Home2 Suites Arrives

“Dreams do come true,” an exuberant Bill Duncan, global head of brand management, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites, said from his
office in Memphis, Tenn. He’s discussing the opening of the first Home2 Suites, which is slated for next month in Fayetteville, N.C. “We’re really excited about it,” he continues.

The long-awaited opening of Hilton Worldwide’s first Home2 Suites by Hilton property has been more than a year in the making. LBA Associates and Apple REIT, the developers of the hotel, broke ground in December 2009. The new hotel, which will sit in the shadows of Fort Bragg, is the first of many openings slated for this year. “We have five hotels under construction and more under contract. There’s just great momentum building,” Duncan says. “Not only are we getting the first one opened, but also the others are moving forward.”

Home2 Suites is Hilton’s new extended-stay brand—an all- suite, mid-tier hotel designed with budget-conscious travelers in mind. The brand is heavy on experience, including outside experiences—the brand requires a minimum of two acres for its footprint.

Advertisement

Duncan says it’s apropos that LBA and Apple REIT have the first property opening since the partnership plans on building a number of other Home2 Suites as well. Duncan says the Fayetteville property is opening first due only to timing. “It was just when it ended up being when the opening date occurs,” Duncan says. The opening is happening a little later than expected due to a last winter’s harsh weather on the East Coast, which contributed to construction delays.

Duncan says the Fayetteville market is a strong market in which to debut. It runs at a nearly 80 percent occupancy rate annually. “[The owners] know when they open, they’re going to be busy,” he says.

Now that the first opening is upon them, Duncan and his team know that there will be a lot of industry interest focused on the hotel. “There’s not only the excitement about it, but also interest in what Hilton has done in the approach to the brand,” Duncan says. “There’s also seeing it come to life, which will allow developers to move their projects forward.”

He says the fact that the brand has been able to gain so much momentum is impressive. Now that the first property is opening, he expects even more activity.
“We see this first opening as the start of an avalanche of activity,” he says. “So it’s a very exciting and momentous occasion for us.”
Duncan believes the brand is attracting developers based on a number of factors. One, he says, is the approach to design and space. Secondly, he points to the trust Hilton has with the development community.  

As for the first property, Duncan says the final outcome is much the same as the original designs and schematics the company developed when it first announced the brand. “We’ve done some small value engineering. You always do that as you move along in a project,” he says. “It’s been really small things. But, it’s absolutely coming to life the way we envisioned.”

Previous articleAccounting for Sales Incentives
Next article4 Questions for for Bill Simpson, President, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts