This week Cambria Suites, the upscale, all-suite brand in the Choice Hotels family, begins construction on three new properties in the New York area—two in downtown Manhattan (Times Square and Chelsea) and one in White Plains. Mike Murphy, senior vice president for Cambria Suites, says the introduction of the brand to the New York market demonstrates that Cambria Suites is on a fast-paced track for growth.
“We’re going to launch these three hotels in probably the most difficult time in our industry from a development standpoint,” he says. “Entry into Manhattan is very difficult, and you have to do it right. We’ve got the right locations, we’ve got the right properties, and we’ve got the right partners. I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and this is the most exciting time I’ve ever experienced in my career.”
The New York projects, which are being developed with partners Concord Hospitality, Meyer Jabara, and We Care Trading Ltd., will create more than 1,000 jobs and represent an investment of $140 million dollars in New York.
Setting up a presence in the New York market is part of Cambria Suites’ overall strategy of entering into the top 50 markets in the United States. The brand plans to build hotels in cities such as Boston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago in the next few years.
“Proactively, we have to go after primary urban markets first,” says Murphy. “By doing so, you get more eyeballs on your hotels and create a heavy amount of brand awareness.”
Although Cambria Suites currently only owns 19 properties, its development pipeline is progressing. The brand has 26 hotels under development and is focusing on expansion into new markets. In October, the brand announced that it will build hotels in West Orange, N.J.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Williamsport, Pa. In June, Cambria Suites also opened a 111-room property in Rapid City, S.D., and has plans to open a location in Miami in 2013.
The uptick in development for the all-new-build brand stems from an increase in lending opportunities and an investment from its parent company. Choice Hotels has plunged $250 million into Cambria Suites to fuel the brand’s future growth, and company CEO Steve Joyce has expressed his personal commitment to the brand as it moves forward.
“Steve Joyce has a vision and was able to get the entire company to support that vision,” says Murphy. “When the CEO of a company has that level of passion and is surrounded by the commitment of the board, the executive team, and all of the colleagues globally throughout Choice, it’s fun to watch—it’s fun to be part of.”
Several future Cambria Suites will be part of mixed-use developments that consist of office space, retail stores, and residential apartments. The hotels being developed in Williamsport, Pa. and West Palm Beach, Fla., as well as the property groundbreaking this week in White Plains, N.Y., will all be part of larger mixed-use projects.
“With mixed-use developments, you’re building an infrastructure of opportunity for the consumer in combination with providing opportunities for the local residents,” says Murphy. “It becomes a mini social center, and you very often get the community support.”
According to U.S. pipeline reports from STR, the upscale tier continues to show growth, and Choice Hotels is banking on Cambria Suites to fill that tier under the company umbrella.
“Upscale is the opportunity because the customer is moving there,” says Murphy. “It’s also a great opportunity for Choice to grow and meet the demand.”