DALLAS—Construction started last month in the Denver area on the first Woolley’s Classic Suites hotel, and more properties could follow, said executives of the would-be chain. The company, which was founded by extended-stay hotel pioneer Robert Woolley Sr., hopes to have 10 to 15 open in the next five years, CFO Alex B. Merson said.
“Of course, it all depends on the financial markets. That’s the potential bottleneck,” said Merson. “If we want to expand, financing needs to open up a little more.”
The first Woolley’s Classic Suites is a four-story, 191-unit property in an office park near Denver International Airport that is scheduled to open in early 2014. The property’s design is a throwback to the original Granada Royale Hometel brand Woolley Sr. launched during the late 1960s and sold to Holiday Corporation in 1984. That brand was merged into the fledgling Embassy Suites chain, and Woolley became one of its largest franchisees. He is president and CEO of the new company.
The hotel will feature what the company calls “a lush, oasis-style atrium” and will offer complimentary breakfasts and cocktail hours, amenities that were part of the original Granada Royale product offering.
“A lot of today’s all-suite brands are moving away from atrium designs in new construction, but we think it’s an important element for this product,” executive VP Robert E. Woolley II said. “And at an average of 580 square feet, our guest units will be larger than what you typically see in today’s marketplace.”
Robert E. Woolley II
Woolley’s Classic Suites
Another differentiator, said Woolley II, is a five-fixture bathroom that includes dual vanities, tub and shower. “This is a phenomenal amenity, and one we believe our female guests will especially appreciate,” he said.
Woolley II said the company chose a location in Aurora, Colorado, for its first hotel because of its proximity to the Denver airport.
“More than 55 million people are expected to go through the airport this year, and it is the fifth largest in the U.S.,” said Woolley II. “As a result, there are a lot of businesses in the area in manufacturing, gas and oil and some governmental. In addition, we’re just down the street from the Anschutz Medical (Campus), which is great for business.”
Merson said once the first property opens, the company will look for other sites in the Denver market. It’s also targeting expansion in markets such as Austin, Texas, Chicago, Dallas, Des Moines, Iowa, and Seattle.
“Primarily, (expansion) will be through new development and management. We won’t do conversions because we have a prototype we want to replicate,” Merson said. “If we’re wildly successful, perhaps franchising will be (possible), but for now we want to keep tight controls over our standards and how we operate.”
He conceded there are challenges for a start-up brand, but he also sees opportunity.
“It’s a challenge for a company starting with one hotel to compete in an environment in which the brands dominate, but we also think there’s phenomenal possibilities for companies like ours,” Merson said. “The brands have gotten a little stagnant in regard to their décor. It’s almost too cookie cutter. And besides, they each have 4,000 properties to worry about. We have one.”
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