Seizing the opportunities in New England submarkets
Seizing the opportunities in New England submarkets
20 MARCH 2019 7:21 AM

As New England submarkets grow in popularity among travelers, hoteliers have the opportunity to design and develop hotels that capture their demand.

The New England hospitality design market is experiencing a hotel development boom in secondary Boston-area markets and other promising submarkets in states such as Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. What is driving this?

These submarkets offer developers a desirable alternative to the extremely high market rates in today’s major urban centers. In these secondary markets, there is less competition, more property development opportunities, lower barriers to entry and a higher potential return on investment. Lastly, these submarkets allow more flexibility to create an authentic and unique hotel design experience, for which today’s travelers are craving.

Let’s explore this further and take a look at a few New England areas where we see this taking place.

Benefits of secondary market opportunities
In recent years, urban revitalization in areas surrounding major cities has created many opportunities. These once overlooked submarkets are now attracting stakeholder attention due to many factors, especially attractive cost dynamics and accommodating local municipalities. In addition, some other appealing characteristics of these markets include easy accessibility to their neighboring urban centers, lower levels of property congestion and authentic retail, food and beverage offerings. As travelers continue to seek new destinations to explore, the move to submarkets opens up alternative destinations for travelers (usually at a lower price point) without forcing the properties to forsake their natural charm. In fact, quite the opposite is true. This brings us to hyper local demand among today’s hotel guests.

Demand for all things local
Today’s travelers desire a unique and authentic hotel experience that celebrates the area in which they are visiting. More and more, guests are attracted to properties with hyper local elements including: locally sourced food and beverage options; local artwork; interior and exterior design elements inspired by their culture, people, and history; and interactive common spaces like bars and lounges that offer absolute cultural immersion. Providing travelers with a completely local experience gives them an opportunity to escape to a world that too often feels repetitive. When we think about our New England backyard, let’s explore a few areas capitalizing on this trend.

Emerging Boston submarkets
Hotels play a vital role in strengthening and revitalizing city neighborhoods and communities. They offer stability and help transform the economic, physical and social environment. Boston-area communities such as Alewife, Chelsea and Revere are welcoming opportunities for increased expansion through submarket development.

The Vanguard at Waterfront Square in Revere is one example, which includes hotels, residences, offices and retail space with public plazas and a lot of open space. And take Alewife, with its recent housing boom over the past few years, leading to more than 1,000 luxury apartments, office developments and even more high-end apartments to come. Last, but certainly not least, is Chelsea. This city has experienced an extraordinary level of development over the past 20 years, including more than 33 major projects and a total of six new hotels.

Other promising New England submarkets
Portland continues to be a market for new development. In the past five years, many new hotels have been built or renovated in the downtown and waterfront areas including: The Residence Inn by Marriott in the city’s historic Old Port District; the Marriott Courtyard Portland in the city’s downtown/waterfront area; and new upscale/luxury mixed use projects along the city’s waterfront.

Providence, Rhode Island, has experienced a boom in hotel projects over the past several years with Portsmouth, New Hampshire. rounding out the top three of the hottest New England markets in the submarket development movement.

The move outside
The growth of these outlying markets presents myriad opportunities for hotel owners, operators, designers and developers. While the opportunity is exciting, it is imperative that each individual opportunity makes sense and that we are customizing our properties to provide guests with a unique, tailored and personal experience throughout their stay.

Harry Wheeler AIA, NCARB, LEED is a principal at Group One Partners, Inc., an award-winning hospitality design firm based in Boston that specializes in architectural, interior design and purchasing services for hospitality properties. Wheeler is a registered architect in more than 15 states and a member of numerous architectural, lodging, and marketing associations. For more information visit or email Wheeler at

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive

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