Back in the day, Alice Marriott greeted guests with brownies. To mark the opening of Marriott’s 1,000th Fairfield Inn & Suites—Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Denver Tech Center North—guests will get a chance to win a five-day stay at a Fairfield anywhere in the world, plus warm brownies at check-in.
LODGING spoke with the newly opened hotel’s owner Al Patel, president of hotel management and development company Baywood Hotels, about why Fairfield was “a natural fit for the location”, and with Marriott executives Janis Milham, senior vice president and global brand leader, Classic Select Brands, and Eric Jacobs, Marriott International’s chief development officer of North American select and extended stay-brands, about how Fairfield Inn & Suites—one of Marriott’s fastest-growing brands—is striving to grow by meeting the needs of owners and investors as well as today’s global road warrior.
Noting that Fairfield is only the second brand in the Marriott portfolio to hit the 1,000-hotel milestone—Courtyard was the first—Milham calls Fairfield “a global brand that is catching on fire” both inside and outside the United States and a significant growth vehicle for Marriott. For this, she credits Marriott’s recognition of how the same brand that first welcomed United States travelers “with warmth and comfort, like guests at the family farm” could meet the need of the growing global market.
Jacobs elaborates on how the company broadened its focus from one fixed on the North American traveler to a wider community of travelers. “During the last 10 to 15 years, we’ve seen the rise of a midscale travel market globally—particularly in India, China, and other parts of Asia. A more affordable brand like Fairfield is offering these global travelers the services and price point they’re looking for.”
He says Marriott noticed the growth of competitors in this space and prepared to enter it from a position of strength. “You win in this ‘road warrior’ space with great distribution, great quality, and excellent hospitality. For that reason, about 10 years ago, we launched into a full deep dive around the brand. We retooled the prototype to make a product that would meet the traveler of today without losing its roots in the kind of wholesome, welcoming, hospitality that Fairfield’s always been known for.”
Jacobs says a great advantage of the Fairfield brand is its ability to flex. “Price and value are important to these middle-class travelers everywhere. We saw Fairfield Inn & Suites as the right product at the right price point at the right time, one we could also make relevantly local.”
Retooling, he says, meant removing many of the older hotels that didn’t measure up, and “leaning in” to the select-service model to best meet the needs of owner-investors in the economics-driven, upper-midscale segment. “From an investment perspective, we can get good rates while still maintaining the quality guest experience and also a very thoughtful labor model.”
The result, he says, was what he calls “the generation-four Fairfield,” a brand whose development benefitted from the kind of investor-owner partnership they already had with Patel, whose company had opened more than 40 Marriotts over the years. Patel says his company was drawn to this particular opportunity in the heart of the Denver Tech Center—which they felt was missing a new, fresh, upper-midscale hotel—based on their longstanding relationship with the brand and the new Fairfield prototype, which included an indoor pool, a very large fitness area, and a great room concept lobby with open views and natural light.
Patel says he was excited to learn that the 94-room Tech Center property ended up being the 1,000th to open. “We spent over five years in the development pipeline, which involved tearing down the existing property—also a Fairfield—and completing a full-build and construction.”
Jacobs says potential partners will have the chance to celebrate the 1,000th Fairfield opening at the AAHOA meeting with brownies, of course, but also, the opportunity to preview—and possibly win a free franchise for—a smaller 80-room prototype that will be co-branded with TownePlace Suites by Marriott. “We’re creating a prototype that will combine those brands into one building as an efficient way to deliver an 80-room Fairfield and an 80-room TownePlace in a smaller market, combining a single breakfast area, one back of the house, and an enlarged gym.”