks With Guests

Cambria Suites is up and running, and the early reviews have been very favorable. Choice Hotels' newest, and certainly its hippest, brand debuted in April in Boise, ID, and a second unit opened last month in Appleton, WI.

“I've talked to a quite a few guests at the Boise property and their comments have validated what we've done with the brand,” says William Edmundson, Cambria Suites president. “The guest survey comments have also been universally positive.”

Other travelers have praised the brand on Internet sites like TripAdvisor and others. “Great, bold, modern, sizzling,” wrote one poster. Another called the place “hip, friendly, smooth.”

In particular, Edmundson says first-time guests give high marks to Cambria's suite accommodations, its branded amenities (Bath & Body Works, Wolfgang Puck Coffee, Cheesecake Factory), the dining and casual area in the lobby and the oversized fitness facility.

Choice spent a lot of time and money to research and develop the brand, which fits into the new class of lifestyle chains beginning to pop up in the marketplace. The r&d effort encompassed input from travelers but also, more importantly, from developers in and out of the Choice system. Full-scale mock-ups of the two-room suites were set up at two of Choice's annual conventions, and franchisees were encouraged to tour the units and provide feedback on all elements of what they saw, including the design, amenities and operations.

At the end of June, Cambria had 58 properties under contract in 26 states and Canada. That number should rise significantly when the company announces its development numbers at the close of its quarter.

“Many brands start in the suburbs and eventually move toward the center city,” says Edmundson. “We, on the other hand, are developing concurrently in suburban and center-city locations. It's a key element in creating awareness for the brand, both among travelers and the development community.”

Choice punctuated that strategy with the announcement in June of a Cambria Suites for New York City. PLC Partners will build an 11-story, 300-room property in a gentrifying area of Brooklyn a few blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge. Construction begins in January.

In most cases, developers have made commitments to build multiple properties. Franchisee Swift Hospitality, which recently opened the Appleton property, has plans for at least four more. Badger Midwest Hospitality, which is prepping to open a Cambria in Green Bay, WI, has a commitment to develop 10 units.

As it did with the New York City project, the Cambria team often helps developers find sites, a task Edmundson says has become a little easier in recent months as residential construction has cooled off.

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