Harish Patel’s 122-room Knight’s Inn in Ashland, Kentucky, is one of the few that still have the Tudor exterior, a design standard when the chain launched in 1972. Harish’s father, Suresh, is the longest-standing Knights Inn franchisee. Red Lion Hotels Corp. on May 14 acquired the brand from Wyndham Hotel Group.

RED LION HOTELS Corp. is the new owner of Knights Inn. The Denver-based franchiser closed on the $27 million deal on May 14.

Wyndham Hotel Group agreed on April 3 to sell the economy brand to RLH Corp.

The transaction gives RLH Corp. 350 franchise contracts in North America and makes it one of the top 10 hotel franchisers in the world.

“Our team is working closely with all Knights Inn hotels to ensure a smooth integration into our systems,” said Greg Mount, president and CEO of RLH Corp. “We will continue to focus on accelerating the growth of the Knights Inn brand along with all RLH Corporation brands. We are committed to delivering additional value and opportunities to all of our hoteliers and associates, as well as earnings accretion to our shareholders.”

Some Knights Inn franchisees interviewed by Asian Hospitality were hopeful the brand will grow and improve under RLH Corp.’s purview.

Nancy Patel, owner of a Knights Inn in Corpus Christi, Texas, had said she felt the brand did not receive enough attention from Wyndham. Patel was to be honored by Wyndham for her hotel’s $1 million renovation, but the pending deal put the presentation on hold. Patel said RLH Corp. has asked her to be part of the brand’s franchise advisory council.

Wyndham could have done more to improve the Knights Inn’s brand image by removing deteriorating properties from the system, Patel said.

She hopes for better results from RLH Corp.’s reservation system. Wyndham delivered about 5 percent to 8 percent of her reservations, leaving the Texas hotel to depend on other channels, including high-commission OTAs.

Knights Inn has 47 hotels in its conversion pipeline in North America, RLH Corp. said.

“This acquisition will increase our franchise units by over 30 percent, and we will continue to grow the brand aggressively as we have demonstrated with our other brands,” said Mount.

Geoff Ballotti, Wyndham president and CEO, has said selling Knights Inn will benefit the brand. “While we’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, we believe now is the right time to make this move and are confident that RLH Corp. will only continue to support and grow the brand.”

RHL Corp. has 1,500 hotels across 48 states and Canada, an increase of 55 hotels across eight states over the past four years.

The company, only recently known as a regional player in the Pacific Northwest, has grown mostly through acquisitions. In spring 2015 it acquired Settle Inn and GuestHouse, two brands it acquired from Boomerang Hotels. In September 2016, it bought Vantage Hospitality Group, parent of Americas Best Value Inn, Canada’s Best Value Inn, Country Hearth Inn and the then-dormant Signature Inn.

Its original brands are Red Lion Hotel, Red Lion Inn & Suites and Hotel RL.