Shoney's Plans a Comeback

The Shoney's Inn brand is back — almost. Settle Inns & Suites, which purchased the Shoney's lodging name and system as part of its late-2006 acquisition of GuestHouse International, plans to launch a vigorous franchising program to rebuild the system. Shoney's, which was formed in 1976, at one time had more than 100 properties. Today, three franchised Shoney's remain — two in Louisiana and one in Virginia.

“In doing our due diligence in acquiring GuestHouse, we weren't sure what we were going to do with the Shoney's brand,” says Tim O'Connor, senior vice president brand management for Settle Inns. “Since then, we've received a lot of interest in it from the owner-operator community. And, as GuestHouse moves solidly into the mid-scale segment, Shoney's gives us a great brand in economy lodging.”

O'Connor says the company will apply the same fair franchising philosophies to Shoney's that are the hallmark of its agreements in the Settle Inns and GuestHouse systems. The company's fair franchising practices have earned it a near-perfect score of 99.3 percent conformity to the standards of the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers.

“Fair franchising is the key to growing all of our brands,” says O'Connor. “The Shoney's agreement will have the same terms as our other brands, except the initial fee, royalties and marketing fees will be slightly lower.”

Initially, Shoney's will seek conversion properties, although O'Connor doesn't rule out new construction. “We're looking for clean, well-operated properties, generally with 50 rooms or more,” he says. “We have no age benchmarks, just that the properties be of high quality.”

Embassy Suites Debuts in Mexico

The first Embassy Suites in Mexico opened recently in the financial district of Mexico City. Chain officials say the property marks the beginning of an effort to expand the brand in Latin America. In addition to the new Mexico City hotel, Embassy Suites are open in Colombia and Venezuela. Later this year, another property in Caracas, Venezuela and the first one in Peru will open.

The Embassy Suites Mexico City-Reforma has 162 rooms and a conference center. Guest units feature high-speed Internet access, 32-inch flat-screen TVs and Italian bed linens. F&b options include an Argentinian restaurant, a lobby lounge and a Starbucks. In addition, the hotel's complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast service includes Mexican items.

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