Choice Hotels, the umbrella group that ultimately owns Comfort Suites, has said that the Caribbean is a ‘priority area’ for expansion.
Speaking to reporters at the recent Choice Hotels convention in Las Vegas, Stephen Joyce, president and CEO said that whilst there was still room to grow [in the North American market], “clearly our path for significant growth is internationally”.
Europe and Brazil were seeing more Choice Hotels activity, he added, “but the Caribbean is one of our primary targets because we view the region as an extension of what we’re doing domestically”.
The hospitality chain chief saw lots of reasons for expanding in the Caribbean.
“It’s the number one destination requested by our guests, so we see a great overlap with our product here – our ability to generate customers, our massive scale and our distribution systems.”
Mr. Joyce said that the growth of Choice Hotels, with its combined systems booking millions of room nights a year, would directly benefit the region through its ability “to drive customers into the Caribbean market”.
With an online presence which garners a large number of hits a year, Choice Hotels, he added, could also boost promotion of the region.
“The good thing is the Caribbean needs it. The Caribbean is a value that’s not being communicated well to the rank and file customer out there,” he said.
Mr. Joyce, who has been at the helm of Choice for the past four years, assured Caribbean hoteliers the company is also interested in smaller properties with 40 to 50 rooms and lots of different room types.
“For most hotel companies – that drives them nuts … [but] that’s what we specialise in.”
The Choice Hotels president recognised the allure of smaller properties but said that he saw a need and desire for them to move to a branded concept. He said that the company saw it as a long-term proposition.
Choice Hotels is the franchisor for eight hotels in the Caribbean islands of the Bahamas, Curaçao, Grand Cayman and Puerto Rico. The company currently has projects under development in Anguilla, Dominica and Haiti and is in the final stages of negotiation to award a franchise to a hotel development in St. Maarten in the Dutch West Indies.