ESUITES MUSCLES INTO LIFESTYLE SEGMENT

Jerry Ellenburg, a self-proclaimed contrarian, is founder and chairman of eSuites Hotels, a new upscale boutique brand that promises to compete with the recent wave of lifestyle chains such as aloft, Cambria Suites, NYLO, Hyatt Place and others. Construction will start shortly on the first four units — in Tampa, Jacksonville, Raleigh-Durham and Phoenix — while the ultimate goal is a chain of 300 properties.

As an industry outsider, Ellenburg took some different approaches to create the product. Yet he was smart enough to tap former Starwood and Carlson executive Sam Winterbottom as president and CEO. In addition, former Holiday Inns Chairman Bryan Langton is on board as vice chairman.

In one shift in philosophy from the norm, each of the eSuites will have upscale, but casual three-meal sit-down restaurants. Other product features include full fitness centers, wired and wireless connectivity throughout, a tech concierge and a fleet of Lincoln Towncars and Navigators for airport pickup and local transportation.

The look of eSuites takes on a Pottery Barn feel. Each property will have 224 two-room suites in an eight-story building. The 468-square-foot suites feature high ceilings, two HDTVs, ample tech gadgets and large walk-in showers. Some units will be sportSuites (with in-room fitness equipment) while others are spaSuites (with whirlpool tubs or spas.)

In another break from the rest of the segment, all eSuites properties will be company-owned. The firm recently scored $127 million in financing to jumpstart the first phase of development.

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