CHAMPION HOTELS IS nearing the opening of the first avid hotel in mid-August, just seven months after it broke ground in an Oklahoma City suburb. The company will be the first to open the InterContinental Hotels Group brand.
Champak “Champ” Patel, founder and CEO of Champion Hotels, said he believes avid hotels (the name is trademarked in lowercase letters) will be a leader in the U.S. midscale market, both for travelers and developers.
The avid hotel Oklahoma City – Quail Springs is also the first to reveal IHG’s new brand-name extension. Added to the avid hotel’s sign is “an IHG hotel.” IHG representatives said the extension lets customers and IHG loyalty members know the brand’s parent affiliation and provides quality assurance.
IHG announced a little more than a year ago its plans to launch a brand to serve the 14 million U.S. travelers the company says are in search of mid-priced hotels with modern accommodations and amenities they value such as a free breakfast and a comfortable bed.
Champion Hotels broke ground in mid-December on avid hotel Oklahoma City – Quail Springs a few months after IHG rolled out the brand prototype and released its franchise disclosure document. The hotel is going up on a 1.3-acre site near Quail Springs Mall, a shopping, dining and entertainment district in the northern reaches of the city.
- Watch the time-lapse video of the construction process.
- Asian American hoteliers advised IHG on avid hotels design
Champ, a prolific hotel developer based in Oklahoma City, talked to Asian Hospitality on July 31 during a hard hat tour of the four-story, 39,000-square-foot building. He said being the first to develop an avid hotel is important for his company and for the brand as it gives prospective developers an opportunity to see the product and the value it contributes to the midmarket segment. Champion Hotels was first to build a Tru by Hilton, a new midscale hotel opened in May 2017 in Oklahoma City’s airport district.
Jennifer Gribble, vice president of avid and Holiday Inn Express at IHG Americas, said the franchiser’s research revealed a vast number of “underserved” U.S. travelers in the midscale segment. Brands that step up to provide fresh and modern lodging accommodations at a fair price will claim some of the $20 billion in revenue the midscale segment generates.
“We call these guests the principled, everyday traveler,” said Gribble. “They are self-reliant, practical and value a hard-earned dollar. IHG designed avid hotels for them.” She said the brand’s hallmarks are fresh (modern design), frank (providing quality at a mid-tier price) and fair (the brand’s amenities).
STR defines mid-price as the third tier of five pricing segments in an urban or metro market. The mid-price tier accounts for 33 percent of a given market. STR’s chain scale segmentation categorizes hotels into seven tiers based on each brand’s ADR. The Avid Hotel Oklahoma City – Quail Springs’ nightly rate is $87, according to its website.
IHG said the cost to build an avid hotel is about 10 percent to 15 percent less than a Holiday Inn Express, which is IHG’s upper-midscale brand.
Gribble said the 87-room avid hotel Oklahoma City – Quail Springs has gone up with almost no changes to its original prototype. The project has managed to stay within the brand’s goal of keeping development costs to $85,000 to $90,000 a key.
Champ said two of the key design features that helped Champion Hotels stay within budget are the lobby size and configuration and the brand-standard breakfast.
Champ Patel and his son, Harshil, vice president of Champion Hotels, were members of an owners advisory team which helped IHG design engineer the prototype to capture cost efficiencies in construction and operations. Champ said avid hotel designers had originally conceived a smaller lobby, about 900 square feet, but the hoteliers suggested making that space larger, up to 1,400 square feet. “With the smaller rooms, families can come into the lobby to socialize,” Champ said.
The open space also allows for hotel staff to easily monitor what goes on in the lobby. The front desk provides a wide-angled view of the space, including relaxation and work areas, breakfast and beverage space, the market pantry and the entrance. The large windows that simulate a retail environment give staff a wide view of the outdoor seating area and parking lot. The windows also allow in a lot of natural sunlight.
While design prototypes usually get some tweaking during the construction process, Gribble said there were very few change orders for the first avid hotel. The exception is the exterior where brand designers decided it needed an extra pop of red. The brand’s signature colors are turquoise and red.
The avid hotel Oklahoma – Quail Springs has an outdoor swimming pool, a feature that is optional for franchisees. The brand requires a fitness room. Gribble said more than 100 letters of agreement have been signed by prospective owners.
Champion Hotels has broken ground for a second avid hotel, which will be part of a hotel campus in the city’s airport district where Champion has a Holiday Inn Express, TownePlace Suites and a Fairfield Inn. About a mile down the street, the company has the Tru, a Residence Inn and a La Quinta Inn & Suites. The avid hotel near the airport will open in March. It will serve a different clientele than the avid hotel in Quail Springs, said Harshil Patel.
Champion Hotels develops mostly limited service hotels, working with all franchisers. It has 180 properties in its portfolio. Champ said, by the end of the year, Champion Hotels expects to open a Home2 Suites by Hilton in Oklahoma City and a Residence Inn in Tulsa.
The company is able to move quickly on development because it has its own general contracting division and a bevy of subcontractors that remain loyal to Champion Hotels. Jesse Martinez, project supervisor at Champion for seven years, said several hotels up in less than a year. They include a Residence Inn at Quail Springs and the Holiday Inn Express & Suites near the airport. At 200 days from start to finish, the avid hotel in Quail Springs’ building pace is a record-breaker for the company.