SAVANNAH, Georgia—The recent grand opening of the Cambria Hotel Savannah Downtown Historic District was a natural choice for the brand’s first foray into the Peach State, according to Janis Cannon, SVP, upscale brands, Choice Hotels International, Inc.
Cannon emphasized that the new property meets both the needs of its target customers, specifically “guests who want to have a sense of space and a sense of place,” as well as the brand’s growth strategy “to focus on markets with strong business and leisure demand.”
She also touted the city’s “hospitality, innovative history, and vibrant culture” as well as its position as a “corporate, entertainment, and industrial hub” as pivotal factors in its selection. Cannon noted the hotel meets three specific “core hallmarks” of the brand as well. Those hallmarks are a lobby experience with locally inspired design décor; an immersive spa-inspired bathroom; and a food and beverage concept offering onsite dining with freshly made food, hyper-local craft beers on tap, wine, and specialty cocktails.
In December, the hotel had its “soft opening,” but its grand opening took place some 90 days later.
“This is so we can make sure that we are part of the community. We’ve had time to give locals and local businesses personalized, customized tours to really experience the hotel,” said Cannon.
She explains how Choice’s growth in the upscale segment dates back to 2007 when Cambria Hotels opened its first hotel, and in 2008, when Choice introduced The Ascend Hotel Collection, and thus created the “soft-brand” category. However, Cannon stressed that the company has been especially focused on the upscale market over the last few years. Some of those efforts include introducing new genres for independent hotels to join The Ascend Collection, a new prototype for Cambria Hotels for secondary markets with a lower cost to build, and adding six new upscale and above Radisson Hotel Group brands.
Cannon further added the company is using a “hub and spoke” strategy to grow Cambria, in particular. “We want to get a footprint in the top 50 markets in the United States, and then build out into concentric circles, what we call the ring roads,” she noted.
This means beginning with “premier locations,” and then branching out. For example, in Orlando, the brand began in an airport location and now has a soon-to-open property at Orlando Universal. In Nashville, Cambria began with properties at the airport and downtown near the Bridgestone Arena and now has a third hotel slated to open near Vanderbilt University.
Cannon also called attention to an adaptive-reuse Cambria property now in the works in Detroit, a historic property that was formerly a broadcast station. “It’s an Art Deco building with fabulous design, so we’ve protected and maintained as much of that as possible. However, we added the room tower, which is all new construction, so it will be the marriage of old and new,” she noted.
Cannon insisted the “multi-pronged” strategy for growing the Cambria brand and accelerating overall growth in the upscale segment is proving successful.
“By being very strategic about putting the right hotels in the right market with the right sponsors, we are enabling long-term success. From the owners’ perspective, we are demonstrating the strength of the brand’s financial performance. From the guest perspective we are filling a need while building advocacy and brand loyalty, which, of course, delivers financial performance,” she concluded.