WYNDHAM HOTELS & RESORTS and lifestyle hospitality developer sbe launched a new soft brand during the American Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles last week. Temporarily dubbed “Project HQ Hotels & Residences,” the new brand aims to attract younger travelers looking for an experience.
Project HQ is meant to represent sbe’s “smart lifestyle” hotel category that is designed to draw in Millennial and Gen Z guests by providing memorable experiences at more affordable rates, according to Wyndham. The name is based on the idea that Project HQ hotels, which will be affiliated with Wyndham’s Registry Collection Hotels, will serve the guests’ headquarters in the heart of cities where they are located.
Project HQ hotels will include pre-approved FF&E packages, supply chain, technology integrations, OS&E packages and programming to monetize otherwise underutilized spaces of the property. Led by Sam Nazarian as chairperson, sbe provides F&B packages that include Casa Dani from Chef Dani García; MXO, a Mexican Steakhouse by Chef Wes Avila; and Katsuya by Chef Katsuya Uechi.
“What Sam has created here, and is creating, is just such a fresh take right now,” said Geoff Ballotti, Wyndham’s president and CEO. “We talked a lot about how our membership in Wyndham Rewards continues to become younger, our overall guest demographic and makeup continues to become younger. And they’re looking for this type of experience and appealing to these millennials, these Gen Z travelers.”
Project HQ is sbe’s first hotel brand after the 2020 sale of its hospitality brand and management platform, which included more than 100 hotels, more than 150 restaurants and lounges and more than $4 billion of luxury residential sales. Nazarian said the process of determining what packages go in each hotel is a matter of collaboration with individual owners.
“When you have cuisine categories with some amazing culinary talent on the full-service side, that’s powerful, because you can then populate generally. When there was just room for one legacy signature restaurant, we can put three, because we control the brands, and we control the execution and the kitchens and we can drive more experience. And then we can drive more revenue, with a much more reasonable ROI. That’s kind of the model we have built for quite some time,” Nazarian said. “I think the things we’ve been focusing on continues to be on owners that really want this product and are willing to partner with us and both of us jumping into the deep end together with real data and real proven out brands. But also the ability of listening to our owners and seeing what’s important to them.”
Sbe also will incorporate a smart lifestyle residential program in Project HQ, such as student housing, workforce housing and more. Entertainer Marc Anthony is a sbe equity partner through his company Magnus.
Wyndham and sbe plan to open 50 Project HQ hotels with approximately 7,500 rooms by 2030. About 50 percent of its properties stateside with 50 percent of openings internationally, and a mix of 80 percent conversion Projects and 20 percent ground up new construction.
Wyndham continues to resist an acquisition attempt by Choice Hotels International.