Sun Development & Management Corporation officials see growth possibilities within Hilton’s new Tapestry Collection soft brand and are using the platform to create a sub-brand within the collection called The Printing House.
INDIANAPOLIS—Bharat and Suraj Patel of Sun Development & Management Corporation are excited about the growth possibilities presented by Hilton’s new soft brand, the Tapestry Collection.
Suraj Patel, president of Sun, said there’s a lot to like about the soft brand, which was announced in January and will focus on hotels in the upscale segment. For example, he said, there’s the flexibility it provides to do something singular and special.
“I’ve always been interested in unique creative spaces and unique hotels,” Suraj Patel said.
That desire is manifesting itself in the creation of what Suraj Patel described as a “brand within a brand” called The Printing House.
Sun has committed to two new-build Tapestry properties, one in Indianapolis and one in Nashville, and has plans for a third—all bearing The Printing House name and falling under the umbrella of Tapestry and Hilton.
Bharat Patel, chairman and CEO of Sun, noted his company has a 15-year history of working with Hilton, which ultimately gives them more confidence to try something new and different.
“Our focus right now is to do as much Hilton product as we can,” he said. “Development is not an easy game. You can’t just buy the dirt. There’s some hand-holding that has to happen (with a brand), and in that regard, (Hilton) shines through.”
The makeup of The Printing House
Suraj Patel said the concept of The Printing House is create “highly design-minded” properties with a similar appeal to the Ace and Kimpton but built to work in markets other than New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“All the towns in the country have big pockets of creatives who want to stay and entertain at something unique,” he said. “I think we’ve found the space to expand into far more markets than we could have otherwise with another collection brand.”
Bharat Patel said the idea is appealing from both a business and a personal perspective.
“We have multiple locations in our plans,” he said. “We have an opportunity now to deliver a footprint with our own name and collection of hotels to make it unique based on where it is and what’s surrounding it. It’s a perfect chance to do something like that.”
Both Bharat and Suraj Patel agreed that the new mini-brand represents a significant white space for their company and in general.
“When developing the concept behind this, we knew there are people like myself (who) believe there’s going to have to be something done to tap into that market that strives for unique experiences,” Suraj Patel said. “Hilton just identified a really big blank space. We can provide that experience and still work with the brands.”
Sun’s overall growth
Bharat Patel said his company will continue to do development with hard brands. The company has 11 hotels under development, encompassing nearly 2,000 rooms, in addition to 30 hotels already in Sun’s portfolio.
The company largely targets secondary and tertiary markets—sometimes suburban locations—with its largest markets being Nashville and Indianapolis, where they are headquartered.
Despite the company’s strong affinity for Hilton product, Bharat said his company is still willing to take on new projects with other companies, including Choice Hotels International.
Suraj Patel noted The Printing House is his pet project, but he also sees other avenues for Sun’s growth.
“It doesn’t mean we’re not doing (more typical development)” he said. “But we’re looking at doing (The Printing House) first. That doesn’t mean we’re going to stop doing Hampton Inns in corporate parks in different kinds of markets.”
He also noted the company doesn’t pay much heed to worries over the current state of the cycle.
“We’re still doing new development,” Suraj Patel said. “We’ll have shovels in the ground this fall. We take more of a long-term view.”