PHOENIX—Best Western International is looking to formally break into the extended-stay segment. The Phoenix-based membership organization has developed a preliminary prototype that includes extended-stay rooms as part of the mix.
BWI executives said during a media tour of the headquarters Monday that the mix of extended-stay rooms for its prototype could range from 20% to 100% of the total rooms in new-build properties. The percentage of extended-stay rooms would depend on the anticipated percentage of extended-stay business. More details are set to be released during the brand’s North American conference next week. The prototype's rooms will include kitchenettes that define the extended-stay segment.
Executives said Monday the extended-stay segment is something developers and consumers have asked for from BWI, and the brand intends to provide it. It’s the perfect exclamation point for a company that introduced its product tiers—Best Western Premier, Best Western Plus and Best Western—last year, executives said.
Best Western International
If implemented, the properties will be Plus-level hotels as a base but could be a Premier level hotel if the owners want to apply the appropriate amenities, according to Mark Williams, BWI’s VP of North American development.
A fresh face
Amy Hulbert, managing director-design, said the process started with BWI wanting to revamp the existing prototype, which is about seven years old.
“We were looking for more of a splash,” Hulbert said.
The brand began the process by identifying words they wanted the brand to represent.
What they came up with was an 84,000-square-foot prototype with about 85 rooms and 95 parking stalls. The building is T-shaped instead of L-shaped.
“We wanted to change the way we looked at these parts and how they work together,” Hulbert said.
While exact sizes aren’t set, the general concept is that two extended-stay rooms would fit in the place of three traditional guestrooms.
“It will be easy to expand the building and still have the same rhythm and aesthetics,” Hulbert said.
The cost to build the prototype has been priced in seven cities, including Houston, New York and Chicago. Williams said the cost per key in Texas is about $82,000, while in Chicago it’s about $105,000. He said the costs will be higher on the East and West coasts. However, those costs don’t reflect the precise FF&E package, which is still in the early stages of discovery.
“I see people using it in general as about 20% of the room mix,” Hulbert said. “But there are enough markets that would incorporate more extended-stay rooms.”
Hulbert said the internal reaction has been resoundingly positive, thanks in part to the success of the Atrea prototype that was introduced a few years ago.
“Atrea was a nice sounding board,” Hulbert said. “It gave everyone a comfort level going into this project.”
There is no name for the concept at this point.
“We want it to function as a typical prototype,” Hulbert said.
David Kong, the company’s president and CEO, said he is completely sold on the concept.
“Our approach is to give developers a lot of flexibility depending on the market,” Kong said. “It’s exactly what’s needed because not everyone who stays in an extended-stay property is a long-term guest. This flexibility allows the developer to be more cost-effective. … There’s no reason to build a one- or two-bedroom suite if the demand isn’t there.”
Kong said the idea is to not be an economy-segment offering.
“We’re after people that are willing to spend a little more money to be in a more upscale environment,” he said.