ROCKVILLE, Maryland—Choice Hotels International, Inc. finalized an agreement with The Brittano Group, Inc. to develop a new member of the Ascend Hotel Collection in South Boston, Virginia: The Rook Hotels. This agreement marks the first Ascend hotel through the company’s emerging markets franchise development program in 2022 through Choice’s commitment to diversity in the hospitality industry.
Expected in summer 2024, The Rook at South Boston, a four-story, 37-room property will have a rooftop bar, full-service restaurant and bar, and event center. The Rook at South Boston will provide guests with access to the city’s attractions including local restaurants, shops, and art galleries. The building, originally built in 1929, is also within driving distance to nearby Roanoke and Richmond, Virginia.
“Advancing opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry remains a top priority for Choice,” said John Lancaster, vice president, emerging markets, franchise development, and owner relationships, Choice Hotels International. “Exactly 20 years ago, Choice became the first hotel company with a team dedicated exclusively to growing a diverse franchisee base and today we are proud to have awarded over 340 franchise agreements to under-represented minorities and seasoned entrepreneurs since the program started. We look forward to working with The Brittano Group, Inc. as we celebrate another milestone for this important initiative with the first Ascend hotel being developed through this one-of-a-kind program.”
The Rook Hotels is owned by Julian Brittano, and his wife, Karie Brittano. The Brittano’s originally acquired the hotel from the town of South Boston earlier last year for $11 million before entering into a franchise agreement with Choice Hotels.
“It’s clear that Choice Hotels cares about both creating more opportunities for people of all backgrounds to enter the hospitality industry, as well as supporting franchisees every step of the way so we can maximize our investment,” said Julian Brittano. “We are thrilled to be joining the industry’s largest soft brand in the Ascend Hotel Collection, which allows us the freedom and creativity to bring our unique vision for The Rook Hotels to life while still being backed by a global engine and afforded best-in-class resources to ensure success.”
Karie Brittano added, “It’s one of the largest properties in downtown South Boston and its restoration is expected to spark a revival; to become a pillar for the community’s revitalization. It’s where old-world meets its stunning new-world design, paying homage to the South Boston Speedway just six miles away and Virginia’s International Raceway.”
There are over 330 Ascend Hotel Collection properties worldwide, open, and in development as of September 30, 2022. In the coming months, additional hotels are scheduled to open in Orlando, Florida; Sutter Creek, California; Lake Charles, Louisiana; and Puerto Rico.